Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sermon: Holy Trinity and Baptism of Vanessa Wooten – 2011

19 June 2011 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: John 3:1-17 (Isa 6:1-7, Rom 11:33-36)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

“I bind unto myself today
The Strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

“Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith…. And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.”

“Blessed be the Holy Trinity
And the Undivided Unity:
Let us give glory to Him
For He has shown mercy to us.”

“I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

We heard all of these confessions of our faith today, on this remarkable day, this Lord’s Day, this day of victory for the Triune God and His redeemed, this day of reckoning for Satan and the demons and those who serve them.

Indeed, one confession we might add to the above is the Psalm: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

For every Lord’s Day is a day made by God, a day of rejoiceful victory over sin, death, and the devil, a day to honor the Holy Trinity, a day to honor and sing praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, given to us because the Father so loves us and desires to save us, sending the Holy Spirit to comfort us and bring us to Christ.

For Trinity Sunday is not just a day to dust off old theology books and try to explain the unexplainable – for indeed, we confess with St. Paul: “How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord…?” We are not here to make sense of God, but rather to confess His majesty. Nor are we here merely to confess His unsurpassed majesty, but to rejoice in His unbounded mercy! “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

Dear friends, this is why the confession of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is important. This is why Christians around the world slow down and confess the longest of our creeds on this day. This is why the Church was willing to spend centuries fighting against the heresies that would belittle our God into an idol, that would reject the divine revelation of God in His Word that He is indeed Trinity in Unity, that would spurn the God whose will it was to come in the flesh to save us. For a God that is not Triune is not our Savior, Such a god would not come to us as one of us incarnate, and would certainly not preach that, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God…. You must be born again.”

Indeed, we worship a God who reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And what’s more, a God who commissions His Church to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It is one name, yet three persons, “neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.” For in this Trinitarian Baptism, in this confession of the Triune God, the Trinitarian Christian truth is proclaimed: “Whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

Vanessa, our dear sister in Christ, in your baptism you have bound unto yourself today the strong name of the Trinity. Today, the promise of God to save you has been signed by the cross, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and delivered by the water and the Word according to our gracious Lord’s command and promise. Today you have been given the gift of the sign of the cross, to be made on good days and bad, in times of special piety and prayer, and on those days when it seems you have no faith at all and no prayer comes from your heart. For in those times, the Holy Spirit will do the praying for you, just as Christ has done the saving work on the cross for you, and the Father has created you and loved you so as to send you His Son and His Spirit to redeem you.

And if you feel unworthy of such an honor, of such grace, of so great a gift: that’s a good thing. For not one of us is worthy of God’s grace. Not one of us is worthy of His love. Not one of us is worthy of His blood shed for us. But more important than being worthy, we are loved by the Triune God. That is the Christian truth, the truth of our baptismal faith. That is what it means to be “born again,” to be “born of water and the Spirit.”

And it is the love of Christ that compels us, that saves us, that draws us to the Most Holy Trinity in spite of ourselves.

For here in this holy place on this holy day, we are all like the holy prophet Isaiah: sinners unworthy to stand before God. In his confession of sins, he said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.” And rather than give Isaiah the punishment he deserved, the Lord gave him the mercy he did not deserve: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

“Your sin atoned for.”

Our sins have been atoned for by God’s mercy, through Christ’s blood, by means of the cross, lavished upon us in Holy Baptism carried out in the name of the Holy Trinity.

The angels sing the praises of God for His majesty; the saints in heaven praise the Lord for His mercy; the devil and his hordes of demons cry out in defeat; and we, the Church on earth, purchased by the blood of the Lamb, join with the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven, singing with Isaiah: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”

Dear friends, the unfathomable glory of the Trinity is the unseen glory of the cross. That glory is not manifest in what is unknowable, but is shown rather in what is known to be true from God’s Word. We cannot understand the inner workings of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but we are indeed baptized into that one “strong name of the Trinity,” the only name with the power to give us forgiveness, life, and salvation.

On this Holy Trinity Sunday, this holy baptismal day, we join with all the holy baptized from every time and place, in heaven and on earth, in time and in eternity, in singing praise to the Most Holy Trinity:

“O holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth;
Your majesty and glory fill the heavens and the earth….
O all majestic Father, Your true and only Son,
And Holy Spirit Comforter – forever Three in One….
May we with saints be numbered where praises never end,
In glory everlasting. Amen, O Lord, amen!”

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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