Heritage Presbyterian Church

May 30, 2021
Trinity Sunday
Scripture readings: Isaiah 6: 1-8 & Romans 8: 12-17

When each of us was a child, what probably happened in our lives was that we figured out who to ask for help in certain situations.  I didn’t do much good to ask everyone within earshot to help with any and all problems.  We probably learned early to focus our pleas on certain people.

  • Example: If you fell and were injured, if – God forbid! – you were bleeding, you would ask for help from someone who was tender and caring, kind and patient.  Someone nice was the perfect person to take care of you and make sure you were okay.
  • Example: If you were struggling with algebra, the person to ask was someone who was also good at algebra, someone who was smart and understood your struggle, someone who could teach – not just do it for you but could also make you understand it.  
  • Example: If you were older and facing a crossroads in your life, a major decision had to be made, possibly life-changing in its impact, you would ask someone older, wiser, someone who had “been-there-done-that,” someone who would LISTEN and give sage advice, someone who had your own best interests in mind.  In short, you would ask someone who loved you and understood you.

In each case, I hope you can see how different problems need different solutions.  If you choose the wrong person, that does no good at all, and you could end up worse off than you were.

Today we celebrate a greatly misunderstood topic in Christian theology: the presence of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God’s relationship with God’s children manifests itself in various ways and through God’s three persons of the Trinity.  

Let’s begin with the prophet Isaiah and his appearance before the throne of God the Father.

First of all, Isaiah dealt with God the Father, the Creator.  When Isaiah was initially called and appeared before God’s magnificent throne, the first thing that happened to Isaiah was the same thing that would happen to most of us: namely, he became very VERY aware of his sinfulness and insignificance.  Here he is, standing before the Heavenly throne, and I wonder what he was wearing; I wonder if he washed his face and hands that morning; I wonder if his feet and his sandals were clean; I wonder if his hair was combed and trimmed; and, of course, I wonder what he was doing, what was on his mind just before he arrived.  Isaiah had also looked upon the face of God.  He knew what the ancients from the Old Testament knew: to look upon the face of God was to die!  So, Isaiah immediately fell upon his face and began to wail.  Immediately, God the Father solved the problem: God sent a seraph holding a live coal from the altar of God and touched Isaiah’s lips; immediately, Isaiah’s guilt departed and his sin was blotted out.  

What might be missed here was that God was preparing Isaiah for the task he was called to do: to serve as the voice of God for God’s people.  Isaiah could see and hear God’s voice…the people couldn’t.  

So Isaiah’s call went down like this:

  1.  He appeared before God and immediately became aware of his sense of unworthiness.
  2. Isaiah experienced forgiveness from God.
  3. Isaiah then dedicated his life as a redeemed servant of God when he told God, “Here I am!  Send me!”

God the Father chose Isaiah, but Isaiah also chose God the Father.

In the reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans, we heard Paul explaining that living in the Spirit means that the power of sin in our bodies is dead.  Paul’s emphasis on the Holy Spirit doing this proved that hope of salvation was open to everyone as he went on to also note that the Holy Spirit created a relationship in which people become “children of God” and even “co-heirs with Christ.”

This is powerful language, although it might not appear so to us.

Before Jesus came, the people of God saw themselves as the only ones whom God loved and protected.  If outsiders wanted to join the people of God, it was a complicated process that didn’t always reveal itself as inclusive and welcoming.  “God-fearers” was the label they received, and it was good… but not the same as being part of the people of God.

Two things happened here in Paul’s letter:

  1.  Paul continued deliberately including outsiders and non-believers.  Paul also continued reaching out to God’s people but without much success.  (Just check the number of times in the New Testament that Paul was beaten by the Jews or how often he went straight to the local synagogues to engage them.)
  2. Paul was using strong language of “heirship” with the Romans.  In the Roman Empire at that time, if you were adopted, the law and custom was that you left your former life behind and became a full, included member of your new family – with all the rights and privileges that included.  There was no “second-class status” for those who were adopted.  Paul knew this and included it purposefully to get the Romans’ attention.

Isaiah was transformed from “observer” to “prophet” by God the Father.

Paul described a transformation from “slave” to “child” or from “adopted” to “you’re-part-of-the-family-now” by the Holy Spirit.

I have left the most familiar facet of the Trinity for last, namely God the Son – our Savior, Jesus Christ.

How many of us relate more easily to Jesus?  Probably most of us.  After all, Jesus walked the earth, lived fully as a human being with all that included.  Jesus brought a ministry of the Kingdom of God that included everyone, especially those who had been left behind by the beliefs and practices of His day.  Jesus challenged the long-held beliefs that practices made someone holy in the eyes of God; instead, Jesus pointed out it was the love in one’s heart that mattered.

Jesus did not come to earth to help us maintain the status quo.

Jesus came to preach the Good News, to find new leaders who lived it, to prepare them to serve, and then to send them out!

In doing so, Jesus was completely honest with them as to what could happen.

  • Remember one of his last discussions with Peter; he asked Peter to take care of his sheep (meaning all of us), but he also said someday men would stretch out Peter’s hands and take him where he didn’t wish to go. (John 21:15-19)
  • At the end of the passage from Romans, Paul reminded his listeners that “we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17).  Paul did not leave out the sufferings Christians may endure because of that relationship as heirs with Christ. 
  • Three different times Jesus told his disciples directly and bluntly that he would suffer and die before rising from the dead on the third day.  In John’s Gospel, he even described it subtly a few more times! 

In the end, let us always remember that prophets and Apostles and disciples never felt themselves worthy to proclaim God’s message; instead, they felt empowered to do so by:

  • God the Father;
  • God the Son;
  • God the Holy Spirit.

And once empowered, they were sent!

Let us also be empowered – and sent!