Readings: John 16:12-15
Preacher: Rev Kevin Kim
Kevin speaks about ‘The Triune God’, based on two Bible passages Matthew 28:16-20 and John 16:12-15 on this Trinity Sunday. We hear the trinitarian language from liturgy, prayers and some theological textbooks a lot these days. Why is the doctrine of trinity still so important for us today? Kevin explores this doctrine in relation to the issue of community and relationship. First, God is community-building love. It is in community that we can discover God in the passions and conflicts and joys and giving of community life. Second, God is only and exclusively God in relationship. The three persons of the Trinity have their distinctive identity only in deep and inseparable relationships with each other.
Questions for reflection or small groups
The Anglican preacher, Colin Morris says that any preacher with any sense calls in sick on Trinity Sunday.
We hear this term ‘trinity’ quite a lot. We hear the Trinitarian language from liturgy, prayers and some theological textbooks.
From the movie ‘Matrix’, one of main characters’ name is ‘trinity’.
In the movie “four Weddings and Funeral,” the poor priest played by Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) repeatedly made mistakes in saying the name of the Trinity: “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spicket,” he says at one wedding, and at another, “Father, Son, and Holy Goat.”
Although the concept of the trinity may be hard to understand, we are familiar with the expression that “God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We Christians always confess the triune (traiju:n) identity of God.
Daniel Migliore, one of the leading systematic theologians today says, “the doctrine of the Trinity is the church’s effort to give coherent expression to the mystery of God’s free grace announced in the gospel and experienced in Christian faith.” I will use quite a few quotes from Migliore in my message.
The biblical basis of the doctrine of the Trinity is not to be simply found. Today’s passage, Matthew 29:19 and John 16:12-15 are two of very few proof biblical texts for the doctrine of trinity.
Why is the doctrine of trinity still so important for us today?
I want to think of this doctrine in relation with the issue of community and relationship this morning.
God is community-building love.
Migliore says, “the doctrine of the trinity redescribes God in the light of the event of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of God’s transforming Spirit.” This doctrine wants to say that God’s love for the world in Christ by the power of the Spirit is nothing accidental or temporary.
The great commission of the Matthew’s gospel makes us excited for the sacred calling from Christ. Perhaps this excitement sometimes makes us miss the verse 17.
It says, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:17, NRSV).”
It would seem that there in the presence of Christ, all would have been convinced. Convinced that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah; convinced of the mission to spread the good news across the land.
There they were in the presence of the Risen Lord and some still doubted.
What does this suggest about us?
Some of us still struggle with our faith. Some of us might struggle with some difficult theological concept such as the doctrine of trinity.
As we are not perfect and we can doubt easily, we should be part of community, part of faith community where we can learn each other, we can grow each other and we journey each other.
That is why church is so important. We need to recognize our inter-dependence. The God who is characterized by love and self-giving needs us to learn to love and give and be in community with one another.
It is in community that we can discover God in the passions and conflicts and joys and giving of community life.
God is community-building love.
God’s love is concerned with community building. God is in communion with the Son and the Holy Spirit.
God demonstrates his self-giving love through his Trinitarian communion.
The Trinitarian doctrine describes God in terms of shared life and love, rather than in terms of domineering power.
If God’s being is in communion, then human life, our life too is intended by God to be life in communion.
So we gives thanks to God for we are part of this Turramurra Uniting Church community, and we journey together with members of this precious community to express this triune love of God.
God is only and exclusively God in relationship.
The Bible speaks of God as the living God. God is not like the dead idols who can neither speak nor act. God speaks and acts creatively, redemptively and transformatively. The God of the biblical witness is not impersonal, but personal living relationship with creatures.
Migliore says, “in God’s own eternal being there is movement, life, personal relationship and the giving and receiving of love.”
God’s longing for building a relationship with his creature is well demonstrated through the doctrine of Trinity.
Three persons of the doctrine of Trinity are not to be understood as separate and autonomous selves.
The three persons of the Trinity have their distinctive identity only in deep and inseparable relationship with each other. This sacred communion of the triune life has been expressed by the Greek word περιχώρησις (perichoresis), which means “mutual indwelling” or “being-in-one-another”.
Migliore says, “the three persons of the Trinity indwell and pervade each other; they encircle each other being united in an exquisite (ekskwizit) divine dance and they make room for each other.”
God is a passionate Spirit. God has created us in order that we and God might relate to one another.
God needs you and I and he will be unfulfilled until you respond to God’s love and
begin to give in return as passionately as God gives to you.
Eugene Peterson says, God is emphatically personal; God is only and exclusively God in relationship.
I think that is the core aspect of the doctrine of trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in active communion, continual relationship with one another.
If the life of the triune God is the mutual self-giving love of Father, Son and Spirit, and if this triune God is active in history out of love for the creation,
we must think of the Trinity as the life of God with and for us here and now
in which we participate by worship and service, as we hear and obey God’s Word and Spirit.
Then, we must think of the Trinity regarding the future time,
looking ahead to the glorious completion of the purpose.
Migliore says, the history of the triune God includes suffering and death but also new life and resurrection and it moves forward to the consummation of the kingdom of God.
In John’s gospel, the future tense of the verbs used to describe the Spirit’s actions (the Spirit “will guide”, “will speak” and “will declare”) Since the Spirit takes what belongs to Jesus, and since what belongs to Jesus belongs to God, then even in Jesus’ absence God’s revelation to the world and to us, the church is still available – through the Spirit.
The glory of the triune God will be complete, only when the creation is set free from all bondage and God is praised by all his creations.
And for the completion of the glory of the triune God there should be us.
We are the focal point of God’s creation. We should be reflecting this God’s Trinitarian love with our relationship with one another.
We should reflect self-giving love of God as we continue to build up our TUC community with commitment and service.
So let us enjoy and appreciate the company of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and let us also enjoy and appreciate one another’s company who has been designed to be in relationship with one another. Amen.