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Sermon for June 12, 2022 — Trinity Sunday

Speaking Of Life 4029 │ The Wisdom of Delight

This Trinity Sunday, we celebrate our union and relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit, growing our wisdom and finding delight in the joy of God’s creation.

Program Transcript


Speaking Of Life 4029 The Wisdom of Delight
Michelle Fleming

On this Trinity Sunday, we’re thinking about God’s triune nature and how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in loving communion with one another. One aspect of this relationship is wisdom, and while we often think of wisdom as good judgment, wisdom is actually playful, delighting in joy and generosity. In Proverbs, we read that wisdom is personified as a woman. For example, in Proverbs 8, Wisdom maintains that she was created by God before the earth was created:

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,

Proverbs 8:22-30 (NRSVA)

Wisdom was an active companion and witness to God bringing creation out of chaos. We might think that bringing order to chaos would be more stressful than playful, but Wisdom offers an interesting perspective. Let us continue reading in the New Revised Standard Version,

I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race
Proverbs 8:30b-31 (NRSV)

And now let’s hear it again in the Common English Bible Translation:

I was having fun, smiling before him all the time, frolicking with his inhabited earth and delighting in the human race
Proverbs 8:30b-31 (CEB)

Here we find Wisdom offering playfulness and joy to God during the creation of the world. Some Old Testament scholars suggest that it’s a theological principle that “pleasure and playfulness are built into the very structure” of the world.

Expanding our understanding of wisdom to include playful delight and an attitude that is looking for reasons to rejoice helps us grow in how we think about the triune God on this Trinity Sunday. The Father, Son, and Spirit operate within a context of great love and wisdom that’s expressed in playful delight and pleasure in creation. And that includes us. If God takes delight in us and is always on the lookout for joy, we also should be quick to rejoice in any moments of joy life brings.

It’s wisdom to delight in what God has made, whether that is the beauty of nature, the pleasure of a warm drink on a cold day, or the delight of another person’s smile. On this Trinity Sunday, let’s acknowledge that the wisdom of delight is part of being included in relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May you embrace God’s wisdom and delight in who Jesus is, who he is in you, and who he is in others.

I’m Michelle Fleming, Speaking of Life.

Psalm 8:1-9 · Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 · Romans 5:1-5 · John 16:12-15

The theme for this week is the delight, comfort, and counsel of God. On this Trinity Sunday, our call to worship in Psalm 8 speaks about God’s delight in creation, especially the creation of human beings who are “made a little lower than God.” In Proverbs 8, Wisdom is personified as a woman, and she speaks of her delight in the created world and the human race. Our justification by faith, the way suffering will ultimately produce hope, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit is addressed in Romans 5. Our sermon text for Trinity Sunday is John 16:12-15, where Jesus is comforting the disciples (and us) by explaining that even though he will be leaving them, they will never be alone, thanks to the Holy Spirit who would continue to speak God’s comfort and provide them wise counsel.

The Spirit of Truth: God’s Comfort and Counsel

John 16:12-15 (NRSV)

If you are a human being, you’ve experienced grief. This grief can be the result of losses both big and small, but the experience of grieving cannot be “ranked” based on the perceived severity of the loss. Any loss is a loss. Having endured a global pandemic for two years with all the losses that might mean has made many of us more aware of the effects grief has on our bodies and minds. For example, a person who is grieving may feel panic, sadness, and anxiety. But at the same time, grief affects that person’s ability to think and process information. They might find it hard to concentrate, take in new information, and figure out the next steps. The American Brain Foundation reports that prolonged stress and grief “can disrupt the diverse cognitive domains of memory, decision-making, …attention, work fluency, and the speed of information processing.”

The issue of grief and its effects are not a modern dilemma. The disciples were grief-stricken when faced with the hard truth of Jesus’ imminent death. In Jesus’ farewell words to them found in John chapters 13-17, Jesus explains what is going to happen, why it will happen, and why they do not need to be concerned. Just prior to today’s passage, Jesus acknowledges their grief (verse 6) and reminds them he is not leaving them alone. Our sermon text for today talks about the role of the Holy Spirit in comforting and counseling them after Jesus’s death. Let’s read the text:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15 NRSV)

What can we notice about this passage?

