“But Wait, There’s More!” June 16, 2019

“But Wait, There’s More”

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Psalm 8

Romans 5:1-5

John 16:12-15

 

You know, Jesus had a knack for asking awkward questions. They were blunt, they were surprising, and they usually caught his listeners off guard. One of my favorites is found in both the gospels of Mark and Matthew. It starts with the simple question to his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They answer by reciting what they’ve been hearing on the street – not so tough. Then he asks, “But who do you say I am?” and here things start to get interesting. I swear we’ve been trying to answer that question ever since. It’s easy to repeat the gossip around town; not so easy when things get personal. But we have tried; Lord knows, we have tried. There are libraries filled with volume upon volume of every type of theology we could dream up in an effort to, you guessed it, “Say who Jesus is. So just for kicks, let’s try to imagine that same conversation, if you will, if Peter and the disciples were living in more modern times and had an understanding of modern theology. It might go something like this:

Jesus said, “Who do people say that I am?” His disciples replied, “Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elijah or another of the prophets.”

Jesus replied, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Logos, existing in the Father as his rationality and then, by an act of his will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only because Scripture speaks of a Father, a Son and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being coequal with every other member and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple.”

And Jesus answered, saying, “What?”

Today, as you’ve probably figured out, is the day we celebrate the Trinity. It’s unique in a way because it is the only festival that celebrates a doctrine of the church rather than an event in its sacred history. (hats off to Helen O) Since we were young, we have been told about the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We speak it in our prayers, it’s a part of our wedding ceremonies, and no memorial service is complete without a reference to “God in three persons/ blessed Trinity.” But God never spoke to Moses about the Trinity; Jesus never mentioned it by name. No, the notion of God in 3 persons was created, quite simply, to help us answer that age old question that Jesus asked us a long time ago: “Who do you say that I am?”  It’s been a useful tool to help us to get our heads wrapped around the existence of our God and how he moves in this world.

The problem is that the Trinity is doctrine – it’s church doctrine – and like most church doctrine we have a tendency to overthink it. In fact, we overthink it to the point where the thing that we’ve created to make sense of God starts to makes no sense at all. So I figured I would fix that. I figured that I would under-think it, which is a skill I work hard at. And that’s when it dawned on me that this is what Jesus was trying to tell his disciples in the gospel of John. (Jn 15:12) Jesus said, 12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now.13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. The Spirit of Truth that will guide you in all truth. Somehow, that just stuck with me. “Don’t worry that you don’t have all the answers. I’m sending you someone that will help you with that.”

It got me to thinking that God the father, that God the creator, is so incredible and magnificent and glorious that I don’t have a prayer at ever truly understanding. It got me to thinking that this incredulous and glorious God came to us – came to me – in the flesh so that I could truly believe in a truth that is unchanging; a life everlasting. And finally, it made me realize that I can be glad for that little voice that constantly reminds me that of the truth: the truth of God’s unconditional and unchanging love, the truth that there is no formula or dogma or doctrine that’s going to explain everything so perfectly that I can put it all to rest and get on with my life. And just when I figure that God has blessed me way beyond what I could ever hope to deserve, I can be thankful for that voice, that Spirit, that is there to remind me, “But wait – there’s more.”

“So who do you say that I am?” Our answer this day might be that you are the Creator; you are my best friend; and you the voice of truth that I rely on every day. I guess, you could say that’s my under-thought version of the Trinity. No fancy charts or graphs, no clever demonstrations. Just a warm feeling in our hearts because we are in the presence of God. It’s coming from all directions and there’s not much sense in wondering about the logistics of it all. Just be thankful and know that when we are filled to overflowing, don’t be surprised when a vice whispers in our ears, “But wait – there’s more.”

 

Amen & Shalom

 

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