With, vacations just around the corner, all the test are done, exam’s posted, SOL’s turned in I have one last test for you this Trinity Sunday as we continue our series on Foundations of the Faith. Today we look at God’s Mercy.  Now don’t get down in the dumps- Easy Test. Two questions. Each question 50% but I’ll make it easy. A true or false test.

First Question……The definition of Mercy is divine action on behalf of offenders and victims whereby God brings relief. True or False?   Second Question – Is your understanding of God (The Trinity) true or false?    Very important question…….Is your understanding of God (The Trinity) true of false.

We have set through more sermons than we can count.  Heard more speakers that we can even remember. Sit in Sunday school, Bible Study, retreats……….so is our understanding of God and His mercy….true or false?

What if your answer is false, what if you’re understanding of Mercy or of God, the trinity is false……..then if that’s the case the more religious you are the worst it is-the more false it becomes.

A legend has it that one day, as Abraham Lincoln’s son was walking in a park near the White House, he saw a young soldier sitting on a bench crying.  The man was greatly distressed, and the young Lincoln stopped to ask what was wrong.

Looking up through his tears, the soldier explained that his brother had been placed in jail for something he did not do.  He had been told that the only person who could help him, who could show mercy, was the president of the United States. The problem, of course, was that he couldn’t get a message to the president.

Lincoln’s son thought for a moment and then ask, “Mister, will you go with me?”

Even though the young man didn’t know the younger Lincoln’s identity, he agreed.  The two walked across the street and through the White House gates.  They passed the guards and Lincoln’s personal secretary.  In fact, they didn’t stop walking until they crossed the threshold of Lincoln’s office, where his son finally spoke up and said, “Dad, this soldier needs to talk with you.”  The president looked up from what he was doing and smiled.  Then he listened as the solider explained his situation.  (Mercy)

When you have the right relationship, you go further, faster.  The trinity -God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  With a “True” answer on your test you understand that with a relationship with Jesus you have direct access to the Father.  We don’t have to spend time praying to others, hoping that they tap into the right source.  With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a relationship with Jesus you have all the access to the God the Father you need.  No one No one, can prevent you from coming into His presence and nothing can stop Him from answering your prayers.

So let’s go back to our exam.  Is your understanding of God (The Trinity) and mercy true or false?

In one of the most important test we could take, how do we know?  How could we be positivity sure?  How can we be 100% sure that our perception of God/The Trinity and His Mercy,  True.

Allow me to confess.  Many know, but here goes.  I am a BaptiMethicostal.  What in the world, you say.  You see I too, have sit through countless sermons, bible studies, retreats and Sunday schools.

As a young girl, my family did not go to church.  My grandparents, made us come in to watch Billy Graham when he was on one of the three possible three channels.  We had a bible that recorded birth and deaths.  We even had a photo, of Jesus praying to God the Father in the Mount of Olives before his arrest.  But we did have a neighbor “out the road” we called it.  The Berry’s that made sure the kids in the neighbor got to this little white Baptist church. (Beth Carr Baptist)  Every Sunday, Wednesday and for vacation bible school, they would pick us up-at the end of their road and take us to church.  There we would go down in the basement for Sunday school.  We would sit on those little wooden chairs, and so did the teacher…she was beautiful in my eyes.  She would pull out the ‘felt’ bible figures and place them on a large “felt” board.  And she would tell all the stories of the scripture.  After snack, we would go upstairs to ‘big church’ and hear the pastor preach.  I knew from the preaching that God had to be big, because each time that pastor spoke of God, it was ‘GOD’.

This church had wealthy people, I could tell by the way they dress.  They could articulate scripture in a way that told me to they were very educated/smart.  If this Baptist church were to pick a favorite part of the Trinity, it would have be ‘GOD’ the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  It was their love and reverence for that part of the trinity –The Father.

In the little Baptist, I remember thinking/feeling that God was up there.  A big God, watching over His people and over us His children with a patient Fatherly eye.

