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Sometimes the best answers leave us more confused than before.

Trinity Sunday Communion
We are about to hear one of the most familiar and best loved stories in the Bible about the purpose of Jesus in the world. These verses are complicated and present a host of unresolved issues. The ambiguity that fills these verses feeds the reminder to all believers in every age that the way of God is mostly a mystery to us. Throughout history, people have tried to draw God into some neat, explainable box with little success. One such effort has been the notion of God as a trinity: three beings in one. It can’t get much more complicate than this! Let us listen as Jesus tries to help us understand the majesty and wonder of our Creator.
John 3:1-17
1There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. 2Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
3Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
4“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
5Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind hovering over the water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. 6When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
7“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. 8You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
9Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
10Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? 11Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing second hand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. 12If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
13“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. 14In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up— 15and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.
16“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. 17God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Sermon – “Sometimes the best answers leave us more confused than before
Trying to explain the Trinity is about as inviting as fixing a toothache on my own.
Sure, I could try some home remedies, read up on the internet BUT chances are, when I’m done all that, I’ll still have a toothache!!
Let’s look at what the United Church of Canada’s “A Song of Faith” (2006) has to say about the trinity.
With the Church through the ages, we speak of God as one and triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We also speak of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer; God, Christ, and Spirit; Mother, Friend, and Comforter; Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love, and in other ways that speak faithfully of the One on whom our hearts rely, the fully shared life at the heart of the universe. We witness to Holy Mystery that is Wholly Love.
The authors of the song give us one example after another of “three-way” descriptions of God.
Let me add two of my own:
Trinity = like: liquid water
ice (frozen water)
steam (boiling water) = all are water experienced different ways under different conditions.
Or – as an alternative:
Trinity = like: an apple (unpeeled)
apple sauce (cooked, mashed)
apple cider or apple pie (sliced/crushed)
again – they are all apples but in different forms under different conditions.
Cold hard truth of God = we are a lot like Nicodemus – we don’t get it!
Br. Reformed Church minister, Meda Stamper explains it this way (wwwwordingpreacher.org)
Jesus shifts the conversation from the smallness of Nicodemus’ view to the largeness of life in God, from the signs on which Nicodemus and others base their hope to the invisible mystery of the Spirit/wind (the two words are the same in Greek), which can give him birth into the truth that he is missing.
When we become too sure of what we know about Jesus (or indeed the Trinity on this particular Sunday), when we believe that we have grasped him at last, that is when we can perhaps expect to be undone like Nicodemus. That undoing – that overturning of our certainty – may be a very good thing if it allows us to experience anew the miracle of our birth from above into eternal life, which has nothing to do with what we know or what we are (any more than our birth from our mother’s womb did). It is a gift of life from the heart of the Father, breathing the Spirit wind over us and through us and opening our infant eyes to the Son, our Teacher, lifted up to draw all people to himself and his lesson of love.
This is where the writers of “A Song of Faith” take us.
Faith = mystery no matter how we try to study, define and measure it – our best efforts will always fall short.
In her comments on John 3: 1-17, Meda Stamper concludes:
Read in its entirety the passage becomes about realizing that rather than our faith resting on our knowledge and love, it is, in the first place, we who are known and loved by God, drawn into a mystery that is beyond our understanding and our wisdom.
We love and trust the God of love who work the miracle of faith in our lives – it is seldom the same from person to person BUT it makes our lives rich in ways that dazzle, comfort and inspire us.

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