SERMON TEXT BELOW
Trinity Sunday 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 30, 2021
Is. 6:1-8, Acts 2:14a, 22-36, John 3:1-17
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The potter grabs up a double handful of reddish brown clay slaps it between his hands and presses it into a smooth ball. He throws the ball of clay in the center of the rotating potter’s wheel. Over the next hour the potter carefully transforms the lump of clay into a beautifully shaped jar which he then fires in the kiln, paints and fires again. The potter creates beauty and function from a couple of handfuls of clay.
The Lord God Almighty takes a couple handfuls of fresh dirt and slaps it and presses it and forms it into a man and breathes into him the breath of life. From a pinch of flesh from the side of the man the Lord God Almighty forms woman and brings her to the man. From this man and woman, formed from the dust of the ground, all people have descended. You are the product of the creative power of the Almighty Potter.
Now, does the clay jar have any rights to demand things of the potter? What audacity a clay jar must have to have to question the potter who made it. But that is just what ol’ Grandma and Grandpa Eve and Adam decided to do. They are clay jars, God is the potter, and yet they are tempted to question God’s instructions. They are tempted to want to be like God. The pot is tempted to be the Potter.
This continues throughout history and even until today. The pot wants to be the potter. Isaiah 29:16 (ESV) 16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
Romans 9:20–20 (ESV) 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
There is an ongoing desire since the Garden of Eden to question God’s authority, to want to be like God, to be your own god. We want to be like God and make God in our image so God makes sense to us.
When people make up religions they often make up gods that are like themselves. Joseph Smith made up the Mormon god with the idea that god was once like you and if you try hard enough you can be like god. People make up gods that make sense. Gods who demand you do what they say in order to earn their favor. The Greek and Roman gods were created in the image of man with the same flaws as people. In Islam, they did not so much make up a new god, but rejected things about the true God that did not make sense; the idea of God being incarnate or God being spirit. They teach that Allah is beyond all comprehension. Now this helps make God make sense, and while it does acknowledges God’s majesty, it is fatally flawed because it rejects God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in order that the pot can make more sense of the Potter. There is a deep desire to have a god that makes sense.
But the true God does not make sense; three persons, one God. God the Father is spirit. Jesus was spirit and then took on flesh. The Holy Spirit dwells in you. Three persons, one God. It does not make sense, and that really does make sense. Because if you have a god that makes sense it means it is a god that someone made up. It makes sense that the true God is beyond understanding because He is the Potter and you are the pot.
The true God is spirit; a personal being without a body. John 4:24 (ESV) 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The true God also takes on human flesh in God the Son in order to redeem humanity. John 1:14 (ESV)
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
At Christmas we celebrate God coming to be with us as that little baby boy born in Bethlehem. “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity. Pleased as Man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel!”
The true God is beyond your understanding. He is incomprehensible. God does not make sense. The Trinity does not make sense. You cannot understand God. God is uncreated, eternal, infinite, almighty, coequal, coeternal.
When we think about it, our minds are really quite limited in our understandings. God is eternal; He is infinite; He has no beginning and no end. We have symbols in mathematics to represent infinity, but we do not have a handle on eternity. I can draw a line with an arrow at each end and say this line goes on forever, but my mind cannot comprehend something that has no beginning and no end. We cannot understand how God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has always been and always will be.
Arius, a theologian from Alexandria Egypt in the late 3rd and early 4th Century AD, taught that God the Son is not coeternal with the Father but was begotten of the Father in time. This was rightly condemned as heresy by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This led to the Nicene Creed. Opposition to Arius was led by another Alexandrian theologian, Athanasius, along with others including Nicholas of Myra, Ol’ St. Nicholas was not so jolly one day at the council and became so enraged he slapped Arius in the face. The Athanasian Creed was a further clarification of Biblical truth in opposition to the Arians and clearly expresses what we can know about the Trinity. It is named after Athanasius who most likely did not actually write this creed which we confess on Trinity Sunday.
God is eternally holy; infinitely pure; perfectly just. In our Old Testament reading we see Isaiah coming into the presence of God and having an intense time of confession and absolution. Isaiah 6:4–5 (ESV) 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Isaiah has seen God, YHWH Sabaoth. YHWH of heavenly armies. There are angelic beings, cherubim and seraphim, Isaiah 6:3 (ESV) 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isaiah knows his sin and feels his own guilt and shame. But YHWH does not crush Isaiah. He does not give Isaiah tasks to earn forgiveness. Instead He sends a seraphim to Isaiah with a burning coal and Isaiah 6:7 (ESV) 7 And he touched [Isaiah’s] mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
As you gather together each week you come into the presence of the eternal God, YHWH Sabaoth, and get on your knees and plead guilty of your sins. The foundations of the church building do not shake. The sanctuary is not filled with smoke. There are no Cherubim and Seraphim flying around. The danger is that it can get to be routine. But know that you are coming into the presence of the infinite, incomprehensible God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and admitting that you deserve immediate and eternal punishment.
But God does not strike you dead. He does not give you a list of things to do to work off your debt. Instead, He forgives your sins. He declares you forgiven and He touches your lips with His Body and Blood in Holy Communion. He cleanses you and makes you holy and pure. Jesus’ death and resurrection are credited to you as a free gift of love from God. You are called by God to live out your holiness in love and service to others; doing what you have been given to do and responding to God’s call to do what He wants you to do. You are called to live as someone whose body is a temple of the Holy Spirit praying the words of Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) 8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
When you find yourself alone on a clear, dark night staring heavenward at the stars you stare into infinity and realize how small you are in the universe. You are small in the universe and still the infinite God loves you and cares for you and forgives you and knows how many hairs are on your head.
God is incomprehensible. The pot truly cannot understand much about the Potter and yet remains the Potter’s treasure. You have the Spirit of God dwelling in you giving you the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for you. You have the treasure of God. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV) 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
The Good News about Jesus comes indeed in jars of clay but it still remains an eternal treasure. You are a creation of the infinite God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You are a treasured pot made by the eternal Potter. You have been sealed by the infinite God and while you cannot comprehend eternity you have eternal life. Amen.