Trinity, (Year A), June 15, 2014
Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Psalm 8, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20
Preached by Pastor Anna C. Haugen, Augustana and Birka Lutheran Churches, Underwood, ND
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, my rock and my redeemer.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, the psalmist says. I recently watched a science documentary called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. This documentary covered everything from the smallest part of an atom to the vastness of a universe filled with millions of galaxies, and throughout it all as Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explained the knowledge science gives us, I was struck with a sense of wonder at the world God has made. Although told from a scientific point of view and not a religious one, the show has a sense of awe at the beauty and majesty of all creation, from the tiniest bit if it to the farthest reaches of the universe. As Christians, we know that God our Father is the creator of all that is, seen and unseen. And yet it is sometimes easy to forget how incredible that is, how vast God’s creation truly is, and how small a part of it we are.
“O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the vastness of the universe! When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” We know more about God’s creation than the psalmist did three thousand years ago when this psalm was first written. We know the universe is vaster than that long-ago poet could have imagined. Every star we see in the sky is a sun like our own, many of which have planets like our own; and there are innumerably more stars out there that we can only see from Earth with the aid of telescopes. And past that, there are other galaxies larger than our own, filled with even more stars and planets. There are all the wonders that science has discovered, all the wonders science will discover in the centuries to come, and all the wonders that science could not possibly understand. God guided creation from the beginning of time, creating the stars and planets and galaxies, and then on our own planet life: first plants, and then creatures of the sea, and then creatures on land, and then, finally, humans. Out of all that vastness, God created us. And loves us dearly.
We humans tend to be egocentric. We tend to think the world revolves around us. But look up at the night skies, or look at one of the photographs of Earth taken from the moon, and you will see how insignificant we truly are. Compared to the universe, we are nothing. Compared to God, we are less than nothing. We are tiny. The universe is vast, and God is greater still. There are mysteries to the universe that we will never know, and it is God who created them. God, who is beyond our mortal imagining. Yet God loves us. God cares for us. God created us, but God didn’t just stop there and stand back and abandon us to our own fate. God is with us, teaching us and guiding us and loving us.
God the Father created us, but we went astray. We fell into sin. And when we did, we dragged all of creation with us. God created the world to be good. Did you notice that, in the creation story told in the first lesson? Over and over, God creates something and says that it is good. But we humans are broken by sin and death, and that has marred the world God made.
So God the Son came to earth and was born as a human. God became flesh and dwelt among us. God became Human. The great, infinite one became finite. Jesus Christ was truly God and truly human at the same time. Because God loves us so much, God was willing to become one of us. Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Son, the Word of God made flesh and come to live among us. He broke the chains of sin and death and freed us so that we might live the kind of good, abundant lives the Father created us to live. He didn’t have to, you know. He could have said, “Well, it’s their own fault,” and let us fall. But he didn’t. He loves us, and so he came to save us and all of creation. Jesus Christ came to put right what we have made wrong, to heal all the harm we have done to ourselves and each other and to all of creation.
Once the Son had broken the chains of sin that we had made for ourselves, he went back to the Father. But God is still with us, for the Holy Spirit came and continues to breathe life into us, to empower us and inspire us in God’s way. The Spirit comes to set us on fire with God’s holy love, to give us the living water that helps us grow as God’s children. The Spirit is never still; the Spirit is always in motion, leading us and guiding us.
There’s a lot about God we don’t know or understand. We have one God, but that God comes to us in three ways: as the Father, as the Son, as the Spirit. Christians have been arguing over exactly how that works since the very first followers of Jesus worshipped him. No one has ever been able to really explain it, but that actually gives me comfort. God created the universe, in all its vastness and complexity, the wonders as great as galaxies and as tiny as atoms. Surely, God is greater than anything we could possibly comprehend. Science and human reason are valuable tools that can help us learn a lot. But if science and human reason were the only tools we had to explore the universe, we would know little about God for God is greater than human reason can understand. Yet God reveals Gods own self to us out of love.
As St. John the elder said in his first letter, God is love. In our second lesson, St. Paul said that God is a God of love and peace. That is the core of who and what God is. Father, Son, Spirit, all three together, loving one another. No one of the three is complete without the others. But in mutual love they dance together as they have throughout all time, with a love as vast as the universe. That love is extended to us. As God’s children, we are invited into that relationship, into that love. We are invited to dance with them, to join the holy community, and to give that love to everyone we meet. And in so doing, we are invited to participate in God’s work. God makes us his partners.
The psalmist puts it this way: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.” Out of all the greatness of God’s creation, we are given the task of helping to take care of the world God has made. We are created, saved, empowered, and sent out to be God’s hands in the world. We are brought into God’s own love, and given the task of sharing that love with the world, through our words and through our actions.
We are sent out into the world to be God’s hands and feet. We are sent out to love our neighbors, to spread peace where there is destructive conflict, to spread joy where there is despair, to spread healing where there is illness or injury, to spread hope where there is despair, to spread the story of God’s love for all of creation but most especially God’s love for us, God’s own children.