Sunday, May 30, 2010

“Invited in Love”

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

A Message from the Pastor
Whenever we come into this holy space we hear the word of God and especially hear about Jesus. We might hear about our relationship with Jesus, such as we heard from the Second Reading and the Gospel for today. We will also hear stories about Jesus as he did ministry on this earth, or we hear what he has to say, or both. That’s not unusual since we are – using a two dollar word – Christological in nature. Our faith, our belief, our relationship with God centers in Christ. This is to be expected since we focus on Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. What Jesus did permits us to be one with God and one with Jesus Christ.

However, last week we focused on the Holy Spirit since it was the birthday of the church. We heard about the power of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit formed the church and empowered us to be in mission.

This Sunday we consider something even more unique. We reflect upon the reality of The Holy Trinity. Our thoughts today are unique because the word “Trinity” is not even in scripture. It was never mentioned in any of the writings. Yes, there is mention of the Father, who created us, the Son, who redeemed us, and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us. There is no possibility of the Son without the Father. The Holy Spirit’s sole purpose is to point to the Son. These three are mentioned in the second and gospel reading for today. However, the concept of one God with three persons was not developed until four hundred years, or so, after the birth of Christ.

The concept of the Trinity cannot be understood. It cannot be explained. We can provide perspectives. We can make comments and analogies to help us to grasp some perception of the Trinity. However, The Holy Trinity is beyond understanding.

There is an insert in your bulletin today that might help us a little. The first diagram is in color. In the triangle, the Son is the lower left part of the triangle. The Holy Spirit is the lower right part. The Father is at the top of the triangle. In the center of the triangle is God. Yes, the words are difficult to read, but it says that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. However, as the circle says, the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. The Son is not the Holy Spirit, nor is the Holy Spirit the Son. And, the Holy Spirit is not the Father and the Father is not the Holy Spirit. Folks, that’s not logical. What it says defies all logic. Yet, in the reality of God, it is true. What I like about this diagram is that it becomes evident that we cannot understand God.

Remember Moses at the burning bush? When Moses asked God’s name, God said, “I am who I am.” In other words, I AM. That’s it. God will be who God will be.

The second diagram is simpler. There are three points that depict the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The entire diagram depicts God. And, if we follow the line, we realize there is no beginning or ending. That’s why I like this diagram.

Let me share with you some thoughts that, hopefully, will develop additional perspectives about the Holy Trinity. God is love. That’s scriptural. It’s in First Timothy. God is love. Love requires a relationship. It requires two people.

If you were on a deserted island where there were no animals of any kind, even insects, only vegetation, there cannot be love. Vegetation cannot love back. Oh sure, some of us are tree huggers. Some of us talk to our plants, but they do not talk back. We cannot have a relationship with them. There is no love. It takes two to love.

In the Trinity, the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. Emanating from the Father and the Son is the power of love. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit. What we might perceive as the Holy Trinity is the community of love.

Now, I’ll ask the question I ask now and then, “So what?” In fact, I hope you ask it any time you hear something about our relationship with God and don’t understand how and/or why it affects you on your human journey as a spiritual being.

Paul helps us with this question. We are justified by faith and we live in this grace of God through Jesus Christ. Because of this we can boast of our hope in the glory of God. However we also can boast in our sufferings. (Garrison Keilor says you can always tell a Lutheran. They love to suffer.) Sufferings are a part of life. We cannot avoid them on our human journey as spiritual beings. We live in a broken world. Just hear or read the news. This morning’s headlines talks about the increased violent crimes in the Johnson City area.

But we can boast of our sufferings, because, as Paul says, God’s love has been poured into us. We have been invited into the community of love. And because of that, our sufferings create endurance shaped and formed out of love. And that endurance produces a character, not of the world, but a character that acts out of love that comes from being in the community of love.

Character produces hope. This hope is not the hope that sees a light at the end of the tunnel that becomes an oncoming train. It is the hope that sees the light, the light of Christ. All of this occurs because the love of God has been poured into us from the Holy Spirit. We live with love. We live in love. We live within love.

Personally, I have no problem understanding the Father. All I have to do is look around at God’s creation and see the love of God. I have no problem understanding the Son. I come to the foot of the cross and see the love that the Son has for us as he gave his life so that we may be one with God. While I have a little more problem with the Spirit, there are times – just like you – when I sense the Spirit in my life.

However, I cannot wrap my brain, my understanding, around the Holy Spirit. It is beyond logic. It is beyond intellect. It is beyond understanding. What I can do is realize that I have been invited into the community of love. It is there where I find endurance, character, and hope, surrounded in, with, and within love.

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