Summary: Trinity Sunday is a great day for thinking about God and celebrating his grace
Romans 5.1-11 Excited about God on Trinity Sunday
Prayer: Lord, open our hearts and minds to the wonder of your glory and your love, in Jesus’ name.
Trinity Sunday is the one that clergy are supposed to dread, when it comes to thinking about what to preach. Attempts to make it all simple with drawings of triangles can only take us so far, and we can end up giving the impression that we’re as confused as anyone else! The glory of Trinity Sunday isn’t mathematical sleights of hand or unconvincing attempts to define God in any way, but that we should just stop and just wonder at God in Himself. On Sundays for the last six months of the year, we’ve been thinking about the great events of Jesus’ coming into the world. But now it’s time to take stock, to pause, and to re-focus our sights - for the God who was visible, and yes, even measurable, and comprehensible in Jesus Christ is also far beyond our definition.
The study of theology doesn’t necessarily take us to the heart of God, and the first commandment is not that we should understand God, but that we should love Him with every part of ourselves, and this is what we are trying to do as we worship God. Our worship, like our financial giving, should be judged by that yardstick. Remember when Jesus saw the big impressive gifts and the widow’s penny - he said it was her gift that came from the heart. If we measure worship by any other standard - like beauty, or punctuality, or liturgical correctness, or length (or brevity), the regularity of our attendance, the kind of music we include, the amount of happy clapping or the lack of it - then we will be led astray. These are not the ways to judge our worship of God. Worship is coming close to God our Father in love, and our participation of love is its gold standard, love that is drawn up by our appreciation of God’s love.
In the Romans reading, St.Paul has evidently been bowled over by God’s love. The Good News Bible has no less than 4 exclamation marks in these few verses!
Romans isn’t an easy read in any translation, but in this passage Paul is practically singing for the joy of knowing God, and the wonder of his grace. He writes as a man who has spent years of his life looking for something, but now he has gloriously found it (or in fact it has gloriously found him).
Many religions, and much Christian tradition, have been concerned with religious deeds, the things you must do, to satisfy God : Do this, obey that, and you will find peace with God. The passionate first four chapters of Romans describe how Paul had devoted himself strenuously, trying to do all the things necessary, but finally came to the conclusion that try as he may, he’d fail. It was a dead end. Doing things for God, however beautiful, will not bring us to his side. He is holy. We are twisted. And never the twain shall meet, on that basis.
In chapter 4 Paul described how God knew that all this was bound to fail, but has provided us with a better way, and the only way which comes to terms with humans as they really are.
If your child wants to do something you know perfectly well they can’t do, you may find you have to let them have their go first, and reach that point of failure, before they’ll be willing to let you show them how it has to be done. So God had to let them try it their own way, before he could teach them.
Struggle as we may, we can never pull ourselves up to heaven by our own boot-laces. So God took the initiative himself. At his own great expense, He did it for Paul, for you and me, and for everyone who wants it. Such is grace, given freely to us all.
Even the faith to receive it is not something which we have to squeeze out of ourselves, but is God’s gift to us. Suddenly we wake up out of sleep and see that we have it right there in front of us! - Peace with God.
Trusting faith, which means the accepting of God at his word, has done what the heavy duty of doing religious works could never achieve. The relief of discovering this filled St. Paul’s mind and never left him. The joy that filled his heart remained with him as the years went by. Whatever happened, that joy gave him the strength to cheerfully endure the many imprisonments, the beatings, the insults, and even the sadness at sometimes seeing churches he had built up lose their first love.