Christ Lutheran Church Upper Darby
May 30, 2021 Worship Sermon - "Holy Trinity Sunday"
Delivered by Rev. Stephen Keiser
Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth… creator of stars and galaxies and quasars and super-massive black holes… creator of oceans and lakes and streams and hurricanes and floods and tsunamis? Creator of mountains and valleys and volcanos and earthquakes? Creator of thousand-year-old oak trees and lilacs and peonies and poison ivy and coronaviruses? Creator of cicadas and monarch butterflies and spotted lantern flies and e coli? Creator of blue whales and gazelles and tigers and humans?
The God who created the heavens and the earth is far beyond our human comprehension. It’s a quaint form of blasphemy when we picture God as an old man with billowing white hair and a deep bass voice. That is not what God looks like or sounds like. If we had to depict God, we would be far better off following the Orthodox tradition of painting icons. When Orthodox Christians paint icons, they take seriously the commandment against making a graven image of God. So, rather than trying to depict God, they simply draw a black circle to show that God is beyond our ability to describe. Sometimes we use words instead of pictures to describe God; but even words fall short. We might use words like “good” and “loving” to describe God; but even those words, are they adequate to describe a God who created a world in which animals survive by eating each other?
The prophet Isaiah was worshipping in the temple one day and all of a sudden his eyes were opened to the reality of being in the presence of the One who created the heavens and the earth. What Isaiah beheld was terrifying! He responded the way all of us would respond if they same thing happened to us: “Woe is me! Woe is me!”
And yet, our faith teaches us that this God who is far beyond our understanding chooses to be in relationship with us. Not only does God choose to be in relationship with us, God enters into the world that God created and becomes a part of it along with us. God takes on the same, fragile flesh that we have, experiencing pain and death along with us, in order to be among us… to be one with us… to love us. “God so loved the world,” John 3:16 says, “that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
In order to describe the indescribable mystery of God becoming one with us, we use concepts like the Trinity. The Trinity is God reaching into the world to be in relationship with us and with all creation. God takes on human flesh so that we might come to know the unknowable God, so that we might come to know God as good…. so that we might come to know God as loving.
The best image for what I am trying to explain is one that I witnessed several years ago. Pat Montenegro, the music director of my former congregation, and his wife, Lauren, had just given birth to twin girls. The twins were born four months prematurely. They barely weighed a pound each, so obviously they spent their first few months of life in a hospital incubator. Their immune system was far too undeveloped and weak to risk exposing them to all the dangers of the world outside the womb.
Soon after the girls were born, Pat invited me to come to the hospital and offer them a prayer of blessing. You’ve probably seen incubators either in person or on the news. They’re kind of like fish tanks, but attached to one of the glass walls, there are rubber gloves reaching into the incubator. A doctor or a family member can make contact with the baby in the incubator by placing his or her hands into the gloves. After Pat and I had robed and scrubbed, he placed his hands into the rubber gloves and began to caress his daughters in the most loving way possible in an otherwise sterile, clinical environment. Even though he couldn’t lift them into his arms and embrace them the way he wanted, they could still feel the loving warmth of his touch.
As I watched Pat caressing his daughters through the incubator, I realized that I was witnessing a wonderful image of the Trinity. God the Father puts on gloves of human flesh in order to reach into our world and love us back from death to life. Jesus Christ is the glove of flesh through whom God enters our world. The Holy Spirit is the Love that is communicated in this whole process.
The Trinity is God nurturing us in love so that we might grow and live and become the hands through which others are also brought to life. The Trinity is God the Father blessing us through the hands of Jesus Christ and commissioning us through the love of the Holy Spirit.
This is what it means to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptized in the name of the Triune God, you have been given a blessing and a commission. You have been blessed along with Jesus to be a child of God. And you have been sent in the power of the Holy Spirit to be a blessing to others. You are God’s beloved daughters and sons. Now go, be that love in the streets and in the neighborhoods and in the homes of Upper Darby.