Our reading for today, the commemoration of Patrick, comes from Mission from the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Mission.
Patrick adamantly confessed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity during his missionary service to Ireland. We thank God for devoted, faithful defenders of the faith like Patrick.
The missio Dei . . . presupposes the ontological definitions of the unity of the triune God—in other words, that God is and exists as one (Deut. 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one”). The missiological significance of the Godhead lies in the economic activity of the three persons to the world. God’s mission must be seen in terms of what He does according to the personal acts of creation, redemption, and sanctification. . . .
The Church has always worshiped Christ as the preexistent, incarnate, and co-creating divinity. It thus rejected at the council of Nicaea in AD 325 attempts at subordinating Christ to the Father as claimed by Arius. It was precisely Arius’s reluctance to have God dragged into the mission of the incarnate Christ—His human birth, suffering, and death—that became the controversial issue. For this reason, the decision of Nicaea safeguarded the deity of the incarnate Christ by affirming Christ to be of the same substance (homoousios) with the Father.
The theologians quickly realized that the equation of Father with the Son must also include the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, the Spirit would be treated as inferior to the other two persons. According to John 16:15 and 17:26, the Third Person’s activity is to make known to the world the glory of Christ which, in turn, is the Father’s glory. Although the Church confesses God as one, God in Christ also establishes His presence in the life of the Church through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. . . .
Thus God’s mission includes His outward operations toward the world, that is, in time and in relation to God’s creation. We could formulate the divine mission in this way: God the Father, driven by His loving will, sends His Word through which He creates the world. Fallen man is not simply ejected from creation, having spurned the Word of God for the devil’s lies in Genesis 3. God’s Word became flesh in Jesus Christ, the first missionary, through whom God the Father is reconciled to man. Jesus Christ makes way for His Spirit, through whom creation is brought back to Christ and to the Creator. Mission therefore has its origin in God Himself. The one God acts out of love to this world; in three persons, God creates, redeems, and sanctifies the world.
Devotional reading is from Mission from the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Mission, pages 92–94 © 2009 Klaus Detlev Schulz. Published by Concordia Publishing House.
Selected Hymn Stanza
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!
Hymn text is from LSB 604:5.