Sunday, June 19, 2011

Creation. Re-Creation.

The Holy Trinity
First Sunday after Pentecost
June 19, 2011
Acts 2:14, 22-36

We should never underestimate the importance of Creation. The Bible doesn’t begin with the beginning just because it makes sense to begin with the beginning. What happens at the beginning of the Bible, namely, the beginning, the Creation account, sets forth what God does in His most important work: re-Creation. The Bible begins with creation because that is the story of salvation. The creation account is inseparably linked with the account of salvation.

Today we celebrate the festival of the Holy Trinity. Some people don’t deal with the Trinity. They don’t want to concern themselves with doctrine and things they don’t understand. Especially when they hear something like the Athanasian Creed. The name of the creed alone is enough to make people wonder what it is we are saying. But then when you get into the words themselves you can easily get lost in what is being confessed. If you ask your average person, even your average Christian, to read the Athanasian Creed their eyes may very well glaze over. It is heavy on theological jargon. Some may get the impression that theology is dry and boring or doesn’t pertain to everyday life. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that as fallible human beings we can make theology sound dull or impractical. It’s true that as sinful people we are not as enamored with theology as we should be.

If we dig into God’s Word we will find that theology is anything but dry and what God has to say to us is in every way practical. The Athanasian Creed says that this is catholic faith, the word ‘catholic’ meaning the universal Christian faith: “that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.” The holy universal Christian faith is that God is the Triune God, one God in three Persons, three Persons in one God. There is one God, not three. God is not divided up but is in unity. The three Persons of the Trinity are distinct, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As we saw moments ago when we confessed the Athanasian Creed, the creed goes to great pains to stress the nature of God as the One in Three and the Three in One. But it would be all for naught if it did not get to the main point of it all, which is what the Apostles’ and the Nicene Creeds also confess, that God is not just God, He’s not even just the Triune God, and He’s not even just the One True God—He is the God of salvation. He is the God of Creation and of re-Creation. His work of salvation is His work of re-creation.

God creates. He brings into being things from nothing. This is not theological dogma or jargon, this is the very essence of life. Or, if you want to hear it in even more practical terms, this is the basis for who you are and how you live day to day. You are who you are because God is who He is. In other words, God is the Triune God, He is the Creator, He is the one who brings you into being and gives you life. Not only that, He is at work re-Creating you. He not only gives you life He gives you new life. He has created you and He re-creates you.

How He does this is by giving you Himself. Now what does this mean? It means He is not only the one who creates and gives new life, He is the one who does it by doing it in Himself. Today’s Old Testament reading is the Creation account of Genesis. God created the world in six days. In six days He brought into being what is. That was His work of Creation. Then the Bible says that God finished all the work He had done. He completed it, it was now in a state of having been created and was now existing. What happened next? God rested. The Bible says that on the seventh day He rested.

Have you ever wondered why God did this? Was He tired? Was all that work of creating the universe in six days so much that He was just plain exhausted? So He created the universe and then He needed a rest. Actually, yes, He needed a rest, but not in the way we are thinking of. God was not exhausted, He didn’t need to put His feet up and have a nice cold drink. He needed to rest not because of His work of Creation but because of His work of re-Creation. What God accomplished in His work of Creation is in direct correlation to His work of re-Creation.

In six days He completed His work. God finished all that He had done. If we can borrow a phrase from elsewhere in the Bible, when God completed His work of Creation He said, “It is finished.” That place in the Bible you might recall was on another sixth day, the day we refer to as Good Friday. On the cross Jesus was moments before death and He cried out: “It is finished.” The first six days of Holy Week were leading up to this, His work of re-Creation. On the sixth day God finished all the work He had done in creating the world and on the sixth day God finished the work He had done of re-Creating the very people He had created on the sixth day of Creation; the very people who had fallen into sin, fallen from the pure creation God had brought about. He had now restored it.

