Trinity Sunday – 6.12.22

+ Trinity Sunday – June 12th, 2022 +

Series C: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Acts 2:14, 22-36; John 8:49-59

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Triune Paradox”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

Stay on the path. That’s one of the most basic rules of hiking. Those are also wise words for Trinity Sunday, a day when we celebrate one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith.

 

“That we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.” Not three gods but one God in essence. And yet not one Person but three Persons. Three in One and One in Three.

 

Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate the this great paradox and mystery of the Christian faith, namely, that God is both Three and One at the same time. Three Persons in One Divine Essence, one Divine Essence in three Persons. Strange? You bet it is. Understandable? Of course not. So we confess it. As we will in the Athanasian Creed. A summary of about four hundred years of the church struggling four hundred years of struggling to say it just the right way.

 

And even then, we can only come to an approximation, as though looking through a dirty window pane. We can describe God using words like “person” and “being” and “essence” and “substance” but we can’t really explain God. How can something be both Three and One? 

 

No doubt you’ve heard many of the bad analogies of the Trinity. Some say the Trinity is like the sun in the sky; there’s the star, the light, and the heat. Sounds fine but it’s not. In fact, it’s the ancient heresy of Arianism, which taught that Christ and the Holy Spirit are creations of the Father and not one in nature with him, just like the heat and light are not the star itself but creations of the star.

 

Or, some say the Trinity is like water that has three different states: liquid, ice, and vapor. Sounds reasonable. Problem is the Father, Son, and Spirit are not states of God or modes of God’s existence, but distinct Persons with a distinct relationship to each other. The water analogy like many Trinitarian analogies, is just the ancient heresy of Modalism repackaged. God is not three distinct persons but reveals himself in three different forms.

 

And the list could go on. Safe to say, that when it comes to trying to solve the Triune Paradox, you’ll end up in one of two ditches. One is modalistic, which teaches that there’s one God, but three modes, or states, or forms he is present in. These errors deny the Trinitarian language of the Scriptures.

 

The other ditch is tri-theism – three gods. This denies God’s oneness, or unity. It’s what Islam accuses Christianity of. Tritheism. They even call us tri-theists. If you lose the Persons, you will end up as either a modalist or a unitarian. If you lose the one Essence, you will wind up with three separate gods. 

 

The trick to all paradoxes, is like the basic rule of hiking: stay on the path. Confess what Scripture teaches. We worship three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one Being or Essence called “God.” It’s as simple as that.

 

This Trinitarian paradox is revealed all over Scripture. From the opening verses of Genesis in which the Father speaks the Word as the Spirit hovers over the waters of the deep to the Revelation, in which the Lamb who was slain but lives is enthroned at the right hand of the Father and the Spirit flows like a river of life from Father and Son.

 

The Trinity appears in today’s OT reading from Proverbs. The Son is personified as Wisdom, begotten from all eternity, from before the beginning of the earth.

 

The Trinity appears in today’s reading from Acts as well. Peter quotes the psalms. “The Lord says to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Jesus asked the crowds, paradoxically, “How can David’s son be David’s Lord?” And how can “the Lord” and “my Lord” talk to each other and sit next to each other?

 

The Trinity appears in today’s Gospel as well. Jesus is confronted with the paradox of who He is as the Son of God in the flesh. The religious types thought He was nuts. “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” That’s another way of saying, “You’re nuts.” And anyone who claims to be the Son of God in the flesh is nuts or delusional or demon possessed or at least a Samaritan heretic.

Here’s Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth, claiming not simply to be the Messiah, the Christ. But also claiming that God Himself was His Father, that He was sent by the Father, that the Father glorifies Him with a glory not given to Abraham or to Moses or to any of the prophets.

 

Jesus even rubs it in a little bit by indicating that Father Abraham rejoiced by faith that he would see Jesus’ day. He acted as though He and Abraham were on a first name basis, which they were, and had seen each other, which they had. And then Jesus pushes the big button and flat out says it, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

 

This doesn’t simply mean that Jesus is chronologically older than Abraham, but that Jesus is the I AM who Moses say in the burning bush, YHWH of the ineffable name, the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who keeps covenant and shows mercy.

 

They understood exactly what Jesus was saying. They immediately took up stones to throw at Him. He claimed to be “I AM” in the flesh, an audacious claim.

 

Trinity Sunday and the Trinitarian paradox centers on Jesus. The Father sends His Son to suffer, die on a cross, and rise from the dead. And then the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

 

Luther was fond of saying that he knew no other God than the one who nurses at the breast of His virgin mother and who hands dead on the cross bearing the world’s sin. It’s tempting to speculate about God and come up with clever analogies and theories and alternative theologies. But that is nothing more than subtle idolatry in the end, fashioning gods for ourselves in our own image and likeness. God comes to us in the eternal Son. We know God in knowing Jesus. And we know no other God but this Jesus who suffers, dies, and rises, who sends His Spirit, who brings us to the Father.

 

The triune life of God is also our life in Holy Baptism. We are baptized into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We live, move, and have our being within this Triunity, worshipping the Father in the Spirit and in the Truth who is Jesus, having God as our Father, Jesus as our brother, and the Spirit as our Advocate and Guide. We are loved by the Father in the Beloved Son who bears our humanity and are drawn by the Spirit.

 

It is God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – who keeps you on the path. Who leads, guides, saves you, and reveals himself in this great triune paradox that we might rejoice and confess…

 

Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the Undivided Unity. Let us give glory to Him because He has shown His mercy to us.

 

A blessed Trinity Sunday to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977