Trinity Sunday
Pastor George Pejakovich
John 16:12-15

ONE OF THE LESS HUMOROUS JOKES IN THE MINISTRY IS THAT MOST PREACHERS WILL DO ANYTHING TO GET OUT OF PREACHING ON THIS SUNDAY, TO INCLUDE GOING ON VACATION, FOISTING THE SERMON OFF ON A SLOW MOVING DEACON, OR GIVING IT TO THE ASSISTANT. WELL, HERE WE ARE. THE REASON FOR THIS IS THAT IT IS VERY DIFFICULT, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT THE TRINITY WITHOUT ENDING UP IN SOME SORT OF HERESY, BECAUSE THE CONCEPT OF ONE GOD IN THREE PERSONS IS REALLY BEYOND THE LIMITS OF OUR REASON. YOU CAN READ THE HOLY SCRIPTURES FROM COVER TO COVER AND YOU WILL NOT FIND A SINGLE EXAMPLE OF THE WORD TRINITY. THAT IS BECAUSE THE WORD DID NOT EXIST UNTIL AFTER THE COUNCIL OF NICEA IN THE FORTH CENTURY. THE CHURCH WAS STRUGGLING WITH ALL SORTS OF HERESY REGARDING THE NATURE OF GOD AND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. THE COUNCIL WAS CALLED BY THE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE TO SETTLE THE ISSUE OF WHAT IT MEANS WHEN WE SAY THE WORD “GOD.” THE RESULT IS WHAT WE KNOW AS THE NICEAN CREED.

WHILE THE USE OF THE WORD “TRINITY” BECAME COMMON USAGE, AT LEAST AMONG THEOLOGIANS, WE HAVE NO RECORD OF A TRINITY SUNDAY UNTIL THE ELEVENTH CENTURY WHEN WE READ OF TRINITY SUNDAY BEING CELEBRATED IN ENGLAND. WHILE NICEA SEEMED TO HAVE SETTLED THE ISSUE, THERE WERE STILL SOME DIFFERENCES IN UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE CHURCH IN THE EAST AND THE CHURCH IN THE WEST, AS TO WHETHER THE SPIRIT PROCEEDED FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON, OR FROM THE FATHER ALONE. THIS WAS ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT LEAD TO THE SCHISM OF THE ELEVENTH CENTURY AND THE DESIGNATION OF A SUNDAY FOR THE TRINITY IN BOTH EAST AND WEST. THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST WAS CHOSEN, BECAUSE THE FEAST OF THE HOLY TRINITY IS A REFLECTION ON WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT PENTECOST.

AS JESUS WAS PREPARING HIS DISCIPLES AT THE LAST SUPPER FOR WHAT WOULD HAPPEN AFTER HIS DEATH, RESURRECTION, AND ASCENSION, HE TOLD THEM, “WHEN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH COMES, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL THE TRUTH, FOR HE WILL NOT SPEAK ON HIS OWN, BUT WILL SPEAK WHATEVER HE HEARS, AND HE WILL DECLARE TO YOU THE THINGS THAT ARE TO COME. HE WILL GLORIFY ME, BECAUSE HE WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE AND DECLARE IT TO YOU. ALL THAT THE FATHER HAS IS MINE. FOR THIS REASON I SAID THAT HE WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE AND DECLARE IT TO YOU.” THE PURPOSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, IS TO GLORIFY JESUS, BECAUSE ALL THAT THE FATHER HAS IS IN JESUS, AND ALL THAT JESUS HAS IS IN THE FATHER, AND THE SPIRIT MAKES THIS KNOWN TO US BY HIS TESTIMONY TO JESUS.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, THEN, IS NOT SOME ESOTERIC THEOLOGICAL SPECULATION, BUT IS, RATHER, A DESCRIPTION OF HOW WE EXPERIENCE GOD; PRIMARILY THROUGH THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. INSTEAD OF SOME DRY DISSERTATION ON HOW ONE GOD CAN BE IN THREE PERSONS, IT IS THE MIRACULOUS REVELATION THROUGH THE TESTIMONY OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD THAT WHEN WE KNOW JESUS WE KNOW THE OTHERWISE UNKNOWABLE GOD OF ALL CREATION. IT IS THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT TO LEAD US TO THE TRUTH THAT IS UNKNOWABLE BY ANY OTHER MEANS THAT IN THE PERSON WE KNOW AS JESUS IS THE FULL REVELATION OF THE PERSON OF GOD. THE SPIRIT LEADS US TO FOLLOW JESUS; AND IN FOLLOWING JESUS, AND LIVING OUT HIS TEACHINGS, THE SPIRIT CONFIRMS THAT WE ARE DOING THE WILL AND WORK OF OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.

