And just as he [Jesus] was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
Without a doubt one of the most popular hymns of Christendom is Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! It is in fact the first hymn of the Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God. When the hymn is enhanced by pipe organ, brass, or orchestra, and full choir with the sopranos adding the descant one feels as if one is transported by those glorious sounds to the very portals of heaven.
Yet, if one looks for the word “Trinity” in the Holy Bible they will not find it. Nor will they find the word “triune,” which is used to describe the section of Glory to God where this hymn is located. “Trinity” and “triune” come to us by way of endeavoring to describe the great mystery of God: how God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and yet the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father.
Our first scripture reading for today tells us of the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River. We “see” the three persons of the Godhead in that scene. Jesus is the one being baptized. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove. The Father speaks and announces to Jesus and the other witnesses that He is God’s beloved Son, in whom God is well pleased.”
Our second scripture (Matthew 28:16-20) is the Great Commission as found in the Gospel of Matthew. Shortly before Jesus ascension into heaven, Jesus announces that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. His departing instruction to His disciples is: “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” The disciples are to make more disciples of all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Trinity. These new disciples are also to be taught everything that Jesus has commanded them.” There is one God, but God appears in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Obviously the likenesses and the distinctions are significant enough that baptisms are to proceed using that theological formula.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea. Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in Three persons Blessed Trinity!
Holy God, none of us can understand the mystery of the Trinity, but we can be filled with awe as we contemplate You and we can and are moved to praise and worship. Thanks for filling us with wonder at Your grace and glory. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.