It is, after all, Holy Trinity Sunday coming up this week. The Holy Trinity is always celebrated the week after Pentecost and when it comes to the mysteries of faith, I'd say the Trinity is up there among the most mysterious. It is the three-in-one, one-in-three that do not function as complete individuals, but in total and perfect union, each living and dancing in the relationship that gives life to the world. Yet it is not like each 'person' of the trinity has their own jobs, either, because that is not an accurate portrayal of the three-in-one and one-in-three. But, since this is a mystery and life is happening, I think I'm going to focus on the second lesson for the week, which is from Romans 5.
This text is chosen because it mentions God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and is one of the key scriptural texts that forms the foundation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. And I have chosen to go with this one because it talks about peace, hope, suffering, endurance, and character. If there is anything that comes out of natural disasters and suffering, it is endurance, character, and hope.
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 usBoast is an interesting word here, especially as it falls upon these Mid-west, Norwegian/German-rooted ears. Boast? Even if it is about suffering, it is still boasting and as we who grew up with this heritage know, God will burn our souls if we even think about boasting, let alone actually do it. Yet I think this is not a boasting in the typical way we think of the word, this boasting is a witness to our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ.
This is a boasting spoken not with our words, but with our lives. The type of boasting that gets up after a tree falls on your house and starts the clean-up and putting back together. The type of boasting that hears the news of deadly tornadoes and prays and prays and sends relief. The type of boasting that knows the important things in life aren't things, but the real treasures are the people of God in Christ Jesus. And even if the suffering includes the loss of life, the witness is hope of one day being reunited with the whole people of God in life eternal.
Suffering does indeed produce endurance and endurance character and character hope - because even in the face of the most painful suffering we know what comes next. Joy comes with the morning, resurrection comes with the dawn. In the darkness of storms, suffering, and despair, the light of Christ always shines brightly.
And because of the Holy Spirit, that light and love is poured into our hearts because of the unity we have with God in Jesus Christ. His suffering, his own night of sorrow and despair, his own joy of rising with the resurrection dawn, has connected him with humanity forever. Flesh and bone, every strand of muscle and DNA is connected to the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Thus we have come full circle - the mystery of the Trinity is engrained in our DNA, and we live the mystery with each breath. We may not always think about it, or for that matter even care about it. But thankfully for us our interest or knowledge is irrelevant to God's grace poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. And so we continue to live the mystery of faith: the Holy Trinity, three-in-one and one-in-three creating, sustaining, and redeeming with each breath.