A Sunday Dedicated to the Triune God. Imagine that!

Trinity Sunday / John Stiles / Holy Cross Lutheran Church / 6-19-11

Matthew 28:16-20
16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Children’s Time: Have the kids help put up posters of the many parts of creation God made each day. Talk about how vast and wonderful the world and the universe is, and how God continues to create and take care of the earth and us.

Intro: Dear friends in Christ: grace to you and peace, from the One who is and who was and who is to come: our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Isn’t it odd to have a day set aside (as Trinity Sunday) to worship God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit? I mean, don’t we do that every Sunday? Why have a special service for it? “Today we are going to worship God, the three-in-one… again!” As far as I can tell, it’s mostly a tradition handed down over the ages. But there is something to be said for thinking together about who God is and what God is up to in the world!

Today’s lessons take us from the very beginning of time all the way to the end of Jesus’ ministry. We witness the forging of the mountains, watch the heavens set into motion and the birthing of all creatures great and small. And we are there at Matthew’s knee, hearing him recount Jesus’ last words to his disciples: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Such a grand brush stroke of readings today – from the beginning to the end of the age!

Here is a God, both Almighty – casting stars in their courses, aware of the needs of every living thing – and at the same time, quite an average God, taking the form of a person you might bump into in the checkout lane. Here is a God both unfathomable, hidden in glory and majesty – and yet, close enough to get a whiff of his BO, and to notice he has a slight overbite. Fully God. Fully human. Fully with us, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3-in-1.

And yet, the minute we stop talking – we realize here is a God who defies all words. Nothing can fully contain nor grasp the essence of God! The Hebrews feared even to speak the name of God, thus violating the 2nd command, of not taking the name of the Lord in vain.

I have a friend who once said, “You know you have something amazingly beautiful when by trying to grasp it by words, it slips right through your hands while leaving its marks all over you.” Like cupping our hands with water, trying not to let a drop fall to the ground. We can’t not be left wet and clean by it.

We have a baptism today. And as I think of that image of trying to contain the waters of baptism in my hands – I may as well give up. Water was meant to splash and delight – to wake us up in the morning and to quench our thirst in the hot sun. Water is unavoidable (like the reason we had to move our worship indoors today!) and yet, it is fully necessary to support life. When we are baptized we get it all over us and are left with God’s fingerprints on us, forever.

This Trinity Sunday, we celebrate all that God is – unable to grasp it all – but willing to get wet anyway, and be marked with the cross of Christ.

And maybe that’s what moved the disciples to make the trek to Galilee on the third day after Jesus was killed. All they had to go on was the words of a few women who said he had risen. That’s it. And even when they saw Jesus, notice in verse 17 it says, “they worshiped him, but some doubted.” Unlike in the other gospels where John has Jesus feeding them breakfast on the beach, or where Luke depicts a nice chat with Jesus on the walk to Emmaus. Unlike those grand entrances while the door remained locked, and he appeared to Thomas to wipe away his doubts… all the disciple had to go on in Matthew’s telling, was the word of their women: “He said, ‘Tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.’”

And so they followed. This is a mark of true discipleship. It does not come without doubts. It is following based only on a word. A word that leads us to worship the Living Word: Jesus Christ. Craig Koester, from Luther Seminary, once recalled asking his teacher what he meant by “authority.” The teacher responded with a single word. He said, “Authority is followability.” True authority is what gives people the confidence to follow. No one can make anyone follow Jesus. All they have is his promise that “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=6/19/2011)

If there was ever a person who had an opportunity to leave a mark – it’s a father. This Father’s Day we honor our dads and thank them for the many ways they have left their mark on us – for all they have taught us and the many ways they nurture their children and help them to grow into the people God made them to be.

It’s a painful reminder for me, as my father passed away too young (at 62) after a long battle with cancer. I still miss him every year at this time, and long for his smile – or to ask his advice. But I also take joy in being a father to my own children (Bethany and Nathan – who was born on Father’s Day) and all they have meant to me over the years. Others may mark this day with hurtful memories, or the reality that their dad never cared for them – never paid child support – or missed out on everything that mattered to them growing up.

Our earthly fathers are only human – they are, ultimately, unable to love as God loves – but they are agents, still, of the mysteries of God’s grace. And you don’t have to be a father to be a blessing to others. God knows what we need – and sends us to share that good news with others, just waiting to be loved as we are loved.

What a blessing to know that God loves us – and created us! That God knows the intricate curve of your eyebrow and the turn of your cheek. That God so loved this world that he sent his son to save us. A son who lives on through men and women who dare to take him at his word – to get up and go to Galilee all over again.

Let us pray: O God, we give you thanks creating this great wide world – for redeeming us by your Son, and by sustaining us by your Spirit. Send us with your Word, with that life-giving water that though it slips through our fingers, leaves us washed and renewed – ready to share your love with others. In Jesus’ name we pray: Amen.

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