6/6/04, Trinity Sunday, C
y Dad's favorite all purpose remedy for getting rusted bolts unscrewed was “3-in-One” oil. I still have one of the tiny cans and use it occasionally. It was advertised as “Three oils in one,” which meant that it was useful for so many household chores. One of my Dad's church members was rumored to use it to keep his curly hair slicked down. Mother was never convinced that it was permissible to use “3-in-One” in her beloved Singer sewing machine, and would not let us guys use her special Singer can of oil, ever. In today's world all of these products have been supplanted by the popular synthetic spray lubricant, “WD-40.” Modern males claim to use this stuff on their “cow licks.” It is also multi purpose oil advertised for: “Stopping squeaks, protecting metal parts, and freeing sticky mechanisms, a miracle fix for locks and keys.” It does hundreds of things all from one can!
I have belabored this multi purpose idea in order to help us get a hold on the unexplainable biblical concept of the Trinity. God is presented as three persons, yet one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus just tells us that this is the way it is without any explanation. New Testament passages do not attempt an explanation, but assume that this is just the way God has revealed Himself to us and we are ultimately left scratching our heads for a logical, provable answer. For me, all of these little unanswerable quirks of theology are just peculiar enough to make it seem more real, just as life in general offers more questions than answers.
God is presented in all orthodox denominational books of doctrine as being one, yet three distinct persons. If out faith was invented by humans it would probably have not presented such a paradox; yet, since it is based on Scripture we believe in the doctrine of the Trinity; admitting all the while that it is unexplainable
In our Book of Discipline , Paragraph 103, Article I, entitled, “Of Faith in the Holy Trinity,” we read:
“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in the unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
In no less an important occasion than The Great Commission, Jesus commands us to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28: 19, NRSV). Saint Paul 's benediction to the Corinthian Church offers this restatement of Trinitarian language: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (II Cor. 13:13).
On the experiential level we all have a hunch that God is real. We feel His Spirit in our bones. We read the stories of Jesus and we have good vibes. It all seems as real to us as does anything else. Then, by faith, as we read last Sunday from Romans 8:16, “it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Once we have experienced God we know that He is as real as rocks and rain.
Any man and woman in love can tell you that the highest in life can't be understood, but can sure fire be felt. Most of our favorite songs are love songs and none of them try to explain that crazy thing called love. There is absolutely no denying that love is real, yet unexplainable. Lots of things are not provable; yet, they make the world go round.
The prestigious weekly news magazine, “ U.S. News and World Report,” published a “Special Collectors Edition” several years ago entitled, “Mysteries of Science.” It dealt with everyday unexplainable experiences such as: “The Musical Mind: If song has no purpose, why is it deep-wired in the brain?” “Why do we age?” “What is memory made of?” “What came before creation?” “New insights into the big bang point to other universes.” Then the age old unexplainable medical question, “Why do we hiccup?” We do it, but why?
Any boy or girl can tell you that we do sometimes hiccup, but we try to not do so in public, but after we fall in love we giggle about it together. The best times we have in life are experienced on a purely emotional level and we never question why. So, why do we want to analyze God? Can't we just experience His multi-persons without an explanation?
To tell the truth, I can't even understand Marilyn after a lifetime of love and marriage and two baby carriages. So, why should I expect to know it all about the Almighty?
Our higher purpose is to act as God's hands, feet and voices on earth. We are called to preach, teach, baptize, laugh, love, help and live; not to go pound every difficult question down into a simple answer. It is in the doing of the gospel that we find the experiences that surpass knowledge. It is in doing the work of God that we give new life to the world. Ours is a message of faith, hope and love made visible in actions. Ours is not a complicated set of mathematical formulas that prove our point.
Yet we are a thoughtful, thirsty for knowledge, kind of people. We uncover some small answers along the way. There are books being published that point the reasonableness of nature; but still, our great joy is felt in the fulfillment of Jesus' Great Commission to: “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and remember to keep a can of multiple purpose WD-40 in our trunk just in case something comes up that we can't handle by prayer--- or come to think of it, just maybe we can do all things in Him.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor