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A Meditation about the Trinity and Discipleship

June 11, 2017

A MEDITATION ABOUT THE TRINITY 

AND DISCIPLESHIP

June 11, 2017 (Trinity Sunday)

First Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, AR

 

Psalm 8

 

To the leader: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, our Sovereign,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth! 


You have set your glory above the heavens. 
2   Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
   to silence the enemy and the avenger. 


3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars that you have established; 
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
   mortals that you care for them? 


5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
   and crowned them with glory and honour. 
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
   you have put all things under their feet, 
7 all sheep and oxen,
   and also the beasts of the field, 
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
   whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 


9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!


Matthew 28:16-20

 

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Followers of Jesus recognize the Gospel passage selected by the lectionary committee for today, Trinity Sunday, as “the Great Commission.”  We have heard it read, quoted, and preached countless times.  Ministry efforts of all sizes, backgrounds, and goals have been based on it.  Today, I suggest that we ponder what it means and how our relationship to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit affects how we live.

 

Any honest conversation or reflection about the Trinity requires that we admit that we are dealing with a mystery.  When we speak of One God in three divine persons we are dealing with what someone has properly called “an incomprehensible mystery, love far beyond our above our ability to grasp.”  We are pondering a mysterious relationship that is beyond our ability to understand in human terms, let alone describe with speech.  We are pondering deep truth about God.  

 

Somehow, humans believe that we live in a created universe.  Somehow, we believe this universe – however large, old, and mysterious it may be – exists on purpose.  We believe that humans are part of the purpose of this created universe of galaxies, planets, and this spinning place we call Earth.  Somehow, we understand that humans are intended to be in relationship with God.  Yes, we are intended to be in relationship with the mysterious God as Creator/Father/Mother, Word/Son/Jesus, and Holy Spirit/Comforter. 

 

God in three divine persons purposely created the universe.  God in three divine persons purposely included Earth as part of that universe.  God in three divine persons created a planet where humans can exist with other creatures as part of ecosystem unlike any other place we know.  

 

The reality of the universe, our world, and human existence in our world as part of the universe is not debatable.  We struggle to explain it.  We are in this place of prayer, praise, and proclamation today admitting that despite all we know about the universe, our world, and our human situation, and no matter how much we strain to comprehend and explain the mystery of God, we believe that the universe, our world, and human existence are the result of divine purpose.  

 

The bottom line is that we believe in God.  We believe in God although we struggle to describe God.  We believe in God although we have never seen God.  We believe in God as Creator/Father/Mother, Word/Son/Jesus, and Holy Spirit/Comforter.   

 

And like the writer of Psalm 8, we are amazed that God has chosen to become involved with humans—with us!  It is amazing that the mysterious Creator/Word/Holy Spirit has chosen to deal with us.  Yet, we believe this to be true.  In fact, we are here today in this place because we have staked our lives on the truth of that belief.  

 

We have staked our lives on the truth of that belief because we believe God has made God known to humans. As Word/Son/Jesus, God has lived among us.  As Word/Son/Jesus, God has helped humans understand that God wants us to be part of the divine mystery.  As Word/Son/Jesus, God shows us that God has invested love in us.  God has a love role for humans in what God is doing.  

 

In a way, the Great Commission declares that we are accountable to Creator/Father/Mother, Word/Son/Jesus, and Holy Spirit/Comforter.  When Jesus told people to go make disciples, Jesus was talking about our accountability to the mysterious God of Triune Personhood.  

 

In the Great Commission, we are reminded that the Trinity relate to one another in love as God.  The life and teachings of Jesus show us the way humans are to relate to one another and to the entire creation out of love for and with God.  This brings us to the issue of discipleship.

 

Jesus claimed in the Great Commission divine authority to commission, empower, and send his followers to be agents of divine love throughout the world.  We are here to represent the mystery of divine love and truth.  

 

We are here to represent the truth that all people and the entire creation deserve love because the Triune God loves all people and the entire creation.  

 

We are prophets of God to and in a world that struggles to believe in love.  Our world has seen so much exploitation in the name of power and empire that many people have trouble believing God loves, that God loves the world, and that God loves them.  They have experienced unloving treatment from people who claim to represent God.  Wars of conquest and exploitation have been waged in the name of God.  Genocide has been perpetrated and practiced in the name of God.  Jesus issued the Great Commission because God is love, divine love requires human prophets.

 

The Great Commission is a call for us to be about living and acting as prophets of divine love and justice.  This involves much more than “making believers.”  Being prophets of divine love involves behaving like Jesus in the way we relate to God, one another, and the rest of creation!  It involves identifying with the powerless and declaring that God loves people without power, people without wealth, people who have been dispossessed, and even people who fail to live up to God’s call on their living.  

 

In the Great Commission, we learn that the Triune God loves us.  In the Great Commission, the Triune God enlists us.  In the Great Commission, the Triune God sends us into the world to be agents of divine love and justice.  

 

We are sent to speak truth to a world trapped in the lie that might makes right.

 

We are sent as agents of the Triune God to expose and contradict the lie that being rich matters more than being fair.

 

We are sent as agents of the Triune God to prove that justice and mercy are part of love, and that the greatest and most true exercise of power involves the power to love, show mercy, forgive, and build community with those who are different from us.  

 

We are sent as agents of the Triune God to the world to be prophets and priests of divine love and justice to a world where the principalities and powers of imperial greed, pride, and bloodlust have turned people against the idea of living in community.  Instead of building community, the princes of power focus on building empires in politics, commerce, religion, and everything else.  

 

The issue is whether we will live in the strength of our calling and commission from Jesus to be prophets and priests of divine love and justice, under the authority of the Triune God.  We are constantly tempted to abandon our call to do that living.  

 

We are tempted to invest in empires of power rather than devote ourselves to being in community with others.

 

We are tempted to view persons who are different as undeserving of trust, protection, and our intentional interactions of love.

We are tempted to use power for private advantage rather than for the common benefit of all persons, including persons who are weak, vulnerable, and unprivileged.  

 

We are tempted to turn the powerful love of God and divine passion for liberation from oppression into love of power in order to obtain personal advantage.  Think about the way “discipleship” has been defined and described in terms of “personal salvation” rather than becoming one with God’s love for justice to the whole world.

 

So today, let us remember and renew our commission to be prophets and priests from the Triune God to the world for love and justice.  

 

In the name of the Father/Mother/Creator, Word/Son/Jesus, and Holy Spirit/Comforter, let us go from this place as people of loving hope and hopeful love.  

 

Let us, as followers of the Word/Son/Jesus, be living witnesses that God has declared love for the whole world, unconditionally, intentionally, and eternally!

 

In the power of the Holy Spirit, let us live with prophetic boldness and courage.  In that power, let us confront and resist principalities and powers of pride, greed, cruelty, and oppression.  

 

In the name of the Triune God of love and justice, let us welcome strangers, show mercy to the weak, bind the wounds of persons who have been bruised and battered by life, and protect those threatened by hate, prejudice, bigotry, and violence.  

 

In the name of the Triune God, let us declare that the grace of God overrules guilt, the peace of God overrules pride, the justice of God overrules tyranny, and the living love of God overrules death!  

 

Amen. 

 

©Wendell Griffen, 2017