Sermon – 06-07-20 – Trinity Sunday – Cycle A
Scriptures – Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew:16-20
Sermon Title – “Three-In-One: the Great Threesome”
Eight-year-old Tommy asked his mother, “Why do we have different names for God? It is so confusing. Are they the same God or different Gods? And our teacher just said that Jesus wants us to be one with all of them. How many are there anyway? How can I be one with so many Gods at the same time? I feel like I would need to be spinning like a top. By the way, where is the spinning top I had when I was little?”
Mother smiles at that last question. When did she last see that top? I am smiling at that last question. When did I last see a spinning top? I don’t even remember how we made them spin! Oh, now I do. I think it had a handle that we pumped to get it going.
Well, mother finally says, “I will keep an eye open for the missing top. Do you think it got tired of spinning and we put it in the trash?”
Tommy says, “Maybe. I will take a look in my bedroom one of these days. Maybe we still have it.” But about God? Are these separate persons or one person with separate names?” Mother replies slowly as she is still listening for God to give the truth in simple language to her. “First, our Christian way of believing would make a funny organizational chart. We talk about the three persons of God as separate beings with separate names and separate actions. But we read over and over in the scriptures that the three persons are “one. I picture our holy organizational chart as one of those moving images – something like animated cartoons or emojies.”
Tommy says, “Oh, can we think of God like a cartoon?” Mother says, “I think we can do that if we do it in a respectful way. Then put us into the movements instead of just watching.” “What do you mean?” says Tommy. Well, continues Mother, “In John 14:20, John quotes Jesus saying to his disciples, ‘On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’ So, to me it seems that we can depend on being in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father, and therefore, we are in the Father. I see us as overlapping circles, partially in each other, partially free agents.”
Tommy says, “Wait, my head is spinning now! I remember seeing on our altar paraments – the cloths on the altar – the three circles that overlap – like the symbol for the Olympic games has 5 circles. Did our pastor say those three circles in a Christian church symbolize the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? They overlap. Part of each circle overlaps with the other circles.” “Wow,” says Mother, “Pastor would be very proud of you for remembering. Those three circles overlapping symbolize God. God is not just one person. God is not just the Father. God is not just the Son. God is not just the Holy Spirit. God is not even just Father and Son or Father and Spirit. God is all three persons – Father, Jesus, Spirit – all at the same time, all the time, forever and ever.”
“Wait again,” Tommy says in a hurry like he is out of breath, “Holy Spirit? I thought we were talking about the Father, Jesus, and me! That is three. Is there room for the Holy Spirit or maybe there is not room for me.” “Oh, child,” says Mother sympathetically. “Let’s look backward in John 14 to verse 16 and 17. We see that there is this third component of God called the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls it our Advocate because the Holy Spirit knows us and is with us all the time and so can speak to the Father and to Jesus on our behalf.” “Behalf,” says Tommy. “What does that mean?” “Oh, I forgot,” says Mother. “Behalf is an old word meaning a go-between who speaks well of us to someone else. Something like a reference when we apply for a job or for college – a reference. The Holy Spirit whom Jesus calls the Spirit of Truth can speak good things about us if they are true.”
“How can we be worthy of these good references? We need to obey the commandments that Jesus repeats – love God, love neighbor?” Tommy worries, “How can we be worthy if we can’t completely obey those commandments all the time?” “Worthy . . .,” says mother. “We don’t need to be perfect to be worthy. Just being created by God and trying to be loving is being worthy. If we are facing God instead of turning our backs, we are worthy. This Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will look for the truth of our intentions, will help us to be loving, and will draw us into a closer relationship with God – that is with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit itself.”
Tommy says, “How can this symbol look? The three circles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit overlapping to form God. That’s good and that makes sense. But how does each of us become part of that symbol? Can we? Jesus clearly says ‘and you in me’. “I don’t think I have ever seen a symbol for that, says Mother. “Can you picture a symbol for a human to fit somehow?” “Give me a minute or two,” says Tommy. “Hmm,” says Tommy. “I have an idea. I’ll draw it.”
What did Tommy draw? The three circles one for each – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – overlapping in the center to show God being all three. Then, a line from the center to a picture of Tommy. The line becomes an arrow at the center to indicate that Tommy is indeed “in”. Mother says, “That is good, Tommy. I delight in you and how God created you.” “Wait,” says Tommy. “God just gave another image to me. I think it is better.”
Tommy asks, “Can every person in the whole world be in the center of the Trinity with me?” This time Mother says, “Wait!” “I got it!” Mother says excitedly. As Jesus was about to be swooped up into heaven, he told his disciples, “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 . . .” “All nations, Tommy!” This reminds me of your spinning top – like the world spins around once each day. Our goal could be to invite one new person into the fellowship of the Trinity each time the world spins once.
Three circles overlapping again but this time instead of a line with an arrow, Tommy draws himself right over the overlapping section in the middle of the three circles. We are one with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is no secret that we call these three the Trinity – three in one – in each other, yet each is readily available to us at any time and all the time.
“Wow!” Tommy says, “That is a mighty crowded space of overlap! Won’t some of us get lost?” Mother replies, “That is one of the wonderful, mysterious things about God. God has enough love for everyone in this whole world! Our job is to invite people to believe.” Let’s pray,” says Mother. “Holy God, you who are the union of three persons who keep their separate identities, gather us in your overlapping center, increase our love, increase our understanding, increase our inviting. Hold us tightly.” Tommy says, “Amen.”