The full service can be viewed in the below YouTube link
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Last week, six young people confirmed their Christian faith at Kaiserslautern Evangelical Lutheran Church; the seventh one will do so in the near future. We are so proud of them, all of God’s people rejoice at this news…
And in last week’s message, Pastor noted, it was timely that confirmation landed on the celebration of Pentecost; a day when so many came to the Christian faith, and the moment in what many consider the birth of the Church. We continue to observe Pentecost, with our second reading being the continuation of Peter’s Sermon in Acts Chapter 2.
Then, our third reading, our Gospel reading, is Jesus’ great commission to the 11 disciples. Which was also fitting for last weeks service, as Pastor connected confirmation with Jesus’ commands and eternal promise: Go and make disciples, more disciples. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And teaching them to observe all that Jesus had commanded. And, the promise? – Behold, Jesus says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
And our reading from the Old Testament, this Sunday, comes from the very beginning of the Holy Scriptures. Genesis Chapter 1 Verse 1… “In the beginning.”
So, what do these three readings have in common – the first verses of the Bible, Peter’s first sermon, and Jesus’ Great Commission? Well the hint is that today is a feast day in which we confess that there is One divine essence, who we know and call God, God with three Persons. It is Trinity Sunday. Each of these readings contains the essence of God’s oneness, as well as certain ways in which the Father, Son, and Spirit reveal their attributes.
This Oneness of God is found in both the Old and New Testaments alike. God spoke to the Israelite people through Moses saying, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One”, which Jesus repeated in Mark Chapter 12. And in John chapter 10 verse 30, Jesus was in the temple during the feast of dedication when He declared “He and the Father are One.”, while this really riled up His opponents, the important truth is that we have One God.
And within this Godhead, we know there are three Persons, equal in power and all eternal: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. He is a holy God. He is good.
But we have a problem, yes – it is our problem. Our nature, our sinfulness removes any ability to understand God – we are neither Holy nor good. And since He has never changed, it is we who are imperfect… Thankfully, God is love… and, and He blesses His people even when we run astray. Our lives can build up a sort of resistance to His goodness and kindness, even though we truly know He is able to… No, He has changed our lives. Through faith, through baptism, through forgiveness… and of course Holy Communion.
Now, the dangers involved in the theology, the study, of the Trinity is a landscape grander than the wild west. But we will only cover a few beliefs that still have traction in the Christian Church. To start is the issue with taking God’s Oneness too far. If God is “One”, then some have taken this to mean that God must have “modes”; by transforming from Father into Son into Spirit, He would remain One. Yet while it is true that God self-reveals Himself differently in different times; the Father did not hang on the Cross – we know that to be Jesus. And moreover, there are numerous times when all three Persons are present and distinct (Creation & Jesus’ Baptism for example).
Then there are the categories containing all the problems when understanding who Jesus Christ really is. Some believe that Jesus was a great prophet, just a great prophet, maybe even divinely appointed or “adopted” by the Father after His birth. Another belief floating around is that Jesus was created, when He was born of Virgin Mary. These are also false; the second Person of the Trinity is God, was there before Creation, and was not created.
So let’s hear what our three readings for today tell us about the three Persons and the ways in which the Father, Son, and Spirit have been revealed. We receive grand insight as they interact with our very real universe and very real history.
In our Genesis text, we hear that God the Father is the Creator of the universe, everything that is and will ever be. And right along with Him is the Spirit, hovering over the waters of the deep. Man, what cool imagery, just vast nothingness. Then God spoke and it was all perfect, it was very good…
Yet with the fall from perfection so long ago, the earth and everything in it have felt the effects; sin, death, and the power of the devil have left their mark. It is to be said, though, that much of the goodness and beauty that God built into creation is still here on earth. We can see God’s fingerprints all over the forests, mountains, waterways, and as well as on living creatures. The question remains then, “Where is Jesus in all of this?” Well, we know that the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Son, was there during creation too! If we look to the Gospel of John 1, we find an inseparable and very deliberate connection with the story of “In the beginning…” Jesus was with the Father and Holy Spirit in the beginning, but of course He did not have his physical body then. We further hear that not only were all things made through Jesus, but that in Him was life and that life was the light of humanity.
Our second reading comes right after Matthias had just been numbered as the 12th disciple, in order to replace Judas Iscariot. Then, the disciples all experienced the “Holy Spirit Enter(ing) In” (LSB 913) marking the day of Pentecost. Peter’s bold sermon began with prophecies from Joel. We hear the Father pouring out His Spirit on all flesh in verse 17; verse 22 points to Father and Son; and verse 23-24 focuses entirely on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. This was as powerful then as it is today. Peter’s message rightly connects words from our Heavenly Father, the One who created everything has also given us warnings about the last days. But Peter was sure to include the promise that in these last days, the Holy Spirit will be freely given out, to all humanity. Once again, we quickly hear and see the Father and Spirit working. But always come to find that the keystone, the piece holding all things together in God’s plan with Creation – was the Son being sent into it. And while Jesus’ crucifixion came by the hands of the Roman Soldiers, is also a burden the whole of mankind shares. Because all sin, and all sinners placed Jesus on the Cross. But thanks be to God that Jesus’ body did not see corruption, and praise the Lord that His resurrection is our sure hope that Life, and specifically life in Christ Jesus, triumphs over death.
Our final reading is Jesus’ great co-mission. While Jesus’ mission was one that only He could do, looking to His virgin birth, perfect life, undeserved suffering & death, resurrection, He now sits in the seat of power and authority in Heaven – and still has his body . But this co-mission was first given to these eleven disciples, which we know has multiplied greatly throughout the generations. This co-mission is one that you and I still share, one that the people of the Church must live up to. And in this co-mission, we hear the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Word made flesh again reveal that the Father, Himself, and the Holy Spirit are One God to be worshipped and glorified together.
And while this co-mission may trouble our hearts like the disciples’ hearts were when Jesus was about to leave them and ascend into heaven. Listen to what Jesus says in John Chapter 16, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper, will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” And this helper, this advocate in some translations, is the Holy Spirit. Jesus, along with the Father, promise to pour out the Holy Spirit, without restraint around our world. We can be sure that it is to our advantage to have God the Holy Spirit in and with us, until Jesus returns.
Happy Trinity Sunday, KELC. We pray that God the Father continues blessing the Congregation with physical and spiritual needs, we pray that the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to be proclaimed from the pulpit, hopefully in person soon, and we pray that the Holy Spirit continues guiding, enlightening, sanctifying and keeping us all in the One, True faith.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.