Not surprisingly, given that they are selected for Trinity Sunday, today’s texts point to God-in-three. The good news is that the juxtapositions seem organic, a legitimate highlighting of multiple aspects of the divine.
At a meeting of church musicians and worship leaders, the phrase comfort zone was cropping up everywhere. This was the drift of the discussion: People should feel at home in worship, especially in times like these when everything moves so quickly and nothing (including our daily bread) can be taken for granted.
There were only 11 disciples on the mountain. The group was incomplete because one had betrayed Jesus and given in to despair. The others hadn’t acquitted themselves much better during the time of trial. The impetuous one had denied Jesus three times. Some had scattered and hid. Together or on their own, it just didn’t seem they were enough.
Rephibia is the kind of pet store that most other stores don’t want around. It doesn’t carry cats or dogs or anything else that is cute and cuddly. All its animals are cold-blooded, and some are quite large. The first thing you see as you walk in the door is a massive python almost 18 feet long. But there are also monitor lizards that are bigger than most dogs, frogs the size of dinner plates (they look strangely like Jabba the Hutt), and even an alligator snapping turtle that is so big you think it might be older than you are.
When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Passages like this assure me there’s a place for me and the people I serve. Unlike John’s story of Thomas, Matthew didn’t single out one disciple as the doubter. He says that “some doubted.”
Paul’s daunting promise to the Romans haunts me: “Suffering produces endurance,” he assures the Romans and us, “and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” Recently I stood in the pulpit of my church and looked over the top of a white, 32-inch-long casket at a young couple from my congregation. Their six-month-old son, who had been happy and healthy just days before, had died in his sleep. The unfathomable suffering of the family was shadowed by a church filled with mourners for whom the scene enacted their most dreaded fears.