What I offered that first Sunday remains my heart’s longing for All Saints and for all people–myself included: to know God–the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit–by experience, by conviction, and by the deepening dynamics of trust.
Or, as the scriptures put it so much more beautifully:
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” —2 Corinthians 13:14
I’m so grateful to God for this fellowship of faithful people who have become our family.
Five years ago, today, I had the privilege of preaching my first sermon at All Saints as the starting point of serving as your pastor.
I re-offer that sermon in this post.
“Brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Let us Pray: “Living God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, Bring the glory and gladness of your presence deep into our being today as we hear your word and feast at your table. Amen!”
Today, [June 15, 2014] is Trinity Sunday—it’s the one and only Feast Day that celebrates an Eternal Reality, rather than an event in Redemptive History.
It’s this one Beautiful REALITY that makes sense of all the Redemptive Actions we celebrate in Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Baptism, Transfiguration, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.
Unfortunately, the Reality of the Trinity too easily gets obscured by a misguided notion that it’s mainly a doctrine for intellectual-types.
For some, Trinity-Talk feels like the boring and confusing End-User-Agreements that we all click but seldom read and almost never understand or care about if we do read them.
Today I’d like to help you see and feel that the Reality of the Trinity is not merely a doctrine for our heads, and it’s even more than a doctrine for our hearts
It’s a Truth for our GUTS.
Today I want to reconnect with why and how the Trinity is GOOD NEWS.
The truth we confess every time we declare the creed is not only True, not only a mystery, but also straight to the guts GOOD NEWS.
• Something I want to RAVE about, not Soft-pedal
• Something I want to SAVOR regularly, not choke down like vitamins
To begin to answer that question, I’m going to ask you to take a brief trip down memory lane. It’s not going to be a pleasant trip, so I want you to close your eyes for a moment. Trust me, though, it’ll be worth it.
In you mind’s eye, go back to a when you were a kid in grade school or middle school or high school, a time when you felt deeply awkward, deeply unsure of yourself.
Now, I want you to remember a specific even that made you feel like you wanted to disappear, not just out of embarrassment, but out of a gut-wrenching shame.
Remember a part of your past that was or maybe still is a source of shame, not because of something wrong you’d done, but because somehow you felt like you didn’t belong, like you weren’t wanted, like you didn’t matter, like WHO you were was unwelcome.
Maybe it was on the playground, or the lunchroom, or the halls by your locker, or the bus. Maybe it was in your own neighborhood, or in your own home.
Do you have hold of a shame memory?
Maybe the memory has hold of you.
It’s hard to let one of those shame-memories into our minds.
I’m not going to ask you to share that memory. But I’ll tell you one of mine.
I was in seventh grade. My family was living in Lima Peru as missionaries in the city. My brother and I were home schooling. And when the boys in the neighborhood came home from school, we’d go out to play street soccer. We weren’t very good, but it was fun.
I still can’t remember what started it that day, but I somehow got in a battle of words with a kid named Oscar. We were shouting at each other. And then Oscar amped up the verbal battle and insulted my mom. We were standing eye to eye.
The other boys were circled around us.
It was clearly time for fists to start flying.
I threatened him to take it back or I’d punch him.
He didn’t take it back. He repeated it.
So I . . . didn’t hit him.
I got scared. Really scared of getting hurt.
So I walked away in an angry huff, deeply humiliated, with the voices of Oscar’s friends ringing in my ears about being scared. Being a wimp.
I felt ashamed. I went into the house and hid.
I had a hard time for a while being around the guys.
I was feeling like I didn’t belong on a whole new level—
• I had already been feeling awkward and ashamed for being an oversized, clumsy gringo kid who couldn’t play soccer well,
• Now I was also a coward and a wimp
• I began thinking they only included me in the games because they needed another body on the team, not because they liked me
SHAME—it’s rooted in a deep fear of disconnection.
Personal Connection is the core condition for Love and Belonging.
When we lose Connection, we are cut off from love, from belonging.
And something in our innermost being dies.
An influential researcher named Brené Brown defines shame this way—it’s printed in your bulletin handout:
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging” (Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection 39)
Shame is a primal human feeling rising from the threat to the most basic human need—the need for connection with other Persons.
The GOOD NEWS of the TRINITY is THE DEEPEST answer to the many ways we feel Shame.
Shame sparks a cycle of fear, blame, disconnection that we try to control through secrecy, judgment, and silence.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit invite us into a growing dynamic of Love, Grace, and Fellowship that we receive through community, compassion, and confession.
I want to invite you to begin today to meditate on Scriptures that can heal the wounds of shame that scar the inner life of every human on the planet.
Opening our Hearts to the Gospel of the Trinity:
Good News about Identity: BELOVED AS CHILDREN. The Reality of the Trinity is the deepest answer to all questions of LOVE. Yes, I’m LOVED and even Lovable.
