the one where we don't know...
May 28, 2018, 12:00 AM

Sermon from Holy Trinity Sunday, May 27, 2018

Text: John 3:1-17

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, today we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday. Each year that we come to this day, I like to remind everyone – that when I felt that God was calling me to pursue this odd and wonderous vocation to be a pastor, I only had one question, “Will there be any math, I was told there would be no math.”

Today we celebrate the math that makes no sense – Three equals one, one equals three. There have been numerous attempts to ‘explain’ this relationship and Trinity. Yet, each and every one falls short – way short – to come to the fullness and wholeness of who and what the Trinity is.

There is something about that need to know that tempts me and makes me question why. I would presume that many of you have probably felt that same desire and draw as well. That desire to know fully what this means and how this works?

Those are the questions that we approach most of our lives with. We seek to know, to dig deeper, to get to the truth of what we experience and see every day.

For many, many, many things – this is good. As we seek to better care for those with needs within our community, we seek to understand and know them, we dig deeper into reasons as to why ‘stuff’ happens in certain ways, we strive to apply that ever changing and growing knowledge and skillset to better be present with our community.

We’ve seen how that desire to know, grow, and understand has changed our approach to medicine, race relations, public relations, farming, education, and almost literally anything you can think of. Diving deeper, learning the nuances and intricacies of something, and applying that new knowledge to our practices, interactions, and relationships.

We see this desire to know at play in our Gospel reading this morning. We are introduced to Nicodemus who desires to know more about who this Jesus guy is. But, he still knows that the yearning to know him at this point in history is a little scandalous, so he comes to the Lord by the cover of night. I like to imagine that this scene plays out like an old black and white film noire crime drama. The lone street light in the midst of the darkness. Jesus standing firmly in the light, while Nicodemus creeps into the frame from the outer darkness to ask his questions.

We are like Nicodemus, we want to know more, we want to draw closer, but we have no idea what that means. We have no idea what ways our Lord will confuse us more and expand our minds and sense of reality and faith.

Nicodemus comes seeking answers, and I imagine that he leaves with even more questions. More than likely, each of us are engulfed in that confusion as well. What does this man mean by ‘born again or born from above?’

Of course, there are many who would like to tell you what they think the absolute meaning of that phrase, and if you don’t agree? Well – you’re doomed - eternally.

Hopefully, each of you know me well enough that I don’t do that. It is rather presumptuous of any of us – me, you, the person shouting on the street corner – to feel that we’ve got the ‘ultimate, only, true’ answer. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say what I hope what Jesus means – and it is still rather scandalous and difficult for us to hear and live into.

For me, Jesus is saying to Nicodemus and to each one of us who journey as Nicodemus does by night to understand this messiah more – being born again is as one commentator wrote this week, ‘as we move from questioning leader to witness – it takes our full selves to join in this movement.’

That we jump into and are called into this flow of God with everything that we have and are. For most of humanity, this is a difficult task, simply because we like to section off each little part of our lives. We compartmentalize everything in our life. Our life of ‘faith’ is over here. Our ‘home’ life is there. We put our ‘work’ self in this place. Here is the box that our ‘role as parents, children, friends, sports nuts, nerd-dom, and anything else goes in.’ Most of the time, those boxes are separated and stored accordingly. We try to make them not get mixed up.

Yet, here comes Jesus telling Nicodemus, telling me, telling you, informing the whole world – that’s not how God sees this. The mystery and confusion of the Trinity is that it is a relationship that weaves in and through our whole lives – every aspect of it.

It weaves, moves, and breathes life and love into our very being and service. It guides and thrusts us into places to proclaim that love, grace, and mercy that we’d rather not place ourselves in. The Trinity and the relationship between father, son, and Holy Spirit invites us to live a life different than what the world demands us to follow.

Through this all we will still question and be confused by it all. Yet, we push back against our desire to know fully and completely and are invited to trust in God’s promise and relationship. It doesn’t make sense, but the harder we try to know fully and completely what the Trinity means for us and that relationship through and for us – it makes our brains hurt more than we need them to. Casey Cross wrote this concerning this day, “While we struggle with discernment, wondering what God is truly calling us to, remember that the answer will always involve our full selves, it will involve our transformation (often over and over again), it will involve us physically moving, following the example of Jesus, and getting into it.”

A friend of mine shared with his story of having faith in God and Christ’s promise of new life. Throughout his life, things had been setup for him not to believe. He was a scientist at heart (and still is), he has a deep desire to know and understand, to seek truth. That desire coupled with a deep yearning to care for others led him to the medical field. First as a nurse and then a doctor. He told me that he distinctly remembers the first time he looked at the veins in the human body in class one day. It was there in that moment that it ‘clicked’ for him. Not because he ‘understood’ what he was seeing, but because of the mystery and beauty that he saw displayed before him.

Here were these little lines that help life that span throughout our bodies. No one’s vein path is the same, yet it looked deliberately placed and arranged. Meticulously cultured to bring life efficiently. For him, it couldn’t have been a random chance that this is how life ended up.

As he viewed those signs of life, he couldn’t help but think and trust that this is God at work, the one who has breathed life this wonderful creation. And if you can trust and have faith that God has done this for us – in giving life – then it isn’t that far of a leap of faith to trust what Jesus has done for the world. And having trust in all that, how could one not live fully into the life God has given us following the example of Jesus? He came to know of God’s love and promise for him, not by what he ‘knew,’ but by leaning in to the unknown. That ‘leaning’ into faith has opened the world to him in how he not only cares for those within his reach in the medical field, but caring with those throughout each moment of his life.

As we live this life in the desire to know mingled with the Trinity weaving its way through our whole life; our faith helps us understand the ‘stuff’ we are getting into so that we might care more fully for others. Living in that faith helps us realize and stand firmly in that spot that as people of faith, we understand a need to reform immigration policies within our country, yet the taking of children from parents at the border is not the way. Our faith is built on the welcoming and caring for the stranger. The Trinity weaves its way through our lives calling for us to care for the least of these in deliberate and intentional ways. We are called – by God – to a live a life different from the reality before us. Even in our confusion, our misunderstanding, and our disagreements, at the core of our lives is relationship and love. Knowing that through God’s love and relationship for us, we are called to love and know – in deeper relationship – those before us; whether they are ‘like us’ or not. For they are, and we are children of God; known and loved in and through and by the Holy Trinity.

We live life seeking to know the truth, and yet we come to this day being confronted by something we cannot understand. We are called to have faith in what God has done, is doing, and will do through and for and because of us; of all creation.

We may not understand, but that does not keep us from experiencing this love and life and living fully into that life and love for others; for every person we meet because of what God has done and continues to do. The best thing still? Being good at math, still isn’t a requirement. Amen.


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