. . . . affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint! [Romans 5:1-8]
In the midst of trial, loss, or tragedy, these words sound like a pious platitude. Speak these words to the victims of Moore, Oklahoma …. and you may hear these words, “I know,” while they continue to cry. In the moment of hurt, we KNOW THE TRUTH of these words, but we do not FEEL the truth. When we hurt, we are not yet ready to hear these words or to live what we believe.
It is when times are good that we need to hear these words of St. Paul and to deepen our faith in this reality. It is today that we tell ourselves, HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT! It is today that we remind ourselves that if we endure, we will stand tall once again.
On this FEAST OF THE TRINITY, we remind ourselves that our faith is based on more than theology. Yes, the theology is important — it tells us WHAT WE BELIEVE. But, our lived faith tells us WHY WE BELIEVE.
The theology surrounding the resurrection of Jesus tells that when we die, we will rise, It tells us that when we suffer loss, we can re-gain. It tells us that when we suffer defeat, we can start over and seek victory. It tells us that “it is not over until it is OVER.”
Theology of the Trinity tells us that we believe that there is ONE GOD — Three distinct persons in the One God. There is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit …. one God, three persons. We sign ourselves at the beginning of prayer — in the name of this triune God. We are sent forth at the end of worship, asking the blessing, the help of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
While we cannot explain what all of this means, it is more important that we SEE in our lives … The Father who has created and continues to create …. The Son who continues to redeem, to heal, to reconcile …. The Holy Spirit who continues to empower, to enliven, to reveal the truth.
I know … you know … that when “one door closes, another opens” —- because the Father continues to create opportunities for those who believe. The Father continues to create — to make from nothing — what we cannot see in the midst of pain. We trust that God can and will do so much more than we imagine. God is the best Father there is!
In the silence of the dark tomb of pain …. resurrection is born and the Son leads us over the death to glory. It happens in divorce, it happens in the loss of a job, it happens when we pack up and leave friends of many years to embark on a new career or a new job. It happens in bankruptcy. The Son IS RISEN …. and it is in HIM that we rise again — that our sins are forgiven and we come back to life, better than ever — not the same, but better. Son though he is, he teaches us the Way to truth and life.
In the midst of the storm, the Holy Spirit comes upon us and allows us to hear the message of God in our “own language” …. the Holy Spirit picks us up, dusts us off, eases our fear and wonder — so that we can get out of bed, step out the door ….. and look forward without turning back. The Spirit is next to us and the Spirit is within us.
Before there was anything …. The LORD was …[Proverbs 8:22-31] God stood tall before the mountains rose high above the surface. God brought forth the gentle streams and the roaring seas. God was beside the worker who began to toil …. God was finding joy and delight in all creation … God is bigger than any storm … any disaster.
God had a plan when sin destroyed the perfection of creation — He would send his Son.
The Father and Son knew from the beginning of “time” that they would send the Spirit to maintain the presence of God among us for all time — so that we would never be alone — that we would always have a teacher and an advocate.
It is a good thing we do not know all that lies in front of us. As Jesus says in the Gospel [John 16:12-15], we cannot bear it. Imagine if the people of Moore, OK knew last week what was going to happen this week ….BUT, WHEN IT DID HAPPEN, the Spirit of God was there to guide them. At the moment, in the midst of the tears, they could not — cannot — hear that voice. As they endure … as they endure … one day at a time, one moment of time …. they begin to hear … out of their affliction, out of their endurance character propels them forward …. and as they SEE new life, their hope will be restored …. and they believe once again.
So too for you and me …. endurance in the tough times …. endurance born from past afflictions and present hurt …. brings us to a point that we hope once again …. we saw it in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — we saw it in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy — we will see it in Moore, OK.
The theology of the Trinity pales in comparison to our UNDERSTANDING of the work of our marvelous God. I believe in one God, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ …..