Cross of Grace

A community of grace sharing God's love with no strings attached.

Summer Sunday Worship:
8:30 am & 10 am

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

More Than Words for Holy Trinity

John 16:12-15

[Jesus said,] “I still have many more things to say to you but you cannot bear them now. But 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.”


NOTE: We have our graduating high school seniors share “Senior Moments” each year as a way to support their faith journey, hear what their plans are for the future and support them in that through prayer and worship. These “Senior Moments” were part of this worship this morning, as well.

I’m not sure if we’ve ever done “Senior Moments” on Holy Trinity Sunday, but I’m glad about it for a couple of reasons. First of all, it gives me some permission to say a little less about a thing for which I fear I may have run out of words over the years – the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s also something that, in my opinion, deserves more time and wisdom from the likes of Dr. Rob Saler by way of a lecture in the classroom than from Pastor Mark, by way of a sermon in the sanctuary. So I’m not going down that road in the same way I have in the past.

Instead, because I knew we’d be hearing from our own “Holy Trinity” of seniors this morning – thank you Mitchell, Dane and Macey – I couldn’t help but latch onto those first words from Jesus, who’s talking to his disciples and friends about his own going – his walk to the cross; his death, resurrection and ascension – and about the coming of the Holy Spirit that would follow. As part of all that, he says, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” And I couldn’t help but think that that sounds like equal parts loving lament and fair warning. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” It feels particularly poignant to me, with Mitchell and Dane and Macey in mind, for Senior Moments Sunday – and on Father’s Day, to boot.

Who among you, if you’ve had the blessing and challenge of raising children, or loving a child, or caring for or mentoring someone with less experience than you, or offering advice to someone you love about something that matters to you both – who among you hasn’t felt like Jesus? (“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”)

Close your eyes and take a deep breath with me for a moment… Settle yourself into your chair and remember or imagine a few things with me for a minute…

Your first day of kindergarten – or that first day for your child or children – whether it was you or your own parents, someone surely felt something like Jesus did before loading that kid onto the bus or dropping them off in that classroom: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now…”

Recall or imagine the first day of college, as you packed and unpacked or helped your child pack or unpack or as you plan to do that in the days to come: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now…”

Remember or imagine your wedding day – or that special day for someone you love – in the moments before that walk down the aisle toward whatever was to come; surely, someone was thinking: “I still have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now…”

Remember or imagine – a hospital room or a nursing home or a bedside with hospice care – and maybe a pastor gathered round; Remember or imagine that someone is saying their final goodbyes, or preparing to draw their last breath. Who in or around that bed is thinking, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now?”

Imagine never having had or taken that chance for last words at a time like that: “I still have more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now…”

Whether it’s kindergarten or college, first jobs, wedding days or last breaths, there’s always more to say, it seems. There will be bullies and bad grades; big fights and disappointments; sickness and healing; struggles and celebrations; death and new life too mighty for all the words we might use to describe them. But God is in and through, under and around all of it, already. And there just aren’t enough of the right doctrines or definitions to describe the power of God in our lives or for the sake of the world.

We do our best with what we have by way of “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” but it will never cut it – there is still so much more to be said and to be experienced and to be shared in our lives and for each other when it comes to knowing God’s presence among us.

And I think that’s something like what Jesus was getting at and what our lives show us over time: That the power of God shows up in and through the ways we love one another. That the power of God is made known by the ways we forgive, support, sacrifice for, mourn with, grieve alongside, struggle and celebrate with the people in our lives and out there in the world.

And I don’t believe we can defend or describe that – with doctrines or definitions – in ways that are adequate or fair or faithful enough for any of us to understand until we’re blessed to experience it for ourselves, in relationship with others and by the grace of our God.

There are always many more things to be said and shared, about what’s to come in this life and for the next. And – Dane, Mitchell, Macey – and everyone of us, as children of God – we can’t bear it, and we wouldn’t believe it, most of us – until the time comes to bear and to believe the fullness of God’s love for us.

And that takes eyes and hearts and lives open to the power and providence of God in our midst. I think it takes the patient presence of fellow believers, walking together as we go. And I know it takes the grace of God, above all else, to find us and to fill us with the truth of God’s love – for us and for the world – whenever we need it most.

Amen

All Rights Reserved. Background image by Aaron Stamper. © Cross of Grace Lutheran Church.