God at Work

Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, a unique day in the Church Calendar, where we do not focus on a specific event in the life of our Lord or the history of the Church, per se, or even one of the great wonders of God throughout the Old Testament. No, today is a day when we focus on a specific teaching, a confession of the Christian Church, a mark of orthodoxy itself, that we believe in a triune God. As we confessed in the Athanasian Creed, “We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.” These three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are the one God we worship. What I think is fascinating about focusing on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, over against say an event in the life of our Lord, is that the only way we can speak about our triune God is to speak about His actions, to speak about what He has done and continues to do. This is precisely how we even know He is one God in three persons, how He reveals Himself in His work.

So, it is fitting that our Old Testament reading today is of the creation of all things. The creation narrative from Genesis reveals to us the unique nature of our God. Just to take a step back and consider the work of creation itself can fill us with awe and wonder. It can be as simple as watching a spectacular sunset or getting lost in the eyes of a person you love. To be moved by the colors and patterns, to see the layers upon layers which defy proper description, they must simply be enjoyed for their own sake. Such things send our minds racing as we imagine the movements of God’s creative work. I do not think I will ever forget the time my wife and I spent backpacking along the John Muir Trail. We spent night after night camping above the timber line where ragged rocks jutted out from alpine lakes surrounded by spongy moss and little frogs hopped among the wildflowers. It seemed like a scene from a fairytale, like we were on a different planet. Beauty and wonder lurked around every corner. There was always something new to take in, some new vista, some new delight to the senses. Truly the Creator is an artist of the highest order.

Yet, as Moses recounts the epic story of God’s creative work, we are given some intriguing descriptions about our God, some insight into who it is that creates out of nothing. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” In the beginning God created. He is not refashioning or forming from one thing to another. No, He creates. This is Aristotle’s unmoved mover. This is the movement which begins all things. And as God creates, we are told His Spirit hovers over the face of the waters. Then God speaks and says, “Let there be light” and in His speaking, it is done. So, right here at the very beginning, there is God and in the work of His creating there is His Spirit and His Word. In fact, as He goes on throughout the six days of creation, as there is more clarity and division and the creation of new living things, we find something else. This one true God reveals Himself in the plural: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Even at the very beginning we find this strange mystery of how our God works. To confess our God is one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is to confess a God who is at work, a God who creates out of nothing, a God who not only did something wonderful a long time ago, but a God who continues to work even now. John’s Gospel picks this up when he echoes the whole account of creation and says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him.” He goes on to say the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Therefore, the story of our God, of who He is, is far more than simply the story of how things were made. It is the story of the ongoing work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit throughout history and into your life here and now. God did not just create this world, wind it up, set it in motion, and then leave it alone. No, He still intervenes. He still comes into His own creation.

So, on a day where we focus on the Holy Trinity, we take a moment to broaden our scope of what it means to worship a triune God. The God who created out of nothing is the God who called Moses from a burning bush and set him on a course to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He is the God who parted the Red Sea, gave the Word at Sinai, and protected them through their wilderness wanderings. This God would lower Himself to meet His people in the Tabernacle and be there for their forgiveness as sacrifices were made and worship was embraced. This God would promise a remnant and speak through the prophets to restore and give hope again to a wayward and unfaithful people. This same God would do the most shocking of things when He would be born of the virgin Mary. Here is God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made. The Word made flesh to live the perfect life, to bear the sins of the world, to justify mankind. The Spirit of God who hovered over the waters comes again as Christ rises up out of the waters of His baptism. The Father proclaims, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.”

Here we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit go to work, as God goes to work for your salvation, for your hope, and assurance. He goes to work so you might know you are redeemed, you are saved, that you, this very day, do not exist outside of the hands of the Creator of all things. He made you. He continues to know you. He counts your tears and knows the number of hairs on your head. He came under the Law to fulfill the Law for you. The One who made the mountains and the sea, who perceives the creatures of the deep and knows when a mountain goat gives birth, He calls you by name. He sends His Spirit into your hearts so you might believe, so you might cling to the work of the Son of God. Here, God is at work right now, at work amid your fears and doubts, at work even as you struggle with uncertainty. The Creator has not stopped working for your salvation.

The work of the Holy Trinity shapes your identity, as He calls you by name and enlightens you with His gifts. You are baptized into His name. You are marked by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In that washing of baptism, all the gift of Christ are placed upon you, and, at the same time, He takes from you every sin and failure, every rebellion and denial. You are clothed with perfection, clothed with obedience, clothed with faithfulness. And you fight even against this, even against the gifts of Christ, but He is not easily pushed aside. He does not simply let you go. No, our God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and He never ceases to work.

The God of all creation, the God who became man, suffered, and died, the God who rose again in victory, the God who sends His Spirit into the hearts of all believers, He is the same God who continues to work through you even now. Jesus says, “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and 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 I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Church’s role in this age is to continue to make disciples. We are sent to all the nations of the earth to make disciples, and the making of disciples is done by baptizing and teaching. It is baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching all Christ has commanded. Baptizing, the washing of regeneration, the new birth of water and the Spirit, and the teaching of the faith is how disciples are made. This is how God continues to work. So, this is what we continue to do. Here in these lowly and simply things we are promised our Lord remains with us, aways, to the end of this age.