I love Christmas – I love Advent – I love Lent – I love Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. They are high points of celebration in our church. But for some reason, Trinity Sunday is the Sunday that I just love to celebrate. I’m not quite sure what it is but I guess it’s because Trinity Sunday defines God. But even more than that it defines us – who we are.
The Trinity is what sets us apart from every other religion. In the past it distinguished between true worship and heresy and still does today. The true church was the church that worshipped the Triune God. When we look at our creeds that we confess every Sunday they are structured in that way – we believe in God the Father almighty – we believe in Jesus Christ his Son – we believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. As the early church developed in those first centuries after Jesus’ death and resurrection – it was the identity of God that distinguished between true believers and those that the church declared to be heretics.
But are these just theological words created by theologians? No, it is how God has revealed himself to us in the way that not just defines himself to us but it also defines who we are as God’s children. To understand this, let us go back to the beginning where it all started. In our first reading we do exactly that – we go back to the beginning: In those opening verses we see the Trinity at work – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – the Spirit was hovering over the waters – and God said – let there be light. Here we have the Trinity at work in creation – God the Father who created – the Word of God that was spoken – let there be light – and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us – and the Holy Spirit hovering waiting to bring life into God’s creation. And then at the creation of humanity – let us create human beings in OUR image. So the Trinity does not just define who God is – it defines who WE are. WE are created in God’s image.
We also see the Trinity at work in the New Testament at Jesus’ baptism. We witness the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus and the Father declare – this is my Son whom I love. And then in our Gospel reading today Jesus commission us to go into all the world baptising in the name of the Trinity – in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – and I am with you always till the end of the age. The Trinity not only gives us God’s identity, it also gives us our identity. Jesus says – I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
The Trinity doesn’t just define God it defines us.
Identity is becoming such an important issue in today’s society – identity. People are so confused about who they are. They try to copy their screen idols believing they need to look like them to have their identity. They believe that because their celebrities look perfect that they need too also. When they take photos of themselves they use what are called filters that will cover up their flaws so the world doesn’t see what they really look like. And when it comes to gender identity, we no longer have 2 genders that we hear the Trinity declare in our first reading: God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. In Facebook there are 71 different genders that a person can choose to sign up under. Jesus himself reiterates this identity: “Haven’t you read that in the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ This is not denying or downplaying the challenges that people have today – and it’s not just young people challenged with identity – it’s people of all ages.
God has given us an identity in Jesus Christ. And it’s not about gender or anything else – as Paul says in Galatians when explaining our identity through our Baptism; He says – in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. God has given us an identity – his identity.
We have been created in God’s image. And what an amazing identity that is The world has become a confusing place for everyone and creating new genders or creating filters on your pictures or whatever way a person tries to feel better about who they are is only ever short lived. But in Christ we are a new creation – the old is gone and the new is here. And as Christians we are called to love those who are struggling with their identity and not judge them. As Paul said in our 2nd reading: Agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
We see everyone as God’s image – everyone as a person for whom Jesus died – as Paul says in 2 Corinthians: from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. What a wonderful privilege that despite our disobedience to God and what we did to his Son by crucifying him that God still loves us and invites us to participate in the Holy Trinity. Jesus did that both before his death and after his death. Before he died he said, when you pray, pray “Our Father in Heaven” – OUR Father in heaven. When he rose from the dead Jesus gave Mary the message he wanted to tell the disciples: Tell them: ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
Friends, our God is not what some people understand as God. To many people God is an overlord. Someone who is watching our every moment in order to judge us. When Jesus, who is God and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, when Jesus came to dwell with us he came as a servant. Not to be served but to serve each of us. And Jesus say, God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. The Trinity is an important theological understanding of God. It separated true worship from heresy. But that was not the intention of God when he revealed himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was to invite us into his family of love. To share everything that he has with us. To assure us of the inheritance that is passed on to family members and that is what we are – children of God – the family of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.