Grace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today is Holy Trinity Sunday – or as Pastor Schul and I deemed it a few weeks ago – Holy High Heresy Sunday. Because there is no way you can possibly begin to talk about the Trinity without committing some form of heresy or another. Given this fact – instead of speaking to the infinite mystery as to the nature of our Triune God, I’m going to you about Star Trek. I’m sure you’re all sitting there going – wait… – WHAT???
Here’s the thing. Two weeks ago, Patrick discovered that through his Kids Access on his Kindle, he can stream Star Trek the Next Generation episodes. Now, both of my kids – ARE OBSESSED! If we are social media friends, you’ve probably seen evidence of this through some of the pictures I’ve posted this past week. This newfound obsession led to some pretty funny conversations in my home this week: “Hey mom, have you heard of this show???” “Ummm – yes, yes I have.” “Did you ever watch this show when you were younger?” “Why yes, it was one of Situ (my mom) and Papa Lee’s (my dad’s) favorites. We watched it EVERY week.” As my children have grown in their love and appreciation for Star Trek TNG, it’s reawakened a love and appreciation that I had forgotten about. Because, deep down, at the core of my very being, I am an uber nerd.
Growing up, when the opening credits would roll, my entire family would recite the Star Trek Mission Statement: “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
In our Gospel this morning, post resurrection, the eleven who have heard from the women that Jesus is risen, go to the mountain in Galilee that Jesus told them was the meeting point. The place they should gather. And when they saw Jesus there, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Jesus is literally right in front of them, but they still have doubt. One commentary I read had this to say: “Whatever the nature of the resurrection event, it did not generate perfect faith even in those who experienced it firsthand. It is not to angels or perfect believers, but to the worshipping/wavering community of disciples to whom the world mission is entrusted.”
Jesus tells the disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. “Therefore – GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit.
The translation of “make disciples” honestly isn’t the greatest. In this text, the world disciple is actually a verb, not a noun. So really Jesus is telling them to Go, therefore, disciplizing all nations, baptizing them in the triune God, teaching them.
So, what does disciplizing mean??? According to Dr. Rick Carlson, one of my seminary professors, disciplizing includes going / journeying to all nations and all peoples; baptizing them into the new triune reality; and teaching them – nurturing and fostering all of Jesus’ commands, particularly to love God and love one another, on a daily basis.
The active ongoing nature of disciplizing means that this command to GO doesn’t ever have an end. They were and we are to go and keep on going. Jesus tells them to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
This command wasn’t only for the eleven. This was a command for every human being who is baptized into the love, grace, and relationship of our Triune God. Every single one of us is called to boldly go. So what does that mean? Does that mean that every single person here is supposed to uproot their families and go to seminary or to become missionaries? No. Some of us are called to that life, but not everyone.
Sometimes disciplizing can be on a much smaller scale. It can be in caring for our neighbors. Or educating our children in their Christian faith. In keeping our baptismal promises to one another. Advocating for those who are oppressed or marginalized. Being good stewards of God’s creation. Inviting someone we know in our lives who is searching for that connection or relationship with God, to come and see.
Did you know that on average a Lutheran will invite a friend, acquaintance, or family member to church once every 33 years. And on average it takes 3 invitations before someone will actually accept. So that means that the average Lutheran MIGHT bring a friend to church once every 99 years. Assuming we actually live that long. Not the most effective form of disciplizing. What’s holding us back? Why are we afraid to go and disciplize?
Friends, I don’t have the answer to that… all I know is that we are commissioned to do this. We can do this. We must do this. Go, baptize, teach. We all have different gifts and talents and so when we do this, we do it as both individuals and as community. Which makes it, maybe, just a little less scary.
What also makes it a little less scary is that Jesus didn’t just throw out this mission to boldly go where no one has gone before and then, peace out. Jesus left them with a promise. “I Am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I AM – Jesus says God’s name. I AM. Our Triune God is with us – always – to the end of the age.
This promise to always be with God’s people is no mistake. Jesus knows that this is not an easy mission, it’s not a safe mission, in fact, it’s an incredibly dangerous and frightening mission, so he concludes with the promise of God’s eternal presence.
I’m not sure we always actually sense God’s presence in our lives, which makes boldly going that much more difficult. The Rev. David Lose said: “I am not at all sure that most people sense that God is with them. Oh, maybe in times of tragedy or loss, when even the most infrequently religious of us call on God for some extra help. (Though now that I think of it, calling on God and experiencing God with us are not the same.) But what about all the other times. Good times, not so good times, joyous times, sad times, expectant times, anxious times. Do we sense God’s presence? I know of one friend anxiously awaiting the outcome of a surgery on a grandchild. And another who has recently lost her job. And one more who is celebrating a much better semester than he’d imagined possible. And yet one more who is navigating significant changes in her roles both at home and work. Do they sense God’s presence? Some, I expect, do, but others perhaps do not.”
That is what is so important about gathering and experiencing God in community. When one of us struggles to sense God’s presence there are others here to sense God for them. Even among the eleven, some worshiped and some wavered, doubted what they were seeing. We need each other. We need to gather in order to disciplize. We need to share in water, word, and a meal. Knowing that Jesus is fully present with us in these times and places. Renewing, reinvigorating, and replenishing ourselves.
We have the joy and privilege of sharing God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to everyone we know and to those whom we don’t know. Christ has commissioned and empowered us to continue his mission: to explore, to seek out, to boldly go… and has promised to never leave us on this journey. God is with us. Jesus is with us. Spirit is with us. Right here, right now. Always. We have been promised this!
Thanks be to I AM – the Trinity – God. Amen.