Is this Doctrine a Deal Breaker?


Reflection: This sermon was a combo breaker. I did not create a full manuscript this time. I read commentaries. I listened to podcasts. I discussed the details with a few people and finalized my outline . I then preached with an outline.

Message Title: Is this Doctrine a Deal Breaker?
Theme: Trinity
Season: ordinary time
Main Text: Romans 8:12-17
Scripture Reading: Psalm 29
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
Focus: Paul points to the involvement of the Spirit in our salvation.
Function: To engage in a conversation about the doctrine of the Trinity while finding freedom in uncertainty AND confidence in our salvation.
Other Notes: Trinity Sunday (Talk about the Spirit again) MEMORIAL DAY

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 29 You, divine beings! Give to the Lord—give to the Lord glory and power! 2Give to  Lord the glory due his name! Bow down to the Lord in holy splendor! 3The Lord’s voice is over the waters; the glorious God thunders; the Lord is over the mighty waters. 4The Lord’s voice is strong; the Lord’s voice is majestic. 5The Lord’s voice breaks cedar trees—yes, the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon. 6He makes Lebanon jump around like a young bull, makes Sirion jump around like a young wild ox. 7The Lord’s voice unleashes fiery flames; 8the Lord’s voice shakes the wilderness—yes, the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9The Lord’s voice convulses the oaks, strips the forests bare, but in his temple everyone shouts, “Glory!” 10The Lord sits enthroned over the floodwaters; the Lord sits enthroned—king forever! 11Let the Lord give strength to his people! Let the Lord bless his people with peace!


  1. Silly activity: Blindfold food test
    1. 2 volunteers- no dietary restrictions and willing to be blindfolded
    2. Part 1: 2 minutes – Eat an item and describe the flavor without using the word for the flavor.
      1. Both are blind, one eats and describes, the other tries to guess what the food is
      2. I.e. can’t say it tastes like an “orange” to describe an orange.
    3. Part 2: 2 minutes Hold an item in your hand and describe the item without using the word for the item.
      1. Other partner tries to guess the thing
      1. i.e an orange is round, has porous skin, smells citrusy
    4. Multiple, for every one you get right, you get a prize

TRANSITION: This may have been a silly exercise but I think it emphasizes the point quite well:

Language is a limitation to experience and understanding.

Where words fail our senses and emotions fill in the gaps. Today is the day in the church calendar when we celebrate the Trinity. This topic is limited by language and full of mystery. As we engage with a passage from the Letter to the Romans, we will test the limits of our language and invite God to fill in the space between.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 8:12-17 12So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. 14All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.


  1. Background to the letter: Epistles are letters, we’re entering the middle of the conversation
    1. Author: Paul- Apostle to the Gentiles directly commissioned by the resurrected Jesus
    2. Dating: later in Paul’s career
    3. Audience: Jewish & non-Jewish believers in Rome worshiping in house churches
      1. Major divisions between Jewish & non-Jewish believers
      2. Paul’s intention was to make the Roman church a home base for missions into Europe (Spain)… that never happened because he was arrested and executed before he could fulfill that goal
      3. This church HAD to get IT right in order to be a base for missions.
        1. This letter is rich with teachings on the fundamentals of Christianity.
    4. Bigger context:
      1. Give your allegiance to Jesus above all else
  2. This passage: Living by the Spirit


  1. Language limitations:
    1. trying to explain the trinity
      1. Russian nesting dolls
      2. Eggs
      3. Water
  2. Creed & language of the trinity
    1. Council of Nicaea in 325 AD


  1. Flexibility & grace in language
    1. Reverence is relative
  2. God meets us where we are
    1. Faith journey: “I can work with that”


MEMORIAL DAY SPECIAL: Flowers/reading of names & prayer

  1. Another emotion that is hard to express is the level of gratitude Americans have for our soldiers both past and present. Today is not only Trinity Sunday but also Memorial Day weekend.
  2. A new tradition of Liberty is the reading of names at Memorial day for our service men & women who have passed away and giving flowers to the families left behind.
    1. Lets join together and remember
  3. Prayer:

God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your children
Keep in your mercy those soldiers
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord.

(adapted from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s