Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Goal: To feel the reality of our sonship and call out "Abba/Daddy". Malady: We fear that God is a "dead beat dad." Means: Through the cross, we find the reality of the Trinity and our sonship through Christ. Trinity, Father’s Day, Sonship, Da Vinci Cod

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Three In One who grants us sonship that makes us cry out, “Abba, Father!”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

What is your last name? What does it mean? My last name, Winters, was shortened when my relatives came to the United States a very long time ago. The name was originally “Wintersen” meaning in Danish “Son of Winter.” Being born in a tropical climate, only a few miles from a beach – I always thought this name was a bit ridiculous.

But my last name doesn’t really signify who I am simply by the meaning of the word “Wintersen”. It means much, much more. It means that a man named Richard Winters had a son named Allen Winters, who had a son named Walter Winters, who had a son named Jay Winters. My last name reveals my father’s identity.

My last name reveals who I get my eyes from. My last name reveals some of my tendencies and foibles. However, what my last name most reveals is the man whom I call “Daddy.”

Growing up in Lutheran circles with a name that is famous…or perhaps infamous, can be a hard thing sometimes. I know full well, that if I am talking to many pastors or leaders of our church, if I say, “I’m Jay Winters, Walt Winters’ boy,” there is a great chance of a reaction, and it won’t always be pleasant. My father, upon graduation from the seminary, was written up under the headline “Maniac Missionary To Go To Philippines.”

I know that saying my last name in certain circles is a cause for fear. The Roman Jews that Paul is writing to in our reading for today, knew a much greater fear. They knew that by simply saying that they were Christians, by simply saying that they had been the last name given to them in Baptism, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – they could be snubbed, disowned, or even killed. Paul knew this full well. He used to be one who was helping with the killing.

Today, we may feel the sting of laughter or puzzlement when someone asks why we believe what we do. Especially on Trinity Sunday, a Sunday where we celebrate the Three In One God, we may fear people wondering how we can believe in something that is so mathematically impossible. Three in one, one in three. We may have some fear simply from the questions that come up, “Can you explain the Trinity to me?”

The fear probably doesn’t come from the thought that we might be stoned to death for our belief. Instead, the fear probably comes from, at it’s deepest root – the acknowledgement, that this basic part of the Christian faith, the Trinity – makes no sense at all to us.

We begin to try to explain the Trinity, probably with some metaphor that is doomed to fail at some point in its explanation, and we find ourselves lost and confused, and perhaps even hurt by the fact that God hasn’t seen it prudent to reveal Himself to us in a manner that is less mysterious.

I have a friend in St. Louis who hates her last name. She doesn’t hate it because it’s a horrendously hard to spell or hard to pronounce kind of a name. She hates it because it is the name of her father, who left her mother and her family 6 months after her name was penned on her birth certificate. Her last name reveals a childhood of pain and confusion, wondering who her father was and what he was like.

Little babies, whose concepts of reality are still being formed, lack the ability to realize that when their father is out of their sight that they still exist. A father can spend hours with her infant, put it down in the crib, walk away – and it is as if the father didn’t even exist anymore to the infant. I’ve always thought this would make an excellent Father’s Day card for a college student to send – “Dear Dad, even though I can’t see you, I still acknowledge that you exist.”

Our fear, on this Trinity Sunday – is the fear of that God doesn’t exist in our lives, or even worse – that God DOES exist and that He does not care for us. We find ourselves between those two fears again and again. We question our faith like Thomas. We long so much just to see Jesus, to be able to travel back in time and touch His face just to know it is real.

I watched the DaVinci code this past Wednesday. You’ve already heard all of the bad stuff about the movie. I won’t rehash that. After the movie, a few of us went to Starbucks to discuss what we had just seen. Through all of the questions and discussions there I began to see what that movie really has to say, positively, about Christians and about all of humanity. We are a people who long to touch and know the face of Jesus. We honestly wouldn’t probably care if He was married or not – just as long as we got to see His face and talk with Him.

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