On this Trinity Sunday, this passage helps enlarge our understanding of the mystery of the triune God, particularly the Holy Spirit:

  • The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus, who came to reveal the Father’s love and character.
    • “He will guide you into all the truth.” Jesus calls himself “the Truth” (John 14:6), and then he identifies the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:13).
    • “He will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears.” The Holy Spirit is in complete agreement with the Father and Son, guiding us into all truth. If Jesus is the truth, and the truth is the revelation of who God is and the mystery of God’s love and grace, the Spirit will continue speaking the same truth.
    • “He will declare to you the things that are to come.” We can trust that the source of this revelation is God. We can also trust ourselves to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit who will only “speak whatever he hears” from the triune God (v. 13). The voice of the Holy Spirit will always be loving and kind, even when convicting.
  • The Holy Spirit guides us in living out Jesus’ revelation of God.
    • “He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The doctrine of the Trinity is practical as it addresses how we participate in God’s revelation in the world through Jesus by the Spirit. Even though Jesus is no longer in person on the earth, God’s revelation to human beings is accessible through the Spirit of truth.

Believers can rely on the Holy Spirit to understand how to live out the faith of Jesus in an ever-changing world. In John 16:12-15, words (verbs) that are all about communication (i.e., say, speak, declare) occur six times in just four verses. Keeping the lines of communication open between God and us is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit is a witness to Jesus, who simply is passing along what the Father tells him, we can consider the Holy Spirit a reliable leader as we make our way in the world.

We also can see Jesus acting as the Good Shepherd toward the disciples, comforting them in their grief over his departure, and in these four short verses, we can understand two important principles about human beings and our relationship with the triune God:

  • Grief and uncertainty affect our ability to take in new information.
    • “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” In v. 12, Jesus knew the disciples could not bear any more new information. He didn’t tell them the hard truths about his death previously because he was with them (John 16:4). Now that they know he is leaving, “sorrow has filled your hearts” (v.6). Jesus is letting them know they will be okay, telling them “It is to your advantage that I go away” so that the “Helper” or “Advocate” will come (v. 7). Jesus takes on a pastoral role to his disciples and us when we’re grieving, offering reassuring words of comfort. We must recognize grief’s impact on us and others, especially during the past two years of the pandemic. From a place of deep compassion, we need to extend kindness and patience to ourselves and to others.
  • We are never alone, despite how we may feel. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal God the Father and glorify Jesus to his followers. In this passage he introduces the Holy Spirit as our constant companion, one that speaks in harmony with the Father and the Son.
    • We can trust the Advocate or the Spirit of Truth because the Spirit comes from the Father (John 14:16) and testifies to Jesus (John 15:26). Jesus assures his disciples, both then and now, that the Holy Spirit only “will speak whatever he hears” (John 16:13).
    • The Holy Spirit unifies us with the triune God. Jesus prayed, “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us” (John 17:21). Even when we feel alone and grieving, unable to understand or trust, the Holy Spirit is never taken away but continues to offer loving grace and comfort.

Application:

  • Recognize that grief affects our ability to listen to others and God, but we are never alone. By understanding this, we can be gentle with ourselves, allowing others to comfort us and reminding ourselves of God’s ever-present love and mercy. In the same way, recognize that grief affects others’ ability to hear our comfort and encouragement. We must be patient with others as we remind them of the promise that we are never alone.
  • Realize that the Holy Spirit enlarges our understanding of the Triune God and helps us live out and participate in God’s love for the world. We can trust the kind and loving communication of the Holy Spirit to guide our efforts to share God’s grace with those we interact with, and we can follow the Spirit’s lead to help us discern how to express God’s love in the most appropriate ways.

Grief can affect our ability to take in new information, even as it affected the disciples’ ability to make sense of what Jesus was telling them on his last night with them. We can take comfort in the mystery of the triune God, knowing that we are not left to figure things out on our own. The Spirit of truth will continue to reveal Jesus and the Father to us and show how we can best love others and ourselves.

For Reference:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/12/20/1056741090/grief-loss-holiday-brain-healing

https://www.americanbrainfoundation.org/how-tragedy-affects-the-brain/

https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/the-holy-trinity-3/commentary-on-john-1612-15-3

https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/the-holy-trinity-3/commentary-on-john-1612-15

The Spirit of Truth w/ Jenny Richards W2

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June 12 – Trinity Sunday
John 16:12-15 “The Spirit of Truth”

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Program Transcript


The Spirit of Truth w/ Jenny Richards W2

Anthony: Jenny, our next passage is John 16:12-15. It’s the Revised Common Lectionary passage for Trinity Sunday on June the 12th.

Would you be willing to read that for us please?

Jenny: Sure.

12I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Anthony: Amen. Trinity Sunday is approaching this weekend. How do you see Trinitarian relational dynamics (here we go again) at work in this passage, and what are the implications?

