The Grace of the Father, the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the peace of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
A young man asked an old rich man how he became so wealthy. The old guy smiled with memories and said, “Well, son, it was 1932,
the depth of the Great Depression. As a young teenager on my own, I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents.
The next morning, I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 PM for 20 cents. I continued this system for a week, by the end of which I’d accumulated a fortune of $3.50. By my mid- twenties, I owned a fruit stand, and continued to build my small nest egg. Later on, I met the love of my life, and we worked together building our own small store. (pause) Then in 1957, my wife’s father died and left us ten million dollars.” (Source: Unknown)
There’s a lot to be said for hard work, perseverance and wisdom, but in this man’s case his vast wealth had less to do with his own character than with the generosity of his wife’s father.
The reality of the Trinity is not received with worldly wisdom or pristine character. It is not even directly revealed in the Scripture. It is discovered by intuition from the generosity of God through the Holy Spirit. It is received by faith in God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit.
Solomon received the gift of wisdom. Once again, it was less a matter of his hard work, perseverance and character. It was a gift of God. When we think of wisdom, we face up to the reality that the wisdom which comes from God is often in conflict with what the world considers wisdom. Believers in Christ Jesus seem so often to be out of step with the world around us. A world that promotes self-interest and political correctness, while it ignores common sense and blends right and wrong into a state of confusion. Proverbs 9:10 encourages us that “Reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’.
In our reading from Proverbs, Solomon in all his wisdom, revealed an intuition from God. Solomon, with poetic license, personifies wisdom in the appearance of a woman. Almost an angelic being translated from the Hebrew word Sophia. This personification, speaks of one of the attributes that are common between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in trinity. That of wisdom.
The creation of the heavens and the earth, and ultimately human beings, were a matter of God’s wisdom in action. Not an afterthought, or chance, or natural selection. With wisdom, received from God, through the Holy Spirit guiding our human spirit, we stand out against the wisdom of the world. We hold firm in our agreement that God is one. One perfect, eternal, powerful essence, with three distinct persons. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A trinity in unity: Described in our Lutheran tradition as our Triune God.
I am convinced that Jesus deeply wanted us to know the Trinity of God. He spoke to the disciples before he returned to his place of glory at the centre of God’s Kingdom. He confessed that He had “much more to say to [them], more than [they could] bear.” He promised that “when the Spirit of truth [would] come, he[would] guide [them] into all truth”. (Jn 16:12 NIV).
Luther confessed in his explanation of the third article of the Apostles’ Creed, “by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith’. (The Book of Concord p.355)
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that we can come to a better understanding of God, as He reveals himself to us. Even though our understanding of God is at best incomplete, God reveals himself to us as Triune God.
The first appearance of the Triune God is at the very beginning of creation. Just like the quality of wisdom, the Holy Spirit was active in the creation of the universe, along with the Father and the Son.
The Triune God is present with us today. The Godhead fills our universe and our lives. God who helps us make sense of our lives and understand God’s purpose for us. Who gives us the courage and confidence to live God’s purpose for our lives. Who helps change the way we feel about all that happens to us in our everyday lives. And who gives us the courage to confront the corrupted wisdom of the world around us.
John begins his Gospel, revealing our Saviour in the Trinity “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him.”
Just as Moses began his testimony of Genesis revealing the presence of the Trinity in creation, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.’ (Genesis 1:1–2 NLT)
In the great commission, God revealed Himself to the Apostles and to us in trinity, through the words of Christ Jesus. “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in a the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. (Mt 28:19 NIV) …
In the wisdom of God, given to us by his Holy Spirit, we can accept Martin Luther’s thesis: “The Holy Scriptures teach that God is absolutely one and that He is also three persons, absolutely distinct.”
Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: ‘There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.’ (Rom 8:1-2)
Paul also wrote what we shared today, ‘since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Luther, called this “the article upon which the church stands or falls.” Justification by faith alone. To Luther, wherever this reality is believed and preached, we find the true church! A church ceases to be Christian when it fails to declare that each person, revealed as both saint and sinner at the same time, is reconciled to God by no other way than by faith.
And so, we stand today united with every Christian in the world, proclaiming our faith in one God in three persons, celebrating our unity, and stepping out in a shared mission to proclaim a common heritage. It all begins with what our Saviour Jesus Christ did for us. We worship our ascended Saviour, we praise God our Father, and we honour the Holy Spirit.
And like the earliest church, we devote ourselves to the teaching of the Apostles, to fellowship, to prayer, and to breaking bread together in Holy Communion – one body in Christ.
There is an old saying, “There but for the grace of God, go I”. In the trinity of God, we discover that grace. We are not just forgiven, but we are changed. By faith, we are made new and we become precious children of God.
We come with confidence to God the Father who created us, because of the sacrifice of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all believers, to give us the will and the fruit of the Spirit to live Christian lives. And we give thanks to God for both the spiritual wisdom and the common sense that we have received.
And so, we give thanks and praise to our Saviour, Jesus Christ, God the Son, to our precious creator, God the Father, and to the ever present Spirit of God.