How Big is Your God? “A Window into God’s Enormity”
Genesis 1: 1-13 & Matthew 28: 16-20 ~ Northwood UC ~ June 4, 2023
On Trinity Sunday, we find ourselves amidst a mucky area of theological controversy. I don’t know
that it will bring about any vigorous shouting or theological debate (as it has in the past), but I do
believe that this morning’s inquiry will cause us to think more deeply about the enormity and wonder
of God. To think about…how big God is…how enormous God is…to think about the vast nature of
To aid our inquiry, I would like to begin with a humbling story told by one the great church fathers, St
Augustine, who tells a story of his learning to understand the Trinity. One day while walking along the
seashore reflecting on this theological question, Augustine saw a little child. The child had shaped a
hole in the sand, and she was running back and forth from the sea to hole with a little cup. She went
to the sea, filled her cup, went to the hole in the sand and poured the water in. Back and forth she
went to the sea, filling her cup and pouring the water. Augustine asked, "Little child, what are doing?"
She replied, "I am trying to empty the sea into this hole." Augustine countered: "How do you think that you can empty this immense sea using just this tiny cup?" The girl replied, “And you sir, how do you
suppose that with this, your small head, you can comprehend the immensity of God?"
As we have been exploring, today is Trinity Sunday. And as we enter this theological journey, we
enter a (somewhat) controversial area of theology. The theology of the trinity comes out of, but is not
directly rooted in, scripture. It is a very important concept going back into church history that was
vigorously debated by Trinitarians and the non-Trinitarians. The theological concept of the trinity was
created as an effort to comprehend the enormity of God. This morning we come to the second
Sunday of the season of Pentecost and the church calendar encourages this focus upon: the Holy
Trinity. How the One God can be better understood through the three mysteries of the Holy: The
Creator/Father/ Mother ~ The Christ/ Redeemer/ Son and ~ The Holy Spirit / Sustainer/ Breath of
God? How can we understand the enormity of God…we begin with the trinity.
On Christmas Eve 1968, the three Apollo 8 astronauts, Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell,
celebrated their remarkable scientific achievement by reading some ancient religious poetry as they
looked back at earth. What would you choose to read looking back upon the blue-green globe that we
rely upon for life? Even though the poetry was 3,000 years old, it was familiar to most. One selection
was the thirteen verses from this week’s lectionary ~ the Genesis reading that Dan offered. Floating in
space and marveling over this wonderful planet, they began with the first sentence of the Bible: "In
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Perhaps some remember the emotion as
those elegant words were read, and as people around the world watched grainy television images.
Planet earth never looked so beautiful, so mysterious, and so very fragile. It was a truly sacred
moment to behold; a sacred moment that required a suitable text to name the experience.
The exquisite poetry of Genesis, so fundamental to the three monotheistic faiths, has been through a
lot. It has been dismissed by critics and distorted by believers. Scientists have challenged Christian’s
naiveté. How could one believe the world to be created in a literal six days, they ask? Yet,
theologians counter, this is akin to asking why a painting by Picasso isn't more "realistic" or a poem
by Shakespeare isn’t more historically accurate. What we know today, is that the creation poetry
doesn't enlighten us about history or science, as we understand those disciplines. The Hebrew
creation poetry moves us closer to truths that transcend and science. Some people call these
timeless words "myths," which is fine, provided we avoid the inference that a religious myth is false
compared to a scientific fact being "true." Myths may not have happened; yet, they point us further
towards the deeper truth. GK Chesterton rightly observed that “fairy tales are more than true: not
because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” The
great theologian Marcus Borg thus refers to the "surplus of meaning" in a religious myth such as the
creation story. It opens our mind to the vast awesome, expanding nature of God.
Unfortunately, some see modern day scientific theories of creation as being in opposition to the
Genesis poetry. Each new theory attempts to claim the prestige of science. In his book “The Soul of
Christianity”, Berkeley professor Huston Smith characterizes modern day understandings of creation
as "scientistic." That is, they suggest that science is the only or the best source of reliable knowledge.
Thus, the only type of knowledge worth knowing. But who would want a world reduced to the
equations of chemistry and devoid of the beauty a symphony might offer? Reductionistic "scientism,"
Smith argues, has been "disastrous for the human spirit." Sometimes, you simply cannot reduce
God’s work to equations. The Genesis poet proclaims that there's more to our world than just matter
and energy, more than purposeless fate. It says that we're not alone, that we're not abandoned to our
own selves, but that ever since "the beginning" the Spirit of God has hovered over all existence like a
tender mother. The world is witness of the Creator’s power and presence, and to stand in awe over
the enormity of God is a fitting posture.
To continue reading through the Creation Story in Genesis is to find an awareness of how big our
God is. The Genesis poet writes that every single human being is created in the image of God. Do
you believe that to be true? Well then if that is true, then we also participate as (small c) creators in
God’s universe. Have you ever thought of your role as being created in the image of God? Called to
be an extension of God’s role as creator? It’s a powerful consideration! You are a creator and you are
a creator and you are a creator and I am a creator. I see lots of people puffing up in their seats. In the
image of God, part of our role is to be a co-creator in God’s precious Creation. It feels good doesn’t
it? Well, there is a tremendous responsibility that goes along with this. There are some implications
that come with this role. If you are called to be a creator, then you must consider what it is that you
are creating! You are called to be fruitful in what you do! This is a tremendous responsibility to be an
extension of God’s creation: to be created in order that we might, by extension, be God’s creators in
God’s world. Yes, indeed, our God is big and expansive and limitless.
Our Regional Church has been meeting through this week, considering how we are part of God’s
unfolding work through BC and into parts of Alberta. We might think about this in terms of our larger
ministry in the world. As an extension of God’s creation, we are further creating God’s kingdom. Or
we might think about this locally at our church. At Northwood, our ministry might be serving on one of
the church committees or serving on an outreach project; but, make no mistake, we are all called to
participate as co-creators…being the church in the world. We are not meant to be passive recipients.
As creators, we are meant to engage with our gifts and express them in the world; to give glory to
God through our actions. As one shoe manufacturer’s slogan says “just do it!” Get involved! Live out
your ministry. Be God’s creators in God’s unfolding Kingdom. Our God is big…and we are part of
This concept we are considering, is what theologians call “imago Dei” (being created in God’s image).
It isn't something that we can earn by being smarter or wealthier. And no person, for any reason, can
ever be stripped of the divine likeness. We can distort or enhance God's image by the choices we
make, but – “we can never forfeit the divine signature”. Affirming this image of God doesn't place
humanity at the center of the universe - Far from it. God alone is at the center of the creation story.
Albert Einstein had the wonderful insight in reflecting upon the enormous mystery that is the world.
He wrote: “the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art
and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand
rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
As we read the story of Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples on Trinity Sunday, I wonder if that was
the point. To be reminded that we are never alone, till the end of the age. That we are created in this
awesome image of the Creator, blessed with new life through Jesus, and guided with the breath of
the Holy Spirit through our ministries of allowing God’s Kingdom to unfold through all that we are, and
all that we do.