Holy Trinity B

Fr. Tony Kadavil:  

 Introduction

The mystery of the most Holy Trinity is a basic doctrine of faith in Christianity, understandable not with our heads but with our hearts. It teaches us that there are three distinct persons in one God, sharing the same divine nature.  Our mind cannot grasp this  doctrine  which  teaches  that 1+ 1+ 1 = 1 and not 3. But we believe in this mystery because Jesus who is God taught it clearly, the evangelists recorded it,  the Fathers of the Church tried  to explain  it and the Councils  of Nicaea and Constantinople defined it as a dogma of Christian faith.
 
Importance in Christian life:

1) All prayers in the Church begin  in the name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity.
2) All sacraments are administered (we are baptized, confirmed, anointed, our sins are forgiven and our marriage blessed) in the name of the Holy Trinity.
3) Church bells can ring thrice daily, to remind us to pray to the Holy Trinity.
4) We bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the name of the Holy Trinity.

 Biblical proofs:

There are only vague and hidden references to the Trinity in the Old Testament. But the New Testament gives clear teachings on the Holy Trinity.

1)  At  the annunciation,  God the Father sends His angel  to Mary,  God the Holy Spirit overshadows her and God the Son becomes incarnate in her womb.
2)  At  the baptism  of Jesus,  when the Son receives  baptism  from  John  the
Baptist, the Father’s voice is heard and the Holy Spirit appears as a dove.
3)  At the ascension, Jesus gives the missionary command to his disciples to baptize those who believe, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In John, chapters 15-18, we have a detailed account of Jesus’ teaching of the role of each person of the Holy Trinity. 1) God the Father creates and provides for His creatures. 2) God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God. 3) God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us and guides us to God. 

Life Messages

1) Let us respect ourselves and others because everyone is the temple of the Holy
Spirit where all the three Persons of the Holy Trinity abide. 
2) Let us have the firm conviction that the Trinitarian God abides in us and that
He is the source of our hope, courage and strength and is our final destination.

3) Let us practice  the Trinitarian relationship  of love  and unity in the family relationships  of father, mother  and children  because by baptism  we become children of God and members of God’s Trinitarian family.

4)  Let us practice  the I–God–my  neighbor  vertical  and horizontal  Trinitarian relationship in society by loving God living in others. (Fr. Tony) L/12

Anecdotes 

1: Explanations by Ss. Patrick,  Cyril, John Maria  Vianney:  The shamrock, a kind of  clover,  is  a leguminous  herb that  grows  in marshy places.  St  Patrick,  the missionary  patron  saint of  Ireland,  used the shamrock to  explain  the Holy Trinity.   The story goes that one day his  friends  asked Patrick  to explain  the mystery of the Trinity.  He looked at the ground  and saw shamrocks growing amid the grass at his feet. He picked one up one of its trifoliate leaves and asked if it were one leaf or three.   Patrick's friends couldn't answer – the shamrock leaf looked like one but it clearly had three parts.  Patrick explained to them: "The mystery of the Holy Trinity – one God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - is like this, but more complex and unintelligible.”     St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity using sun as an example.    He said, "God the Father is that blazing sun. God the Son is its light and God the Holy Spirit is its heat — but there is only one sun. So there are three Persons in Holy Trinity but God is One and indivisible." St. John Maria Vianney used to explain Holy Trinity using lighted candles and roses on the altar and water in the cruets. “The flame has color, warmth  and shape. But these are expressions of one flame. Similarly the rose has color, fragrance and shape. But these are expressions of one reality, namely, rose. Water, steam and ice are three distinct expressions of one reality. In the same way one God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.” 

2: "But that is impossible, my dear child:” There is a very old and much-repeated story about St. Augustine, one of the intellectual giants of the Church.  He was walking  by  the  seashore one  day,  attempting  to  arrive  at  an  intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity.  As he walked along, he saw a small boy on the beach, pouring seawater from a shell into a small hole in the sand. 

"What are you doing, my child?" asked Augustine.  "I am emptying the sea into this hole," the boy answered with an innocent smile.  "But that is impossible, my dear child,” said Augustine.  The boy stood up, looked straight into the eyes of Augustine and replied, “What you are trying to do - comprehend the immensity of God with your small head - is even more impossible.”  Then he vanished.  The child was an angel sent by God to teach Augustine a lesson.  Later, Augustine wrote: "You see the Trinity if you see love."  According to him the Father is the lover, the Son is the loved one and the Holy Spirit is the personification of the very act of loving. This means that we can understand something of the mystery of  the Holy Trinity more readily  with the heart than with our  feeble  mind. Evagrius of Pontus, a Greek monk of the 4th century who came from what is now Turkey in Asia and later lived out his vocation in Egypt, said: "God cannot be grasped by the mind. If God could be grasped, God would not be God." 

