May 30, 2021

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer”

From Romans 8: 12-17

 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

     One of the hardest tenets, or beliefs, of our Christian faith to comprehend and to explain to others is the Holy Trinity.  That our one God Almighty exists for us as three distinct persons is a concept that is hard to grasp.  There is nothing in all the world around us, and upon which we can draw from our experience, that is helpful in truly grasping and understanding the Holy Trinity.  The Trinity, or our Triune God, is quite simply a sacred mystery that all our modern Science and Technology is ill-equipped and at a loss to explain. Jesus often used parables drawn from common human events and people as metaphors for the deeper spiritual truths he wanted to share with his Disciples and followers about God and about the kingdom of God.  There is no suitable earthly metaphor we could use to describe the mystery found within the Holy Trinity.  We are ultimately left succumbing to the divine and inevitable truth that there is nothing in all of creation like the Blessed and Holy Trinity that exists as God our Creator, Christ Jesus our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, our Sustainer.

     To gain an understanding of the importance of the three persons of the Holy Trinity all being persons of one Almighty God, we must turn to the Old Testament, and to the time of Moses.  Upon Mount Sinai, God spoke God’s Commandments for the people of Israel to Moses.  The Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 6 recounts that Moses delivered God’s Commandments to the people with these words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  The Lord your God…is ONE.  This tenet of the early Hebrew faith has been foundational throughout the generations.  There were tribes of people in the ancient world who worshipped many gods: gods of water, wind, fire, fertility, rain, harvest, sun, moon, and stars in the heavens above.  The people of Israel worshipped one God, and one God alone–YAHWEH—the God of their forebears Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Belief in One Holy, Almighty and Sovereign God of all creation separated the people of Israel from other nations.  They were the chosen people of God’s great plan and purposes.  They could love and serve only one Almighty and Eternal God.

      With this historical context to guide our understanding, we can now see the importance of the Holy Trinity, one God in three persons, to our faith and its history.  Yet, since the Trinity is one of the great mysteries of our faith that we will not fully comprehend during this earthly era of our eternal life, let us no longer wrestle to fully understand this truth.  Instead, let us we celebrate the divine mystery of our God in three persons: God our Creator, God in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, and The Spirit of God as our Sustainer.

     Within our corporate worship, the scripture readings, Hymns and sacred creeds we recite are means by which we recognize and express the tenets or beliefs of our faith.  Today, we will use these media to celebrate God, who has been revealed to us in the three persons of the Blessed and Holy Trinity.  Let us begin by sharing together what the scriptures have to say to us about God as our Creator, the one who has called into being all that exists in our world.  The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-2 describes in detail how God created all plants and vegetation, all creatures of the land, sky and sea, and, finally, humans in God’s own image.  Let us share some excerpts from Genesis 1-2:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.”  And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered into one place, so that the dry land may appear.” And it was so.  God called the dry land “earth,” and the gathering of waters He called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, each bearing fruit with seed according to its kind.” And it was so.  And God saw that it was good.

God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. And He made the stars as well. God set these lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, to preside over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the sky.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters teemed according to their kinds, and every bird of flight after its kind.  And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, land crawlers, and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let Us make [humans] in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.” So God created humans in God’s own image; male and female, God created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.” And God looked upon all that He had made, and indeed, it was very good.

     This morning, as our Hymn of praise to celebrate God our Creator, we offer, “How Great Thou Art” (words and music-Stuart K. Hine):

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed.         

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; how great thou art, how great thou art! 

Then sings my soul my Savior God to thee; how great thou art, how great thou art.

     As a means of sharing the Holy Scripture which celebrates our God as revealed to us in the person of Christ Jesus, our Redeemer, let us share text from Chapter 3:16-17 of the Gospel according to St. John, which is a part of the Gospel text for this morning:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him. 

     We celebrate Christ Jesus as our Redeemer with the Hymn of praise “Because He Lives” (words-Gloria and William Gaither, music-William Gaither):

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus; he came to love, heal and forgive; he lived and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives.

     Finally, we celebrate the third person of the Blessed Trinity-God the Holy Spirit, who sustains us.  The scripture we will share today in celebration of the Holy Spirit comes to us from John 14:

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.  All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

     Let us celebrate God the Holy Spirit, who sustains us, through the words of the Hymn “Sweet, Sweet Spirit (words and music-Doris Akers):

There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place, and I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord;
There are sweet expressions on each face, and I know they feel the presence of the Lord.

Sweet Holy Spirit, Sweet heavenly Dove, stay right here with us, filling us with Your love.
And for these blessings we lift our hearts in praise; without a doubt we’ll know that we have been revived, when we shall leave this place.

     Through the texts of the scriptures we shared this morning, and within the messages found in the verses of the Hymns we heard, we have celebrated the great mystery that is our great and Triune God.  We have encountered and experienced one of the persons of the Godhead within each them.  Now, we more fully comprehend the vital role each person plays in our life and faith, even as their oneness often amazes and bewilders us.  Generations have shared these holy verses of scripture and lifted their voices in the unity of these Hymns of praise.  So, let us conclude this morning by summing the messages we have shared regarding each person of the Holy Trinity into a unified statement of our faith.  We will accomplish this task by reading together a familiar Creed of our faith- the Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada.  It states:

We are not alone, we live in God’s world. We believe in God: who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God. We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

God was, is, and will always be our Triune God; our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer ever found in each of the persons of the Blessed Three-in-One, the Holy Trinity.  Amen.