Trinity Sunday: Genesis 1
On this Trinity Sunday we get the distinct privilege of getting a nice long reading from Genesis, and we get the absolute honor to speak the really long creed about substances and persons and who knows what else – on a communion Sunday no less! All I can say is, “Your welcome.”
No, I get it. I do. It’s wordy, it’s a bit stale and we don’t understand all the terms. So why do we do it? Well the first reason is that it is accurate. Our Gospel lesson had a perfect testimony of the trinity: Jesus tells us to baptize in the name (singular) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Three Names). Three in one, one in three. The second reason we confess this creed is because people died for that creed, died to be able to confess who their God is. The maker of heaven and earth the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
But why does this matter today in 2020? Because the faithful Christian Church finds itself in the middle of a world where, on one side, eastern mystic thoughts and moralistic deism says, “It doesn’t matter who your God is, they all lead the same place. Just coexist.” And while it is certainly good to live peaceably in society, that doesn’t change the fact that there is still only One God. And only that one, real God took on flesh and dwelt among us, died in our place, and rose to bring life eternal to light. There is salvation in no other name, because no other name is real, no other god has ears to hear. Anything else is folly.
And on the other side of the Church is a culture that thinks it has all the answers through purely natural means. We know about bacteria and wifi what does anyone need an old fairy tale about “In the Beginning”? “We’ve got it all figured out!” Unless, you’ve taken a glance at the news recently. You see what’s going on in our world, we got it all figured out? Death and violence and heartache loom on our streets, in our hospitals, in our homes. And what about the scientific community? They got all the answers? We don’t even have this virus figured out. Let alone string and quantum theory have us more stumped than ever, and if that is too complex how about coffee – is it good for you this week? I honestly don’t know.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like science – I have a degree in it. But an honest scientist recognizes what it does. It observes natural phenomenon. And the issue is, in the beginning, no one was there to observe it – at least none of us. Scientists still can’t explain where the energy of the big bang came from, or the singularity, or the primordial soup, or the explosion that caused the first explosion. And it’s funny because as scientists they should know why, because as the laws of thermodynamics state: matter cannot be destroyed – or created. Not by natural phenomenon. You can rearrange stuff, but you can’t make stuff. Which raises the question: how did it get here? They are quick to ask us then, of course, where our God came from, but you see, we never said we had to play by the rules that space and time are all there is – they did.
So as we confess the Trinity we confess something, someone outside of nature. Just like a painting is made by someone outside the painting, by the artist, so our world was formed by someone greater than it, outside it. “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.” And we read the account, through Moses, from the only One there to observe it, the One doing it: God. We read how he took his time and he made it organized and good and blessed it and cared for it. Some people see the order in Genesis 1 and they think “oh it must just be a poem,” but Hebrew poetry is about repetition of phrases like in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in the council of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, sit in the seat of scoffers.” And even more, look around, this whole world is ordered and it is very real. On a large scale, the planets are ordered to move in their orbits, the atoms, on such a small scale, do the same, it’s all ordered, and beautiful, just like Genesis 1 – and it’s all real. Because our God is ordered and real and beautiful too.
You might not think so, that God is beautiful, when you see your country divided and on fire. We heard a few weeks ago in 1 Peter about the devil prowling around like a lion. And You may be tempted to think, judging by all that heartache, that this God who made us, well, he either left us, or he’s just a big jerk. Why not get rid of that lion and the evil if you are so loving? But this is Trinity Sunday, where we remember that our God did not just create all things and leave them. No he revealed himself to us, as a God of goodness and a God who came and redeemed all the broken creation.
And they had to be redeemed not because he made a mistake, no, because we did. We who were given this wonderful ordered universe usurped the order he gave us and wanted to be gods ourselves. And in doing so we pushed the good God away and evil filled the void and contaminated most of the beautiful order that he made between us and Him, and each other, and creation. We usurped his order and beauty, and we do it all today too. Right? Or do we just pay lip service to us being, poor, miserable, sinners? Yes, we know what we deserve, the brokenness of this world.
So God the redeemer, Jesus, came and told the winds to be still and they were. He put it back in order. Our bodies were not meant to be overcome by leprosy and so God the redeemer came and cleansed the people. He put it back in order. And the redeemer came into this broken world and was a victim of its ugly disorder. He was spat on and hit and lied too and was killed. But he went through it willingly, taking it head on, to conquer it, the evil in us and the world, and to put it back in order. We saw the evidence of this on Easter, as he was risen, death undone, the beatings and whippings undone as he stood healed and whole. On Ascension he returns back to his throne, back in order, to uphold creation by his mighty power at the right hand of the Father and has promised a new creation, a very good, ordered creation, for his people to dwell in on the last day.
Until then, he has sent God the Holy Spirit out into the world so that where his Word is spoken, where the waters of life flow, where His Church is, people are brought into his kingdom where there is forgiveness and healing and peace and the promise of eternal life in a new creation that is, once more, very good. And that’s who you are, his church, believers in his promises. And that’s why we come here, to be strengthened by our God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, who, three in one has worked to save us – the ones he has made, that’s right, we are not accidents, neither is his work in our lives. It is no fairy tale either. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.