Introduction

Today’s feast invites us to live in the awareness of the presence of the Triune God within us: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The mystery of the Holy Trinity, a doctrine enunciated by the ecumenical councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and the greatest mystery  of  our  Faith, namely,  that  there are three divine  persons, sharing the same divine nature in one God.    “There is one God, who has three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each person is God, yet there is still only one God” (C.C.C. # 234, # 253-256). We have Father who is the creator, Son the redeemer and Holy Spirit the sanctifier and the counselor. The doctrine of three persons in one God, equal in divinity yet distinct in personality, is not explicitly spelt out in the Bible. Even the very word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible. But the doctrine of  the Trinity underlies all major  Christian feasts, including Christmas, the Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost. All the official prayers of the Church, including the Holy Mass and the sacraments, begin with an address to the Holy Trinity: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We are baptized, absolved of our sins and anointed in the name of the Blessed Trinity. Throughout  the world, church bells can ring three times a day inviting Christians to pray to God the Father (the Provider); God the Son (the Savior);  and God the Holy Spirit  (the Sanctifier).  We bless  ourselves with the sign of the cross invoking the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we conclude our prayers glorifying the Holy Trinity, saying “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.” Today’s readings convey the fundamental mystery that the Triune God reaches out to people in love, seeking the deepest communion. 

Scripture Lessons 

Today’s first and second readings do not give us a clear and elaborate presentation of the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. The first  reading, however, tells us that God is deeply involved in the world from its beginning, showing Fatherly  care for  His  people  and  setting  an  example  that  summons  us  to imitation. In the second reading, Paul describes the role of God the Holy Spirit in making us true children of God the Father and brothers and sisters of God the Son, Jesus.  Today’s gospel  describes Jesus’ final apparition to his apostles just before his  ascension  into heaven. At  that moment, He commissioned  them to make disciples of all nations, and commanded them to baptize those who came to believe, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.“ 

First  reading:  Deuteronomy 4:32-34,  39-40:  Deuteronomy  was written  down much later than Moses’ day, during the Babylonian Captivity (587-539 BC). Internal corruption and external pressures had brought the Jewish people to the brink of extinction. Kings, priests, prophets, and Temple had all failed to hold them together. Those who  produced  the written  document responded to this crisis  by offering  amplified  explanations  of the Mosaic legal  traditions,  in the hope of setting the Jews on a viable course for their future. Since the  audience for  the written  presentation  of  Deuteronomy  was having  a very  hard  time holding on to faith and identity, the book’s reminder, that their ancestors had the same struggle  to achieve  or to maintain  their  strict belief in the one, true and invisible God, must have been encouraging. In today's reading, Moses gives the people all the reasons to be proud of how they differ from their pagan neighbors. He asserts, in effect, "We have a better God who gave us a better law and we're a better people.  There's no other god like  ours, nor law like  ours, and no other people like us, so shape up!" 

Second Reading, Romans 8:14-17: As a response to some who insisted that

pagan converts to Christ had to practice the Jewish law, Saint Paul tries to get his audience to let themselves be saved by the grace of God, instead of trying to save themselves by their own efforts, obeying Mosaic laws. He advises them to lead their life “in the Spirit,” that is, to let God take over. This reading addresses some of the relations between Spirit, Father and Son, as we experience our relationship with God. 

Exegetical Notes 

1) The development of the Trinitarian  doctrine  in  the Church.   The oldest doctrinal  formulation  of  the  Church’s  belief  in the  Trinity is  found  in the Apostles’  Creed which  has served as the basis  of instruction  for catechumens and as the baptismal  confession  of faith  since  the second century.  Later, the Nicene Creed, originating at the Council of Nicaea (A.D 325), stated the doctrine more explicitly.   This  creed was introduced  into our  western liturgy by  the regional  council  of Toledo in A.D. 589. God has revealed to us three separate functions  that are carried  out by the three persons.  He has told us that it is proper to attribute to God the Father the work  of creation; to God the Son, the work of Redemption, and to God the Holy Spirit the work of sanctification.  Our knowledge  of God as Trinity is  made possible  by God, who has chosen to be revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  As Father, God has brought forth  the created universe,  including  our own being.  As Son, Jesus has made known  a God who hears our cries, who cares, who counts the hairs on our head and who loves us so passionately as to become one of us, to suffer for our sins, and even to die for us. As Spirit, God remains with us and within us.

