“I Can’t Explain”
“I Can’t Explain”
There are some things I cannot explain. I cannot explain how a computer can turn a bunch of ones and zeroes into cat videos and videos of people “failing.” I cannot explain how people like Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian are thought, by some, to have the knowledge and wisdom to solve all the world’s problems. I can’t explain how the President of the United States has enough time in his day to go on Twitter as much as he does. I can’t explain Bob Stoops retiring this past Wednesday. I can’t explain Fidget Spinners.
And I cannot explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Today is the Sunday of the Holy Trinity, the only day on the church calendar that is dedicated to a doctrine, and not a person or historical action. Today we start the second half of the church year, what we call the non–festival half. During the festival half, we do Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. On those festivals, we remember how God the Father sent us the best present of all in His Son, we remember how The Son went to the cross and rose again for us, and we remember that the gifts of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice are delivered to us by the work of the Holy Spirit. Today we wrap it all up in one great big Sunday/Festival of the Holy Trinity as we celebrate the relationship of our Triune God to us and us to Him. Normally we use the Athanasian Creed for this particular Sunday, but this year I passed on that.
The words Trinity and triune are not mentioned in the Bible, but the concept of our Triune God is everywhere in evidence in the Scriptures. Look at the Gospel today where Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The Bible clearly states that there is a Heavenly Father. Jesus talk about Him a lot. The Old Testament tells us He created the universe, and everything it. The Bible clearly states that Jesus is the Son of God who came here to die and rise again to take away our sins. The Bible clearly states that the Holy Spirit brings us faith, forgiveness and eternal life through The Word and the Sacraments. And the Bible clearly states that “The Lord our God, the Lord is One.” (Deut. 6:4) My sermon today is a personal presentation on the Triune God. Here is my story:
Jesus went for a walk one day almost 2000 years ago. It was to be His last physical walk on earth. His footsteps led Him to a certain hill in Palestine, where He met the disciples. As they saw Him coming they worshiped Him, as the Bible tells us, but it also says, “…some doubted.” As if to address their fears and erase their doubts Jesus assured them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And then He said the strangest thing, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” These are strange words in the sense that they are the last words that Jesus spoke before He rose to heaven. Have you ever told someone, “Sure, I’m staying,” and then left?
Now, many years later, those puzzling words have proven to be no empty promise, and no idle boast. There is a lot of evidence that Jesus continues to be with us. I mean, think about it, back then there were 11 disciples, and today there are about a billion! Jesus is still present on the earth today. He is present right here every Sunday.
Here is how I know the Trinity/the Triune God. I know that God the Father created me. I know this. I’m here! The Bible clearly states that the Son of God, Jesus, died on a cross and rose for my sins. And then His Holy Spirit came upon me and brought me to Him. I will never know why He chose me, as there is nothing special about me, me being a sinner and all.
But a miracle happened when the Holy Spirit came upon me. My heart did an about face. I was baptized. Free gifts from God–faith, forgiveness of sins, and never ending life–were given to me. I don’t remember this happening. I was 5 weeks old at the time. (This happened on January 14, 1962.) I could not express the faith in my heart. But it was there. The Holy Spirit put it there. And there came a time, after much study and memory work, that I did express my faith, and in the church we call that time confirmation (May 16, 1976). I promised I would remain faithful to my Savior, and I have promised it often ever since. Among those times, I promised it on the day I got ordained (June 9, 1991) and I promised on the day I became the pastor of this congregation (March 9, 2003).
Now I do not want you to get the idea that the Triune God is there just for me. My ego is not running away with me or anything. Millions of people have the same story as I do. I would imagine that for many of you, you have a similar story, well, except for the ordination part. The “I” in my story includes any Christian–any member of the Church. All who have God given faith in Jesus are the Church. I know this is Trinity Sunday but Jesus is our Savior and so we emphasize Him a little bit around here. I learned about Him on the laps of my parents; read about Him in the Bible; learned His story in Sunday school and VBS, at St. John Lutheran School in West Bend, WI; Concordia Seminary, and later I taught it to others and preached it from pulpits. Our God is a Triune God, and Jesus is the eternal Son of God, second person in that Holy Trinity.
But He is more than a biblical/historical fact or a dry doctrine. He is my personal Savior, and yours! The angels at Christmas time tell us every year, “Today…a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” This Savior died for you and me and rose again, so that now “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1John 1:7) And Jesus says of Himself in our text, “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
What a mighty Savior Jesus is. He is the eternal, almighty I AM. Jesus said it Himself in the Gospel of John, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” He isn’t lying when He says today and every day, “I am with you always.” His very name–Immanuel, God with us–means this promise is true. He has been with me; He is with me, He will be with me–and you–through the end of the world and through all eternity.
Jesus and Me! What an honor! How amazing is that? I am certainly not the world’s most honored person. I don’t usually associate with presidents, senators, governors or kings. I once shook the hand of the Governor of Wisconsin (And shook the hand of Senator Bill Proxmire). I had breakfast with Steve Largent once. I watched an episode of The Guiding Light in my college dorm room with Chris Chelios, NHL All-Star and future Hall of Famer. But I associate with one who is greater than all of them–Jesus, the King of the Universe! (Not Flash Gordon)
One might think that in this relationship I would be a slave or a servant. But no! Jesus is my Savior, and He is my Friend, THE friend who laid down His life for me. He is also is my Brother.
I never have to walk alone. Together we face life and its challenges and problems. I go to the office; I go to the store; I write these sermons; I ride along with the Edmond Police; I take out the garbage; I look after Erica and my kids; Jesus helps me. Jesus gives me His strength. I drive my car, board a plane, cross a busy intersection; hit the Broadway Raceway at rush hour, or visit someone in the hospital; the almighty, all knowing and ever present Jesus is with me. I get grumpy; I brood; I worry about foolish things; Jesus reminds me: “Cast all your worries on me because I care for you.”
I’m special. Jesus does all this for me. But guess what? You’re special. And Jesus does all these things for you! Today on this Trinity Sunday we are here to celebrate that we have a God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who loves us so much that He wants to make sure that our souls are saved, our sins are forgiven, that we have eternal life and all of our spiritual needs are taken care of. He also makes sure we have everything we have to have to support this body and life, from our house to our food to our families. Our Heavenly Father put us here. His Son died and rose for us. The Holy Spirit delivers the gifts of His Grace to us. And He is ONE God, the TRUE God. Our God is not off somewhere leaving us on our own. Here is here, in each of us, 24/7. It’s His words. It’s His promise. “I am with you always to the end of the age.” The Triune God, by His nature, exists in such a way that He makes sure we have everything we need. And we REALLY need a Savior, and we have one. Jesus and Me! Jesus and you!
In His Name.