Pastor Jim's past sermons:

In Full View
Sunday, June 11, 2017
​Psalm 8
II Corinthians 13: 11-13


Links to past sermons can be found at the bottom of this page.

    This morning, I would like you to picture someone in your mind. Preferably not an immediate family member like your sibling, parent or child; but someone whom you have known for a long time. It could be your spouse, a friend, or a co-worker. Now, I want you to think back to the time when you first met that person. What did you know about that person? More than likely you knew very little about that person except perhaps his or her name; but, when you started talking with that person, you began to learn some things about that person. Maybe you learned what this person did for a living, or what hobbies this person had. You might have begun learning what this person liked and disliked. Yet, it is safe to say that even after spending some time with this person, you still had not learned all there was to know about this person that you have pictured in your mind. In other words, the fullness of that person was not revealed to you in those first few encounters. Perhaps even after many years, you still do not know all there is to know about this person; but you certainly know a great deal more than when you first met.  
    That is how it is with human relationships. They unfold over time. Well, just as human relationships unfold over time, so also God’s relationship with us has unfolded over time, and it is this unfolding relationship that we celebrate in the life of the church, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday.
    Trinity Sunday is the Sunday in which we in the church recognize the fullness of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is an understanding of God that has been revealed to us over time. There was a time when we as God’s people did not know all there was to know about God. We only had small glimpses of God. We only knew God in part. It was as if we were standing in front of a large curtain and God was on the other side. At certain times in our history, God drew that curtain open a little bit; and, we were able to catch a glimpse of God on the other side, but only a partial glimpse because until that curtain was thrown all the way open, God still remained somewhat hidden. That is how it was for us at the beginning of our history.
    In the beginning, God pulled back the curtain slightly and do you know what we saw? We saw flowers and trees. We saw mountains and rivers. We saw ice caps and deserts. We saw stars and planets. We saw birds, fish, and the animals that roamed our world. And, what we learned about God in the beginning, when we had that first glimpse, was that our God was a Creator, and his handiwork was there for all of us to see. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth.” The psalmist could say this because he had seen the heavens, the work of God’s fingers, the moon and the stars which God had established. We learned that God was a Creator in that first glimpse, but that first glimpse was not the complete picture of God. Some have made the mistake of thinking that our first glimpse of God was all there was, that God was the tree, or the mountain, or the moon, and so they worshiped what they thought was God. Yet, God was not the tree, or the mountain, or the moon. These were simply the things that God had created, not God himself. For, God was much more than the creation. How do we know this? Because God pulled the curtain back even further.
    When God’s people were in trouble, God pulled back the curtain again, and do you know what we saw? We saw God’s people gathered together. They had just been rescue from slavery in a land called Egypt. They were gathered at the base of a mountain, waiting for something to happen. The wait was long, but when it was over, they and we learned that God was a law giver. For, at Mount Sinai, God gave his people the Ten Commandments, showing his people that there was such a thing as right and wrong, good and evil. God showed his people that as followers of God, they were expected to live their lives in keeping with God’s commands, both in their relationship with God and their relationships with other people. In this glimpse we learned to call upon God as Father. God the Father, whom we knew as Creator was now the law giver, but that still was not the complete picture of God. Some have made the mistake of believing that this glimpse of God was all there was, that God was the law itself, so that for many, the law has become the object of devotion. It is for this reason that many religions of the world are based more on the works of the person than on the grace of God. Yet, just as God was the creation, so also God was not the law. For God was much more than the law. How do we know this? Because God pulled the curtain back even further.  
    Time moved on and when God’s people continued to turn away, God pulled back the curtain again, and do you know what we saw? We saw individual people, anointed by God in order to call people to repent and to come back into relationship with God. These people were called prophets, and sometimes they acted very strangely, having supernatural powers, and communicating in supernatural ways. We learned in this glimpse that just as God was Father, so also God was Spirit, and God could equip people with his Spirit, in order for his will to be proclaimed and carried out. God the Father, whom we had come to know as Creator and law giver, was now the Holy Spirit who caused people to have ecstatic experiences; but, that still was not the complete picture of God. Some have made the mistake of believing that this glimpse of God was all there was, that God was the ecstatic experience itself. It is for this reason that for many people, religion is about having certain types of experiences, and that anything that can be called spiritual is thus of God. Yet, just as God was not the creation or the law, so also, God is not spiritual experiences. For, God is much more than spiritual experiences. How do we know this? Because one more time, God pulled the curtain back. This time, all the way back.
    When the time was right, God finally pulled the curtain back all the way, and do you know what we saw this time? We saw one person, dying on a cross, and this one person was none other than God himself, in the form of his Son. God came to be among his people, through his Son, Jesus, and died for his people so that they could be with God forever. Now that the curtain has been thrown back, we have been able to see the love of God which is not willing that we should be lost forever. We have seen the grace of God which does what we cannot do, which is take away our sins. We have seen that it was life and not death which was to be the final word for us. We have seen that there is a Kingdom to which we shall go when our time is complete. Now that the curtain has been thrown back, we see God in full view. God whom we had come to know as Father and Spirit, we also know as Son. Now the picture of God is complete. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul could write, “In Jesus, the fulness of God was pleased to dwell.” That is the good news which we celebrate on this Trinity Sunday.  
    The curtain has been thrown all the way open, and the fullness of God has been revealed to us; and, the way that we express this fullness is by referring to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Any other approach to understanding God except this Trinitarian way results in an incomplete picture of God. It is for this reason that we are called to proclaim a Trinitarian God to our hurting world. When Jesus gathered with his disciples after the resurrection, he told them to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In other words Jesus was telling wants us to proclaim the fullness of God. Why is this important?
    In the church there is a temptation to show the world only a partial view of God. We are willing to tell people that God is a Creator, but sometimes we hesitate to talk about God as redeemer, for fear that people will not be willing to follow a God who comes so close to us, and expects so much from us. We do not mind telling people that God is a God of love; but, sometimes we forget to mention that God is also a God of justice, for fear that people will not want to hear the truth that they will be held accountable for their sins. We find that we are tempted to pick and choose the parts of God that we like and sort of push aside the parts we don’t like or don’t completely understand. Yet, giving in to such temptation inhibits our ability to know the fullness of God, which is what God wants for us. As Paul will say in his first letter to the Corinthians, “We will know God fully even as we are fully known by God.”
    The curtain has been thrown back and God has revealed himself to us. As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God has given us the complete picture. This understanding of God was revealed over time; but, now it is complete. This is the God whom we worship and whom we share with the world. For as God has revealed himself in full, so God is to be known in full. Praise be to God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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