2) The Triune God as seen in the Old Testament:  Since Yahweh, the God of Israel,  was careful  to protect His  Chosen People  from  the pagan practice  of worshipping  several gods, the Old Testament books give  only indirect  and passing references to the Trinity, and the Jewish rabbis never understood them as references to the Holy Trinity.    Genesis 1:26 presents God speaking to Himself: "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."    Genesis 18:2 describes how Yahweh visited Abraham in the appearance of three men, an event that the Russian   Orthodox   Church   celebrates   as  the   “Trinitarian   Experience   of Abraham.” In Genesis 11:7, before punishing the proud builders of the Tower of Babel,  God says, “Come,  let  Us go down among them  and confuse their language”. These passages imply, rather than state, the doctrine of the   Trinity.

3) Clear doctrine  of the Trinity  in the New Testament:  a)  The Annunciation

(Luke 1: 26-38) describes how God the Father sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, to announce to her that God, the Holy Spirit, would "overshadow" her, and that God, the Son, would be made flesh in her womb. b) During the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3: 16-17), the Holy Spirit was shown descending on Jesus in the form of a dove, while the voice of God the Father was heard from the clouds.   c) The Gospel of John (Chapters 15 through 18), presents the detailed teaching of Jesus on the Persons of the Holy Trinity.    d)  In the preaching mission given by the risen Lord to the disciples, Jesus commanded them to baptize people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (cf. Matthew 28:19; John 10:30). 

Life Messages

1)  We need to  respect ourselves  and  respect others. Our  conviction  of  the presence of the Triune  God within us should  help  us to esteem ourselves  as God’s holy dwelling place, behave well in His holy presence, and lead purer and holier lives, practicing acts of justice and charity.  This Triune Presence should also encourage us to respect and honor others as "Temples of the Holy Spirit." 

2)  We need to be aware of God as the Source  of our strength and courage. The awareness and conviction of the presence of God within us gives us the strength to face the manifold problems  of life  with Christian  courage. It  was such a conviction  that  prompted   the  early  Christian  martyrs,  when taken  to  their execution, to shout the heroic prayer of faith from the psalms: "The Lord of might is with us, our God is within us, and the God of Jacob is our helper" (Psalm 46). 

3)  We need to see the Trinity as the model  for our Christian  families: We are created in love -- to be a community of loving persons, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in love. From the day we are baptized, we belong to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   How  privileged we are to grow up in such a beautiful family! Hence, let us turn to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in prayer every day. We belong to the family of the triune God. The love, unity and joy in the relationship among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit should be the supreme model for our relationships within our Christian families.  Our families become truly Christian when we live in a relationship of love with God and with others. 

4) We are called to become more like the Triune God through  all our relationships.  We are made in God’s image and likeness.  Just as God is God only in a Trinitarian relationship, so we can be fully human only as one member of a relationship of three partners.  The self needs to be in a horizontal relationship with all other people and in a vertical relationship with God. In that way our life becomes Trinitarian like that of God. Modern society follows the so- called “I-and-I” principle of unbridled individualism and the resulting consumerism.  But the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity challenges us to adopt an "I-and-God-and-neighbor" principle.  I am a Christian insofar as I live in a relationship  of love  with God and other people.  Like  God the Father, we are called upon to be productive and creative persons by contributing to the building up of the fabric of our family, our church, our community and our nation.  Like God the Son, we are called upon to reconcile, to be peacemakers, to put back together that which has been broken, to restore what has been shattered.  Like God the Holy Spirit,  it is  our  task to uncover and teach truth  and to dispel ignorance. (Trinitarian spirituality:  “The doctrine  of the Trinity affirms  that it belongs to God’s very nature to be committed to humanity and its history, that God’s covenant with us is  irrevocable,  that  God’s face is  immutably turned toward  us in love, that God’s presence to us is utterly reliable and constant.... Trinitarian spirituality is one of solidarity between and among persons. It is a way of living the gospel attentive to the requirements of justice, understood as rightly ordered relationships between and among persons,” Dictionary of Spirituality). 

St. Francis Xavier’s favorite prayer was: “Most Holy Trinity, who lives in me, I praise you, I worship you, I adore you and I love you.”  Let the Son lead us to the Father through the Spirit, to live with the Triune God forever and ever. Amen. 

Jokes 

1) Wisdom from child’s mouth:  A priest went into a second-grade classroom of the parish school and asked, “Who can tell me what the Blessed Trinity means?” A little girl lisped, “The Blethed Twinity meanth there are thwee perthonth  in one God.” The priest, taken aback by the lisp, said, “Would you say that again? I don’t understand what you said.” The little girl answered, “Y’not  thuppothed to underthtand; i’th a mythtewy.” 

2) Trinitarian pastor: One parishioner said, “The Trinitarian God is a lot like our pastor. I don’t see him through the week and I don’t understand him on Sunday.”

