I remember the summers that my Grandma, Aunt and cousin would come visit us in Michigan. One vacation when we went to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan to see how people lived during the Colonial Days. This village was put together by the Ford family to help people relive some past history. Many of the shops, and houses had people who were dressed in original customs of that day. I remember very clearly the blacksmith shop. There was a big man there who was trying to get his fire going. He asked us if we would like to pump the bellows. How enthralled we were when our pumping caused the coals to glow, the sparks to fly, and the steel to turn to cherry red and then to white with heat. We watched as he took a piece of straight metal, heated it to white hot, and then bent it into a horseshoe.
We left there to go look at some other things, but eventually returned later in the afternoon. Another group was watching, and some other boys were pumping the bellows , but this time something was wrong. All of their pumping would not get the coals to become hot. The coals, instead of glowing with heat, would turn cold and gray. The blacksmith knew what was wrong. The sparks of the fire had gone out. There were no sparks to get the fire going.
Today, as we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday, our attention is drawn to the continuing work of the Holy Spirit, as part of the Trinity in our lives. It is the work of the spirit to keep the sparks of faith, the sparks of love, the sparks of God’s presence in our lives going. Our fire of faith, our fire of commitment needs to be continually pumped up with the breath of the Holy Spirit.
On this Holy Trinity Sunday, we need to look at the work of God, the creator in our lives, the work of Jesus as redeemer in our lives, and the work of the Holy Spirit who brings God’s presence, who brings God himself into our lives.
We are quite familiar with the work of God the creator, and Jesus the redeemer in our lives. We look all around us, and we are caught up in God’s creating work. God is still creating, still molding, still forming his creation. As we discover more and more about the workings of this world, God is unfolding to us more and more of his creative power. The more we discover, the more we believe and trust in a creative force behind the wonders of creation.
And we have no difficulty in understanding, and trusting in the saving work of Jesus. Sometimes, we get so engrossed in talking about Jesus and his redeeming efforts in our lives, that we forget about the creator, and the spirit who are also at work.
The average Christian refers to God. Then there are the lesser deities, Jesus and the Spirit. If God the Father is held exclusively, we become Unitarians. If Christ is supreme, we over-rate him to the down-grating of the Father and the Spirit. And for some, the Spirit overshadows the father and son. There needs to be a balance in our thinking, in our relationship to the three parts of the trinity, to the three manifestations of God in this world.
And it is the work of the Spirit to keep reminding us of this balance between the three parts of the Trinity.
There is a story of "Two sailors who were shipwrecked and had been clinging to boards for so long that they were near death. There was water all around, but ocean water being salty was worse than no water They moaned like the Ancient Mariner saying, ’Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink." Then a passing boat came into sight. It came closer and closer. The sailors cried for fresh water, From the other boat came the reply, "Dip your hands and drink." They did and found they had passed from salty water to fresh water.
Those two sailors knew they were close to fresh water when their ship wrecked, but they forgot or hadn’t thought of the possibility they could have been in freshwater. They didn’t use the wisdom and knowledge they had. It was as if they forgot everything they had learned. They needed to be reminded about the truth, the knowledge they possessed.
Jesus says in our gospel lesson, "When the Spirit of truth comes. he will guide you into all the truth"
The Spirit gathers us together in a community of faithful people so again and again we can be reminded of all the truths we have learned about this God. We cannot understand everything, we cannot even understand a majority of God’s truth, but we have been given the faith to accept, the trust to believe and the power and courage to stand by our convictions.
For some this is difficult because our minds, our souls want to understand everything so we can be in control. There is a mystery about God which I am willing to live with and I hope you are, too. We need some mystery, some holiness, something beyond ourselves in this world and God is just that.
Maybe the following will help. This is the season of planting gardens. And growing up we had a small garden and we also planted some seeds in pots inside so we could plant flowers outside. I was especially curious about how those seeds would turn into flowers, or vegetables. I would look at the pictures on the seed packages, see the tiny seeds in my hands, and I was wondering how those tiny seeds would turn into those pretty flowers and vegetables. As the seeds grew into flowers and vegetables, I continued to wonder, I asked a lot of questions and I remember not really being given any good answers. My parents would say the rain, the sun helped them grow. But what exactly turned those seeds into flowers and vegetables, they couldn’t tell me.
The Holy Trinity, the many truths of God’s dealings with us are as difficult for us to understand as it was for me to understand about the seeds growing. There is mystery about God, a mystery we just have to accept. The mystery of the Trinity is difficult, but the Holy Spirit of that Trinity leads us, and through our faith, we accept, we believe that mystery.