BECAUSE THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, ALL THINGS MUST BE MEASURED BY THE TESTIMONY OF THE SPIRIT TO THE TRUE VOICE OF GOD IN THE WORD OF GOD. AS MARTIN LUTHER SAID, “IF WE ARE TO HOLD TO CHRIST’S WORD . . . AND TO JUDGE ALL TEACHINGS AND SIGNS, LIFE AND ACTIVITY, ACCORDING TO THIS, THE HOLY SPIRIT MUST BE PRESENT WITH HIS REVELATION.” SO THEN, THE SPIRIT LEADS US TO THE SON, WHO SHOWS US THE FATHER, WHO, THROUGH THE SON, SHOWS US THE WAY TO LIFE IN HIS WORD. THE VOICE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUES TO SPEAK TO US IN THE WORD OF GOD THAT POINTS US TO JESUS, CONSISTENTLY LEADING US FROM LISTENING ONLY TO OURSELVES TO HEARING THE FATHER’S WORD IN THE WORD MADE FLESH. WE CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MUSINGS OF OUR OWN MINDS AND THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, BECAUSE THE SPIRIT WILL ALWAYS POINT US TO JESUS WHO REVEALS TO US THE FATHER.

WE CAN KNOW THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS AT WORK IN US AND AT WORK TODAY, AND NOT JUST ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST. WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORDS OF ABSOLUTION, THE HOLY SPIRIT TAKES THE “NOT GUILTY” VERDICT JESUS WAS AWARDED BY HIS INNOCENT LIFE AND DEATH AND GIVES IT TO YOU SO THAT YOU ARE GUILTLESS IN THE EYES OF THE FATHER. WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD OF GOD READ, THE SPIRIT TAKES THE LIFE OF JESUS FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS AND INCLUDES YOU IN THAT LIFE. WHEN YOU WERE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, YOU WERE WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB, AND STAND PURE AND UNDEFILED IN THE EYES OF THE FATHER. WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE HOLY EUCHARIST, THE HOLY SPIRIT TAKES JESUS’ OWN BODY AND BLOOD AND FEEDS YOU WITH THE FOOD OF THE FATHER’S HEAVENLY BANQUET TO COME. WHEN YOU MAKE THE SIGN OF THE CROSS ON YOUR BODY, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, YOU ARE MARKING YOURSELF AS ONE WHO BELONGS TO THE ONE GOD IN THREE PERSONS. YOU CAN KNOW THE HOLY SPIRIT IS AT WORK WHEN, IN ALL THINGS, HE POINTS YOU TO AND GIVES GLORY TO JESUS, WHO HAS SHOWN YOU THE FATHER IN HEAVEN.

AS I SAID BEFORE, THE TRINITY IS OUR ATTEMPT TO PUT INTO WORDS HOW WE EXPERIENCE GOD, WHICH WE REALLY CAN NOT UNDERSTAND BY REASON ALONE, BUT MUST TRUST IN THE TRUTH REVEALED TO US BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD. THE GREATER, AND MOST WONDERFUL PART OF THIS MYSTERY, IS THAT, IN CHRIST, THIS DIVINE RELATIONSHIP IS OPENED TO US. IN NO MEANS AS AN EQUAL PARTNER, BUT, IF THROUGH THE SPIRIT, WE ARE IN CHRIST AND CHRIST IS IN US, THEN WE ARE IN THE SON, AND THUS A PART OF THAT ETERNAL DIVINE RELATIONSHIP WHICH IS BEYOND ALL HUMAN THOUGHT AND WORDS. THAT IS WHY WE CELEBRATE THIS FESTIVAL DAY, AND CAN REJOICE FOREVER IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN.

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