Additional Anecdotes 

1) The universal testimony: A good illustration of the Trinity comes from world- renowned scientist Dr. Henry Morris. He notes that the entire universe is Trinitarian by design. The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity. Matter = mass + energy + motion. Space = length + height + breadth. Time = past + present + future. Thus the whole universe witnesses to the character of the God who made it (cf. Psalm 19:1).  

2) “You ask me a riddle?” The late Cardinal Cushing tells of an occasion when he was administering last rites to a man who had collapsed in a general store. Following his usual custom, he knelt by the man and asked, "Do you believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?" The Cardinal said the man roused a little bit, opened an eye, looked at him and said, "Here I am, dying, and you ask me a riddle."  Call  them riddles.  Call  them mysteries.  There are things about life and faith we do not understand. I am not going to suggest that you resign your effort to understand. 

3) “The undertaker.” There is an old story about a henpecked husband who went to a psychologist. He was tired of being dominated by his wife. The psychologist told him, “You do not have to accept your wife’s bullying. You need to go home right now and let her know that you’re your own boss.” The husband decided to take the doctor’s advice. He went home and slammed the door on the way in. He confronted his wife and said, “From now on you’ll do what I say. Get my supper, then go upstairs and lay out my clothes. After I eat, I’m going out with the boys while you stay home. By the way, do you know who is going to tie my tie for me?”  “I sure do,” said his wife  calmly,  “the  undertaker.” Some marriages are filled with conflict. So are some offices. Unfortunately some churches are filled with conflict as well. The feast of the Holy Trinity challenges us to cultivate the Trinitarian relationship of love and unity in our families and offices and parishes. 

4) Human mystery confronting divine mystery: The story is told that Franklin D. Roosevelt and one of his close friends, Bernard Baruch, talked late into the night one evening at the White House. At last, President Roosevelt suggested that they go out into the Rose Garden and look at the stars before going to bed. They went out and looked into the sky for several minutes, peering at a nebula with thousands of stars. Then the President  said, "All right,  I think we feel  small enough now to go in and go to sleep." The wonder of the power and wisdom of God puts things in perspective for us humans. It was not an accident, but the result of a Divine Plan; planets, stars, plants, birds, fish, and animals were all created by God. And the climax of God's creation was humanity. How complex and mind-boggling is our physical construction! Chemically, the body is unequalled  for complexity.  Each one of its  30 trillion cells  is  a mini chemical factory that performs about 10,000 chemical functions. With  its 206 bones, 639 muscles, 4 million pain sensors in the skin, 750 million air sacs in the lungs, 16 million nerve cells and 30 trillion cells in total, the human body is remarkably designed for life. And  the brain!  The human brain and nervous system is the most complex  arrangement of matter anywhere in the universe.  One scientist estimated  that our  brain, on the average, processes  over 10,000 thoughts and concepts each day. Bill Bryson in his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, says it is  a miracle  that we even exist.  Trillions  of atoms come together for approximately 650,000 hours (the average span of human life), and then begin to silently disassemble and go off to other things. There never was something like us before and there never will be something like us again. But for 650,000 hours the miracle that is uniquely us exists. One could spend years just dealing with the marvelous intricacies and majesty of God's creation. We are, as the Psalmist states "fearfully and wonderfully made." No wonder we cannot understand the mystery of a Triune God. 

5) Holy Trinity prayer:    When the bishop’s ship stopped at a remote island for a day, he decided to use the days as profitably as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen mending their nets. In Pidgin English they   explained   to   him  that   centuries   ago  they   were   Christianized   by missionaries.  "We,  Christians!"  they said, proudly pointing to themselves.  The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it. The bishop was shocked. How could these men claim to be Christians when they did not know something as elementary as the Lord’s Prayer? "What do you say, then, when you pray?" the bishop asked. "We lift eyes in heaven. We pray,

‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’" The bishop was appalled at the primitive, downright heretical nature of their prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them to say the Lord’s Prayer and he succeeded although the fishermen were poor learners. 

Months later the bishop’s ship happened to pass by those islands and the bishop, as he paced the deck saying his evening prayers, recalled with pleasure the fact that on that distant  island  were three fishermen  who  were now  able  to pray correctly, thanks to his patient efforts. While he was lost in thought he happened to look up and noticed a spot of light in the east. The light kept approaching the ship and, as the bishop gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the surface of the water towards the boat. The captain stopped the boat and all the sailors leaned over the rails to see this amazing sight. When they were within speaking distance, the bishop recognized his three friends, the fishermen. "Bishop!" they exclaimed, "we are so glad meet you! We heard your boat go past island and came in a hurry, hurry to meet you." "What do you want?" asked the bishop filled with wonder seeing them walking on water as Jesus did. "Bishop," they  said,  "we  so sorry.  We  forgot  that  lovely  prayer  you  taught  us. We remember only this much: ‘Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come’ . . .the rest we forgot. Please teach us whole prayer again." The bishop felt humbled. "Go back to your homes, my good men," he said, "and each time you pray, say your Holy Trinity prayer, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us!’" (Fr. Anthony de Mello S.J., The Song of the Bird). 

