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"In the Name" - Sermon for June 7th, 2020




Text: Matthew 28:16-20
Theme: “In The Name”

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Intr –         One of the main reasons we have to believe in the Holy Trinity is because Jesus Himself speaks about it. Today’s Gospel shows Him sending us to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. And this Baptism is under a name: “The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Three equal Persons and One God.

        As we are baptized then, it is, and must be, under a name. It is name which is Three; but also only one.

1 – The Name

I invite you to dwell a little longer in this affirmation. It is not “a” name. You are baptized in The Name!You have received that name. In the Bible a name is not just a name like our human names which you can even change if you want. The name IS God. God IS the name. So you received the name of the Triune God. As fellow pastor Rev. Tardelli Voss puts it, “a Triune God is our only chance to experience a healthy and well balanced spirituality”.[1] We have His name. We are His. We have by faith the healthy and well balanced food of the Word to nurture us, to keep us, and to make us go into the world with His Word.

Another aspect in the Gospel is connected to the verb “worship”. You may notice that since we are allowed to Worship God only, and no one else, that is another proof that Jesus was True Man and True God. We wouldn’t be allowed to worship Jesus if he wasn’t man and God.

Now, the disciples met Jesus on the mountain, “and when they saw Him, they worshiped Him. But some doubted”. Isn’t that strange? The Eleven had already seen Jesus several times after His resurrection. What’s the doubt all about? Well, a good way to explain it would be to point out that the verb here is the same used when Peter sank in the sea during the storm, when he doubted before Jesus. Did he doubt that it was Jesus before him? That is certainly not the case. But he hesitated, he was afraid. Maybe that’s the same thing that happened there on the mountain top. The disciples knew it was Jesus, more so when we see they worshipped Him. But maybe some of them were hesitant, afraid. Not sure what to do or what would come next.[2] Perhaps wondering if all that they had lived in the last three years was a sweet dream that was coming to an end.

2 - The HOLY TRINITY

Before we carry on it is always good to have, on Trinity Sunday, a section to remind us of the teaching about God as drawn from the Scriptures and confessed in the Apostle’s Creed:

"We declare that we believe and teach that there is one divine essence, undivided, etc., and yet, that there are three distinct persons, of the same divine essence and coeternal, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This article we have always taught and defended, and we believe that it has, in Holy Scripture, sure and firm testimonies that cannot be overthrown. And we constantly affirm that those thinking otherwise are outside the Church of Christ."[3]

Now, sometimes the question arises: Where can you find the word “Trinity” in the Bible? – This is a recurrent question which can be biblically addressed. The Triune God is found throughout the entire Holy Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. Examples: Gn 1.1-3; Matt 3:13-17; Mt 28:19; John ch.16; Romans 16:25-27; 2 Corinthians 13:14. Rev. 22:1-5. We could add that there’s no verse in the Bible where we read literally “Infant Baptism” or “Christ used wine in the Holy Supper”, the way it is written here as well; yet they are and remain solid, fundamental teachings.

"So do we have Three Gods, or three Persons? Or one person, and three manifestations of one God?" – If this sometimes looks a little hard to understand,it’s because it really is for our mind. Actually, it’s impossible. That’s why we remain with the Biblical teaching: there is only one God. But there are 3 persons in the Godhead. It is not that they are just three different manifestations of one God, like “Solid, liquid, and gaseous” are three different manifestations of water, but “Person” here means that which subsists by itself. They are distinct between each other, but equal in everything, co-eternal, and consubstantial, and each is God, whole and entire. "Of these Persons each one is the whole God, besides whom there is no other God." (Martin Luther)[4]

Sometimes analogies are put forth to illustrate and explain Trinity but they would be still just a poor attempt to convey this beautiful mystery. God is One in Three. God is Three in One. If we depart from this Truth, we depart from the Bible. We depart from the Christian faith.

3- The Name for life

Back to the mountain top and all the fear, uncertainty and anxiety the disciples felt to the point of doubting. I’m sure this is nothing strange to us too. We know Jesus, we believe in Him as our Saviour and Lord. We walk with Him. But when we face big challenges, when we are before dark days and sleepless nights, during times of trial and temptation, we doubt too. We hesitate. What will come next?

Those comforting words of the Lord are for us too:

_”All authority was given to me”;
_Therefore – connected to the precedent phrase. Since He has authority, “As you go, make disciples…”
_I am with you always to the end of the age.”

This is how Jesus responds to hesitation, doubt. He calms our hearts. He shows His authority and love. He gives us work to do. He walks with us always and every day.

Have you ever thought about that? Every Day; each single day; today, tomorrow, and the next. Actually, I would say that’s something hard for us to believe, or at least to figure out because… who would do that? Or don’t we have those days when if possible we would even run away from ourselves, in which is hart to bear the weight of our own existence?... Also, those days when we think He must be too busy, for you feel alone and abandoned.

We are invited to hear again:I am with you always to the end of ages. That’s how much and how long He can take us; the Cross; the empty tomb; the promise. He gave His name to you. How many places can you go and hear that you received God’s name and that God gave His life for you?

It is a name for life. For living. For Loving.  Again the phrase: “A Triune God is our only chance to experience a healthy and well balanced spirituality”. God’s Law and Gospel provide us a spirituality that is not vague or uncertain, but one that connects real people to the real God.  That gives meaning to our existence.  And meaning to existence is something every human being craves for.

Cc – As a conclusion, I want to mention that whereas Christ asks us to “go to all nations”, in Canada we could say we have it the other way around. The nations are coming to us, as another fellow pastor, Rev. Prieto put it. How many languages, accents, and different cultures do we see around? The nations are around us. What are we doing to reach them?[5]

Christ invites us: “Baptize and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you”. Our greatest mission is to bring The name to many, so many more may be baptized into The Name. The only name in which we have Sustenance, Salvation and Comfort. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Holy Trinity. Amen.

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[1] Rev. Laerte T. Voss, from Brazil. https://www.facebook.com/tardelli.voss/posts/10211571363253320?pnref=story
[2] Perhaps they even recalled that terrible Maundy Thursday – when they all were gone. They flew away. They didn’t know what to expect next. / Dr. Gerson Linden – Holy Trinity (Perícope
https://youtu.be/r_1jwLeIofI?t=276)
[3] The Apology of The Augsburg Confession, Article I.
[4] Also, no Person does the other Person’s Work. The Father is the Creator. The Son is our Savior. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the Faith Giver. For example, the Father didn’t die on the Cross, neither did the Holy Spirit, but the Son did. Jesus became flesh and died for us.
[5] Dr. Ely Prieto, sermon from 2013.


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