Was Jesus a disciplined and punctual person?
Sermon on Trinity Sunday
I really like the time in mid-June. The strawberries, the light. The zenith of summer is still a long way off, a lot of things to look forward to are still ahead of you, not just one, but several evenings in the beer garden, more cycling again, the vacation, the summer festivals. Everything feels easier in June. June breathes confidence. Our parish priest Beate Frankenberger also wants it to be easier in June and is now on vacation with her husband.
We, you and I stayed at home in Tutzing and are allowed to celebrate Trinity together today. Which is not so easy even in the middle of easy June, because the Trinity is quite a chunk.
The long festival-less time in the church year begins with the Trinity Festival. While Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, the Passion and Easter circles up to Pentecost all feel logical and familiar due to the references to the biography of Jesus, we lack the vividness of a biblical on the feast of the Trinity or Trinity History.
The Trinity appears to many people as a theological headbirth, it is the interreligious point of contention between the Abrahamic religions. Do we Christians now have one or three gods, is God really human, what exactly is this Holy Spirit? This is not easy to explain externally, to convey, and internally either.
Perhaps that is why, depending on the date of Easter, we have up to 27 Sundays after Tritintatis to meditate on why our God meets us three times.
Paul, the author of today's sermon text, compared with these big questions, at first glance had very practical problems with the church he founded in Corinth: He was with them twice because there had been arguments in the church, among other things about the fact that the rich were indifferent to the poor, that they were not so careful about charity. The Corinthians were a plural, international, often divided, festive people, a port community in which everyone initially went their own way. Her difficulties with faith were more practical.
Paul advocates peace and cohesion in the church, but it doesn't seem to have done too much.
At the end of the day, he almost implores that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit should judge it:
Hear what it says in 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 11-13:
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice, allow yourself to be straightened out, be admonished, have the same mind, keep peace! So the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. Greetings from all the saints.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!
Could that be enough?
It was not enough then, just as it is not enough today, to simply appeal to God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
Rather, it should be possible to penetrate the mystery of the Christian God from within, with all of existence, spiritually and practically.
After Christianity came into the world of the Greeks through Paul, the Greeks first of all use the means that were most familiar to them to get on the track of the mystery, their understanding and philosophy. A centuries-long dispute began about divine persons, substances, hypostases, subordinate and superior orders between God and man.
The result after a good 500 years was: Trinity means that our Christian God has, so to speak, three departments, that he is the primordial reason for the existence of everything, as an uncreated creator, so to speak, that he hovers over his creation, but that he is just the same as the human being Jesus Christ is quite earthly, man like us and at the same time God and that as the Holy Spirit he permeates all that is good and beautiful, that he creates faith and community and gives inspiration.
In the end, the Trinity was a perfectly thought-out system of mediation between heaven and earth, with a boss, a junior boss and an eager dispatcher who - as best he can - takes care of the day-to-day business in the many branches around the world.
The thought that God has three modes of appearance and yet should also be one was a wonderful nut to crack and argue for for ancient Greek-minded people.
These philosophical speculations would probably have been just alien to the Jew Jesus.
Rather, Jesus was driven by an immensely powerful intuition to cross dividing boundaries between people in the name of the God of Israel.
However, this did not prevent the church later from continuing to build on its ideas.
The splendor of the idea of the Trinity was particularly impressive in the Catholic Baroque and Rococo churches that are familiar to us here in the Oberland, with their God Fathers enthroned in the domes, with their Christs carrying the victorious banner of the Resurrection, with their Holy Spirits hovering as a dove over the pulpit, the all surrounded by mighty angels and adoring bishops.
Such light spatial worlds were created in the dark times of the 30 Years War and afterwards as a contrasting reality, predecessors of today's virtual computer worlds, intended to give people views of their own hard life, into an ideal, virtual world of divine gold-adorned splendor, as a vivid offer of hope and as a manifesto of heavenly-earthly-ecclesiastical order.
