A God of Relationships

Sunday, June 11, 2017
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
Matthew 28:16-20

 

Relationships are the foundation of life. No person exists only to live for themselves. The great poet John Donne said it best in his poem, “No Man is an Island.” “No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.” He said that if a part is washed away, the continent is the less.”

Each person’s life and death is intrinsically connected to our own, because all of us – together – make up humanity. Relationships are the foundation of life. Yet, how do relationships even begin? They begin with a promise. Today, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the triune God who is the ultimate model of a perfect relationship. We may not be able to explain how these three distinct persons can be one God, but we believe it through faith. The Trinity is the example of how God cares deeply about relationships, because God is a God of relationships – separate, yet one. God is made up of a dynamic relationship of three persons, yet one God – the Father or Creator, the Son or Redeemer, the Holy Spirit or Sanctifier – the one who makes us holy. This holy relationship God has within God’s very nature is built on a promise – a promise to always be there for one another, not matter what. That’s the basis for any meaningful relationship. That promise unites people. It unites people from one, two, or more individuals into one- one couple, one family, one group, one church.

Look at a couple who is decides to get married. These two individuals – while separate – become one starting with a promise. Or like I illustrated in the children’s sermon – two people who exchange halves of necklaces (one best and one friend) together become best friends. Yet these relationships at times may sadly fall apart. We are after all humans. We heard this in our psalm this morning. “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” The psalmist asks God, “How can you care so much for us, when we are far from perfect?” We make mistakes. We sin. We hurt each other. We break promises.

Humans have been doing this since the world first began. God told Adam and Eve not to do one thing – they had everything they wanted – they only had to make sure they didn’t do one thing. They promised that they would listen to God and not go against God’s wishes. And what did they do? They did exactly what God told them not to. They broke their promise. Sin entered the world, and the perfect world God envisioned was ruined by sin. Humans are still breaking promises and ruining relationships by being critical, judgmental, petty, unkind, and thinking of what is best for us instead of the whole.

But the Good News is that God never breaks promises! The Good News is that no matter what we do, if we repent and are sorry God will forgive us and give us another chance to get it right. And the Good News is that God won’t allow our sinfulness to ultimately destroy what God has envisioned for all of creation. That is why God became flesh in Jesus, so that Jesus could bring us back into that holy dynamic relationship with God the Creator and the Holy Spirit. That’s also why Jesus commanded the disciples – and that includes us today – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Baptism is God’s gift to us. Through our baptism we become part of God’s holy family – the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We receive the promise of God that we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” That’s a pretty amazing promise and one to hold close each and every day.

That’s the reason today is such a great day. Because today, not only do we remember our baptisms, but we three young adults in our congregation – Emily, Paige, and Conner – affirm their baptism. They will affirm that they understand the importance of their baptism, and make the promises their parents and Godparents made on their behalf when they were babies. Today they profess that they will commit to living into their baptismal promises as part of the family of God. “No man is an island.”

We as a congregation also re-commit to the promises we made to them and to all the children and youth in our congregation- the promise to bring them to worship each week, to teach them the holy scriptures, and to teach them the faith story so they can teach it to others. We made these promises to God and they cannot be taken lightly. We cannot let them be among the promises that we make and break.

This day marks the beginning of a new stage in the life of Emily, Paige, and Conner. It’s not a graduation from faith formation classes, but a new level on their journey of faith. They will now be young leaders in the congregation. They’ll be voting members in our congregational meetings, and will help decide the future this congregation is growing in. Now – more than ever – they need to study scripture even deeper – so they can feel more and more comfortable sharing their faith story with others. They’ve chosen favorite scripture verses that they feel will help them on this journey of faith. Over the years I’m hopeful they will add more to that list for God’s word sustains us and gives us the confidence we need to live as faithful disciples.

Three individual confirmands, a very fitting number for this feast of the Holy Trinity. They are each unique and separate individuals, as is each one of us, yet we are all one congregation, one church with all the other churches in our synod. We are many, yet one body in Christ Jesus. It is Jesus’ promise to never leave us through the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes this unity possible. It is this same Spirit poured into us through our baptism, again at confirmation, and each time we repent and receive Holy Communion that gives us a new beginning through the forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ.

In gratitude for this gift of grace, let us recommit to our baptismal promises to re-commit our lives to living like Jesus wants us to live – lives of total trust in God, lives of total dependence on God.. Today is a day when we all recommit to the promise of putting God first in our lives. It ought to be a no-brainer as we have the best promise from God ever.  Jesus said, “Remember, I am with you always till the end of the age.” Jesus has promised us that he will always be with us. No matter what we do, or where we go, no matter what struggle we face, Jesus is always with us. And not just Jesus, but the triune God. Jesus said, “If you know me, you know the Father, because I and the Father are one.” And the Holy Spirit is also with the Father and the Son, and is the Father and the Son. We have the power of the triune God with us all the time. Through our baptisms, we are united through the promise of God. We have the assurance of salvation through Jesus.

What would you dream, dare, and do if you really believed the promise of Jesus that he is with you, no matter what? This question isn’t just for Emily, Paige, and Conner; it’s for all of us. Don’t worry about failing, because going for a dream involves risk, and possible failure. But name in your mind the thing you would you do if you knew that God was for you and with you no matter what, and that this promise is forever. The truth is that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. The Holy Spirit has put dreams into each of us, we only need to trust the promises of God to turn God’s dreams for us into reality. Relationships are the foundation of life. Today we celebrate the joy of being included in the great relationship of God. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

 

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