May 22, 2016, Drawing Stick Figures – Mtr. Kathryn Boswell
Below is an outline of the sermon. To listen to it, click here: 120929_001
Going to Palo Duro with my sister after my Mom’s death
the formations – like castles and towers, variations of colors in the layers of rock, all formed by water erosion – the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River: centuries and millennia of stress, wearing away at the solid rock.
Formation as a Christian term for those in holy orders
the hardship of all that they renounce, vows of poverty, chastity,
the friction of life in close community
the constant battle against the forces inside yourself
– but that’s not just for monks and nuns, for all Christians
The passage from Romans is on page 118.
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
The forces at work in our lives, eating away at us or wearing us down, will not destroy us –
suffering will not grind us down to nothingness, but will produce endurance, something that will last
endurance isn’t just a matter of gritting our teeth and holding out by force of will and good attitude; endurance develops resilience in us, strength of character, proven by testing
and proven character does not form in us a grim and depressing acceptance of “reality”, or what passes for reality in this world, but a living hope, an expectation of good that is based on the real reality of a loving God, a hope that will never, ever disappoint us
Like the constant erosion of the waters of the Red River acting on the rock of Palo Duro Canyon, the forces of life in this world will not destroy us, but will produce something of beauty and permanence – not because we are strong or have a good attitude, but because God is at work in our lives.
Ps. 46 – God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
What does that have to do with the Trinity? We cannot explain or describe the Trinity – not like a shamrock, not like water that is found in 3 different forms, not like man who is spirit, soul and body – not like anything we can picture in our minds – the concept of the Trinity is mystery, beyond our understanding.
Describing God with the term Trinity is like a little child drawing a stick figure picture of his mother – completely inadequate, but the best he can do. And yet, that child knows his mother intimately, with all his little being – if there were a thousand other women just like her lined up, he would have no trouble picking out his own mother.
We can’t describe the Holy Trinity, and we can’t explain the Holy Trinity, but we can know the Holy Trinity, because the Triune God is at work in our lives. You’ll never find the word Trinity in the pages of the Bible, but the Trinity is at work on every page.
The passage from Romans is just one out of many, many examples of how we know God as Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit –
The Son restored our relationship with the Father
The Father and the Son sent the Spirit to dwell with and in us
The Spirit fills us with the love of the Father
If we know God is at work in our lives, Father, Son and Spirit, we see in the hard things of life, like my Mom’s death, like the struggles of Natalie and Stephanie, like the difficult relationships in our families that are sometimes truly painful, like so many sorrows and frustrations that we face everyday – not the random, impersonal forces of a hostile world beating us down and wearing away at us, but the hand of our Lord, and the love of our Father, and the touch of the Spirit, forming something beautiful and lasting that will never disappoint us or let us down.
Jesus Christ, the Son, has opened the way to the Father for us. He became one with us so that we could be one with him, sons and daughters of the Father, brought near to the Father not by any work of our own but purely by the gift of his grace.
It is the love of the Father that sent the Son into the world to bring us home
And the Holy Spirit has made his home in our hearts to fill them to overflowing with the love of the Father – like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice
That’s the Holy Trinity at work in our lives. We can never explain God the Holy Trinity, even if we were the most brilliant theologian that ever lived; we can never describe God the Holy Trinity, even if we were the most gifted writer in the world. But just like the little child who could only draw a crude stick figure of his mother, we, plain old people that we are, can and do know God, the Holy Trinity, the Father who loves us, the Son who saves us, and the Spirit who makes his home in us. – Ps. 46 calls us to “be still”, to stop trying to put God in our little boxes, “be still,” God tells us through the Psalmist, “and know that I am God.” We can know God as he creates something of beauty and endurance in each of our lives. Because even better than knowing him, we are known by him.