Daily Archives: June 11, 2022

First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

The Fullness of God

Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We celebrate the fullness of God,  To better understand his fullness, let us go back to the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,

In Genesis we read:

When God began to create[ the heavens and the earth, the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.   (Genesis 1:1-3)

Notice that the wind of God swept over his creation when he said “let there be light.

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”   (Genesis 1:26)

Observe how this time God said: “Let us.” To whom was he speaking? He was speaking to himself: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are made in the image of God. If we are to understand our selves we must understand the fullness of his image. We are made to be like him.

Let us look at scripture pertaining to God from the standpoint of first the Son and then the Holy Spirit. What part did they did they play in the creation of humankind? Beginning with the beautiful prologue of the of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.   (John 1:1-4)

Jesus, the Word made flesh, was the Father’s agent of creation. Our very lives came through him. Not only that, but we have reborn spiritually through him. His life has been given to those who believe:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.   (John 3:16)

The creation also relied on the Holy Spirit. He is the wind of God in Genesis. The Book of Proverbs goes into greater detail:

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.

Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth–

when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.

When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,

when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;

and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.”   (Proverbs 8:22-31)

One of the things that struck me about this passage was the beautiful relationship between the Holy Spirit and God the Father. The Spirit, a master worker for the Father, was rejoicing in the work that the Father had given him. He rejoiced before the Father as he delighted in the human race that was being formed.

This leads us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus, as he was facing the cross, wanted his disciples to know about the person and ministry of Holy Spirit:

Jesus said to the disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”    (John 16:12-15)

The Apostle Paul wrote:

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words. And God, who searches hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit[q] intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.   (Romans 8:26-27)

God gave his all to us when he created the heavens and the earth. The fullness of God brought forth human like. His Son gave up his position in heaven to ransom us from sin and death. God literally torn himself apart on a cruel cross, when Jesus bore our sins. In that moment, the Father had to separate himself from his beloved Son.
How do we respond to God? He gave us his all to redeem us and restore his image in us. Do we give him all of ourselves in return? We need to see the complete image of God. We need the complete ministry of the Holy Trinity of God.

Jesus gave this great commission to his disciples before he ascended into heaven:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   (Matthew 28:16-20)

Notice in this great commission the working of the Holy Trinity. The Church must teach all believers to obey all that Jesus has taught. Jesus, the voice of God, had taught us the true nature of God the Father and the essence of his commandments. But the power of the Holy Spirit is needed to help us to understand and obey all that Jesus has taught us.

Without and understanding of the Holy Trinity we are left without a very shallow faith indeed. While it is true that we cannot fully understand all the aspects of the Trinity, we can neither afford to ignore the Trinity. So many of our churches seem to stress one form of God over another. This is why we have so many different church doctrines. Doctrines cannot take the place of understanding the fullness of God.

Today, God is calling us. The Father wants us to know his love. The Son, Jesus, wants to fill us with the Holy Spirit and make all things new. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us into all truth, guide us, comfort us, interpret scriptures for us, and help us to pray. A loving God is always ministering to us. Let us acknowledge and embrace all that he is doing.

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Saint Barnabas

Son of Encouragement

Today we celebrate the life and ministry of Saint Barnabas, the traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. He was more than a traveling companion. Barnabas was largely responsible for encouraging Paul to undertake an active ministry in the first place.

We know about Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. We know that Jesus Himself called Paul into ministry. Nonetheless, Paul was not easily accepted as an apostle of Jesus by the leadership in Jerusalem. He had been persecuting the Church. Barnabas, however, looked at Paul through the eyes of Christ. He rescued Paul and presented him to the apostles, testifying that Paul was indeed a true believer. This was typical of Barnabas. His name meant “son of encouragement.”

Barnabas was chosen along with Paul for a special mission:

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.   (Acts 13:1-3)

This was the beginning of the great mission to the Gentiles. Barnabas and Paul were willing to travel without special requirements or treatment. They endured great hardships for the Gospel. They were willing to follow the instructions which Jesus gave His disciples concerning the conduct of ministry:

Jesus said to the twelve, “As you go, proclaim the good news, `The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.   (Matthew 10:7-10)

What can we learn from Barnabas about our own ministry? He did not care what others thought or said about Paul. He listened only to what God was telling him. He wanted the praises and approval of God more than that of human beings.

A positive attitude is helpful. Prayer and fasting is preparation. The support of a community is vital and of absolute necessity. A willingness to be set apart by the Holy Spirit for ministry directed by God and not by our own desires. Perhaps this last one is the most difficult. The Holy Spirit may lead us into difficult places where we must rely solely on God.

We may not be asked by God to leave home and job. We may, however, be asked to give up some of our cherished beliefs about ministry. We may be asked to leave our comfort zones. We may be required to work with others who are not on the approved list. We might just be called to offer encouragement and support to others in their ministry. God is still calling his Barnabas’s.

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