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Trinity Sunday

“A Trinity of Love”
May 18, 2008
Gen. 1:26-27
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul and with all your mind. . . and love your neighbor as
yourself.”
In the Name of The Father, who create the world and loved it so that He sent
His only Son to save us;
In the Name of the Son, who in love gave His life on earth so that we
could have life eternal in heaven;
And In the Name of the Holy Spirit, who in love gave us the gift of
saving faith in Christ Jesus through which we receive the forgiveness of sins
and eternal life. Amen.
Many Christians think of the Holy Trinity as being a NT teaching.
We consider, incorrectly, the last verses of this 28th chapter of Matthew,
known as the Great Commission, as being the first explicit reference to The
Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. But in truth the Trinity is
revealed from the very beginning. Here in Genesis 1 we see the Father
Creating by means of His Spoken Word, which, as we know from the Gospel
of John, is Jesus Christ. And the Spirit of God is, as we are told in verse two
of Genesis 1, hovering over the waters. So the true God is in essence One
God—just as the Shema of Deut. 6:4 tells us, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord Thy
God is One God.” But it is important for us to know that the Hebrew word
used here for “one” describes not an individual in the strict sense of the term,
but rather a united whole. Just as Israel, who were many, made up one

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people, so too God, who is three distinct persons, is united in One divine
essence.
We hear the Holy Trinity speaking in verse 26 of Genesis one, where
God says, “Let us make man in our image, after Our likeness.”
Creating man in His image means that they were created holy, like
God. But when they fell into sin the holy image of God was lost. To restore
this holiness required the Holy One of Israel, The Second Person of the Holy
Trinity, Jesus Christ Himself-- who is described in Colossians 1 as the image
of the invisible God, to take on human flesh and die on the cross.
But being created in the image of God also means that in our being we
reflect God—albeit imperfectly. For just as God is three in one—so too we
are three in one—Body, Mind and Spirit making up one person. When Jesus
commands love—He does not say that we should love God ONLY with our
body—or ONLY with our mind—or ONLY with our spirit—but with all
three. But sinful, fallen man is incapable of doing so, at least in the manner
that God desires.
Think about it for a moment—there are those who are quite adept at
loving God with the body—while neglecting the mind or spirit.
At the time of the Reformation it was taught that merely going
through the motion of attending mass and taking the sacrament was good
and salutary. The phrase used to describe this was “ex opera operata”, which
literally means “by the work of doing works.” In other words, as long as a
person was in church and receiving the sacrament, it didn’t matter what they
did—or didn’t believe. As we know, Luther did his best to change this way
of thinking—bringing forth the Scriptural teaching that it is not the ritualistic
performance of works that is pleasing to God, but rather faith which is
reflected in love for God and others.

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If one simply attends church physically, without being engaged in
mind and spirit, then worship becomes simply the time to punch the clock,
so that God will give you your pay. Or, it becomes a place to practice acts of
philanthropy—that is, good works for other people—again in the hope of
being rewarded.
Does this describe you? Could you be the person who comes to
church regularly, because you were taught to do so as a young child, but
while you are present in body, your mind and soul are somewhere else? Or
do you simply enjoy all the wonderful service opportunities that the church
provides? Seeing them as a chance to provide for the needs of others—and
maybe, in the process to be recognized by others for your good works? If
so, then you are guilty of the sin of worshipping God only in your body.
Or what about loving God with our spirit but neglecting the mind?
worships in spirit, and ignores body and mind? This is the kind of worship
that is associated with New Age beliefs and Eastern mysticism. But more
pertinent to us is the Christian who focuses primarily on feelings. Worship
becomes a time to simply feel good—to get kind of a “spiritual high”. We
use emotions as a gauge for our spirits—so if we feel “good”, then
something significant must be happening. Don’t misunderstand, there is
nothing wrong with “feeling good”—in fact, Christians should feel very
joyful when we assemble in the presence of God, see a child baptized or an
adult confirmed, or return to our pews after taking the Lord’s Supper. But
we dare not make faith dependant upon how we feel, for our spirit is not
dependant upon feelings that we have within ourselves, but rather on the
external truths that provide a firm foundation regardless of how we feel.
What is this foundational truth? It is the truth that God became man in Jesus
Christ, and offered Himself up on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our

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sin. The forgiveness of sins which He won on the cross are delivered to us
by the Holy Spirit who is working through the Gospel and Sacraments,
which are them means of God grace. This Good News of salvation in Christ
Jesus is true, regardless of how we feel about it. In fact, the truth is that
when we feel especially BAD is when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so Good!
For it is then that we receive the comfort and joy from knowing that Christ
Jesus has died and rose again, and that we are recipients of ALL his gifts that
He gives to us!
Finally, there is the mind. We are to love God with our mind. This is
an area that seems to receive either too much—or too little—attention.
There is a dearth of Christian education in this nation—and I’m not referring
to prayer being taken out of the public schools. I mean that Christians and
their churches, the very place God has deposited His truth, are guilty of
exchanging the eternal truth of God’s Word for the temporary excitement
that comes from programs, praise bands, or popular preachers.
Solid Doctrine and Sound Biblical teaching don’t seem to be high on
the priority list for people looking to join a church. I remember receiving a
phone call in my previous parish from a Lutheran who was new to the
community. The first question they asked was “Does your church have a
praise band?” I said that we didn’t, but that it was a wonderful church that
taught God’s Word and was very active in outreach and missions. I invited
them to attend on a Sunday or come and speak with me. “No”, they replied,
“I’m really looking for a church with a praise band. There is an endless
number of stories that I could tell, all making a similar point—for many
people the church is no longer about what is taught, but rather about what is
being sold or can be bought. It seems as though the prophecy that St. Paul
spoke to Timothy has come true, “For the time is coming when people will

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not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for
themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from
listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”.
We are called to love the Lord our God with our mind—to grow in the
knowledge of the glory of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 4:4-6). To teach our
children the Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation. I
ask you, is this part of your faith practice? If it’s not, it should be.
But as we exercise our minds, we need to be careful, for we can go
too far with the pursuit of knowledge. We are reminded in 1 Cor. 8 that
knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. By focusing too much on the mind
we can think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and become self-
righteous know-it-alls. This is a danger for both pastor and parishioner
alike. Do you know what the three scariest words are for a seminarian? “I
Don’t Know”. Pursuing knowledge of God at the expense of love—be it for
Him or others, can result in a hardened heart and spirit.
The fact is that while The Triune God desires to be loved with ALL
our Heart, ALL our soul and ALL our mind—sinful people simply can’t do
it. But the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, could and did. Jesus
offered His body as a living sacrifice. Jesus poured out His spirit, asking the
Father to take the cup of suffering from Him—but recognizing it was His
Father’s will that mattered. Jesus loved His Father with His mind—He was
the rabbi who perfectly preached and taught and the Word of God—for He
was and IS the Word of God. And as we are told in Scripture, it pleased the
Father for all His fullness to dwell in Jesus.
And do you know what else is pleasing to God? For us to love the
Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. In so doing

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we are reflecting the image of the One True God; The Father, Son and Holy
Spirit—a Trinity of Love.
Amen.

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