Sermon for June 7, 2020 Trinity Sunday “Conundrum”
Today is Trinity Sunday. Amen.
Shortest sermon ever! Eyes glaze over, minds drift to more exciting things like watching paint dry, thoughts of feigning a cough or seizure, well almost anything to escape the contortions of Trinity. And to make matters even more interesting the Gospel text also includes Matthew’s great commission.
So let’s rewind for a moment. Trinity Sunday or Trinity in general is meant to be perplexing and complicated and mysterious. A conundrum that we may never completely understand in a way that can be articulated but one we can know in our heart and mind.
There have been many attempts to explain the Trinity dating back to the beginnings of Christianity. To make it simpler for example, think of: an egg needs three things to be an egg, shell, yoke, white, or the wood of a tree; root wood, trunk wood and branch wood. One example comes from a family zoom call last Sunday where my great nephew was showing his Lego creation. After the showing he said it was three sets that he made into one. That got me thinking, each Lego set was unique unto itself, each set made something really neat and cool. Combining them made a whole new creation that had parts of each but the whole was different. The examples go on in a long litany of ways to explain. Steven Eason suggests it may be easier to explain the Trinity by ignoring it completely. For example, I baptize in the name of God, Amen. Well that sounds odd and incomplete. The same hold true for I baptize you in the name of Jesus, Amen or the Spirit, amen. We know there is something missing, perhaps plenty missing in each version. We have this felt sense that God is more than just Creator, or Jesus or Spirit. God is all of them and the three make the one, well…more.
It is supposed to be mystery, it is supposed to be conundrum, we are not supposed to be able to explain the mystery and yet we are called to spend a lifetime figuring it out. So yes, I can’t explain it and yes I believe it with all my being. Mystery and conundrum.
Shirley Guthrie writes “the same God who is God over us as God the Father and Creator, and God with and for us as the incarnate Word and Son, is also God in and among us as God the Holy Spirit”. When Jesus sends the disciples into the world it is with all the three attributes of God, there is no other way. Jesus sends us into the world to make disciples as our first mission. If our only mandate is to Baptize then all we have accomplished is getting people wet. That might be fun, but accomplishes nothing. Even saying the words : I Baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not a magical formula against all the ills of the world. It is an entry point to discipleship and that means you are a learner for life.
We are called into a lifetime of learning, of sharing truths and listening to the truths of others. It is about disciple making. I do not often comment of politics in preaching but let me say that I find it offensive that Mr. Trump forced peaceful protesters to the side so he could go get a photo-op with a bible. In a church he does not attend and a book his actions indicate he clearly does not believe in. The teachings of Jesus in the Bible would have witnessed the leader sitting and standing with the protesters adding his voice against the scars of racism. What would Jesus teach about Trumps behaviour, would he point to his action and say; that is discipleship? Not the Jesus I believe in.
From the time of our getting wet in Baptism to now, we have learned plenty and even learned that what we once learned is being learned again in new ways. For example we once believed that the earth was ours to use and abuse however we pleased. We have learned something different in the past years. Being a steward and caretaker of ‘garden earth’ requires that new learning. Jesus teachings are like that.
Each day is a mystery and conundrum to behold. How freeing it is to come to the realization that we can live quite gloriously not knowing the answers. So, be you, be in the world in the name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Go, make a difference.