Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sermon for Trinity Sunday: "Credo"

+ Trinity Sunday – June 15th, 2014 +

Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Gen. 1:1 – 2:4; Acts 2:1-4, 22-36; Matthew 28:16-20
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to him because he has shown his mercy to us.
In mercy the Holy Trinity was, and continues to be, active in creation. And he who wonderfully created us yet more wonderfully redeemed us fallen creatures by becoming man

In mercy the Holy Trinity was active at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son to his disciples, to the Church, to you, to the font, to the Word, to the office of the keys. Breathed out to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify the whole Christian Church.
In mercy the Holy Trinity is active and revealed throughout Jesus’ ministry. Think of Jesus’ baptism. The Father speaks. The Spirit descends. The Son is baptized. Holy Baptism reveals the mystery of the Triune God. The Triune God present and active for us men and our salvation.
And so in mercy the Holy Trinity remains active in and for the life of the Church. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  And going, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
You are baptized into God’s Holy, Triune Name. I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Three in one. One in Three. Or as we confess in the Athanasian Creed: And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.
And this same Triune God is present and active in your baptism. In Baptism you are given the Name of God, and to have His Name is to have God as your God. Holy Baptism is a marvelous give-away: God takes everything that belongs to him and gives it to you. Even those things we can only believe and not fully understand – such as the mystery of the Trinity – are yours in Baptism.
Out of all the words of Jesus in Matthew 28, perhaps that is the most important one: given.

Jesus is given from the Father, given to be born, to suffer, to die. He gives up his life for you on the cross. And Jesus gives as he receives. He gives his church and pastors the authority to forgive sin. He gives us the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. He gives us that same Spirit in Baptism. He gives us his word, his promises, his very body and blood. And as we receive, so too, we give…to all nations. Teaching Jesus’ words – all of them. Baptizing in the Triune Name.
According to Jesus’ words Baptism and Teaching go together. Whether you’re baptized as an infant or an adult, it matters not; that’s the pattern: baptism and teaching or teaching leading up to baptism, and then more teaching. Baptism may be a one time event but it’s an eternal gift, a daily gift. Filled with the promise and presence of the Holy Trinity. God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – actively working for you.
This is why confirmation isn’t graduation from church. The Christian life is one of constant learning and teaching, constantly being a student, a catechumen of the Scriptures. Sorry to burst your bubble…confirmation is for life. As we heard last Sunday confession is our way of life as Christians. To confess the faith is to our life in Christ as breath is to our body.
And this is one of many reasons why Creeds – the Apostles’, the Nicene, and especially today as we confess the Athanasian - are important. The Creeds teach us. They summarize the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, but they also sustain and support us in the faith. Creeds are a confession. And everyone has a creed. The question is, what does it teach? What does it confess?
In reality, creeds are everywhere in our culture: Live and let live. That’s true for you, but not for me. Love is my religion. Imagine no religion. I’m spiritual, not religious. Don’t judge me. As long as it feels good it can’t be wrong. Deeds not creeds. No creed but the bible. Follow your heart. That’s just your interpretation. You only live once. Karma. Diversity. Tolerance. Have it your way. As long as you believe in something. It is what it is. Coexist. No right or wrong; no rules for me. I’m free. Let it go! Let it go!
Creeds are everywhere. Everyone has a creed. Anything after the words, “I believe_____” is a creed. And you know what, all of these creeds have (at least) one thing in common: they’re all statements of belief. They’re statements of belief and confession of our favorite god, ourselves. That’s the common thread here. Everyone believes in something or someone, even self-proclaimed atheists have creeds. Everyone has creeds. The point of a creed is who and what are you confessing, and is that who or what the God of the Scriptures, the Triune God of the apostles, Nicene and athanasian creed, the God who baptizes you, absolves you, feeds you with Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

Creeds and days like Trinity Sunday are great because they take the attention off of ourselves and onto the saving work of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Any other God besides that just won’t cut it, not on Trinity Sunday or any other day of the week that ends in Y. Soundbites from Oprah and pithy quotes printed on wall decorations from Ikea are simply not adequate creeds: not for confessing our faith in the Scriptures or the Triune God, not for believing and teaching Christ’s saving work on our behalf, not for hearing the good news that God justifies the ungodly in Christ’s death, not for declaring and defending the Christian faith with our neighbors, friend, families.
The stakes are simply too high to use creeds in the church which are anything but the historic, robust, faithful, and clear confession of what Christ gave to his disciples, to his church, to you.; the faith beautifully summarized in the Athanasian Creed:“And the catholic faith is this…” The confession of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church – in all times and places.
In this way we continue to live in the words of Jesus:
Teaching them to observe, keep, guard, and treasure all that I have commanded you.
The Christian Creeds are more than helpful tools. They’re vital. Necessary.
They’re an anchor and foundation, especially as we live in storm-tossed times of relativism and subjectivity.
They’re unifying, not dividing. Creeds give us Consensus. Doctrine unites. False teaching divides. Confessions of faith as found in the creeds bind us together.
It’s easy to be an unorthodox church. The way of false teaching is broad and easy. The way of the orthodox Christian confession is much harder. It is the narrow road and the needle’s eye of true and false – calling a thing what it is. This is the church’s calling. To confess as we are given. And to give as we receive. To be faithful. Faithful in our witnessing the Gospel to others. Faithful as stewards of the earthly treasures our Lord gives us. Faithful in the hymns we sing and the conduct of the divine service. Faithful in our instruction of the faith.

They’re transferrable: this is how we pass on the faith, from generation to generation.

They’re a defense, an apologetic – if we’re going to defend the faith we need to know what we believe and why.
They’re a witness – creeds are one of the greatest forms of evangelism you have. And the best part is you already have it memorized. So when someone asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you, you can start quoting the Creed. Maybe not verbatim, but use it as an outline. Let the Creeds of the church, let the language of the Scriptures shape your daily language.
This is what the church does. She confesses. Baptizes. Teaches. To all nations. And guess what. All nations are here in Huntington Beach. You don't even have to go around the world. The world is here at Golden West College, they come to the music academy, preschool, Hispanic outreach, VBS.
It's simple. It's not complicated. Speak. Care about your neighbor enough to tell them the most important news ever: Jesus died for you. Don't do it for the money or the glory or to feel good. Do it for your neighbor’s sake. What do you tell them? The creed: Athanasian, Apostles, Nicene. Use them all. Maybe even start with the creeds that are in the bible car Paul does in 1 Cor. 15:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to him because he has shown his mercy to us.
A blessed Trinity Sunday to each of you…
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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