Category: Sunday Morning Sermon
Speaker: Rev. Dr. Steven E. Albertin
“WHEN IN DOUBT”
Genesis 1:1- 2:4a
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
The Holy Trinity
June 10, 2017 (Saturday Night)
Christ Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. Steven E. Albertin
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth . . . “
When we hear those opening words of the Bible from the Book of Genesis, we cannot but marvel, not only at the wonder and beauty of this magnificent creation, but also at the God who made it all. Genesis 1 resembles a wonderfully melodic song flowing with the grace and beauty of the God who made this incredible universe. This universe is not chaotic and dangerous but orderly and good. In six days God carefully crafted a universe glowing with splendor. On the seventh day God rested and declared, “Wow! That is good!”
However, just when we are about to relax, confident that this world is orderly, good and gracious after all, our child comes home from school with a confused face and a troubled heart. “Daddy, . . . what about the dinosaurs? Why aren’t their any dinosaurs in the Bible? The Bible says that God created the world in seven days. But what about the dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago? I thought God created the world in seven days. What about evolution? Daddy, can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?”
Is it possible to accept the theory of evolution and still be Christian? Can we believe the Bible’s claim that God created the universe and still believe that the world has changed and evolved over time, even a very long time? Yes, it is possible because Science and Christian Faith ask two different questions about the world in which we live. Science asks HOW. HOW did the world come into being? HOW does it change and function? HOW does the world work? The theory of evolution is one such explanation. However, even that theory continues to change and evolve. Science never stops asking the HOW question. Science never stops seeking explanations.
Christian Faith asks a different question. It asks WHO? WHO made this world? WHY was it made at all? Christian Faith asks questions about the meaning and purpose of life. Christian Faith deals with good and evil and what ought to be. Science simply describes HOW things work without making value judgments on what should be. Christian Faith is concerned with WHO stands behind it all, why we can trust whoever it is and how that affects the way we live our lives.
Genesis declares that this world is not a random and aimless confluence of matter and light. On the contrary, there is a purpose to it all. God made this world. Because God is good, the world is good. Human beings, created in the image of God, have a special place and special responsibilities. We are called to “image” God, to represent this good God, by caring for the world.
It all sounds so good. However, that was on the “other side” of Genesis 3. We know what happened there. There was the serpent, the seeds of doubt, the temptation to be like God, eating the forbidden fruit and Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. As a result, Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden never to return. Life has been flawed and broken ever since. The wreckage of human history has been a testimony to the legacy of Adam and Eve. Ever since we have all known that life should not be this way. It could be better. There should be more. Ever since Eden, we wonder. We question. We doubt. WHO is it who made this world. If someone has made it, then is that someone worthy of faith and trust? Is that someone worthy of our worship? Is God good?
In our increasingly secular world, many have suggested that there is no “someone” even there. It is like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. When her dog, Toto, pulled back the curtain, there was the Wizard, pulling the levers and running the machine. But what if Toto pulled back the curtain and there is no Wizard? What if there is only a machine working aimlessly on its own without meaning or purpose?
That is what many would like to have us believe. However, we cannot live like that. We do not live like that. Sooner or later, someone decides to play god, takes hold of the machine and tries to shape life in their own image. Just look at the empires and totalitarianisms of history that have tried to impose their will on the world only to leave rubble and wreckage behind. For as much as some have tried to rid our world of God and religion, religion will not go away . . . and God will not leave us alone.
It is a crazy, chaotic world out there. If God is indeed the all-powerful creator of it all, then why is there so much chaos and suffering? Has God lost control? Is that the kind of God in whom you want to trust? If God has not lost control, then how can God be good and loving?
Such were the doubts and questions that haunted Jesus’ disciples in today’s Gospel. Here we are in the closing verses of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus has risen from the dead. He has appeared to his disciples. He is alive, right there before them. You would think that they would have known better. They should have been burning with commitment ready to charge off into the sunset. Yet, they still doubted. Was Jesus really the one whom he claimed to be? Was the God whom he called Father, the creator of the universe, worthy of their trust? There is still so much wrong with the world.
When in doubt, what shall we do? Maybe we need to change the question . . . just like we need to change the question from HOW was the world created to WHO created the world. Maybe the question should be this: When in doubt, what does God do? When in doubt, what did God do for the disciples in today’s Gospel?
God gave them Jesus. . . . who, in spite of their doubts, still loved them and gave them the power and authority to continue his work of baptizing and teaching the world of this amazing God who won’t give up on anyone.
When we are in doubt, God does the same for us. He gives us himself. He gives us Jesus who through the power of his Spirit can transform our doubts into faith, our fears into hope and the perplexing uncertainties of a world seemingly out of control into a quiet confidence that trusts that our future and the future of the universe is in the loving hands of God.
Today is the only day of the entire church year dedicated to naming the God in whom we trust. That God is the Trinity, three in one and one in three. The creeds of the church, the Apostles, the Nicene and the Athanasian Creed, probably say more about the Trinity than we ever thought was possible. The Trinity seems like a confusing mystery, an invitation to intellectual gymnastics that will surely tie us knots, like a scientific problem that defies explanation. HOW could there be one God in three persons?
Why not change the question? Instead of asking HOW there could be a trinity, we ought to ask WHO could love us like Jesus still loved his disciples even when they did not deserve it, even when they ought to have known better, even when they were still in doubt? WHO loves us so much that he gave us not only this magnificent creation but his only begotten Son who suffered and died for us? WHO continues to give us hope even when our hearts are still weary and in doubt? The God who created the heavens and the earth, the God who sent his beloved Son Jesus to suffer, die and be raised again for us and the God who helps us to believe this outrageously good news: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, . . . the Holy Trinity.
I may not be able to clearly explain HOW God is Trinity. But I know WHO is Trinity! Aren’t you glad that God is Trinity! There is no one else in the entire universe who loves us like this. No wonder it is so difficult to explain.
Nevertheless, thanks be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the blessed Holy Trinity!