On the seventh day, the day after creating the universe, God rested. He didn’t need to. He wasn’t tired. But He did need to, because He needed to show that even though His precious people He created would fall away He would do His more marvelous work of re-Creation, His work of salvation. So on the seventh day He rested. When Jesus cried out on the cross “It is finished” He then bowed His head and died. He was placed in a tomb and on the seventh day, the day after His work of re-Creation, He rested in that tomb. In the creation account God says that God made that seventh day holy. Now we know why, Christ made it holy by His rest in the tomb.

God declaring the seventh day holy is the end of the creation account. It moves on from there to the account of the fall into sin. Jesus’ rest in the tomb on the seventh day, however, is not the end of the story as far as God’s work of re-Creation goes. There is a new day after that. We would normally think of it as the first day, that is, the first day of the new week, Sunday. But another way to think of it is as the Eighth Day. The day of the New Creation, or God’s re-Creation. That is the day Christ rose from the tomb.

The second reading today gives the continued account of Pentecost. Last Sunday on the Day of Pentecost, we heard the account of the Coming of the Holy Spirit. Today we hear the sermon that Peter proclaimed. The festival of Pentecost may very well be the festival of the Holy Spirit, but Christ is the one who is proclaimed. Peter makes a special point to show that it is the work of the Triune God to make known to us how the Triune God goes about His work of re-Creation, His work of salvation. Peter says that Jesus “being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” The reason God sent the Holy Spirit was in order to make known Jesus Christ. Peter emphasizes Jesus’ work of salvation, that even though He died, even though He was buried, He was raised up. The Jesus who was crucified is the one who is Lord and Christ. The Triune God, as we confess in the Creed and as the Bible makes known to us, is the God who specifically reveals Himself to us in the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Not only that, He specifically reveals Himself to us in His work of re-Creation in His suffering, death, and resurrection.

What this means for you and me is that our lives have meaning. If you think in terms of who you are and the life you live and the things you do, God’s work of re-Creation makes a difference. Consider just one thing, which happens to be a very big thing. Today is Father’s Day. Now Father’s Day is a day that has huge significance for all of us because we all have a father. It’s true that some have never known their father, some have been abused by their father, some are at odds with their father, and we could add to the list of how Father’s Day for some is a sad day, including some who would like to be a father but are unable to. But the fact that each of us has a father means something important. It means that what God accomplished in the Garden of Eden in creating us, bringing us into being, is a continued work. We are brought into existence not in the way Adam was, from the dirt, or in the way Eve was, from a rib, but from God’s creative and creating work, from a source, namely, a father.

Whether people believe in the Triune God or not, the fact is, God has continued His work of creation through the temporal means of fathers. This is a testimony to the fact that God is Himself the Father of us all. The Triune God is the God who Himself is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds. We shouldn’t think of God in terms of our earthly father but rather our earthly father in terms of God our Father. Someone who has been abused by their father may not be able to see in God a loving Father. But what we ought to see in God is the perfection of a Loving Father and in comparison how our earthly fathers in many ways fall short. When you consider your father, you should be moved to consider the Heavenly Father who has given you His Son by the Holy Spirit. If you have issues with your father you should look to the Heavenly Father who loves you in this way: He gave His only-begotten Son to die on the cross for the sin of the world and in the work of His Holy Spirit has given you new life in your Baptism.

This is what Jesus was getting at when He gave his Great Commission as we have it recorded in today’s Gospel reading. The way disciples are made is not through our efforts but through the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The way God’s Church is continually renewed and re-Created is not by our own work but by the work of the Triune God in Baptism and teaching.

The reason why this is so important for you in your daily life is because your life is filled with things you do. That’s great, of course, but the things you do ultimately bring about your failure. As Adam and Eve fell into sin so do you on a daily basis. God is the God who creates and re-Creates. We can never look to ourselves or others for what we need in order to live as God calls us to live. Even a man like David was unable to bring about what is necessary for God’s people to live as God’s people. Bluntly, Peter said that David was in the grave and the grave was still there to that day. It is only Christ who can bring it about. Because the Triune God reveals Himself in the Person of Jesus. The Triune God creates and re-Creates in the work of Jesus.

God the Father Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, is the Father who gave His only-begotten Son to create us anew by His Holy Spirit in Baptism. Amen.


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