Two-Parts Love One-Part Creation

Good morning. This is Memorial Day weekend and; liturgically speaking it’s Trinity Sunday. The lectionary for today lists John 3:1-17 which includes that very famous quote “for He so love the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that who so ever believed in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” There’s a very good reason why this particular chapter is used, but it really tells us only one third of the story about the trinity. The Nicene creed on the other hand does. Above all though and before I get into it, we need to have common ground, understanding. With that in mind I want to tell you a little story about The Pope and the Rabbi Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Italy. There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal: he’d have a religious debate with the leader of the Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy; if the Pope won, they’d have to convert or leave. The Jewish people met and picked an aged and wise rabbi to represent them in the debate. However, as the rabbi spoke no Italian, and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, they agreed that it would be a ‘silent’ debate. On the chosen day the Pope and rabbi sat opposite each other. The Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. The rabbi looked back and raised one finger. Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head. The rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat. The Pope brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine. The rabbi pulled out an apple. With that, the Pope stood up and declared himself beaten and said that the rabbi was too clever. The Jews could stay in Italy. Later the cardinals met with the Pope and asked him what had happened. The Pope said, ‘First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up a single finger to remind me there is still only one God common to both our beliefs. Then, I waved my finger around my head to show him that God was all around us. The rabbi responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves us of all our sins, and the rabbi pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin. He bested me at every move and I could not continue. Meanwhile, the Jewish community gathered to ask the rabbi how he’d won. ‘I haven’t a clue,’ said the rabbi. ‘First, he told me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger. Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I told him that we were staying right here.’ And then what?’ asked a woman. ‘Who knows?’ said the rabbi. ‘He took out his lunch, so I took out mine.’[1] Believe it or not many times that’s exactly how we approach the Trinity. A lot of hand waving and finger pointing with both side believing they understand the other, while the average person is just plain confused. You might wonder why anyone doesn’t want to preach the trinity. Well, it took the apostolic fathers almost 400 years to agree on precisely what trinitarianism is in the first place. For those of you who do not know what the $64 word means, it simply means that we believe that God exists as three beings, while each is a separate being all three have an identical nature. One God, one nature, three aspects. The three aspects being, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the nature indivisible and whole is God. We express that belief in what we commonly refer to as the Nicene Creed. It’s more accurately the Constantinople-Nicene creed because the first creed was written in Nicaea in 325 and then amended in Constantinople in 381, still it’s the only explanation of Trinitarianism, that almost every church has agreed upon, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and the major Protestant denominations all profess their belief in the Nicene Creed. As we go over the words, I want you to read the words with your heart, not your mind, feel them, don’t just think about what they say, don’t just read them as wrote, like the Lord’s prayer, we say this so much that it’s lost its meaning. It’s become something we just do every Sunday. Why? These words sum up our personal belief in God, in the universe. As Christians there is no other litany or expression of our existence that is more meaningful than these words. It’s who we are as the Church, as children of God, as followers of Christ, with the Holy Spirit indwelling. The creed is our declaration to the world that God exists, Christ is our Saviour and the Holy Spirit binds us one to the other. Listen, please to the Nicene Creed“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is unseen. One God, only one God, One God created the universe and everything in it. [Deuteronomy 6:4] “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. Our sovereign Lord and master Jesus Christ, the only Son of God begotten not made, one in being, one in nature with the Father. [John3:16] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He is one with the Father, not separated from Him but one with Him, begotten of Him. [John 1:3] All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. And all things were made through Him, the all mighty maker of heaven and earth, the Father and the Son. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit was it possible for God to be born, to be created, to become man. [Luke 1:35] “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” And He did this for our sake, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. (and yet still a part of the Father) He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. (it will be eternal, everlasting, without end) We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, meaning that it is one and the same, it is an integral part of the Father, just as the Son, so also with the Holy Spirit. [Romans 8:9-11] “But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” Three in one. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. One church, one God, one eternity. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Once saved, always saved. Grace is freely given, having been bought and paid for by Jesus. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.[2] Our inheritance as children of God is assured through faith in Christ and that inheritance is life eternal Amen. These are the things that we say we believe. Like I said though we tend to just recite these words without thinking about what we are saying. We get caught up in dogma and political correctness, the world is clamoring for our attention so loudly so incessantly that we just don’t hear the meaning behind the words any longer. We forget that Jesus came first and foremost to preach the good news. [Luke 4:43] But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” and [Matthew 6:33] “But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Jesus came to preach the good news, “repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:7 Yes! He also came to redeem us and pay for our sins, but primarily His goal was to glorify the Father, to bring us back into relationship with the Father. And that’s something that we often forget when we recite the creed, we are acknowledging that relationship, we are pledging ourselves to that relationship every time we say the creed, every time we participate in the Holy Sacraments, we are telling the world that we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Amen. So next time we say the creed or partake of communion, remember, they’re not just words. They are a solemn and binding oath between you and God, and I don’t think I need to remind you just how important that is, how sacred those words are when they are spoken by us and reinforced by the Holy Spirit in God’s house as we abide in Christ. There is nothing on this earth more powerful than our righteous faith as Christians in unity with God. And finally, I want to leave you with a simple example of the Trinity. Think of it like you would water, water may exist in three separate aspects, a liquid, a solid (ice), and vapor (steam), and still it remains water, H2O. Two-part Hydrogen and one-part Oxygen. Think of God as the liquid water, like liquid flows over everything, it’s irresistible. Think of Jesus as the ice, the solid immovable aspect, and the Holy Spirit is the steam, the vapor that covers everything, infuses everything. Two-parts love and one-part creation. Amen. That concludes Christian science 101.

[1] http://www.swapmeetdave.com/Humor/Religious.htm

[2] Cairns, A. (2002). In Dictionary of Theological Terms (p. 309). Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International.

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