If my Facebook page is any indication of the sentiment of the wider church, the format proposed by my homiletics professors, that we should attack the themes of feast days first and the texts second, doesn’t have much of a foothold in contemporary preaching. I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on the idea, but it is the academy after all: a place intentionally set aside for experimentation with new ways of doing things. So, for the next three weeks, I’ll do my best to pretend to try to think about preaching the feasts based on their inherent theological themes.
Well, at least I will after today. Today, I’m wondering, what if I don’t want to preach the Trinity? What if I don’t feel particularly compelled to read the Trinity into Genesis 1? What if I’m not sold on the passing reference to the Trinity in 2 Corinthians? What if I don’t really believe that Jesus made such a clear trinitarian reference in his Great Commission? Then what?
It seems obvious to me that if you don’t want to preach the Trinity on Trinity Sunday and you are a lectionary based preacher, then you have to preach the resurrection encounter from Matthew 28. Earlier, the Angel of the Lord had told the women who found the empty tomb that Jesus had gone on to Galilee and that his disciples should meet him there. Our lesson for Sunday opens with the craziest detail, the disciples ACTUALLY go to Galilee; to the mountain that Jesus had told them about. It is worth noting that in Matthew’s account there is no Emmaus Road story, no encounter with Jesus in the upper room after Easter supper, no race to the tomb between Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. In Matthew’s version, the disciples simply do what their told, even though, and this, I think, is key, “some doubted.”
Believing in the resurrection is difficult. So difficult, in fact, that even some of Jesus’ closest companions aren’t sure about it. But Jesus loves them just the same, and he encourages them, even in their doubt, to go and share the story. Believing in the Trinity is even harder. It seems like a doctrine pushed backwards onto scripture. Three in one and one in three is hard to comprehend. Pictures like this one
don’t make it any easier, but the lesson we get from Matthew 28 this week is simple. Tell the Good News, even as you struggle to believe it yourself.