Sermon - 5/27/18
2018.05.28 22:45:10

THE HOLY TRINITY/B (2018): Isaiah 6:1-8; Acts 2:14a, 22-36; John 3:1-17.  


God,   “[U]less one is begotten of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (v. 5). 


“Kingdom of God” is better rendered the “reign of God” in the man Jesus, lifted on the cross. For St. John, Jesus’ lifting is his glory that he and the Father shared before the foundation of the world.  By his crucified lifting, Jesus’ death, resurrection, and exultation to the throne of God are one movement that defines and contours Jesus’ Passion. 


In short, God’s “reign” speaks to sending his Son into Mary’s flesh, Jesus’ baptism in the HS from John, his Passion and death and handing over the Spirit with the water and the blood from his side for forgiveness of sin.


By this grace and love through his Son, God orders and governs his universal kingdom to his will according to the character of his being of which Jesus’ crucified sacrificial death is the express manifestation.


By forgiveness through Jesus’ death we are, not only deemed righteous before God; we are sanctified, made baptismally holy in communion with Jesus’ sacrificial death. In water and Spirit, God begets us holy, as he is holy (Mt. 5:48). 


Jesus’ words are the “voice of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:8) so that by water and word man by its power is, in these end times of the church, being made a new creation; even as the first creation began at the word of God and the HS inspiring the deep (Gen. 1:1-3).


So what is the deal about a new creation replacing the old? It is about sin and holiness; both function to separate.  Today is The Holy Trinity.  We declare that God is wholly other.  To the extent he freely joins himself to his creation; still he remains separate from that which is profane, common, and unclean; and so must we. 


Man was made in the “image and likeness of God” (Gen. 1:27).  He was, as they say, “in the world but not of the world”.  He was with his Maker united in holiness for dominion in the world. 


But sin also functions to separate. Sinners are dead precisely because we are separated from the source of Life.  Death is separation from God!  Death is not a condition the dead can reverse. 


Return from death to life is the conundrum men have struggled to overcome since the Fall; how does one reach back into heaven and repossess the holiness of God once rejected and rejoin the “reign of God”? Separation, it would seem is a permanent condition. 


Holiness, separation from that which is common, profane, and unclean, is a nature, an essence peculiar to God alone. We who are conceived in sin are by our nature an impious people, unable to aspire or earn holiness not of ourselves; it is not who we are.  Holiness must and always is the gift of the One who alone is holy in his being.  Today we celebrate the gift of God’s holiness in this “Time of the Church”; for the gift is through the church. 


Lifted on the cross, Jesus looked down on his mother from whom he received his flesh, and on John, “the beloved disciple”. To his mother he said, “Woman, behold, your son!”, and to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” (Jn. 19:26, 27). 


Jesus then received the vinegar of the “wild grapes” from faithless Israel (Isa. 5:2c).  He beheld Mary and John joined in heart to his Passion, the picture of his NT church forged by his word and death.  In turn, they lifted their eyes beholding the death out of which is our new life, new holiness, and new wedding wine, the “chief” of Jesus’ signs (Jn. 2:10, 11). 


Jesus declared the work, his Father sent him to accomplish, “complete”.  His final vision before death was of Mary and John; and so handed-over the HS to the Father for the church’s promised new life.  The nascent church would await Jesus’ three-day Sabbath rest for the resurrection and Jesus’ delivery from the Father of the HS. 


After ascending to the Father (20:17), Jesus on Easter morning appeared to his Apostles to gift his church with her patrimony of holiness in the new covenant in his blood. Jesus breathed on these his NT apostolic representatives of the church, saying, “Receive the HS.”


Thus Jesus, for our life, delivered to his church the holy things of his death: the Spirit, the water, and the blood (1 Jn. 5:8), all three having issued from his crucified Person; that by baptism into his death and resurrection we might participate anew in the gift of a holy Life from our triune God.


Today we hear the conclusion of Peter’s Pentecost Sermon to the Jews. His preaching spoke the church’s new baptismal existence by the work of the thrice-holy Godhead; the Father’s sending and witnessing to his Son’s atoning death; Jesus, the “Holy One” who “trusted in God” that he would not see the grave’s corruption; and God’s promised delivery to the church, the new place of presence and true worship, in his Son through the HS. 


When the Jerusalem crowd heard the Apostles’ witness by Peter, they were bereft; and asked, “What shall we do?” Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the HS. For the promise is for you and for your children…” (Acts 2:37-39). 


Those doubting the efficacy of infant baptism, are again refered to Isaiah, speaking to Israel’s first baptism out of Egyptian death through the Red Sea waters, “I will place my Spirit upon your seed and my blessings upon your children” (LXX Isa. 44:3).  


The church is community in the Way, possessing the holy things of God. It is by the things of Christ’s death that the church possesses its Life from the Spirit; God in Christ having put death to death.  Our new life comes by fidelity to the things of Jesus’ death where God has placed his HS. 


Sinners though we are, by Baptism we hear Christ’s word, the voice of the Spirit; and led by faith we receive the fire-wood (coal) of angels (Pastors) who apply on human lips we receive holy Eucharist from heaven’s Incense Altar wood the holy things of Jesus’ death, his separated flesh and blood for our restoration to God.


In this gracious gift of God’s sacraments, we in turn accept his call to a sent life of holiness in the world. In holiness we hear God’s ever present and implied question to his saints, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”, to which by grace we may confidently respond, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8).  Amen. 





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