The Unity of the Trinity

“and the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.”

These are words from the Athanasian Creed. I appreciate that this creed defines the catholic faith in terms of worship. The catholic faith is not found in being able to write a dissertation about the Trinity.

We are not saved by knowledge but by faith that worships God. There is no other name in heaven or earth or under the earth by which we will be saved. It is in God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that we are saved.

We need to be saved because sin separates us from the unity of God. I think it is interesting to notice that in Genesis 3 we do not witness God walking in the garden until after Adam and Eve have sinned.

It is not until after the sin of Adam and Eve that there exists a disconnection between God and His creation. The fullness of the unity of God is found in His unity with His creation. Sin creates a division between God and His created. Now in our sinfulness we are painfully aware of our separation from all that is pure and noble. Adam and Eve heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and they hid from him.

We produce in ourselves the illusion that we can hide from God because we understand ourselves as radically different from God. In the perfectness of creation we were different than God. Yes we were created in his image, but there was a unity in our relationship that did not highlight the differences.

We vainly try to manufacture our own benchmarks of greatness and wonder. We find that our self made gods can never satisfy our desires for wholeness. The lusts for the other will never bring delight because it is a vain and selfish pursuit.

I will search for the full blessedness that is found in unity with God in all sorts of selfish pursuits. I give thanks that as much as I go down dead end, the love of God is revealed in his grace filled delight in me.

Our Lord God shows us in the sending of Jesus to be our Messiah that the full blessedness of unity with God is found only in His joining into our despair. When I can trust that God is present in the midst of death and despair I find the power of His unity.

This is the whole and universal faith that brings salvation, that we worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God in His wholeness is united in seeking my unity with Him.

I pray that God would give me the wisdom to see each person I meet as a part of the gracious unity that is Him at work in this world.

Preaching from the Gospels in the New Year

In 2012 I will plan to preach more often on the gospel readings of the lectionary. I want to be able to teach the doctrines of the Christian Faith through sharing the life of Christ. I remember a classmate of mine from the seminary, Jeremy Gorline, said he spent one year just preaching from the Gospel lesson. He said it sounds like common sense and easy until you start hitting some of those texts that challenge us.

Jesus in the Scriptures is not always the same Jesus that we have constructed for ourselves. When we get challenged by the truth of Scripture it may feel easier for me to skip over to the Old Testament or Epistle lesson.

So on January 8 at St. Paul Lutheran Church we will celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. The Gospel Lesson is Mark 1:4-11.

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

(Mark 1:4-11 ESV)

How in this text do you find the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at work in bringing about your salvation?

God is united in his purposes for you.