6) “Bad things always come in threes.” An old adage warns, “Bad things always come in threes.” Have you found  this true in your  own experience? That bad things (and good things) like to happen in community, in bunches? You say: we invent this connection by suddenly realizing that we got a flat tire on the same day that a computer glitch devoured our hard drive, shortly after our last contact lens just slid down the drain. I say: there seems to be something significant about the power of three. Today the Church celebrates the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—on this “Trinity Sunday” affirming the truth  good things also come in threes. We recognize  God as power  (the Father), God as person (the Son), and God as presence (the Holy Spirit). 

7) “But the machine can't ask me about my arthritis.” The true story is told of a woman named Mamie who made frequent trips to the branch post office. One day she confronted a long line of people who were waiting for service from the postal clerk. Mamie only needed stamps, so a helpful observer asked her, "Why don't you just use the stamp machine? You can get all the stamps you need and you won't have to wait in line." Mamie said, "I know, but the machine can't ask me about my arthritis." That's part of the wisdom of Christ's coming to our earth to live among us as described in today’s gospel (John 3: 16-18). He could relate to us in all of our daily needs. As we try to walk in Jesus' steps, we might do well to pray the ancient Irish poem set to an Irish ballad tune, which says, 

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all. 

8) Aggressively selfish child: A report some years ago, allegedly by the Minnesota Crime Commission, painted a dark picture of human nature indeed, particularly with regard to small children. I quote: “Every  baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it – his  bottle,  his  mother’s attention,  his  playmate’s  toy, his uncle’s  watch.  Deny  him  these once, and  he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is, in fact dirty. He has no morals, no knowledge, no skills. This means that all children not just certain children  are born delinquent.  If permitted  to continue  in the self- centered world of his infancy, given free rein to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child would grow  up a criminal a thief, a killer, or a rapist.” [Cited in R. Scott Richards, Myths the World Taught Me (Nashville: Thomas Nelson  Publishers,  1991), p.  39.] It  is  to  transform  this  self-centered  human nature into a selfless,  God-centered one that the second person of the Holy Trinity took human form as described in today’s gospel. 

9) A dumb debate on God: The following hypothetical debate for the mute and the deaf scholars is a warning to our pastors who think that they have explained Holy Trinity well to their flock on Trinity Sunday.   The Jews and the Catholics are having a debate about God and decide that they will each send one representative to prove that their side is right. The only rule is that words are not allowed. They decide on their representatives. The Vatican decides to send their best brain–  Cardinal  Ratzinger, the head of  the Congregation  on Faith and Morals while the Jews pick one of their best rabbis to represent them. As a sign of respect the Jews allow the debate to be held at the local cathedral. The time for the debate comes and the rabbi walks into the cathedral and up to the cardinal. The cardinal waves his hand towards the sky. The rabbi responds by slamming his fist into his palm. The cardinal holds up three fingers. The rabbi responds by holding up his middle finger. The cardinal then pulls out bread and wine. The rabbi then reaches into a bag and pulls out two fish. At this point the cardinal holds up his hands and walks away. 

After the debate the cardinal heads back to the Vatican to talk it over with the pope and the other cardinals. "Man, those Jews have it all figured out. First I said to him, 'God is everywhere,' and he responded, 'God is right here.' I was taken aback. So I held up three fingers representing the Holy Trinity, and he responded, 'We all worship the same one God.' I didn't know  what to do so I showed  him  bread  and  wine  representing   the  sacrifice   of  Jesus,   and  he responded with two fish, representing that Jesus provides. 

The Rabbi headed back to the synagogue to tell the others his version what had happened. "Man, you wouldn't believe those Catholics. The moment I walked in this guy with a weird hat gestures at me 'No Jews Allowed.' I said 'I'm staying right here.' Then he said, 'You have three minutes.' I said, ‘Get lost.' Then he pulled out his lunch, so I showed him mine." 

10) Why Isn't the Holy Ghost Included?  A woman wrote to Reader’s Digest. She wanted to tell about an experience that she had when she took a young girl from India to church with her. It was the eleven-year-old  girl’s  first  exposure to a Christian worship service. The young lady’s parents were traveling on business and had left  her in the care of their  American  friends.  The little  Hindu girl decided  on her own  to go with the family to church one Sunday.  After  the service was over, they went out to lunch. The little girl had some questions. She wondered, "I don’t  understand why  the West Coast isn’t  included,  too?"  Her Christian friends were puzzled and asked, "What do you mean?" She responded, "You know. I kept hearing the people say, ‘In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the whole East Coast.’" 

