Topic: Biblical Verse: Acts 2:32–33
Holy Trinity Sunday
June 12, 2022
Driving along King Street in Old Town Alexandria recently, I passed The Majestic, a local restaurant with a big neon sign out front that’s has been a fixture on King Street since 1932. That’s ninety years ago – a very long time for a restaurant to be in operation in the same location. Some of you may know of The Majestic, and have had lunch or dinner at this place. We hear of a different kind of majestic in today’s Psalm that we read today: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1). Today on this Holy Trinity Sunday, it is the Name of our Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – that is before us. It is this majestic Name that Peter preaches about in his Pentecost sermon in today’s Epistle lesson (Acts 2:14a, 22-36): “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:32-33). And there it is: the majestic Name of the Trinity: Jesus the Son, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. This becomes the theme for preaching this day, entitled “Majestic Name.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.
Every gathering of God’s people is always “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” so there is always a Trinitarian invocation of God’s majestic Name. So why this Sunday that calls special attention to it? For more than a thousand years, the Sunday after Pentecost (which was last Sunday) has been dedicated for special devotion to the Triune God whom we worship and serve. This is one of the core, foundational beliefs of Christianity; that there are three Persons in one God. This is the mystery of the Holy Trinity. So essential is this teaching that it is the very first of our own Lutheran Confessions. It is Article I of the Augsburg Confession: “Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term “person” they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself” (The Augsburg Confession · BookOfConcord.org). The acceptance of this, or the denial of it, distinguishes truth from error.
Many Christian sanctuaries, our own included, depict this mystery of the Holy Trinity, one God in three Persons, that is at the foundation of our faith. Our two altar plaques – the Father’s hand of blessing that has brought all things into existence, the descending dove with flames representing the Holy Spirit - together with the central suspended cross on which the Son of God shed his blood and gave his life, are a silent witness and reminder to us of the majestic Name of our God. But there is another reminder of the Triune God here in our Sanctuary, and it’s behind us. It is the last of the eight plaques depicting the seasons of the church that face out from the choir loft – way over on my far right side. On this plaque are three interlocking circles, each separate and distinct, each without beginning and without end, and yet all are intertwined and interrelated in a wonderful and mysterious way. This is the majestic Name of our majestic God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
With such a majestic God revealed in such amazing and majestic ways, we may end up feeling small and insignificant in the vast scope of God’s great creation. How could God possibly be interested in me? The psalmist expresses what we ourselves may sometimes feel: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). The sense here is that these things which the Lord God has made – the heavens, the moon and the stars – have all been created through God’s handiwork, his fingers, much as we would do fingerpainting. But the Master Artist who has done all of these awesome works remains concerned and cares for each and every one of us! That is the clear message of the Scriptures. God, our majestic and awesome God, is not far removed and aloof from us, unaware and indifferent to all of our troubles, problems, and pain in this life. No, we affirm the truth that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). This wasn’t some fluke chance that caused this to happen. As Peter declared in today’s Epistle lesson: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:23-24). This is how much we are loved by God – so much that he would not withhold the life of his only Son, but freely give him up for us all. This is what the majestic Name of our Triune God is all about: saving love that is for each and every one of us.
On this Holy Trinity Sunday, we are celebrating a ministry milestone in the life of our congregation: the twentieth anniversary of our amazing Director of Youth and Christian Education, Jennifer Hills. She and her husband, Mark, came to us in 2002, and now are blessed with daughters, Sofi and Charlotte, both of whom were baptized here. Jennifer’s parents, Charlie and Mikki Brown, are also members of our congregation. So it’s kind of an “All in the Family” thing going on here, for which we give thanks to God. Working with Jennifer in ministry for twenty years, I have come to value her highly and the many gifts which she brings: a Christ-centered and people-oriented perspective that carries the good news of Jesus into every situation. Her sense of humor and hearty laugh put everyone at ease. She keeps the main thing the main thing, is forward-looking and creative, and is a problem-solver extraordinaire. In short, I am – we are – richly blessed through this amazing servant of the Lord who helps all of us give thanks and praise to the majestic Name of our majestic and awesome God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To God be the glory and praise! Amen.