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I have to admit that celebrating the Trinity seems a little strange right now. Protests have shut down major cities throughout the country and now throughout the world. Cities are imposing curfews and there’s been talk about the U.S. military enforcing the rule of law on U.S. soil. The pandemic continues to spread, but worse yet, as people get tired of the restrictions, there’s been increasing unrest. There seems to be a growing divide in our country over the best way to respond to the virus, splitting our country even deeper along party lines. And you can’t help but start to wonder how long we as a people can hold it all together. This seems like a strange time to confess that God is three persons in one being. This seems like a strange time to recite the Athanasian Creed that the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God. It seems a little off, like we’re not quite in touch with reality right now.
But really, there’s no better time to confess that the one true God is working through Jesus his Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit. And that’s because the Trinity isn’t just some abstract teaching about God’s being. The Trinity is a promise and a confession of hope. The Trinity is a promise and a confession of hope that the God who made all things good in the beginning is bound and determined to make it good in the end.
Our reading from Genesis is a great reminder that God created all things good. And when you hear it, you can’t help but see the goodness of God everywhere you look. There’s a refrain that gets repeated as God creates the world. It goes like this: “And God saw that is was good.”
When God created light, and separated the day from the night, and there was evening and morning, God saw that it was good. And it is good. I mean, think about the light of the morning as the sun is just beginning to rise, or the light of the evening when the sun is starting to set. The earth shines, and the sky is magnificent and everything takes on a pleasant and peaceful hue. God didn’t just create daytime, he also created night, so that in the light of day we can see the world around us and grab hold of it and in the darkness of night we can rest and find quiet. It is good!
Or when God created plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit, each according to its kind, God saw that it was good. And it is good. Sometimes when we’re hiking in the hills, the kids will find wild raspberries growing. We’ve even found wild strawberries. And they’re just right. Not too sour and not too sweet, but pleasant. And this is just out in the hills. With no effort of my own or anyone else, these wonderful berries are growing. What a wonderful world we live in!
Or when God made human beings, male and female, and told them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, God saw that it was good. And it is good. In 2012, we left St. Louis for Onida, SD (population 760!). And after seven years in St. Louis, it was hard to leave all the people that God had put in our life. And then we got to Onida and then in 2015 here, God filled our life with more people to love us and to bless us and to share life with. We didn’t leave God’s good gifts behind as much as discover the abundance of God’s goodness in every corner of God’s creation.
When you look around at God’s creation, you can’t help but notice God’s goodness everywhere you look. But at the same time, you can’t help but notice the brokenness of God’s creation everywhere you look.
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it is just as much a reminder of how much we’ve messed it all up. You can’t help but see how we’ve used our God-given vocation to care for creation to turn God’s good gifts into ruin. The protests this week make this really clear. One act of abuse of power and disregard for human life has been answered by the abuse of power and disregard for human life. The peaceful protests over the wrong that was done have turned into riots destroying businesses and trashing communities. And the anger and animosity between people in our country has exploded. We seem to be losing our minds in anger, fear, and resentment for each other. And the worst part is that there doesn’t seem to be any obvious way to resolve it. The sense of stability many of us have taken for granted in our government and among our citizens is fragile and in danger of falling apart, and the violence and unrest we’ve experienced now is only the beginning.
This past week has been a hard reminder that God’s good creation is broken. And it’s easy to see all of this happening and to become cynical, to think that everything is terrible and this is all there is to God’s creation. God fills the earth with good things, only for us to ruin it all.
But this isn’t all there is. That is what we confess when we confess that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We confess that the God who created this world good is bound and determined to make it good in the end through his Son and in his Spirit.
In Jesus, God is at work to take our sin and evil and make something new.
God sent his Son Jesus to bring the good gifts of God to God’s broken creation. And that’s what Jesus did. In the power of God himself, Jesus cast out demons, he healed the sick, he forgave sinners their sins, he raised the dead. Jesus came in all of God’s power and authority to shower his with his goodness. But what happened to Jesus? The same thing we see happen every day. Our sin and evil took God’s good gifts and made ruin of them. They accused him of blasphemy. They arrested him and put him on trial. And when they found him guilty, they mocked him, beat him, and crucified him. And just like that, the weight of our sin, the futility and ruin of our evil fell on him.
But God who created this world good in the beginning is bound and determined to make it good in the end. So God raised Jesus from the dead, victorious over sin and death, and started a new creation. Paul writes, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those how have fallen asleep. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order. Christ, the first fruits. Then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father, after destroying every rule and every authority and every power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For [the Scripture says] ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God made be all in all.”
The day is coming when the victory of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead will spread to all four corners of God’s creation. And in the meantime, God is at work even now through his Holy Spirit to breathe new life into us, who live in the darkness of evil and under the futility of human sin and death. The Holy Spirit has given us a hope and a promise in the good news of Jesus Christ, so that even though we see the futility of our sin everywhere we look, we have hope in a new day, a new creation; we have the promise of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. So that even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.
So what else can we do, when we see the world falling to pieces around us, but to confess that God who made all things good in the beginning is bound and determined to make all things good in the end! Because we have a sure and certain hope in the goodness of God, who sent his Son to deliver us from sin, death, and evil, who is breathing new life into us by his Spirit through the hope and promise of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 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.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created