St. Mary’s Nanoose
June 7, 2020.
Trinity Sunday Matthew 28:16-20
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity. The Trinity invites us into a life overflowing with joy and love. Abundance is a sign of a life lived in the embrace of the Trinity.
When I was baptized into the church in the mid 1990s, I had a lot of questions. Some of my questions had been answered in the year-long program of initiation leading up to my baptism. But every answer seemed to stimulate 2 more questions. My list was growing! The month after I was baptized, I showed up the priest’s office with my list of questions.
I wanted to know -
* how should I to live out my baptismal promises?
* how did one pray?
* is it possible to stop judging other people? Myself?
*….. and the clincher – What exactly is the Trinity?
How can God be 3 persons and still be one God? It hurt my brain to think about it. Couldn’t we just ignore the whole thing?
The priest didn’t know how to handle my questions. His answers were decidedly vague and he ushered me out of his office as quickly as he could. I was left to ponder the Trinity on my own.
Finally in seminary, I found a course called “Contemporary Trinitarian Thought.” I registered thinking, “Now finally, my questions will be answered!”
Well, we read a lot of scholars on the subject of the Trinity and I soon realized that there is no “answer.” The Trinity is definitely, and, necessarily, a mystery. Anything that could be explained in Coles Notes would not be worth engaging with!
So let’s contemplate the Trinity with our hearts, and not with our heads alone. It is said that Gregory of Nazianzus, a mystic and leader in the early Church engaged his whole being in contemplation. Focusing on one person of the Trinity, he would be overwhelmed by the splendor of the three. And when he contemplated the three together, he would see one torch, an undivided light, and be moved to tears.
So key to the Trinity is our willingness to engage. But how, and with what?
We have to engage our imaginations and our hearts. Different metaphors speak to mystery the Holy Trinity. Is it helpful to imagine a braid to talk about the intertwining of three to make a unified “one.” Perhaps a braided mobius strip where the braid, or Trinity, goes on forever. But this is limited as the image doesn’t necessarily involve us.
Another way of considering the Trinity is to think about the nature of relationships. As one person we can be all these different people: I am a mother, a wife, a child, sister, friend …. you get the idea. But this is limited as well because the Trinity is not one person split in 3, but three in one, or 3 as one.
I like the image of a dance a lot. In a dance, we feel the energy between the people dancing. The image is dynamic. A word for the dance of the Holy Trinity is “perichoresis.” From the Greek, perichoresis refers to the relationship between the persons of the Trinity. If God’s nature is to extend love, in the Trinity, God’s love overflows, pouring in turn from the Father to the Son, from the Son to the Holy Spirit, back to the Father.
There is no shortage or withholding of love; Love is pouring out and moving between them in an eternal dance…… And we are invited into this dance/this relationship. There is no shortage of room, everyone is invited!
The profound truth about the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is that there is no distance between, only love binding. And that love overflows and infuses and includes everyone. Trinitarian love is energetic … it moves, invites, embraces and changes us. We know our hearts are open and that we are in that bond when we feel joy, energy, or peace. Even when, and maybe especially when, life is not easy. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s just what we know/what we experience.
It doesn’t make sense. In a world where we insist on scarcity, where we are fearful and worried, how can we proclaim this abundant love - a love that continually overflows and invites and includes? That never ends?
I remember when we were a young family of 3. Jim and I were considering having a 2nd child. There was so much love in our little family; would there be more for another child? It sounds crazy, but I did wonder. And of course you know the answer – I may not have had as much time as I would have liked, but easily, there was more than enough love to go around!
And yet it makes perfect sense. This is the love that passes all understanding. That moves the stars and tides. That delights and encourages. It’s bigger than anything we could ask for or imagine. We don’t have to understand. We just need to engage. And call it whatever – Holy One, Creator, God, Trinity…. The name doesn’t matter; it’s the LOVE that is important. And the understanding that the love does not come from us, but comes through us, in never ending supply. And it’s ours to share.
I think of our youngest son when he was only 5 years old. Listen to his Holy Trinity wisdom. Imagine a darkened bedroom. Theo and I were having our nighttime snuggle and conversation. Here’s how it went: Theo: “Can we have Coke tomorrow.”
Me: “No, Theo, you know that Coke is only for very special occasions.”
Theo: “Tomorrow is a very special day.”
Me: “It is?! Why is tomorrow special?”
Theo: “We’re going to have Coke.”
We laughed and laughed in total abandonment and then I held him really tight. This, my friends, is the joy, confusion and delight of the Holy Trinity. It’s not about understanding but about abandoning ourselves into a life of abundance: abundant love, joy and creativity.
And so my challenge to you for the coming week is: to seriously consider what it is in life that brings you joy. Especially in this time of challenge and change. Because joy and thanksgiving are two of the ways we are drawn into the divine life. Joining the holy dance enlivens and recreates God’s world. Our joy and gratitude are expressions of Trinitarian love. And those expressions are the best ways to spread the good news.
In our reading from 2Corinthians today, Paul tells us: “Live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss (well, not during Covid! – maybe just mime sending a kiss!). All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
We are all in this together. The dance of life. Always with a partner.
Thanks be to God.