11) God Is Everywhere: A pastor was trying to explain to a little Sunday school child that God is calling people everywhere in the world to believe in him. "God is much bigger than we imagine him to be and God can use all of us in lots of different ways to do his work everywhere," the pastor said. "God is everywhere!" "Everywhere?" asked the little boy. "Everywhere!" said the pastor. The boy went home and told his  mother, "God is  everywhere! The pastor said so." "Yes, I know," said the mother. "You mean he is even in the cupboard?" "Yes," said the mother. "In the refrigerator -- even when we close the door and the light goes out?" "Yes," said the mother. "Even in the sugar bowl?" the lad asked as he took the lid off. "Yes," said the mother, "even in the sugar bowl." The boy slammed down the lid and said, "Now I've got him." 

12) “What?”  Jesus  said,  “Who  do  men  say that  I  am?”  And  his  disciples answered and said, “Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elias,  or other of the old prophets.”  And  Jesus answered and said, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Logos of the Father, the Son whom the Father loved from eternity and Whom the Holy Spirit,  the eternal personification  of the love  between the Father and the Son, begot on the Virgin Mary.” And Jesus answering, said, "What?" 

13) "I'm  surprised  at you:" An English  teacher of a 21-sophomore high school class put a small chalk dot on the blackboard. He then asked the class what it was. A few seconds passed and then someone said, "That is a chalk dot on the blackboard."  The rest of the class  seemed relieved  that the obvious  had been stated, and no one else had anything to say. "I'm surprised at you," the teacher told the class. "I did the same exercise yesterday with a group of kindergartners and they thought of 50 different things the chalk mark could be: an owl's eye, a cigar butt, the top of a telephone pole, a star, a pebble, a squashed bug, a rotten egg, a bird's eye, and so on." The older students had learned how to find a right answer, but had lost the ability to look for more than one right answer. The Holy Spirit helps us, in his wonderful Wisdom, to see more than we might have seen by ourselves. The Spirit's vision allows us wonderful options for expansion and new possibilities. It is the Spirit's Wisdom that reveals the Word to us. It is the Wisdom of the Spirit which shows us our sin, which guides us, which instructs us, which leads us in the way everlasting.
 14) Trinitarian design for medieval cathedrals: When the architect and engineer Aldo Spirito was commissioned to design a cathedral for the Archdiocese of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa, he used a number of architectural elements to reinforce, as in the tradition of the medieval cathedrals, the truths of our faith. Among those elements is the fact that the basic structure is triangular, so as to state dramatically  the fundamental  truth  of Christian  faith: God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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From Sermons.com:





Sermons for Trinity Sunday:

John 3:1-17 - Nicodemus

Romans 8:12-17 - Don't Be Childish, Do Be Child-like - by Leonard Sweet
 

 



For years, the opening of "The Wide World of Sports" television program illustrated "the agony of defeat" with a painful ending to an attempted ski jump. The skier appeared in good form as he headed down the jump, but then, for no apparent reason, he tumbled head over heels off the side of the jump, bouncing off the supporting structure down to the snow below.

What viewers didn't know was that he chose to fall rather than finish the jump. Why? As he explained later, the jump surface had become too fast, and midway down the ramp, he realized if he completed the jump, he would land on the level ground, beyond the safe sloping landing area, which could have been fatal. Surprisingly, the skier suffered no more than a headache from the tumble. To change one's course in life can be a dramatic and sometimes painful undertaking, but change is better than a fatal landing at the end.

This is the problem Nicodemus is having. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he is facing a fatal landing if he does not change directions...
 

1. First, Nicodemus was a religious man.

2. Secondly, Nicodemus was a powerful person.

3. Third, Nicodemus was a man of pedigree.

4. Fourth, Nicodemus was an educated man.

 


Why is it that one of the most typically "child-like" things we do is to try and to act like an adult?

Little children dress up like Mom and Dad. (My brothers and I did "fashion shows" for our parents wearing their clothes.)

Kids a little older pretend to drive the car.

Older kids still play with pint-sized pots and pans, play-doctor kits and miniature tool sets.

Some of us are even old enough to remember playing with perhaps the worst child-oriented product ever invented - candy cigarettes. Does anyone remember those? These were facsimile red-tipped replicas that let us "smoke" just like grown-ups. Gives you the shivers now, doesn't it?