But then one summer (actually a few summers), I had to stay with relatives in the mountains of Greene county- as one begins to ascend to Shenandoah National Park. It was again, a little white church, Lydia Mountain Penacostal Church.  Cinderblock, clean, cute, painted white.  Inside was one main aisle, dark rich wood, and one door –remember that well, tell you why in a second- one door, the front door only.

With this little church, I got another impression of God/the Trinity altogether.  There were men, not in suits this time. All in starched white shirts, playing a blue grass style of music with their guitars, tambourines, drums.  They were laughing, crying, singing loudly……rejoicing.  The preacher would begin to preach and he had a white hanky, he used to wipe his forehead and above his lip…….because as he preached he worked up a sweat.  I had never seen a pastor get that worked up.  He would preach, he would get louder. At times he would begin to cry.  I had no idea what was going on.  To this day, I’m not sure I had a choice to be there or not but I wanted to go back.  I didn’t want to miss one thing that God was doing in that little white church. I was intrigued.  I had never seen the laughing, and crying, the raising of hands to worship or the lack of jewelry and simplicity.  Men giving each other ‘holy’ hugs.   I remember, about the second or third time, this is where the one door only comes in……..a lady –some still call it slain in the spirit- I personally don’t like that terminology-now that I understand it, I call it resting in the spirit.  And that’s what it is a marvelous rest with the spirit.  I remember, a lady, just resting in the spirit….right in front of the only door in the church.  As a little girl, the only thing I could think of was, “I’m I going to have to step over a dead woman, to get out of this church.”  Nothing like I had ever seen in that little Baptist church.

But there was something about it that was exciting. (**PowerPoint from Pentecost Sunday)   In that little church the spirit of God was moving among the simple ordinary people like I’ve never ever seen before.   Simple men and women- janitors, cooks, construction works, farmers, people on welfare, families on county assistance-  all filled with the move of the Holy Spirit.  Empowered not by a distance God up there but a God right down here…… among the people of that little white Mountain Church.

I learned some important lessons during the summers there.  A deep appreciation for a God that is not only trancended but also eminent.

When I got married.  We visited both sides Baptist and Episcopalian and we compromised.  Joined and raise our children in a Methodist church.  In that Methodist church, they didn’t have altar calls, nor a band nor a hanky to wipe the pastor’s forehead.  We were shown a third of the Trinity, in a way, neither of us had understood before. It was all about Jesus, God’s mercy through His son, our Savior.  That Methodist church taught that Jesus loves us and wants a relationship with us.  A personal relationship. ‘Daddy’ Jack one of the patriarch there would talk about Jesus as if he had just had lunch with him. I envied that relationship. I never heard about that kind of love and mercy before.   What a friend we have in Jesus-I’ve always heard never quite understood until then.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in all three churches or groups – to feel at home with the whole of the trinity. I believe this is one reason the Holy Spirit has directed me to include visiting other denominations during confirmation classes.

If we are to have a healthy regard for all three parts of the trinity, we need to understand the working parts of the trinity.  I believe that this BaptiMethiCostal has contributed to that understanding.

Each in a since, if you will, emphasis a part of the trinity.  If you took three different paintings  – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – and hung them in a gallery. Madison Co Baptist (Beth Carr) church would gather near God the Father, Mt Pisgah United Methodist would gather at the portrait of God the Son and then God the Holy Spirit.  There would be Lydia Mountain Pentecostal.   Not one group, would deny the importance of the other.

A stool can stand on three legs, even if one leg is a little shorter, in other words-you may not understand all equally-  it can still stand.  That stool cannot stand on one leg or just two legs.     It needs the unity of all three.

Maybe that’s why Jesus tells us at the end of Matthews’s gospel to Go, Make Disciples, Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Just maybe in His divine Mercy He knew that we would need all three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to survive in this great big scary world.

Now back to the exam….Until I fell in love with Jesus, opened myself up to the work of the Holy Spirit-my answer would have been false.  It was not until then that I was able to take God, off of the angry judgmental, gavel in his right hand, throne that I had placed Him on.

Because of His patience and His Mercy now –  It’s TRUE-I fell in love with Jesus, opened myself to the work of the Spirit and realized the Mercy of God our Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

And….. your….. answer……..is?????

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit   Amen