Jenny: Oh goodness “Ibid.” To me, it highlights the way in which we dare not lose the Trinity in how we understand God. And particularly in terms of how we live out our faith and how we live as Christians within our church community, and also within our wider community, because we don’t want to separate the sacred and the secular, we don’t want to be dualist. So, we dare not lose the Trinity in how we understand God. We can’t be—you can tell me if I’ve got the word wrong—we can’t be christomonous (I think that’s the right word), reducing our understanding of God to be just about Christ or just about Christology. [Christomonism only accepts one divine person, Jesus Christ, rather than the Trinity.]

This is because our Christology is itself a thoroughly Trinitarian Christology. Jesus made himself known as the Son of the Father in the Spirit. Those things happen and are revealed to us and are lived out for us in the Spirit. And this is why in this passage, I think, the Spirit doesn’t speak alone. And everything that the Spirit receives for us and makes known to us comes from Jesus and from the Father, because everything that belongs to the Father is Jesus’, and the Spirit shares that with us.

So, there’s no hierarchy here. And the Spirit makes everything known to us. It is astonishing that we can know God. We can’t know God in ourselves, but God reveals himself to us as Father, Son, and Spirit. And it’s through the Spirit that we are transformed, and our broken humanity is restored to be ever more truly human, ever more like the one true human being, Jesus Christ.

Anthony: Often the world, Jenny, embraces the Spirit of untruth. And if I’m going to make it personal, there are times I do. Lord, help me with my unbelief How does this contrast with the Spirit of truth highlighted in the passage?

Jenny: I think that we can all make that personal, to be honest, I think all of us believe and yet need help with our unbelief.

The cry of Thomas is the cry of humanity because it is our minds that need to be renewed and woken up to the glory of the truth of who we are in Jesus. And I think that’s why the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of truth. And I think too, that’s why the Spirit is also the advocate to wrestle with that in us and to continue to reveal those things to us, gently and beautifully and powerfully.

TF Torrance had a phrase (I don’t know where it came from), but he used it sometimes when he talked about theological method and our need to be careful and realist, particularly in relation to how we know God and what we know about God. We can’t begin with our own ideas or our own concepts of what we subjectively experienced as the basis for knowledge.

He didn’t discount those things, but they’re not our starting point. We know God because he’s made himself known. So, truth has revealed itself to us, so to speak, in the person of Jesus Christ. And that is by the Spirit. TF cautioned that if we wind up trying to work God out or work reality out with reference to ourselves or allowing ourselves to be limited by what our minds can understand and influenced by our brokenness and all of those things, we eventually wind up in what he refers to as “self-referential incoherence.”

And the first sentence of his volume edited by Robert Walker, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, is our task in Christology is to yield the obedience of our mind to what is given, that is God’s self-revelation in its objective reality, Jesus Christ.

And that sounds like it’s just Christology, right? But who is Jesus Christ? Jesus is the eternal word of the Father, incarnate by the Spirit who has joined himself forever to us in the Spirit. And this truth has broken into everything we thought we knew about ourselves, our worth, our experiences, our destinies, and especially our humanity.

So, Jesus reveals himself in the Spirit to be the Son of the Father, rather than being an individual. And that’s really difficult for us in the West, maybe because of dualism, but also because we emphasize rationality and individuality and autonomy so much. So, we see truth as an abstract thing that can be grasped.

And so of course, many would say objective truth doesn’t exist because everyone’s got their own perspective and experience of it, and so much is subjective. And I understand where that’s heading up to a point. Jesus can be Lord as much as he wants, but if I refuse to believe that I am who he says I am, I’m going to have very little peace and joy in believing. So, the flip side of having truth as a thing that can be grasped and understood with our minds, is that it gets very complicated, and relationship and personhood once again, get disconnected from it.

But from a Trinitarian perspective and onto-relational understanding, truth is not abstract and disconnected and a thing. Truth is, first and foremost, a person—Jesus. And as such, truth can not only be understood, but can be experienced.

And more to the point, it can only be experienced and understood relationally. This is where the Spirit comes to the fore in us, because it is the Spirit who reveals those things to us and shares those things with us.


Small Group Discussion Questions

From Speaking of Life

  • Proverbs 8 personifies wisdom as a woman and talks about how wisdom was “rejoicing in [God’s] inhabited world and delighting in the human race” (Proverbs 8:30a-31). Why do you think that finding delight in the world and other people is a wise practice?
  • How do you incorporate the wisdom of delight into your ordinary day? In other words, what do you do to acknowledge the pleasures of simply being alive?

From the sermon

  • Have you ever experienced an inability to take in new information because of grief or loss? If so, how did you seek comfort and help moving forward?

Jesus said the Spirit of truth would glorify him and would only speak what Jesus and the Father spoke. This means that the Spirit will only speak words that align with the love and grace Jesus showed while he was on earth. How can we discern the Spirit’s voice in determining how to love others most appropriately?

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