The hard truth is children want to imitate and emulate the adults around them -- whatever those behaviors might be...

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Prayer of Nicodemus

God of second chances, who is patient with our confusion and who leads jus into greater understanding if only we have ears to hear and souls willing to search, grant that we may be born anew each day into hope, born anew each day into joy, born anew into your realm. When we become legalistic in our living, teach us the language of forgiveness. When we become concrete in our thinking, lift us into the ways of your Spirit. When we become stuck in religious patterns that lead us away from you, bring us back to living faith. May your grace become the context of our days. Amen.

Sarah M. Foulger

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God in Three Persons

St. Augustine, one of the most astute thinkers the Christian Church has ever produced, was walking along the seashore one day while pondering the doctrine of the Trinity - Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. He seemed to hear a voice saying, "Pick up one of the large sea shells there by the shore." So he picked it up. Then the voice said, "Now pour the ocean into the shell." And he said, "Lord, I can't do that." And the voice answered, "Of course not. In the same way, how can your small, finite mind ever hold and understand the mystery of the eternal, infinite, triune God?"

Many Christian churches will be celebrating today the doctrine of the Trinity. It is one of the most prized truths of the Christian faith. "God in three persons, blessed Trinity...."

King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com

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When the Person Is Right

One rainy Sunday afternoon, a little boy was bored and his father was sleepy. The father decided to create an activity to keep the kid busy. So, he found in the morning newspaper a large map of the world. He took scissors and cut it into a good many irregular shapes like a jigsaw puzzle. Then he said to his son, "See if you can put this puzzle together. And don't disturb me until you're finished." He turned over on the couch, thinking this would occupy the boy for at least an hour. To his amazement, the boy was tapping his shoulder ten minutes later telling him that the job was done. The father saw that every piece of the map had been fitted together perfectly. "How did you do that?" he asked. "It was easy, Dad. There was a picture of a man on the other side. When I got him together right, the world was right."

A person's world can never be right until the person is right, and that requires the miracle of new birth. Don't you dare stop asking God for the experience of new birth until you can shout from the housetops, "Through Jesus Christ, God has fundamentally changed my life!"

Bill Bouknight, Collected Sermons, www.eSermons.com

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Too Short to Be Saved

After his grandfather's death, Donald Hall, once the poet laureate of New Hampshire, went into his grandfather's attic and found many, many boxes, one of which was filled with short pieces of string. The box was marked in an old hand: STRING TOO SHORT TO BE SAVED. He was astonished. The box of string had caught him completely off-guard. And from his off-guardedness and unguardedness, he was able to write a beautiful poem.

The poem states the obvious: his grandfather had saved the string that was too short to be saved. If you have ever felt like you were a string too short to be saved, you can begin to come to know what it means to be accepted by God, in Jesus Christ.

God will save us all in a great attic. Nothing is ever lost to God. Nothing. Not a single dead child. Not a single person who dies in a traffic accident. Not a single person who drowns in the floods of a hurricane. Not a single woman who dies of breast cancer. Not a single homeless person. Not an estranged spouse. Not a wayward child. No one is lost to God.

We will each appear too short to be saved many, many times in our lives. And God will still save us.

Author Unknown

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Who Is Good Enough to Be Saved?

A number of years ago, I read a newspaper account of a speech given by the president of a well-known university to a group of influential businessmen and civic leaders. The president told of a recent experience which he, his audience, and the newspaper reporter found humorous. The president was shopping during the Christmas season and happened to pass by a Salvation Army volunteer, standing by a "donation kettle" and ringing a bell. As he paused to make a donation, the woman volunteer asked this educator: "Sir, are you saved?" When he replied that he supposed he was, she was not satisfied, so she pursued the matter further: "I mean, have you ever given your full life to the Lord?" At this point, the president told his audience, he thought he should enlighten this persistent woman concerning his identity: "I am the president of such and such university, and as such, I am also president of its school of theology." The lady considered his response for a moment, and then replied, "It doesn't matter wherever you've been, or whatever you are, you can still be saved."

The most tragic part of this incident is that both the seminary president and his audience actually thought his story was amusing. One can imagine that if Nicodemus had been confronted by this Salvation Army volunteer, he would have thought - and said - just about the same thing as the university president. Nicodemus is the "cream of the Jewish crop." One dare not dream of having life any better than he has it. He is a Jew, a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin (the highest legal, legislative and judicial body of the Jews), and a highly respected teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures. Can you imagine being Nicodemus and having Jesus tell you that all of this is not enough to get you into the kingdom of God? Yet this is precisely what Jesus tells Nicodemus. If a man like Nicodemus is not good enough for the kingdom of God, then who is?

