READING: Genesis 1:1 - 2:4; Romans 1:16-23; Matthew 28:16-20
SERMON : "God Is One, Yet God is Three (revised)"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
The following is a revision and expansion of the sermon by the
same name found at a-trinsm.php. While much remains the same,
especially at the beginning, there are some significant differences
that may make this a better sermon. At the very least it is an
interesting exercise in how one adapts or modifies a sermon. The Sermon
now includes stories and concepts and from Paul L. Larsen
(ermonguy@AOL.COM) "Help wanted on Trinity Sermon" and Susan King
Forbes (skforbes@EARTHLINK.NET) "The Trinity and Atomic Theory" as
sent to the PRCL-L List Server May 1999
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday - the first Sunday after Pentecost
a time of year that Popes and Bishops, Councils and Synods, Preachers
and Teachers have, for more years than this church has existed thought
it good and wise to remind the millions of seekers - the millions of
faithful - for whom they care - that God is a mystery which is best
understood in three ways:
As creator -- or Father
as redeemer -- or Son
and as sustainer -- or Spirit.
God is one. Yet God is three.
God is here. Yet God is everywhere.
God is mighty. Yet God is tender.
God is just. Yet God has mercy.
God is spirit. Yet God takes on flesh.
God is in Christ. Christ is in Us.
God is Spirit and the Spirit blows where it wills.
Yet the Spirit abides in our hearts.
God is one. Yet God is three.
The Apostle Paul writes this about God
"Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his
eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made."
When you go outside after this worship time
take a little bit more time to worship -
look at the bark of an old tree
at the greening fields
the scudding clouds
the running waters
and give thanks
-- to the power - to the grace - to the beauty
that made it all.
You know and understand what I saying - that's why you're here
because God is - and God is good,
and you want to remind yourselves of that -
and share and celebrate that truth with your brothers and sisters in God
and before God.
But there are others,
and they are many,
who stop just there - with the clouds and the trees - with the land and the
sea and the creatures that inhabit them,
and while they get a spiritual message from them -- they don't get the same
message of goodness and of beauty that we do - we who know God is One,
Yet God is three.
Paul writes that although they know God from what has been made:
"they neither glorify him as God nor give thanks to him, but their
thinking becomes futile and their foolish hearts are darkened.
Although they claim to be wise they become fools and exchange the
glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man
and birds and animals and reptiles."
My friends - the truth of creation is that there is more to it than meets
our eye, that there is a design and purpose that is greater than the sum of
the parts that we see around us.
God most surely is.
And God is good.
But there is more yet.
More ways of experiencing the mystery that is God,
more ways of understanding than that which regarding God as the creator can
give to us.
God is One, Yet God is Three
Last week we celebrated the pouring out of the Spirit of God upon the
followers of Jesus. We celebrated that presence - that force - that all of
us here have experienced
that power, that person, who gives shape to much that we see and hear,
what we do and say.
Just as only a few weeks earlier we celebrated the resurrection of a man
who is somehow more than a man one who was a child of promise - one whom
our minds and our hearts tell us was more than a good person - more than a
saint - more even than an angel - and yet - was so much one of us.
Jesus our teacher and guide - our shepherd and our friend.
Jesus our Lord, and our God.
God the creator,
God the redeemer
God the sustainer
God is One, Yet God is Three.
It is our experience is it not.
For me the Trinity is something like atomic theory. We all learned in
school that everything in the universe is made up of atoms, which are
themselves made up of tiny particles called protons, neutrons and
electrons. That protons and neutrons together make up a nucleus, and that
the electrons orbit around this nucleus sort of like the planets in our
solar system orbit around the sun.
But there is no scientist who really believes that this simple model fully
explains the substance of matter. Nuclear physics is much more complex --
so much so quantum mechanics asserts that we can create things by simply
observing them into existence. The most educated physicist will tell you we
will probably never know everything about atoms and subatomic particles.
The atomic theory is just a model that explains something about how atoms
work. It doesn't tell everything about what they are.
So it is with the Trinity. The idea of the Trinity tells us something
about how God is revealed to us, how God works in human events. But it
doesn't fully tell us WHO or WHAT God is. And I guess that is the secret
of this experience we have of God - this understanding we have of God as a
trinity - it doesn't tell us fully - but it tells us some important stuff
none-the-less. Life changing stuff.
How much better an understanding, than none
- or worse, a misunderstanding, a view that leaves a person in a situation
like which Paul describes when he writes:
claiming to be wise, they became fools, and they exchanged the glory
of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or
birds or four-footed animals or reptiles."
You know sometimes you just have to celebrate the faith we have.
And yes - the doctrine we have,
The understanding we have of the God that made it all.
The understanding we have of how it all works.
The story is told about a young medical student spent his summer vacation
working as a butcher in a large supermarket during the daytime and worked
as an orderly at the local community hospital at night.
Both jobs involved his wearing a white smock. One evening he was
instructed to wheel a woman from her room down into surgery. He
entered the patient's room and said, "Mrs. Johnson, I have come to
take you to surgery." The woman, who was already frightened turned
to her husband and said, "Harry, don't let him take me. It's the
Mistaken identity can be a real problem.
That is why we as Christians ascribe to the doctrine of the Trinity.
It helps us to identify God.
The doctrine of the Trinity is not a mathematical puzzle or an academic
formula for theologians to debate - as they have done for so many
Instead, it is a belief born out of the experience of ordinary Christians
as a real life answer to the question, "Where do we find God?"
It is an answer that we believe God has given us --
God has made God's self know to us in three unique ways
that there is only one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
One God who is Loving, Just, Holy, Intimate, Powerful, Wrathful, Forgiving,
Life Itself. Light. And More.
Think of the words of Psalm 8 that we read this morning.
"When I look at the 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?"
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them
with glory and honour. You have given them dominion over the works
of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.
It is incredible is it not. And don't our hearts echo the truth of these
words even as we understand and applaud the story of creation itself: "O
LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
God is one, yet God is three.
God is a mystery my friends -- a mystery so big, so awesome, so holy that
our limited minds can never grasp the wholeness of it. Yet God has placed
in us a capacity to appreciate and know the mystery that God. And more.
God has taken on flesh in our midst.
In Christ, God reveals himself. In Christ God became Incarnate.
I tell you my friends, without this one
without this revelation of God whom we call the Christ -
you and I would not have the promises
nor would we have the inheritance to come
Jesus is the one who reveals the way to us,
the one who speaks the truth to us,
the one who gives life by his touch and by his word.
Jesus in the one who died
And who rose again.
Jesus shows us the way - and is the way.
Jesus is the child of Mary. Jesus is the child of God
In him the fullness of deity dwells.
God is One, yet God is three.
We have - in God - the three in one - and one in three - something that is
We have the gospel - the good news - of the salvation that is for all
We have the message concerning God's love and his desire to grant wholeness
to all his children
We have a light that shines into the darkness of human hearts and brings
healing - a light that shines forth from thence into the life of all
It has seemed good to hundreds of generations of our Spiritual Ancestors to
remember this truth on this day of the year in a particular and special
And so we do today.
We remember Jesus' own words, the words he spoke shortly before his
ascension into heaven, when he said to his followers
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go
therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you
always, to the very end of the age."
We remember - and we go forth - not simply because it has been commanded,
but because as Paul wrote in the letter to the Romans -- "In the Gospel a
righteousness from God is revealed".
Blessed be the name of God. Day by Day. Day by Day. Amen
For The Original Text of The Sermon (and a Liturgy) see
Sermon and Liturgy for Trinity - Year A
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2002 - 2006
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.