Trinity A

A book miniature depiction of  Andrei Rublev 's   Trinity  , Russia

A book miniature depiction of Andrei Rublev's Trinity, Russia


223: June 11, 2017

67: June 15, 2014

  1. Genesis 1:1-2:4a

  2. Matthew 28:16-20

  3. Psalm 8

  4. 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Voice in the Wilderness: Genesis 1:1-2:4a with Jeremy Lafary

Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt, “Go (Holy Orders)” from her album Seven Songs

Psalm 8 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Exegetical Notes

Matthew 28:16-20 

Initial Thoughts

  • The mission statement of the United Methodist Church - “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

  • For many Methodists pastors (including me), this might be the last sermon at a charge - what a great way to finish.

Bible Study

  • Commission/Commandment

    • A commandment is all on you.  One must either obey or disobey.  

    • Commissioning is more of a team effort.  “Commissioning, however, functions differently. When you are commissioned you are not merely commanded but also equipped, empowered, and given the necessary authority to accomplish your duty.” (David Lose)

  • They worshipped, but some doubted

    • Those with faith and those who doubt come to the same place. They are given the same command

    • There is room even for those that still question.  Assurance is not a prerequisite of discipleship.

    • “How does Jesus respond to this mixed group of worshipers and doubters? He gives them all the same commission: "Go and make disciples

    • Even those that doubt are told to go and teach.

  • Teaching them to obey my command

    • Moral imperative - how to live and act, is above what to believe.

    • Jesus’ last words are not about belief, they are about living

    • To obey Jesus’ command is to live as he lived:

  • Greatest commandment - To love God and love your neighbor.

    • Make disciples, Baptize, Teach

    • “Will be with you to until the end of the age”

    • Matthew’s explanation for the delayed parousia - the delay in Jesus coming back.  The Mathew community was probably expecting him back by now, this is an encouragement for them to continue to do the work of making disciples.

Preaching Thoughts

  • Commission is different than a commandment.  As commissioned, we are given not only a task, but the tools to succeed.  Jesus is with us on this journey - “even to the end of the age.”

  • Jesus is commissioning his followers to go out and save the world.  Right now churches are hoping that people will come in and save the church

    • They’ll come in and be good tithe-ers, good church-members, good volunteers.

    • Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to go and build great churches.  He told them to go and make disciples.

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Initial Thoughts

  • Repetition

  • Order

  • Poetry - like the prologue of John

Bible Study

  • Order in the midst of Chaos

    • Context: Babylonian Exile

      • chaotic, unknown future

      • The very rhythms of nature are a promise of God’s presence

      • Formless void - eternal, chaotic, alone

      • God enters - relationship, order, separation

      • There is not a morality - God creates but does not condemn

      • Darkness is kept - not declared evil or bad

        • “goodness concerns the use to which it can be put for God's intention.” - Melinda Quivik

  • Relationship

    • God interacts with creation from the outset and fills creation with Ruach - wind/ breath/Spirit of God

  • Goodness

    • Not a moral goodness, but an intrinsic goodness - Goodness describes the very nature of creation

    • Universal message of Genesis 1 (David Bland)

      • Torah does not begin with Israel, but with Creation

      • Walter Brueggemann - Monotheism too easily becomes monoethnism

      • All of creation is blessed and good

      • Interdependent - no part of creation exists alone, not even God

      • Light is connected to the tides which is connected to the plant which are connected to the animals which are connected to humans which are connected to God

      • There are not isolated pieces in God’s creation

  • Time

    • Which came first God or the beginning?

      • In the beginning/ when the beginning occurred - God was creating the beginning

      • May not be a specific moment but In beginning

      • Beginning may not be an exact moment but a general period of time - “Once Upon a Time…”

Preaching Thoughts

  • How might we claim God’s presence in the midst of chaos? In what ways do we lift up the rhythms of nature and see God at work and in relationship with creation and us?

  • How do we live out the interdependence of creation? What about the interdependence of the churches?

2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Paul’s farewell

Initial Thoughts

  • A little background on 2 Corinthians:

    • Written about 50 CE, several months after 1 Corinthians and Paul’s visit to Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:5-7)

    • Third letter to the Corinthians. Paul refers to his second letter written in tears and anguish (2 Corinthians 2:4). This “letter of tears” is lost

    • Paul’s relationship has become increasingly strained

    • Paul is addressing claims from other evangelist who have better backgrounds (were one of the 12) or better gifts

    • According to Luther Seminary professor, Mary Hinkle Shore, Paul chooses his words carefully to prevent the relationship from deteriorating, but is also having a hard time keeping his emotions in check. Furthermore he is constantly framing his letter in the theological concept of God’s reconciling work in Christ

  • Is this an awkward lectionary proof text containing one of the few references to the trinity?

    • No, but only if we know the context of the letter

Bible Study

  • Farewell - this is the closing of 2 Corinthians

    • Letter emphasizing reconciliation

    • Seeking to repair a broken relationship

    • Both apology and defense

    • Structure:

      • V. 11 - summation of letter

      • V. 12 - final greeting

      • V. 13 - prayer

  • V. 11: Summation

    • 1st Imperative: “Farewell” better translated as “rejoice” - same word in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (“rejoice always”).

      • Paul does not want to come across as the disciplinarian or one tearing down, but building up

    • 2nd Imperative: Put thing in order - better translated: “pull yourselves together” or “be restored” or my favorite “be made whole”

    • 3rd Imperative: listen to my appeal - terrible translation - better translated as “be encouraged or consoled”

    • 4th imperative: agree with one another- literally “think the same thing”

    • 5th imperative: peace is inward focused not outward focused

  • V. 12: Holy Kiss

  • V. 13: Trinity and the social nature of God

    • God as triune emphasizes a social God

    • God’s very nature is relationship

    • As people of God, we are called to reflect that relationship

    • Trinity is not a linear development (Father begets Son from whom the Spirit comes), but rather God, Son/Word and Ruach/Spirit have existed together since the “foundations of the world” (Genesis 1, John 1; 17:24)

  • V. 13: Paul moves from the practical to the theological:

    • Put things in order -- the social nature of God as the essential order of the divine

    • Listen to my appeal -- Take comfort in one another

    • Agree with one another -- God’s nature is relational

    • Live in peace -- God’s desire is reconciliation of the world both with God and one another through Christ (2 Corinthians 1-7)

Preaching Thoughts

  • The Trinity is not intellectual exercise but reveals the interpersonal, interconnected nature of God. God is relationship, God is love. As the people of God we are called into relationship, we are called into love, we cannot remain faithful and unreconciled. Just as God, Christ and Spirit are reconciled so we too are called to be reconciled.

    • When we feel that reconciliation is impossible we are called to remember that reconciliation is the true nature of God and, thus, the true nature of reality.

  • Many people and churches find themselves embroiled in a conflict where: rejoice, pull yourselves together and be of one mind seems ridiculous, unrealistic and polyantic. However perhaps that is why Paul end the letter in this way- because it articulates a near impossible vision, but one we should never stop striving for. If reconciliation is the ultimate goal- then we can never demonize or dehumanize the other.


Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).