Redeemer, Cairo—Romans 8:12–17
So … today is Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday is one of the seven occasions of the year that are known as Principal Feasts—along with Christmas, Epiphany, All Saints, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost, which was only last Sunday. So it’s completely appropriate that we should be festive today. We should have our party hats on!
But it’s sometimes hard to know what to say about Trinity Sunday … or, for that matter, about the Trinity. The Trinity is a central doctrine, a central belief, of the Church, of the Christian faith. It lies at the heart of who we are as the people of God, and we don’t ever want to compromise on it. You know, there’s only one God, but we know that one God in three “persons”—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Beyond that, though, lies danger! Once you open your mouth and start talking about the doctrine of the Trinity, it’s incredibly easy to get something wrong. Just think of the language of the Nicene Creed, which we say together every Sunday and you can see how precise and technical it gets. Sometimes it feels better to just stay quiet on the subject!
Fortunately, though, we’re not here today to celebrate a doctrine. It’s not “Doctrine of the Trinity Sunday; its just Trinity Sunday. We are here to worship the Holy Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And we know the Holy Trinity by our actual lived experience of God.
While a theology professor might want to start with God the Father, I want us to start with God the Son, because the Son, whom we know as Jesus, is our first experience of God. We meet Jesus when we’re baptized. Now, some of you may remember your own baptism. I remember mine, because I was ten years old when it happened. But even if you don’t remember your baptism, you’ve probably been present for the baptism of a lot of other people, so you know how it works. We are baptized specifically into Jesus. St Paul tells us when he writes to the Romans that all who have been baptized into Christ have “put on” Christ, have clothed themselves with Christ. In baptism, we share a death like his in order to be able to share a resurrection like his. We have a hope of being raised from the dead on the Last Day because Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day. So, we meet God the Son first. We meet him in baptism.
Then, baptism connects us with everyone else who’s been baptized. With them, we become members of the Body of Christ, and therefore members of one another, because we have all been baptized into Christ. And, as the Body of Christ, we come together on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the weeks, Sunday, the day of his resurrection, and we celebrate the sacrament of his Body and Blood. We celebrate the Holy Eucharist. And it is in the Eucharist, sharing together with the other members of God the Son, that we encounter God the Holy Spirit. As St Paul writes to the Romans: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons”—as beloved children of God. It is the Spirit who binds us together in love and unity. We come together as baptized members of the Son, and we are sent out “rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.” It is the Spirit who unpacks for us the gifts we received in baptism, and “sets them up” for us, configures them for our use, the way we set up a new smart phone or computer so we can use and enjoy all the various apps that it comes with.
Through the Spirit, then, we become aware of our relationship with God the Father. Again, as St Paul writes to the Romans: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” The Spirit leads us—as we worship together in the Eucharist, the Spirit leads us to “cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” That Aramaic worth “Abba” means that there is a very close relationship between the one who says it and the one to whom it is said. It might even be more accurately translated as “Daddy.” We are the beloved children of God the Father, and we know this because God the Holy Spirit reveals it to us as we come together as members of God the Son.
So, my bothers and sisters, let us not get caught up in the complications and technicalities of doctrine today. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important. I love every word of the Nicene Creed, and other creeds you never have heard of that are even more mind-bogglingly technical and confusing. The doctrine of the Trinity is extremely important, and I will defend it with my last breath. Today, though, our job is to recognize and celebrate who we are in Christ through baptism, and allow the Spirit to lead us into recognition of the Father. Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise Him all creatures here below; praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.