Today is Trinity Sunday, the day when Christians proclaim their faith and hope in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Today’s sermon includes the proclamation of God’s Word through the spoken word as well as the sung words of the hymn, “This is My Father’s World”.
The seeds for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity are planted throughout the biblical story of faith in God as the Creator of the beginning, the Redeemer of the present, and the Sustainer of eternity. While the Christian doctrine of the Trinity may not fully explain the mystery of God’s presence, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity allows Christians to affirm their faith fully in the mystery of God’s presence.
The doctrine of the Trinity is the product of a maturing Christian faith that resulted in the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. A gathering of Christian bishops called by the Roman Emperor Constantine the purpose of the Council of Nicaea was to bring resolution to core concerns of Christianity about the nature of Jesus as the Son of God with God the Father. An end product of the council was the Nicaean Creed that defined the tenets of the Christian faith in terms of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Earlier in our worship, we recited the Nicaean Creed to affirm our faith in the triune God. While the Nicaean Creed may seem to be lengthy, in reality it is a succinct statement of Christian faith.
Maltbie Davenport Babcock was the author of a poem that provided the text for the hymn, “This is My Father’s World.” A succinct statement of Babcock’s faith in the eternal God “This is My Father’s World” originally contained 16 verses of 4 lines each and was published after his death in 1901. Three of the verses were chosen by Franklin L. Shepherd who set the poem to music in 1915. Babcock, who was a minister from Lockport, New York, would often take walks overlooking a cliff, where he would enjoy the view of Lake Ontario and the upstate New York scenery. As he prepared to leave for his walks, he would often tell his wife that he was “going out to see my Father’s world.”
(First verse of This is My Father’s World)
This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.
I was visiting with a man in the hospital who was nearing the end of his journey in this life. As we talked, our conversation led to a time of holy silence as the presence of God was rich in the room. Looking at the wind blowing the leaves on the trees outside of his room, the affirmation of God’s goodness was present as birds landed in the branches and flew in praise of God the Creator of life. Looking at the sunshine streaming in through the window, he looked at me and said, “My faith in God gets me through.”
(Second verse of This is My Father’s World)
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declares their maker’s praise. This is my Father’s world; he shines in all that’s fair; in the rustling grass I hear him pass, he speaks to me everywhere.
Today is Trinity Sunday, the day that Christians proclaim our faith in God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as we affirm what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:1-5:
- We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
- Our hope in Jesus does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us
Dr. Crystal Hall states that this passage from Romans describes the interdependence of God’s presence in the lives of Jesus’ followers. They experience God’s peace through Jesus and God’s love as the Holy Spirit is poured into their hearts. It is this interdependence of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that gives them strength to live their lives in faith. Standing in the assurance of God’s grace, the endurance of their faith in Jesus produces character, and character produces hope, and even when life discourages them, their hope in Christ does not disappoint them.
Jay Y. Kim defines the Christian experience of Christian hope in this way.
“In our day and age, the idea of hope has been co-opted by passivity, neutered from its intended action-oriented nature. We hope the lines aren’t too long. We hope for a good diagnosis. We hope everything will work out.
“Today, hope is most often thought of as a grown-up version of wishing. This is why, when our hopes seem a bit too outlandish, we may call them “wishful thinking.” But Christian hope is not wishful thinking. Christian hope is an expectant leap forward. We take action. We live in motion. …
“This radically counterintuitive nature of Christian hope is shaped by a resilience and fortitude that’s woefully missing from pop-culture renderings of hope. Christian hope does not shy away from but rather rushes toward the suffering and pain in our world. Tim Keller writes, “While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.” Christian hope is not deceived by the world’s promises of comfort and ease in this life, all the while waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop. Instead, Christian hope settles into the struggle of human experience with strength and resolve. Yes, there is pain and suffering in this life, but Christian hope enables its recipients to stand tall with every ounce of imago Dei dignity possible.
“I think of my friend Christina Tang. A gifted songwriter in her early 20s, she’d been working on a collection of songs when she received the news that there was cancer in her stomach—and it was aggressive. There was sadness and confusion all around. But then there was resolve. Even with her body weakening, Christina continued to write and record. She found strength to lead worship from time to time at church. When her hands could no longer strum the guitar, she recruited musician friends to play along. A couple of weeks after her death, we gave everyone in the church a copy of her new album: six original songs painstakingly written and recorded in her final months. Her hope never wavered.
“This is what Christian hope looks like. It doesn’t ignore fear, anxiety, and doubt; it confronts them. It holds steady, clinging to peace in the midst of chaos. Through life’s many treacherous storms—be they pandemics, political divisions, social unrest, or personal struggle—Christian hope is buoyed by something greater that has happened and something greater that is going to happen again.
Jay Y. Kim, Hope is an Expectant Leap, Christianity Today, November 20, 2020
(Third verse of This is My Father’s World)
`This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!
Today is Trinity Sunday. It is time to live in the hope that does not disappoint in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Hope That Does Not Disappoint
by Pastor Marc Brown
June 12, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Romans 5:1-5
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for June 12, 2021
Scripture Lesson Romans 5:1-5
The Good News “Hope That Does Not Disappoint”
Music “Holy Holy Holy”
Closing Music “Rock of Ages” arr. by Robert Wetzler