Over the centuries, the church saw itself as the exclusive mediator of access to the benefits of this system that unites heaven and earth. Also for your own benefit.
But this system has long since developed cracks.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe already had problems with the Trinity: “I believed in God and nature and in the victory of the noble over the bad; but that was not enough for the pious souls, I should also believe that three is one and one is three; but that went against my soul's feeling of truth; I also didn't see that this would have helped me in the least. "
Many of my friends express it a little less classically, not only those without a denomination, but also conscious Protestants: They simply can no longer believe that Jesus was more than a gifted person, gifted with an infinitely large heart, maybe an ethical hero with a lot of trust in God.
For you, however, Jesus was not God, but above all an example!
The advantage of such a view and attitude is, of course, that you get rid of all the annoying contradictions that arise when you think about the Trinity: Can Jesus be completely human at all if he is somehow also God? Is God still God at all if he is also human somewhere? Is the mind really the union of the separated without any intermingling?
The taking down, the de-divinity of Jesus also has its price: And for God, also for the God of modern man: When the infinite closeness between Jesus and God disappears again, which is so typical for the new, for the young Christian faith then God for his part threatens to become more abstract again, to move further away, to become more inaccessible again. Do we want to pay that price?
So where are we?
With the means of reason we do not get any further in the relationship between God and man, including the Holy Spirit.
Certainly not by simply demanding trinitarian obedience of faith from a seeker or from ourselves. The time for that is over.
This strategy has also massively contributed to the loss of credibility of the churches, whose representatives have rested for far too long on supposed securities or on their own authority.
Perhaps there is nothing better in making a spiritual truth such as that that God wants to be infinitely, even infinitely close to us humans in Jesus, that God becomes man and enters into a relationship with us through his spirit, than by accepting it declared to a dogma or a fact to be penetrated by reason. That is what doesn’t work: but what’s possible?
To fathom the mystery of Christianity is - I think - a path of the heart, an invitation, the Trinity is a kind of inner Christian mantra: God, man, together and yet free.
However, mantras do not reveal themselves the first time they are repeated.
Even for a reasonable and at the same time spiritual person of today there is the option of following the path of Jesus himself spiritually and practically, who ultimately brought him into infinite closeness with God, so that he could say to him: Abba, Papa, dear Father in heaven.
That is the real core of the Trinity idea, an experienced relationship that carries one in life. The Easter message even dares to promise that this bond cannot be broken even by death.
It is probably a long path of practice, on which we have to let go of a lot, maybe everything, that leads right into the middle of this belief.
How is the separate, God and man perhaps compatible with one another?
As paradoxical as it sounds, we have long known this miracle of the connection between what is separated, namely from the deepest human experience that we long for and remember for a lifetime, it is the experience of love.
Love, infinite closeness is the key to the whole Christian faith, to the Christian manifestation of the religious and that as experience, not as assertion.
Love, closeness between God and man is what we Christians bring into the concert of religions, which knows many sounds, e.g. sounds of awe among Muslims or sounds of promise among Jews. Our sound is love. The Corinthians learned that love is not an easy path. And the unkindness that is reflected in every kind of abuse today is therefore the poison that eats away at the churches. All baroque churches are of no use.
Love is free but not cheap. Love, when it is alive, overcomes what has been separated, in repeated attempts. Even for a church that places love in its midst, there is still hope.
Love overcomes boundaries. The idea of God's humanity in Jesus Christ means nothing else. The Trinity also means nothing else. But just as a spiritually experienced, felt, believed and celebrated truth, not as a bulwark of being right.
Why do we find it difficult?
Because we are afraid of not being allowed to be ourselves anymore if we are fully involved. Many relationships, including those between God and man, diverge out of fear of self-loss.
But this is exactly the great secret and the risk of love as well as faith, that I can give myself completely and yet remain completely with myself, remain identical with myself.
You can only feel it like the tingling sensation on the skin of a loved one on a light June night, you have to practice it day and night.
This is also the whole mystery of the Christian faith and the Trinity.
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