Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wait...There's more! (Trinity Sunday sermon)

How many of you have seen an infomercial before? You know, one of those long commercials on television selling something like a rotisserie oven, a set of knives, a 14-piece vacation-wear set or a juicer that does everything but change your bed sheets. In an infomercial, there is always the studio audience as well. They applaud at the miracle of a moist roast or the Ronco worm trimmer that makes a sound like a real worm. The audience also always knows the punchlines for the presenter, the best of which is “But wait… there’s more.”

That line is what I kept thinking about this week while trying to write a sermon about the Trinity. In trying to describe how our one God is three separate and significant persons and yet one holy unity, I kept writing and thinking, “But wait… there’s more!”

In the first reading today, that lengthy section of Genesis, we get a glimpse of the creative power of the Trinity. As some of you have heard me explain before, the Hebrew word for that void, the blackness before creation, is tohu wabohu. Tohu wabohu is a phrase used nowhere else in the Bible except in this passage. It speaks to the chaos and absolute absence of anything significant until God spoke it into movement.

But where we would see nothing, God sees potential. We perceive a void, an absence… but where God is, there is presence- the presence of potential- potential for creation, potential for new life, potential for grace. John tells us that in the beginning the Word was with God and we hear in Genesis how the Spirit moved over the waters- inspiring the movement of creation, from tohu wabohu, awakening the potential of the world. The Waker, the Word and Wind, the Trinity, moved beyond their relationship with one another into a relationship with a universe teeming with potential. The work of the Trinity is creative. But wait… there’s more!

When we create something, plant a garden, hang a picture, build a swing set or fight for an idea or cause, we often step back and think to ourselves about how good it looks, how good it feels to have done the project, how good it might have been to work with other people. We are able to recognize goodness because of the relationships in our lives, past or present, that have defined what goodness is for us.

It is this relational aspect that gives us some insight into the God in whose image we are made, the God who declared each step of creation good. God saw the potential of the wasted space and then recognized the goodness of each step of creation because of the mutual love and goodness that is between the members of the Trinity.

However, when we read this part of Genesis, there is a note of sadness that cannot help but creep into our hearts. That old Satanic foe snakes his way in and reminds us that the pristine goodness of creation did not remain that way for long. Before we could comprehend the heights of love unknown, the relationship had broken down- between the Creator and the created, between the Beloved and loved, between the Holy Breath and us, the breathing. Suddenly it seems there was unrecoverable distance between God and creation and between the created beings themselves. But even when it seemed like it had all been a waste, the Trinity, because of their relationship, their ability to recognize goodness, in one another and in us, the three-in-one God still saw potential for redemption.

So, in Jesus, as part of God, as the eternal Word in human form, came to earth to live among us. Jesus tells us, in John, that because we know him, we also know the Father. The love that Jesus demonstrates to those around him, the forgiveness of sins that he preaches, the healing that he brings about… this was the work of God on Earth, for the earth. Because God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so loved the world, their creation, that they fashioned a new level of relationship between themselves and us, a new connection between heaven and earth. In the tohu wabohu of a sinful world, the Trinity saw potential for redemption, potential for grace, potential for new life. The work of the Trinity is redeems. But wait…there’s more!

In today’s passage from Matthew, known as the Great Commission, it says the disciples went to Galilee as Jesus had directed them. They saw him there and they worshipped him, their risen Savior, but some doubted. Did they doubt that this was Jesus? Or could it be that they doubted themselves?

They knew their miserable track record, hiding out, scared after the crucifixion. They knew their own confusion at Jesus’ teachings and their struggles to heal as he did, forgive as he did, and pray as he did. Jesus does not even speak to their doubt, but tells them, “I am in charge. Through me, you have seen God and you know in your hearts the love God has for you. It is the love I have for you and the love you have for one another. Tell other people about it! Tell them what you have heard and seen! I have the power in this world and the next and I am always with you! Let my words wash over you and you carry them to others. Tell them of the good news of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit- one God with you and with them- forever!”

For both the disciples in front of Jesus and for us, disciples today, we know well our own track records and we struggle with how God might use us or whether we are simply frauds in our beliefs and our actions. Hear the gracious words of Jesus: he has the power! We are called to witness to that power in our daily lives with whatever gifts we have. God will make our actions right and holy. That’s what we call sanctification.

We know that we don’t have the power to do anything, but with God- all things are possible. God sees the potential of our lives- potential for holiness, potential for new life, potential for grace. Even in the tohu wabohu of our lives, the Trinity uses us in ways we know and do not know to create new goodness in the world, making our deeds useful and holy! The work of the Trinity sanctifies! But wait…there’s more!

Creating, redeeming, sanctifying… so much from one God, so much even from three persons. And how much would you pay for all this? $100? $200? $19.95? It is yours for free. This isn’t a limited time offer. You don’t have to call now. Because of the relationship of love the members of the Trinity have with one another and with the world, this offer remains on the table forever! For you, for me, for everyone! Do you see the potential? For healing, for grace, for new life?

Thanks be to God, the Wellspring, the Living Water and the River of Life… Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier… Father, Son and Holy Spirit…

There is always more. Always more. For you and for me. With the everlasting Trinity, one God, now and forever, there is always more.

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