1 Sunday, May 26, 2013 Holy Trinity Sunday Pentecost 1st After Rev. Dr. Dena Williams St.

Paul Lutheran Church Denver, CO Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15 The Gospel according to the Community of St. John in the 16th Chapter Glory to you, O Lord Jesus said to his followers:

16:12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for the Spirit will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 16:14 The Spirit will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

2

16:15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that the Spirit will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Gospel of the Lord Romans 5:1—5 Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer It is Holy Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost. It is the day we celebrate the presence in our lives of a God who creates us, a God who redeems us, and a God who sustains us. What more could we ask for then to be created by God, redeemed by Christ and sustained by the Holy Spirit? In a few short verses today, St. Paul reminds us of most of what we need to know about The Holy Trinity. Paul is writing a letter to the Christians at Rome. He is about to begin a journey. He is on his way first to Jerusalem, then to Rome, then to Spain. Paul knows things are not good for Christians in Jerusalem, his first destination. Many have been put to death for their faith. Paul seems a little frantic to teach the Gentiles in the church at Rome pretty much all he knows about God. He uses all of these words in today’s short text alone: justification, faith, peace, hope, suffering, endurance, character, hope again, and finally love. Paul seems anxious to tell the people one more time, in much detail, just how it is that God loves them through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Praise to you, O Christ

3 His anxiety was justified, it seems. We do not know exactly what happened to Paul, but we know he never made it to Rome or to Spain. Many scholars believe Paul died in Jerusalem, a martyr to the Christian faith. The letter to the church at Rome was the last letter, as far as we know, the very last letter Paul would ever write. He seemed to know this was to be the case. So, what is it so important that Paul, with great intensity, tells the people one more time? What is his important last message? Well, it is nothing he has not written and taught before. A modern day pastor would do well to follow Paul’s example. On a singular Sunday when she has the opportunity to share God’s Word with her very own faith community, she might preach about the very most important things, she might lift up those important messages she hopes people will most remember. She might talk about justification, faith, peace, hope, suffering, endurance, character, hope again, and finally love. Although she is not on her way to Jerusalem and does not expect to be martyred anytime soon, she might take this special opportunity to talk about these things, and if she did, it seems she would be in good company. Paul writes one more time: “We are justified by grace through faith for the sake of Jesus Christ. The pastor teaches: “We are justified by grace through faith for the sake of Jesus Christ.” What do Paul and the pastor mean? Just this—nothing, no nothing will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, there is nothing we can do or must do to earn God’s love, all has been done for us through the willingness of Christ to go to the cross,

4 God’s love makes us righteous and whole and pure through Jesus Christ. God’s grace, God’s unmerited favor toward us, is freely given with no limits, no boundaries, no end. This is most certainly true! These words sound easy to hear. Is there any challenge here? Well, yes, there is. The challenge is to believe, to trust, to have faith in this promise of God’s no-matter-what love. We say we believe, we want to believe, God help our unbelief. What else does Paul write one more time? These words: “We boast in our sufferings.” The preacher teaches: “We boast in our sufferings.” What do Paul and the pastor mean? Now, we might think here that ‘boast’ is not quite the right word. Well, it’s not. A better word might be ‘celebrate.’ “We celebrate our sufferings, knowing suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” This is most certainly true. These are NOT easy words to hear. I know you. I know about you. I know you suffer. Just as worshippers on any given Sunday in any given congregation experience suffering in their lives, so do you, and so do I. As you come to the table this Sunday, I will remind myself I do not know all your suffering, only God knows. Then I will lift up your suffering in silent prayer for you.

5 As I share the body of Christ with each of you, I will commend to God your struggles, your grief, your losses, your worries and fears. As I recall your suffering this Sunday, I will think of how you have endured, the strength of character you have earned, the hope you carry. I am also aware how, just like me, each of you would gladly give up the endurance, the strength, the character, we would give up all these things we earn through suffering, if the pain would just go away. We do not celebrate the pain. Once more—our suffering may produce gifts, gifts of endurance, strength, character, hope. These gifts, the result of our suffering may make us a better spouse or partner or friend or parent or pastor. We celebrate these gifts. We do not celebrate the pain. Neither does God. There is something about suffering Paul does not write in these particular verses. There is something about suffering I want to say on this Sunday I am priviliged to be your preacher: “God does not cause our suffering. It is not God’s will for us to suffer.” One more time: “God does not cause our suffering. It is not God’s will for us to suffer.” I hear well-intentioned Christians say to one another when there is suffering: “Well, it was God’s will.” No! It wasn’t! The challenge is for us to remember when your loved one dies, when you lose your job, when you go through a divorce, when your children are struggling, when you fall ill, when you are lonely,

6 when your church community goes through hard times, when you suffer, be very clear, suffering is not God’s will for your life! Suffering is part of the human condition. The challenge is to remember when tragedy comes, God begins to weep even before you do. Paul writes one more time about hope: “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit given to us by God.” The preacher teaches about hope. I think about hope as it is spoken in Spanish. The word is “esperar”, and in Spanish this verb means “to hope”, it also means “to wait.” There is no hoping without waiting, no waiting without hoping. So, we wait for God’s future revealed to us. Even as we wait, we hope. Even as we hope we worship and serve, give and receive God’s love. So Paul has written, the preacher has preached, these things: “We are saved by grace through faith for the sake of Jesus Christ.” “We celebrate our sufferings, our endurance, our strength of character.” “We celebrate because our hope lies in God’s love for us, love poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” Paul’s challenge, my challenge to you is this: —believe, live and share these words of faith, hope, peace, and love as though they are most certainly true. We are saved by our faith in God. We suffer as Christ willingly suffered for us.

7 We hope in the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are created by God. We are redeemed by Christ. We are sustained by the Holy Spirit. Who could ask for more? Amen

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