Genesis 18: 1-8 The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. 3He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” 7Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
For some people this passages alludes the presence of the Trinity. The word “Trinity” itself does not appear in scripture. The Trinity explains how God can be Father, Son and Holy Spirit because they share/are of the same essence or substance (from the Greek homoousios ) but yet are distinct persons in their own right. Still confused? Most people are. Someone can be a parent but still a child in their parent’s eyes and married therefore being a hus-band or wife, making them 3 versions of themselves but this is not quite the same. Luther says there are some mys-teries about God that are hard to expla
so we believe by faith and the Trinity is one of those mysteries.
Once a year in most churches Trinity Sunday (this year May 22nd) is the day we recite the Athanasian Creed attributed to St. Athanasius but scholars are not sure he had a direct hand in its composition. It was composed to combat certain heresies about Jesus and God and one will notice the Holy Spirit is not mentioned much. The word “catholic” is used but in the sense of the meaning “universal” and does not mean the Roman Catholic Church as some people unfortunately still think it means in this day and age in all creeds. It is slightly harsher in tone but this is because it was created to fight heresies (false beliefs) about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) so it cautions one must believe in order to be saved.
This creed was last published in the Lutheran Book of Worship (the previous green book hymnal) but be-cause of its disuse it is not in the present hymnal. (or at least not that I can find it!) It is a creed worth being exposed to in order to see how the Early Church Fathers sought to explain Jesus as the Son of God. Faith in Jesus it seems is not easy in this generation because we are afraid of what others will say and think about us for expressing our faith. So if you think it is tough for you now-think about how tough it was for those believers of the first few centuries.
Abraham and Sarah provide for their guests without knowing truly who they were. Are these three men? Are they angels? Is it the Father, Son and Spirit? Not too soon after this encounter the three guests leave and are on their way to Sodom and Gomorrah and scripture has “The Lord” considering whether he should tell Abraham what is about to happen. The Lord? But an approachable Lord to whom Abraham argues about saving at least 10 righteous people from Sodom and Gomorrah before the cities are destroyed.
Though we may not be able to understand the true essence of the Trinity Jesus instructs that all be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ command to baptize in this manner should be enough for the faithful to believe in our Trinitarian God.
So somewhere either at the end of this message or somewhere else in this newsletter for better spacing is the Athanasian Creed for you to read and ponder. You may still be confused trying to find the logic in this creed but faith is not about logic. Faith is about believing in Jesus and that he came to save the world by dying for our sins on the cross. Faith is also believing in the generous love of God who sent Jesus and imbues us with the Holy Spirit in baptism so that we know he is with us always even unto the end of this earthy existence and welcomes us whether we are confused about the mystery of the Trinity or not. Thank God!!
Behold the mystery,