Robert Deffinbaugh, Jesus and Nicodemus

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Religious Man

First, we can say of Nicodemus he was a religious man. He clearly knew the Decalogue by heart and the Torah by memorization. In John's Gospel he is referred to not just as teacher but "the teacher", pointing to his religious pre-eminence. If anyone knew the truth about God and God's people, surely it would be this man. Yet, for all of his religiosity. Nicodemus was not a fulfilled man. There was an emptiness within him that religion had not filled. Master, I know all of the commandments, but there is something missing.

It is possible to be a religious person and still miss the thrust of God's Word. Many years ago all of America watched as Alex Haley's Roots came to the television screen. There was one character that to me was particularly memorable. Ed Asner played the role of the old captain on a slave ship. He was a religious man. Each night he would close his door and read his Bible. The first night on the return trip some of the crew sent him a young slave girl to his cabin. He is incredulous and sends her away. On the following night they sent her again, and now he no longer yells how dare you. On another night, as he reads his Bible he hears the cries of the suffering on deck so he closes his door so he can continue reading his Bible.

It is possible to be a religious person and be an unfulfilled person. A person without a cause. A person without a heart. "Master, I have kept all of the rules and forms and rituals of our faith, but something is missing. Tell me what else I must do to fill this void.

Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com

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When the Wind Blows

I remember growing up in the South, in cotton country, in the summer, before air conditioning became something almost every home had. Several of those summers I spent working on my uncle's cotton farm, down in the Mississippi delta, just outside of my birthplace, Cleveland, Mississippi. It was hot work, hard work, bringing in a cotton crop. It still is, but technology has made it a lot easier than it was back then.

When the crop had been tended for another day, the weeds chopped from between the cotton plants, in the evening everyone would gather on the front porch. We would rock and talk and laugh in a futile attempt to escape the ever-present heat and humidity. And sometimes, on a really good day, the leaves of the trees would begin to rustle. And the conversation would die down, and everyone would just sit back and enjoy the summer breeze, the gift of the breeze. We didn't know where it came from. We didn't know where it was going. But we knew it was there, because we could feel it.

You know what it's like to come in here on one of those Sundays when you didn't really want to be here, when your mind was somewhere else, and to be honest about it, maybe your heart was somewhere else, too. Then, during the worship service, in the hymns, or the prayers, or the communion service, or even in the sermon, something gets hold of you, some mysterious force that somehow lifts a burden from your shoulders, or helps you understand something that had been puzzling you. And your step is a little lighter when you leave than it was when you walked in. Now what was that? What brought that about? I don't know. Or maybe I do know, but I just don't understand.

Johnny Dean, The More I Understand, the Less I Know

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Life Is Unpredictable

Life is unpredictable. Full of surprises. Often enjoyable. Usually endurable. Most all of them accidental. But here and there, providential. That's because God, too, is full of surprises. Ellsworth Kalas (one of the geniuses behind the Disciple Bible Study movement), writes: "I have lived in the world of religion since before I was born, and in this long period of observation (seventy years and counting), I have learned two things for sure. First, you can't box God in. And second, we are always trying to do so."

William A. Ritter, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com

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All It Would Take To Make Me Happy

Charles Shultz, creator and author of the Peanuts cartoon characters often conveys a Christian message in his comic strips. In one strip he conveys through Charlie Brown the need we have to be loved and through Lucy our inability to love one another.

Charlie Brown and Lucy are leaning over the proverbial fence speaking to one another:

CB: All it would take to make me happy is to have someone say he likes me.

Lucy: Are you sure?

CB: Of course I'm sure!

Lucy: You mean you'd be happy if someone merely said he or she likes you? Do you mean to tell me that someone has it within his or her power to make you happy merely by doing such a simple thing?

CB: Yes! That's exactly what I mean!

Lucy: Well, I don't think that's asking too much. I really don't. [Now standing face to face, Lucy asks one more time] But you're sure now? All you want is to have someone say, "I like you, Charlie Brown," and then you'll be happy?

CB: And then I'll be happy!

Lucy: [Lucy turns and walks away saying] I can't do it!

What Lucy can not do, sinful as she is, God does. What Charlie Brown needs, lost and alone as he is, God supplies. God loves you and is telling you today, "He loves you!" "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son."

Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com

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Where the Spirit Moves

I once read something called "Deal's First Law of Sailing." It goes something like this: "The amount of wind will vary inversely with the number and experience of the people you have on board the sailboat." And the second law is like unto it: "No matter how strong the breeze when you leave the dock, once you have reached the farthest point from the port from which you started, the wind will die."

Those who have the hobby of sailing can attest to the validity of these "laws." In fact, the art of sailing is a good analogy for the receiving of God's grace...

 






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Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, Holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
 

God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.