CLICK HERE to view the service. (Again, I did not have the video camera with me, so the audio will be low.)
CLICK HERE to view the bulletin.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Although many people try, you can’t gut, poke, prod, and dissect the mysteries of God to the point of being able to fully grasp them with your human reason. It can’t be done. There is no fancy computer equipment or technological gadget that’s going to give you all the answers you seek when it comes to the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. And if we’re honest, the Holy Trinity is one of the best examples of that. How can there be three persons in the Trinity, yet they are only one God? We don’t know. We know that Scripture teaches it and so we believe it.
Many aspects of the Christian faith are beyond human reasoning, not just the doctrine of the Trinity. That doesn’t mean these teachings ought to be rejected. Most people have no idea what goes on to get the car to start and run, but that doesn’t mean they reject the car. Sure, there are people who know all about how a car works. God also knows all about how He works, but even if He told us and let us in on all His mysteries, we probably wouldn’t grasp a bit of it. That’s why Paul writes, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord?” God tells us what He wants us to know; He explains what He wants us to understand; and He leaves it there. His mysteries aren’t given to us for our speculation, as some sort of intellectual exercise. His mysteries are given to us to receive and to accept by faith. After all, man is not the measure of all things; God is.
In the Christian Church, we should keep the sense of wonder and mystery. We should refrain from poking and prodding at the mysteries, the things that the Lord hasn’t given to us to know. Too often, even people within the church have rejected God’s Word just because they couldn’t understand it. They’ve even gone so far as to teach false doctrine in order to explain God’s mysteries. That gets you in real trouble. Trying to look into the hidden things of God is even more inappropriate than asking a woman’s age. Certainly you should ask questions, but you must realize that the answer may not always satisfy you here and now. Pray that the Holy Spirit would grant it to you to receive God’s wisdom in faith and to believe, even when you can’t seem to understand. We know God’s will toward us is gracious because of what His Son did for us. There is no greater love than this.
This is the depth and beauty of the mysteries of the Kingdom: they are for us and for our eternal good. When you receive and believe God’s mysteries to be true, you no longer want to dissect them; you want to stand back and admire them with awe for all their beauty and wonder. It’s like looking at a wonderful painting filled with meaning, or a glorious landscape exuding the majesty of God’s creation. Admire them; take them in; rejoice that our Lord shares with you His blessings, which are beyond anything we can ask, imagine, or understand. Tearing those things apart and dissecting them would ruin them for you. So it is with the mysteries of God. Apart from faith, they lose their beauty for you.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus doesn’t get it. He gets hung up on the word “born.” He even asks a silly question— “silly,” because he is a teacher of Israel and should know better— about how someone could be born out of his mother’s womb a second time. Jesus is talking about the rebirth that occurs in Baptism. It is in Baptism that the name of the Holy Trinity is put upon you: the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This marks us as those who have been born again from above. It marks you as one who has been redeemed by Christ the crucified.
When you come into contact with the mysteries of God, with His holy Word and Sacraments, you are cleansed of all sins, just as Isaiah was when he was touched by the coal at the Lord’s command. “Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.” Though you did not deserve it, your sin is removed, even the sins of doubt and disbelief. This is a great mystery: by the grace of the Triune God, all who believe in Him receive forgiveness and everlasting life. We don’t need to understand how or why it works. It works, and that is enough. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.