❖ 1 John 3:1-3 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. . . 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, . . .. ”
If “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are unworthy of love”
This scripture tells us The Good News that we are LOVED by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
• Loved not because we’ve earned something to draw God’s attention, But Loved Freely as a GIFT
• Loved not for who we might become, but loved NOW as we are
• Loved not in an indulgent and purposeless manner, but Loved so that we can GROW FREELY and fearlessly
BELOVED! That’s not just a phrase to express a feeling someone else has about you. It’s a Name that says who you are to your heavenly Father, to your big brother Jesus, to your Helper Holy Spirit.
Good News about Relationships: The reality of the Trinity means that you are SECURE in the purposes and power of the Triune God. YES, the REAL ME matters, no matter how insane the culture and circumstances get.
❖ Jude 20-25 “Beloved, . . . praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. …”
• If “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that our flaws” define us and exclude us from connection with others and from secure relationships with others,
• The Good News to drive out shame is the truth and growing experience of God’s Character and Commitment to us, and God’s Personal involvement with us.
• Because the Grace and Mercy of Jesus, the Love of God our Father, and the power and fellowship of the Holy Spirit are the deepest reality of all my relationships, I can believe and begin to experience and feel the reality that:
• My Flaws do not define my identity or my destiny, or my relationships
• My Flaws are where and how I experience the Transforming Love of God in the Security of God’s Promises, not the uncertainty of my own success
GOD is able to keep you from Falling! God is not only Able, God is FULLY COMMITTED to sticking with you all the way to a Joyful and Blameless Fellowship with himself and all his other daughters and sons.
Good News about Belonging: The reality of the Blessed Trinity is the awesome truth and growing experience that YES, I have a HOME in God, with God, and God has a home in me and in US.
❖ 1 John 2:24-25 “Abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is . . . eternal life. . .” ABIDE—hang out with, live with, keep coming home, don’t just visit occasionally. We come to KNOW people by BEING WITH them
❖ John 17:1-3 “This is eternal life, that they know you [Father]… and Jesus…” Being with and Knowing God, is REAL Lasting LIFE
❖ John 17:22-26 “You [Father] sent me [Jesus] and loved them even as you loved me. . . . before the foundation of the world…”
THIS HOME and Family is All about LOVE. EVEN AS the Father has loved his Only BEGOTTEN Son Jesus, he has loved each one of his adopted sons and daughters.
We’re brought into the HOME of GOD and BELONG THERE—ALWAYS
❖ 1 John 3:24 and 4:12-13 “We know that he abides in us, by the Spirit . . .”
Pause for a minute—I want you to think about Homes for a moment.
We’re Buying a home, selling a home—thank God…
Imagine that you had unlimited resources and nothing holding you down—you could live anywhere in the world in the dream home of your design.
Where would you live? What would your house be like?
Now consider this thought and let it sink in:
The God who made everything, visible and invisible, has chosen to make his home with you, in you, among us, with us, not someday but now, not temporarily but forever, not as a concession but as a deep joy.
If you have opened your heart in humble faith to the only God there is, then you are the HOME of God, FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT.
We are God’s Home by the Grace-Gift of Jesus, the Son of the Father. As a grace-gift, Jesus opened up a way into the most holy place through the torn veil of his own flesh. We enter the Father’s presence THROUGH the Generous Opening in the Spear-pierced side of the Eternal Son
We are God’s HOME by the Eternal LOVE of the Father of the Son. He has loved us before the foundation of the World. He has loved us with a zeal so enduring, so century-spanning, so extravagant, that it will take ages and ages in the New Creation to tell the stories of how God’s Love has created, redeemed, grown, and completed each one of his Daughters and Sons
We are God’s HOME by the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The LORD and Giver of Life, the Spirit who knows the mind of the Father, who intercedes for us according to the deep desires of God, who Leads us into all Truth, who gives us the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus, who brings peace and unity to people disconnected from God and from one another. The Holy Spirit holds our frail and shame-torn innermost selves together so that Christ can and does dwell in our hearts by faith, and so that we can comprehend TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS the Height and breadth and length and depth, growing in the MIND BLOWING Knowledge of God’s Love.
We are NEVER alone. NEVER disconnected; NEVER UNLOVED.
That’s why we’re Baptized—immersed into, born-again, sealed-as-God’s Children—Baptized into the NAME of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And as we learn to live and talk and act like our big brother Jesus and like our heavenly Father, we experience a deeper and deeper reality that God is WITH US.
That is why this verse, this profoundly Trinitarian Verse, that we heard earlier today is not merely a wish for God’s people.
It is a declaration of The AWESOME Reality that we are invited to experience more deeply, a reality that heals the wounds of our shame:
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
—2 Corinthians 13:14