Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA
Is God a frozen food? Think about it, is God a frozen food.
You know, every Sunday we gather here to celebrate God. We read aloud the stories about what God has done, and then, in a strange miracle, we believe God comes to us in bread and wine.
Every Sunday is about God. I mean, every day is about God, right?
But Sundays—in our tradition—we make it a “thing.” So, there is a temptation here.
And that is to experience God as only a Sunday-word.
Does God stay put all week long, unmoving, unchanging, until you need something? God as a frozen food means God keeps really well. Is God the frozen pizza you take out when you’re in a pinch—when you don’t have time to make dinner? Or a faceless concept you manage to believe in half the time, but it helps if you see a pretty sunset or a big mountain?
I mean, I hear you, its challenging to keep God before us! All the time!? Especially when the God we might have learned as children seems so strict, or so judge-y.
But think about God as frozen food, God preserved, as we look at our lessons together. //
Frozen or not, today is another Sunday when we trot out God. Even more, today is another special Sunday in a series of special ones. Sundays called festivals. Pentecost with its pretty red balloons was last week. And The Holy Trinity today.
Today is a festival when we celebrate God by specifically saying that God is Trinity, three in one.
We all already have helped profess an old and special creed this morning—a confession about who God is, and how we believe God works. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. All uncreated, infinite, and eternal. Not three, however, but one.
I’m not sure where you all are at with this doctrine, but that’s how the Church grasps the Trinity with our minds. Or at least, how we try to… Now, if you search your Bible you’re not gonna find the word “Trinity.” Because it’s not there. Trinity is a theologian’s word—an expert’s word. The Bible works through stories, not in nifty words.
Considering that our Gospel lesson is so short, what do we get if we take these three lessons together? We get stories to work with.
Our Gospel lesson from Matthew is the very last words of Jesus. He is sending out his disciples, making them apostles, asking them to not just tell people about God, but to show people about God.
Not just fill peoples’ ears with words, but use actions and stuff—use water—to baptize them, and using the 10 commandments—to care for the world’s relationships, and their bodies, and their livelihoods. Use all these things to show God’s love.
The end of this Gospel story according to Matthew is also the beginning of our Church.
Notice, though, here on Jesus’ lips—according to Matthew—are these three persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This is the closest our Bible comes to [quote-un-quote] “Trinity.”
What other stories are we working with?
In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth we have another farewell. That’s interesting. Paul also uses these three persons—Christ, God, Holy Spirit—in his goodbye, too.
The church in Corinth is like every other church, ever: it had some real troubles—figuring out its congregational structure; how would they do communion; where do people sit; arguing about who’s who, and what’s what… Paul here is saying, alright, get it straight! Have a good life! The end of Paul’s letter is also a beginning for the church in Corinth, and for us too, one beginning of our ancestry as communities in Christ.
Now, in the Old Testament lesson we have a beautiful gem of a story. We hear the ultimate image of beginning.
In six symbolic days we learn that God is responsible for all making.
This lesson from Genesis tells us two important things. On the one hand, just like we confess in our creed, God is uncreated. In the beginning God wasn’t created, God has always been God. It might well say, “In the beginning when God started creating…”
Think about that for a second. God, like a circle that never was drawn, but always has been… with no end, with no beginning, with no limit… No true God can be frozen and unmoving…
On the other hand, we—and all that we know—are created.
The number of aeons this creating took, where dinosaurs, black-holes, galaxies, Higgs bosons, single-cell organisms, and theories of natural selection fit in, I am content to leave in the hands of those who are called to the competent and unbiased vocations of science.
This lesson from Genesis tells us two important things. On the one hand God is uncreated. And on the other hand we are created.
Does it seem odd to be pondering Creation on a Sunday about the Trinity? Maybe I should be talking about the Holy Spirit. Or about Jesus being God’s son, and how that’s quite weird. Should I be explaining how mathematical that creed we recited feels?
Creation, though, is actually the perfect image of God as Trinity. Because it says God does things.
And Matthew and Paul say that God is doing things. In us, what we call the Holy Spirit, given to us through Christ, through God, God is doing things.
Forget Sundays! Sundays are just extra! Everyday it’s happening, something is always happening. God as Trinity, is an eternally active, moving, doing God. That is what we confess.
Yes, the temptation is to experience God as a Sunday-word. I ask you, can a true God ever be a frozen food? //
You probably know that the Greek and Hebrew words for Spirit, Wind, and Breath are the same. A wind from God swept over the water, the words in Genesis say. Everything has the breath of life from God, Genesis says.
That stuff in your lungs which keeps you alive, is the same as the force that bends the trees, is the same as the movement of love and friendship in your heart, is the same as the essence with which God created the world. “Trinity” is a description not of God, but of God’s ways, and how we, the created, experience God.
Father doesn’t mean God is a man—it’s not God the Daddy. It means God as mother-father, the immeasurable, uncreated source of all life.
Son, is more than Jesus of Nazareth, human. Son, is more than Christ the Resurrected One. Son, is the divine life of Christ in all of creation that God is pulling us towards.
And Holy Spirit is more than just dove—more than flame streamers… It’s the cord by which we are pulled into the Son, it’s all the life and love and goodness given to us.
A frozen and unmoving god is no God at all.
Don’t let God be only a Sunday-word.
If you only can muster up belief once and a while, then maybe it’s not your faith you should worry about, but about that once-and-a-while God you’ve got in your freezer.
God as Trinity is fresh and raw and alive and wriggling.
All the dancing of our Trinitarian God is already alive in your very life. If we are created good by God, then all things—thinking, eating, talking, working, voting—are all part of trusting and experiencing God.
Discover and give voice to the uncountable things that God is doing!