Sermons

IV Easter

April 22, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

I know that this is not Trinity Sunday, but I want to begin this morning with our understanding of God as Trinity.  The story is told that St. Patrick used the shamrock as a teaching tool to talk about the Trinity – that the shamrock is three leaves, and yet it is one leaf.

We believe that God is three and yet one.  Each of the persons of the Trinity is distinct, and yet they are also God – not three gods but one God.  Within the Trinity there is unity, and there is (in a sense) a hierarchy.  The Son fulfills the will of the Father, which means that the Father’s will must, at least in some sense, be greater than that of the Son.  All of these things are attested to in the Creed which we say every Sunday.

Yet, even though there is some sense of order and hierarchy within the Trinity, one thing that I believe can be said about the Trinity is that the Trinity is pure relationship.   In this relationship there are no secrets.  There is nothing that any one Person of the Trinity knows that is not fully known by the other Persons of the Trinity.

I would also say that the Trinity is pure love.  The Trinity is Love.  Within the individuality and the unity of the Trinity there is love.  In fact, I would say that for the Christian the greatest definition of Love is the Trinity, is God.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be fully known by someone else and then completely and utterly loved by that other person?  That would involve great vulnerability – at least from a human standpoint.  Because to be fully known by someone else would mean that all of our strengths would be know, but also all of our weaknesses.  All of our good choices would be known as well as our bad ones.  There would be nothing hidden.

And after being fully known, can you imagine being fully loved by the other person?  Loved despite our weaknesses.  Loved despite our sinfulness.  Loved so fully that the other would be willing to die for you and me?

“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid…” This is the way in which almost every Eucharist begins.  We are fully known by God.  And yet despite this, God loves us.  And God loves us so much that He would choose to die for us.  He chooses to die for the very people who turn their backs on Him.  He chooses to be in relationship with people who so often make the choice of their own will over His.

In this morning’s Gospel lesson, Jesus says something so very powerful.  He says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own no me…”  That is powerful enough, but then look how that thought continues, “…as the Father knows me and I know the Father…”

“…as the Father knows me and I know the Father…”  Do you get that?  Jesus is in a relationship with us and He wants that relationship to be like the one He has with the Father.  He knows us and loves us.  And – this is the radical part – He wants us to fully know Him and love Him.

It is one thing to say that God knows us and loves us.  I mean, God is God.  As we say in the beginning of the Eucharist “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid…”  We get that.  There is nothing that we can hide from God.  But God in Jesus Christ wants us to fully know God!

I do not know about you, but I think that this is the work of my lifetime!  To be fully known by God and to fully know God as well!  And then, to take it the last step, that Jesus would choose to die for us – despite being fully known – all of our sins, our faults, and our secret thoughts shared with no one.  Jesus chooses to die for us.

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep…For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus knows us and is willing to die for us.  How well do we know Jesus?  What are we willing to do for Him?   AMEN.