Updated: Jan 31
Today, according to the Episcopal liturgical calendar, is Trinity Sunday. We recognize the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit today.
Symbolically, once one has been ordained as a priest for the Father – not a ceremony carried out by a religious institution, but an Ordination of Spirit – then one is the Son (regardless of human sex) through the Holy Spirit. Since we were all at the graduation ceremony for newly commissioned Saints last week, today we honor the Trinity that makes all Saints possible.
Let us all give a nice round of applause for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one being.
Perhaps some of you were wondering why we sat through the Creation of the world, in the Old Testament reading this morning.
Certainly, the Trinity was in play throughout every step in that seven-“Day” timeframe.
There is so much of value in Genesis 1 that it is impossible to make a short sermon about it all. Instead of letting this reading go unexplained, I invite everyone to take the time to pour over today’s Genesis text and meditate on the meaning that is there. It is truly amazing. See me later if you need help understanding it all.
But, for now, let’s take the most general view of what one finds there, which can be summed up in the very first line:
“In the beginning created God heavens and earth.”
You have to see that in a way that has your mind clear on the true meaning of “heavens.” This is not alluding to outer space. We do not die and go to outer space. We go to the “heavens,” where God lives … to the Father’s house.
You also cannot see “earth” as our planet alone. The creation of “earth” includes the entire Universe, so it is our planet, all of deep space, and everything in between. The Hebrew word “eretz,” meaning “land, earth,” is better seen as a word referencing “substance,” “matter,” or “elements.” In that way, “earth” is the opposite of “heavens.”
Therefore, we should read how God created the spiritual. And then God created the material.
One is separated from the other, as two entirely different realms, with the physical realm having no way of accessing the spiritual realm by will.
In other words, we cannot go on a vacation to Heaven, and then come back to a 9 to 5 job in the earthly realm – with pictures and stories to tell our coworkers.
“Look! This is one of me at the foot of God. And this is me with the Archangel Michael. He was so nice.”
While Disney World is a nice place to visit, it is not Heaven.
Heaven and Earth are two separate places created by God, but God can be both places at once.
When we then read about the Creation on Day two, we see a “dome” was created in the “midst of the waters.”
Since Day one only produced “heavens” and “earth,” or “the spiritual” and “the material,” the use of “waters” must be seen as the “flows” or “springs” of Creation, with one spewing forth the “ethereal” and the other spewing forth the “elemental.”
Between those two is placed a “dome,” where the word written is “raqia.” That word has often been translated as “vault” or “firmament,” but literally means “expanse.”
The reason we read “dome,” “vault,” or “firmament” into “expanse” is it is like the suspension system of a bridge, for a road over a river. It is a form of support that not only maintains separation, but acts as a connection between the two.
So, between the “spiritual” and the “material” is a “bridge of support.”
That, my friends, is the Trinity: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. That represents the Heavens, the Earth, and the Firmament.
Again, there is so much more that can be gleaned from today’s reading in Genesis. However, the purpose of Trinity Sunday is not to prove the Bible supports the premise of God, earthly beings, and the link between those two.
The purpose, as a follow-up to Pentecost Sunday, it to remind you that the Trinity is three parts, where one part is most often missing.
That missing part is you. Instead of the saying, “one brick short of a load,” this is “one soul short of a Saint.”
The Father and His Holy Spirit are always there, but it is up to you to reach out and connect, so the Trinity can be fully affected.
Thus, we read in the Book of Matthew today how Jesus told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” All was given to Jesus by the Holy Spirit, the Firmament to which Jesus connected to Heaven, while on earth.
Jesus then instructed his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus told them to do as he had done, so they would become the Son reincarnated, with Jesus Resurrected within them, through the Holy Spirit.
In turn, that would make eleven Jesus’ rather than one. Those eleven would make disciples of all nations, just as Jesus had made disciples.
Jesus was telling them of the exponential power that was possible, if they would be found “teaching [others] to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Just as I have told you to go and make disciples, you will tell your disciples to go and make disciples too.
Throughout all this process, into all times to come, Jesus said to the disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The end of the age is when people stop passing the torch of the Holy Spirit, when people stop becoming Jesus and reaching out to new disciples.
In the reading from Matthew, we heard, “When [the disciples] saw [Jesus on the Mount of Olives], they worshipped him; but some doubted.”
The Hebrew of that verse says, “kai idontes auton prosekynesan; hoi de edistasan,” which literally states, “And having seen him they worshipped; they moreover wavered.”
To say “they worshipped” Jesus, that is a statement about how much the disciples honored Jesus, as the Son of God. Those who followed Jesus, as disciples, saw many reasons to have such faith in a man. They prayed to Jesus to give them that faith and ability. They were disciples, where a “disciple” is “a pupil” or “a learner,” by definition, with that meaning coming from the Latin root word “discere.” From that same word we get the word “discern,” which puts a disciple on an intellectual plane, rather than a spiritual one.
If you recall last week, the Book of Acts referred to the pupils of Jesus as “Apostles.” They had their graduation ceremony on the Day of Pentecost. They stopped being mental and let the force of God, the mind of Christ, take control.
Today’s Gospel reading focuses on the day before the Day of Pentecost, as Jesus was about to Ascend to the Father. Matthew admitted the eleven were disciples, not yet apostles.
Matthew said, “They worshipped” Jesus, so they prayed to him and believed in him, because Jesus was doing amazingly worthy of belief things. The pupils loved Jesus as a deity, the Son of God.
However, “they wavered,” “they doubted,” “they hesitated.”
When the translation says, “Some doubted,” which is an error of translation, due to some seeing no reason to repeat the word “they,” as meaning all of them. But that is wrong.
All the disciples hesitated thinking they could replace Jesus. They all doubted they could be like Jesus. They all wavered in their sense of security that they were ready to see Jesus leave them alone, no longer a man with them on the physical plane.
I believe there are many here among us who also “waver, hesitate, and doubt” that the time has come to step up and do as Jesus commanded his disciples: “Go and make disciples of others.”
Remember how there is a duality that has two separate parts that never physically touch – Heaven and Earth. Instead of saying Heaven and Earth, see this as Light and Darkness. See this as the Spiritual and the Physical. Know that there is Good and there is Evil.
As human beings, of matter, in darkness, surrounded and influenced by evil, that is all we can ever be … without some form of support … some bridge that can elevate us.
The “dome” that needs to separate us from the earthly, which can then connect us to the heavenly, is the Holy Spirit.
It is the hand of God, advocated by Christ, which comes to raise us to godly states of being, so we can bring a recreated Jesus into this dark world.
We are like matchsticks that wait striking, so the light can come upon us, so that others can be led.
Therefore, Trinity Sunday represents the fulfillment of the graduation ceremony that took place last Sunday, where all we learned has set in and taken effect, spiritually. We become the firmament for others of the Earth, to show them the light to Heaven.
We each should transform into Apostles through the faith of worship, letting our wavering, our doubting, and out hesitation drop like shackles and binding chains unloosed. We must see how freedom can only come when we cease following and become leaders.
May the power of the Holy Spirit have you walk in Light, to the glory of the Lord, with the eternal blessings of Christ.