Sermon on the Blessed Trinity (May 26, 1991)
The Holy Trinity
May 26, 1991
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 Psalm 149 Romans 8: 14-17 John 3: 1-17
The festival of the Holy Trinity comes right after Pentecost, the festival of the Holy Spirit, for good reason.
“God is spirit and those who worship him, worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Therefore we say:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord Thy God is one.”
And this does not only hold for Judaism, it also holds for our faith. Because Jesus the Christ, is this very God become present among us.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.”
And after the crucifixion and the resurrection, the One sent from heaven to be with us, returned in the Holy Spirit to remain our Comforter, Advocate, Counselor, and Guide.
So this is the richness of the Godhead: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And perhaps the best way to understand this mystery is to realize that God is spirit, and therefore the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.
This new interpretation makes much of the very intricate and complicated reasoning describing the blessed Trinity unnecessary. God is spirit. Christ is the presence of God among us. And the Holy Spirit is the continuing presence of Christ. That helps us understand the Trinity in very simple terms.
Nicodemus tried to grapple with the fact that Jesus was a teacher come from God. And Jesus confronted him with the necessity for him to be born of the water and the spirit. The first part confounds the old teacher, because God was held completely separate from human beings and here was Christ a human being who had the presence of God with him or he could not have done the signs and wonders that he was doing. We will also take hold of the second part later.
God was in Christ reconciling the world with himself, no longer counting our sins against us.
God did not stay a spectator and just watch us from a distance – not that God ever remained distant from us, but we could not perceive him, until he came down from heaven and showed us the way of life in Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Christ, God participated fully among us human beings showing us the greatest love the world has ever known. What an incomprehensible love, that the One, whom all the worlds cannot contain, who is too great for the whole paltry universe to comprehend, walked in our paths, spoke with us, suffered with us, and not only walked many a mile in our shoes, but also died just like us.
But in doing that, Christ gave us a way to have our human spirits become filled by the spirit of God, to have our mortal frames take and receive an eternal body, to have our natural lives become translated into those of the children of God.
In this way, there is a great big welcome for us coming out of the Holy Trinity. God the Father has also adopted us as his children. And we can gather around the communion table, and cry: “Abba, dear Father!” and make petitions, requests, thanksgiving – all manner of prayers to the one, who gives us a very wonderful family of divine origin and future, above and beyond whatever natural family of origin we might have had or have.
And because Christ died for us, we receive the goodly inheritance of all things – but much more still, as you will hear. We receive an inheritance far superior, incomparably more glorious, than that of the Kennedys, J.P. Morgan’s, Rockefellers, or any billionaire oil sheik from Saudi Arabia.
We become born from above. We receive a new birth, and all things are made new for us. Ours is the new heaven and the new earth. Ours will be the coming Kingdom, and for us there will be ready made crowns.
In the will, [that is, last will and testament of Christ] there is a new heart for you, a new mind, a new way of life, a place reserved for you in heaven.
Because of the Holy Trinity, we receive these heavenly gifts that no earthly ones can match.
And eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor heart imagined and perceived the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love him. Who impress this love of God on their children, talk about it when we get up and when we lay down, when we ride on the elevator to our floor, when we ride on the belt, or step into a bus. All of us should get the symbol of the fish, which shows the letters standing for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son is our Savior.” and we should fix them on the doorposts of our homes and on the gates of our yards so all may know to whom we belong, and that we are the eternal children with our eyes fixed on heaven from where all these good things come.
So we need to be born of the water and of the spirit. If we are made free by the Son then we are free indeed. And we will be in the Holy Spirit which is the movement of love and truth and goodness and beauty and righteousness and hope peace and joy. And the Son accomplishes the new birth in us through our faith.
You need this wonder in your life: the boundless love of God to feel and experience and share! And because of it, you will not perish, but be a receiver of eternal life. Yours will be more than merely a natural body and blood. From Christ you receive the real body and blood.
Those who reject Christ, those who refuse to believe and call upon his name, will be like shadows that quickly vanish – while the friends of God, are like the sun, when she rises in all her splendor! (Judges 5:31)
There is a great marriage that takes place between heaven and earth because of the Holy Trinity. If you want to be invited to the great banquet, and be part of that great wedding reception, then you have to believe on the Christ that God sent, and you have to be born anew of the water and the spirit.
Then you will be part of a marvelous change that will come over the whole earth: hunger and pain will be no more – all wars shall cease – neither will there be anymore crime and violence, sickness and disease. All these things shall have passed away.
People will rise up and receive their places at God’s table – and they will build heavenly cities, and the Bread of Heaven will be multiplied and shared over the whole world, and no longer will countless children die of hunger – but the needs of all God’s children will be met on that glorious day.
What a time! There was never a time before like it. Wet and kinky, like a new born chick hatching out of its egg, the new heavens and earth will emerge wet with the baptismal dew of Christ. We will see God face to face, and realize that because of the life and death, cross and resurrection of Christ, we have received a time that will never end.
The pure in heart will see the One hidden in light in a pure world glistening in the freshness of the new creation.
We salute you, Jerusalem, heavenly city!
We salute you, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Three in One.
Holy, Holy, Holy we bow down before you,
worship, praise and adore you.
We thank you for being our God. Amen.
Pastor Peter Krey
P.S. This is one of the sermons I preached in St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church in Coney Island. New York. In the following year I left for graduate studies at GTU in Berkeley, California (August 15, 1992). I had not yet written a 200 page study: Does the immanent Trinity preceded the economic Trinity in Hegel?