Well, here I am in the beautiful church of St Peter’s in Hascombe; and as I’m thinking of St Peter.
How many times did Peter deny knowing Jesus?
How many times did Jesus ask Peter whether he loved Him?
Of course, the answer to both is three.
There were three righteous patriarchs before the flood; Abel, Enoch and Noah
After the flood there were three righteous “fathers” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (who was renamed Israel).
Jesus preyed three times at the Garden of Gethsemane.
The number three is important in the bible; it is used 467 times.
But here’s text from scripture that might surprise you.
“Do not say ‘Three’”
Where does that come from you might ask; it’s not actually from the bible.
It’s from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.
“Don’t say three” is a sharp rejection of the doctrine of God as Trinity; Three-in- one.
On this Trinity Sunday it’s a stark reminder that many believers in God see the doctrine of the Trinity as a serious mistake.
Muslims passionately defend the oneness of God; they believe that Jesus was a prophet and not the Son of God.
Other religious groups also reject the Trinitarian Christian faith, for example Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It’s a challenge for us a times to know how to respond to this viewpoint.
Even though this morning’s Gospel reading is a relatively short one it has an incredibly powerful message.
The risen Jesus commissions the eleven to make disciples of all nations.
“Baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
This is a pivotal moment in the life of the Christian family; the life of the world
Jesus is saying that His own relationship with God is now to be opened up to all people; they are to be baptised, immersed, into the life of God the Trinity.
Let’s think a bit more about Jesus’ relationship with God.
Throughout the story of Jesus, we see His constant sense of Himself as the Son, loved by the God whom He calls Father.
And Jesus doesn’t only speak of the Father; Jesus knows the love and the guidance of the Father through a distinct personal presence who He calls the Holy Spirit.
Think of Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan; as the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus, He hears the Father saying, “You are my beloved Son” and is commissioned for the work ahead of Him.
The love of the Father is poured out through the Spirit onto the Son and is returned in the loving obedience of the Son to the Father, again through the Spirit.
This is God the Trinity; The Three-in-One, the God who is loving relationship in God’s very self.
And this has always been so; from eternity God has been Trinity.
But in the life of Jesus, God made flesh, we see something of the Trinitarian life of God active in our world.
But what does that actually mean for us?
For us, Jesus’ relationship with God is opened up to each and every one of us.
Every person on earth has the opportunity to be in a relationship with God.
No matter your colour, no matter your sexual orientation, no matter your faith or non-faith.
We are all invited to join the relationship of love that flows within the life of God;
a love that has been there for eternity and was seen in our world in the person of Jesus.
Jesus takes us by the hand and says, “Come with me, and be led by the Spirit into the presence of the God I know as Father”
This is almost mind blowing; we are to share in the life of God; the God who is love.
When we were baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we were immersed in the life of the God who is Love.
And, as we see in Jesus, that life isn’t static, but active, outgoing, self-giving; it is a living faith!
From His baptism onwards, Jesus’ relationship with God was bound up with a mission, the life giving, renewing, liberating mission of God in this world.
And so it is for us as well.
On this Trinity Sunday may we, and the whole Church of Christ, be renewed in our faith.
The Faith of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Renewed in the faith of the God who is eternally Love; and may we respond with joy and obedience to the call both to share in God’s life and to participate in God’s mission in the world.