Benediction Online

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Dance of the Trinity
(Isaiah 6:1-8, John 3: 1-17)

There are many things I do not understand. These include black holes, parallel universes, quarks and fractals, string theory and chaos theory. There are other things I don’t understand which are a little more personal. Like how genes mutate, or where DNA comes from, or how the hypothalamus interacts with the thyroid, and what the spleen does. These personal ones seem particularly important to me because I depend on them for the healthy functioning of my body. But fortunately I don’t actually need to understand what my spleen does for it to do it, or how my kidneys are constructed for them to work quite well.

It’s like that with God. I am totally dependent upon God but I don’t understand him/her or they. I don’t know what pronoun to use and I certainly can’t explain the Trinity to you. But the Trinity, fortunately, does not depend upon my understanding to go about their life and do what they do, quite independently of my small fuzzy brain.

Any language we use for God is inadequate, so the Holy Trinity is just a description, and probably quite a poor one. But even though language used to describe the ineffable is always going to be inaccurate, the language we use IS important. That’s one of the great contributions of feminist theology - showing that the way we talk about God has ramifications in every part of our lives. Because the way we talk about God mirrors the way we think about ourselves, the universe and our place in it.

My own faith life has been transformed this last year by a new understanding of the Trinity. I was inspired by the book, Mysteries of Faith, which we studied earlier in the year. It certainly wasn’t an easy read in places and at first I got bogged down in the discussion of the Trinity. But then I saw it in a new light. I saw that the Trinity is essentially about relationship. It is about the loving, adoring, worshipping, obeying, praising, exuberant relationship between the persons of the Trinity.

What has been so important for me is imagining the Trinity having this wonderful, crazy, mutual love affair which is so energetic that they have to DO something together. I am sure we have all had the experience of being with a friend or a sweetheart or a beloved family member and having such a good time being together that we’ve just wanted to go and DO something. Well the Trinity have that experience too – they have such a good time together that they just have to DO something – and the something that they do is create the universe with its quarks and black holes and you and me with our genes and spleens and all those things that we like to think we could possibly understand.

I love thinking that this whole thing was created because the Trinity were having such fun they just had to share it. It makes me feel quite differently about myself and the world, it puts a whole new spin on the repeated line in Genesis 1 ‘and God saw that it was good’. God creates the universe out of God’s exuberant, overabundant, bubbling up love.

Which means that we, when we are at our best, get to share that passionate creative love in our own relationships and in our communities. Because if we are created in the image of a God who is constantly in motion, in a dance of love and joy and mutual caring, then when we are doing what we are created to do, which is when we are at our very best, we too will be living creatively and lovingly in community. That’s a different way of understanding our call to be disciples; instead of seeing ourselves as primarily individuals who have an individual relationship with God, we see ourselves as part of the faith community during the ages, doing our small piece to bring the kindom of God to full realization. It means that our relationship with those around us is as important as our relationship with God.

That’s not new news since Jesus told us that along with loving God, loving our neighbor as ourselves is most important. But it’s still not something we’re good at. Because God calls us to be in community not just with those we already know but with those we don’t know. Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to explain about the neighbor we should love. If he were teaching today he’d probably talk about the Good Palestinian. Because his story was about reaching out across traditional lines of enmity. Our calling is to create community with those with whom we disagree; to find the places of connection with those we don’t know or don’t like.

All of creation was intended to be part of the Trinity’s ongoing dance of loving worship and mutual caring but God does not force that on us and as we know only too well, the human race chose to go a different way. But we are constantly invited back into that relationship and as we choose to return we get to bring our neighbor with us. That’s not something that comes naturally, and so Jesus talked about the need to be ‘born from above’, because living as disciples of Christ means living in ways that are simply unnatural to us. They are unnatural to us as humans but normal for those who are living in God.

Some people experience being ‘born from above’ as a sudden flash which changes everything. For most of us being ‘born from above’ is a more gradual process of transformation. It may begin with our baptism, when we become full members of Christ’s body the Church or it may have begun before that. It is a process of choosing every day to turn towards God, of being intentional about living as part of the community of God, of joining in the dance of the Holy Trinity. Every time we turn towards God we become aware of ways in which we are still apart and so we get to turn towards God again and again and again. Because we are free just like God is free, this requires our choosing - we cannot be passive but must actively seek to be transformed and to become part of the life of God.

We are not alone in this journey. Not only do we have the companionship of others who are on the same road, but we have the companionship of God. The Holy Spirit is the gift given to us to bring us new birth, to lead us into the paths of peace and truth, to help us align our wills with God’s and to teach us the steps of the divine dance.

‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world.’ Far from it. God sent his Son into the world so that we might be able to return to the relationships we were made for. God sent his Son into the world to make all things new by being the first human to fully step into our potential as co-creators and dance partners with the Trinity.

Our challenge is to be so filled with the knowledge and experience of God’s incredible and amazing love that we share it with those who don’t yet have a life-giving knowledge of God. We are called not only to take our place in the divine dance, but to invite others to join with us. This is not about persuading anyone to believe a particular religious dogma, but about introducing them to God, helping them to open to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We don’t have to ‘convert’ anyone, that’s not our job, that’s the Holy Spirit’s. Our job is to be so close to God ourselves that those around us are naturally touched by our lives and our witness.

My prayer is that through our ministry hundreds and thousands of people will be brought into a life-giving relationship with God and will become partners in the exuberant and loving dance of the Holy Trinity.


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