Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
Bigfork Community United Methodist Church
June 7, 2020 – Trinity Sunday
It is Trinity Sunday, the day in the Christian Year that Methodists contemplate the nature of God as multifaceted and as one. Our reading from Matthew this morning, “the Great Commission,” tells of Jesus sending his followers into the world to make disciples of all people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
So you have it right there…we are given three gifts and one gift…the Three-in-One, as it is sometimes called. The Creation Story we read in Genesis can be divided into three parts, too.
The first three days, God creates light, the dome separating the waters below us from the waters above us, land and vegetation. The second three days God creates lights in the dome, fish and animals of every kind and, finally, humankind. On the last day, God rested.
This is how people of that day understood the nature of the physical world. The world was flat and it floated between the waters… the waters of the deep blue sea, and the waters of the deep blue sky. There was no conflict between science and religion. They were one.
The gifts of life and work and rest come from the One who is in… and around…and through all things: the One, God
In his farewell to the Corinthians, Paul blesses that church and ours with the reminder that we have received the grace of Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit. Things come in threes there, too.
So here we are, the body of Christ, calling all the world to worship God…to make disciples of all people… inspired and led by the Holy Spirit. We share the gift we have received…we refresh it…we reboot it… by giving it away…so we can keep it…we renew it.
In any gift there are three parts, too. There is the thing that is given… what we usually think of as the gift, but the thing is only a part of the change that is being fashioned here..
There must be a giver, too, what the law calls the donor…and our donor is the Three-in-One we mentioned before…this One True God.
Finally, the gift must be accepted by the recipient, what the law calls the donee. Without all three of them, there is no gift. With all three of them, there is one gift.
All of you have agreed to accept the gift. You have come to the altar… you have clicked on the link. Two or more have gathered at this hour in his name…and Christ is here… among us.
But if you hadn’t done that you would not have received the gift of blessing that God spoke to Abraham, appeared to Moses and sent in Jesus Christ. This is the gift we have received. This is the gift we are called to share with all we meet.
Of course, the way we offer that gift today is a little different than it used to be. I hope that next week we can begin to gather in one room here again, but that will be different, too.
The chairs have been moved. Everyone will be wearing a face cover…a mask. And the hardest blow of all…no fellowship time after the service.
You have heard of ambassadors without portfolio…we have become Methodists without casseroles.
The way we prepare for service has changed a lot, too. We live-stream the room we have always met in and we email the bulletim – we do not hand it out. We will continue to do that.
There are sanitizing gels and wipes everywhere. What we hand you when you come in is a mask instead of a bulletin.
No hugs or handshakes. And communion has to be virtual only for a while at least, out of concern for our physical health.
And the way we have transformed the building and the way we have had to change the way we behave around each other are compounded by the way we have changed and will continue to change how we produce the experience of Worship in those who come to see…and hear…and be changed.
Your former friend and pastor Steve Garnaas Holmes put it so very well in one of his Unfolding Light meditations. He writes,
My church is conducting worship online these days.
I sing a lot of our music live;
we also pre-record some pieces
one voice at a time and mix them into an ensemble piece.
I record a guitar track. Then a vocal track or two or three.
Then I send them off to James and he adds Jenny's voice
and mixes them into a beautiful song.
I never get to hear the whole song, just my part,
till the mix is done.
Love is like that.
God is singing in us.
You don't hear the whole song.
You just listen to God's love
and sing your part,
and trust the whole
is more beautiful than you can know.
That is all.
That is enough.
That is enough. We thought we might lose our church when the pandemic made us stop meeting in person in one room, but it has only shown us what is important and what is not. Church is important.
For me, it’s having that hour every week to listen to the Word… slowing down to let the message of the ages sink in…to realize that the love that was sent to so many people so long ago has been passed along…to me… even me…and that when I pass along to someone else just a portion of it…I get it all again… for the first time.
While we share the gift in new ways and by new means, it is still the same gift. We are just in the process of changing the way we share it… how we give it and receive it…but that it nothing new.
The story of creation was shared by word of mouth until the Exile, when the nation of Israel could no longer gather in one place to speak it and hear it. It was a story they told to make sense of the world they found themselves in.
The were unsheltered out of place, not in place. So what did they do, so that the Word that had always been handed down by one person telling it to one or more others would not die? They wrote it down.
It was not some promotion idea. They didn’t do it to become famous or rich. They did it because the story was what held them together and gave them a way to make sense of their lives. It was a road map for those who would follow them into the next frontier of faith.
Those who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with them. So it is in traveling. Those who would bring home knowledge must carry knowledge with them.
They knew their lives meant something to their creator, as much as anything that their Creator had done. If that was not true…then what was the point of Creation?
It was an act of love that had given them life and consciousness, but it was more. They knew how important love was to them…how it was able to organize and measure the best of their energies and skills, because that gift was one that they were willing to accept, one we are unwilling to leave behind, and one they still intended to get by sharing …somehow.
Their world had closed in on them and changed them, but when they gave that story, freely, as a message to those who would come after them…people they would never meet…they did not just change their destiny. They changed the world…for the better.
The science has changed. We know the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa. We know the earth is a sphere and not flat.
But they did a pretty good job 2500 years ago in finding a narrative that seems to follow the same sequence of events in Creation of the earth.
The Rowdy Bunch Book Club is reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and we are learning about quarks and black holes and gravity…things that the people of the Exile never even guessed at.
But they started the telling of the story…and the story goes on. Tyson is doing the same thing they were. God the Creator invites him into the mystery and asks him to move deeper into the unknown.
But he has one chapter named Dark Matter and another named Dark Energy. You know what he’s talking about there? He’s talking about the things that we still do not understand today.
We can see how the stars and the galaxies move but that’s not the way they should move if they moved like everything we know…the story goes on…the mystery continues.
And one day people will look back on us with the same sympathetic kindness that we look back on the ideas humankind was just beginning to explore when Christ was born.
The world has changed. Our understanding has grown. But we still lack true wisdom. The story goes on.
Tyson understands the flow of his story, too. In the introduction, he puts it this way: “At one time or another, every one of us has looked up at the night sky and wondered: What does it all mean? How does it all work? And what is my place in the universe?”
When Martin Luther wanted people to understand the scriptures better than they did, he came up with a German text that he got a guy named Gutenberg to print on a printing press.
So there would be more copies of the text for people to read for themselves. They did, and as a result, the many dialects in that country became one language, and many more people learned how to read.
Then when the radio came along and television came along, we began to tell the story through a new medium and to reach more people in more places.
We have just participated in another great leap for humankind…a little baby step for God. The Word and worship can now be shared on the Internet…for free… and it allows us to gather here whether we can be here or not.
At the same time we have become a worldwide church, and people in the next time zone and eight time zones away can join us in worship…and they do.
You can attend worship online any time of any day that works for you. If you have trouble hearing everything in our sanctuary, you can sit in our fellowship area, where we have surround sound.
The Word is still the Word and it draws us closer to God…into the mystery of life and the world and the heavens around and above us.
It all began in the beginning and it will all go on to the end of time, our yearning to be together with each other…and with our Creator, our Redeemer and our Sustainer…and to ask ourselves what it all means and what our place in it all is.
It all began the day God said, “Let there be light,” and God saw that it was good…very good.
O Lord, what is it that you want to accomplish with your Word in the world through us…through me… this day? Amen.