Text: Genesis 1: 26a, 27; 2 Corinthians 13: 13; Matthew 28: 18-20
This year when Father’s Day is coupled with the church’s Festival of the Trinity, a creative idea for a Father’s Day card is a cover that reads: “A gift for you: ‘A father’s Father.’” Inside there is a picture of a gift box opened to show three large hollow letters G, O, D, and a box of three crayons to use to color them in.
The name on the box is “Trinity,” with today’s Scripture
helping us decide when to uses each color.
The Bible’s opening chapter in Genesis names the first crayon to pick up; it is called “Elohim,” a Hebrew name for God, which can mean one or more than one, with the number not referring to God, but to the number of actions God uses to do the work of creation.
Three are given in the very first lines in the Book of Genesis: breath, voice, a molding hand, and, near the end of the first chapter where we read that God said,
‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness;…’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
we know the “us” means the multiple ways – the multiple actions – of the one God Who as Creator, breathes, calls, molds humans into being, and therefore, the crayon named “Elohim” is a mix of hues that give the fullest, deepest, boldest coloration to God’s creative actions, especially God’s act that colors male and female with shades of God’s likeness.
As a brand-new father was handed his newborn child, he said his first thought was not,
“Look what my wife and I have accomplished, giving birth to this baby! But look what God has created us to do.”
There in the hospital room, he heard an echo of the Psalmist’s hymn:
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.” (Psalm 139)
Gazing at the infant in his arms, a new dad was caught up in the thought of God, the Creator, a father’s Father, and everyone else’s too.
Some people, when searching through the Bible for more hues to give color to a portrait of God, get caught up in harsh shades that depict God as a stern Father acting as Judge, trying and passing sentence on defiant and rebellious men and women who are pronounced guilty and sent off to eternal fire.
The sermons of the prophet Isaiah expand the choices to the hues that add mercy
and compassion that portray God as a shepherd, searching for and cradling wayward
and lost lambs, and a mother hen who tucks her chicks under her wings and pulls them close to her body, which depict a seeking, caring, loving, caressing God.
Max Lucado tells the story (“No Wonder They Call Him the Savior”) of Christina, an attractive young woman who ran away from her poor village in Brazil to find excitement in city life.
Her mother, Maria, knew what would happen to her daughter, and so she went to the local drugstore where she spent all the money she had on black and white photos of herself, and then headed to the city where she posted the photos with a note on the back in phone booths, bars, nightclubs, and on bathroom mirrors in boarding houses, all places where street walkers and prostitutes would see them.
Soon her money was gone and she had to return tearful and tired to her village.
A few weeks later Christina was coming down the steps in a seedy hotel. Her face was drained of its youthful sparkle; her dreams had become a nightmare, and a thousand times she had longed to be back in the village, but felt she had strayed too far to ever return.
Just then she spotted her mother’s photo on a mirror, walked over, removed it and read what was written on the back.
"Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home."
And Christina did.
It is a story that colors the name God with the crayon marked: Jesus Christ, Who is God coming to us, to reach out to us while we are lost in a life of sin and yet, longing to be welcomed home,
with the words on the back of the portrait reading:
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Grace” the brilliant, unfading color of God’s love brought near, as God takes on our likeness, our humanness, from beginning to end, in Jesus Christ Who has worked to save us and claim us, to restore us to God’s likeness in which we were created.
God, the Father, seen in Jesus Christ as Savior; for fathers, and everyone else.
There is one more crayon in the box named “Trinity;” it is marked with the word “Ruach” in Hebrew, “pneuma” in Greek, “Holy Spirit” in English. (Story told by Wayne Cordeiro)
In the bad part of town there was a small, rundown bakery; yet at 5 am every morning the aroma filled the air, drawing people to form a line that stretched around the block and wait to get their hands on a loaf of that fresh-baked bread.
The “Spirit of God” is the aroma drawing the most rundown soul to be filled with God’s presence, it is a savoring of the truth that God wills to be, intends to, as close as breath, breathed into us;
the breath that does not drift off into an illusion or takes the shape of a ghost,
but abides in the fade-less hues through Jesus’ promise,
“And remember, I am with you always.”
God, the Holy Spirit, for fathers and everyone else.
This sermon’s idea of a card for Father’s Day carries over into an assignment for fathers and everyone else to use the crayons in a box labeled “Trinity” to portray God as:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
Creator, Savior, Abiding Presence.
It’s a life-long exhilarating, humbling pursuit that began when Tertullian, a late second-century Christian from Carthage, came up with the word “Trinity,” and then, when struggling to portray God in the hues of that title, said God is like a bulb, Jesus is the flower, and the Spirit is the fragrance. (Adapted from Tertullian)
A beyond Father’s Day quest for fathers and everyone else, to continue what Tertullian began, with Paul’s blessing:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. AMEN.