How can God be three in One? How can got God be the creator, and the redeeming Son, and the teaching Spirit? It is a mystery? I cannot understand it, but I believe in it. I read somewhere, that God being three in one means that God is never lonely. He always has a companion. As do we when we believe. But maybe that is too simple of an idea.
However, as we try to completely understand this idea of the Trinity, there will always remain a mystery. But the Spirit will continue to lead us and as we mature in faith, our understanding, our knowledge, our belief in the Trinity will mature also. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NRSV) :
So it is important to stay faithful. It is important to be involved in the body of Christ, the church so that our faith may mature and grow.
Have you ever seen a clock tower? On the tower there is the clock that has four faces, so no matter in which direction you are coming into that town and around that square, you can see the hands and the face of a clock and it tells you what time it is.
Have you ever stopped to think whether there are four different clocks running each set of faces and hands, or whether there is one clock somehow running those four faces and hands. It is a mystery how those faces and hands on that clock tower really work.
At the same time, isn’t that the same mystery we have concerning God as three persons in the Trinity. We have God, the father, creator, God, the son, the redeemer, God , the Spirit, the comforter, the counselor, the one who makes us holy.
We see the three faces of God, but we have only one God. Like that clock on the tower, God has three faces, but only one God. Each face of God tells us something about God. God, the father, creator tells us about the God of the universe, God who creates, God who is powerful. God, the son, Jesus, shows us the love of God, the saving, redeeming quality of God, and God, the Spirit shows us the God who is with us through all of our lives. God the spirit who brings the son into our very souls, hearts and minds.
Just like we trust that all four faces of the clock in the clock tower are telling us the time. even though we have not climbed up on a ladder and crawled into the tower to see how it works. So, it is with the mystery of the Trinity. I cannot go see how it works, but I trust and believe in it. Each time you see the clock tower you probably don’t think about how those clocks work, you just focus on what they are telling you, the time. So I think it is with our trust in the Trinity. The more we mature in faith, the more we trust in the gospel of Christ, the more we allow the Spirit to fill our lives, the less likely we are to question the Trinity, but just trust and believe.
I would like to close with a dialogue I found on the Internet between a father and son that concerns the Trinity.
It was written by Charlie Woodward
Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church Westerville, Ohio
C: Dad, I got a question.
P: What is it, Son.
C: Well, today in Sunday School, we talked about God.
P: God, huh. Maybe you should talk to your mother.
C: Come on, Dad.
P: Okay, Son, what is your question?
C: Well, our teacher was trying to explain the Trinity, you know, God in three persons?
P: Son, I REALLY think this is a Mom question, don’t you?
P: All right, what is your question?
C: Well, I guess it is just confusing. I mean, I have never met a Trinity before.
P: What do you mean, Son.
C: Everyone I know is just one person, not three.
P: I see. And this worries you?
C: It’s just confusing, Dad. I mean, who is this Trinity God supposed to be?
P: That is a good question, Son.
C: (PAUSE) Well...Dad
P: Well, what, Son?
C: Don’t you have some wonderful parental insight to help me out, here?
P: Right, well, let me think. God is like H2O, you know, Ice, liquid and steam, all H2O, but different make-ups...
C: So God is like water?
P: Well, not exactly. Oh, okay. Let’s try this...your Mother, for instance... She is one person, but she is a mother, a wife and a daughter...
C: So Mom is God?
P: Let’s not go there, Son. Let me think....
C: Dad, What about the beauty of a flower, or the smile of a baby?
P: What, Son? How is that like Trinity?
C: I don’t know Dad, but when I see something like that, I know that God must have had a hand in it.
P: I would agree with you there, Son.
C: But, which one?
P: Which one what?
C: Which God is involved in something like that?
P: I am not following you here, Son.
C: Well, if God is three persons, which person makes the flowers bloom?
Which person breathes new life into a baby?
P: Now wait, remember we have a rule in this house. Mom answers all questions about babies, okay?
C: Not just babies, Dad, everything. Which person paints the colors of the sunset?
Which person listens to me when no one else will? Which one?
P: Wow. These are good questions, Son.
C: Dad, which one is it? And how do we know? And who decides? And do they ever argue with each other? Do they live in the same place? Can you see them all, or just some of them? How can you tell them apart? Are they identical? Is it just three, or could it be four, or five, or more?
P: (LONG PAUSE - staring at Child) Son, the Trinity is like an apple, it has a core, the meat of the apple and the skin...
P: Or maybe, like a three-leafed clover?
C: Dad, you don’t know do you?
P: Or a triangle?
C: I’ll go ask Mom, or whoever she is!
P: Or three interlocking circles....?
The Trinity, a mystery but at the same time the saving power of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
‒ Pastor Pam