Saturday, June 14, 2014

Trinity June 15 2014

Audio 6.15.2014

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer; Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver. These are all ways for us to imagine Trinity. These words are attributed to St. Patrick, who in the face of the forces of darkness bound himself to the trinity. “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 hath creation; eternal father, spirit, word; praise to the lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.” We may struggle to understand the doctrine of the trinity, but there is no struggle in the experience of the relationship of God, Jesus and spirit.

It is this relationship, this community, that our images try to convey and our words try to describe. The story of creation sets the stage. Humanity is created by God, and created in God’s image, the reflection of love and wholeness, which God does intend for creation. In God’s own image God created humankind, God’s own image includes amazing diversity. Human beings are the expression of God’s fullness, of God’s love, of God’s wholeness. And God’s creation is about the interrelatedness of all the created order: every living creature, all of the animals, the waters and the land, the stars in the sky, the planets in their courses.

Trinity is about this relationship in and through and among the created order. Trinity is the real world in which we live, the real world of God’s love for humanity, for God’s deepest desire to not be alone and outside of creation, but to be in, among, and through creation. The reality of God’s deepest desire to love humanity is incarnated, is in the flesh, in Jesus. Jesus, who lived, loved, suffered and died. Jesus, in whom God began the new creation on that first Easter morning. Jesus who was raised from the dead and who ascended to take his place with God. And who is present with creation, with us, as Holy Spirit, present in the water, the flame and the oil of baptism, present in the bread and the wine, present in the coming together at this table in this place, and present in the sending out into the world to do justice, to appreciate beauty, and to be about the mission of bringing God's love into the world.

Trinity is about a reality of community over against individualism. Trinity encourages participation and welcomes diversity. Community, participation, and diversity look a lot like the church we strive to be. Each person is interdependent with the others, there is no room for any one to be self-aggrandizing and in the system each person empties oneself to be filled by the others, just as Jesus emptied himself to the love of humanity. Participation by all is essential to the matrix; the entity, the body of christ cannot live without the participation of each of the parts. Diversity presupposes inclusion, and inclusion is the acceptance of others. We join together, while honoring the diversity among the many, in a unity that does not seek uniformity.

But, Trinity is not a thing to be studied, it is a reality to be lived. 
Like resurrection, trinity bears itself out in a sort of natural circle; Caterpillar - cocoon - butterfly; 
Mother - daughter - wife; 
wheel - spoke - hub; 
Doctor Who - TARDIS - ?
composer - musician - music;
Three in one and one in three.

Jesus had taught the disciples to pray that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven, and at the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus claims the authority that has been given to him, to send the disciples to go and make that happen; to work as agents of that authority that has been granted as a result of the resurrection and in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Claiming the authority of the trinity to baptize, the disciples, and that includes you and me, are to make disciples of all nations. What would the world look like if we really claimed the authority of the Trinity?

NT Wright, the author of a book called, Surprised by Hope, describes the world that takes Jesus’ resurrection seriously and that baptizes in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit as a world of justice, beauty, and evangelism, another trinity, a Trinity of mission.

Justice is the first aspect of NT Wright's trinity of mission. It is God’s intention, as expressed from Genesis to Revelation, to set the whole world right. A plan gloriously fulfilled in Jesus Christ, supremely in Jesus’ resurrection, and now to be implemented in the world. What this means is that since Jesus has already begun the new creation in the resurrection, that you and I are part of the solution, we are part of the web that can speak about and make real what Jesus pointed us to, that the lowly are to be lifted up, the mighty brought down, that all are to included at the table.

Beauty is the second aspect of NT Wright’s trinity of mission. I find this refreshing and fascinating. I think being created in God’s image means that we are ourselves creators, and to make sense of and celebrate a beautiful world through music and art is part of the call to be stewards of creation. I have been thinking a lot about this recently, and being an educator first and foremost, I began to realize why I think an argument about public education that does not include arts, music, and physical education is lacking. Our lives are lessened; our lives become distorted, when we do not reflect the entirety of God’s image of beauty. The reality is that the wholeness of God’s image is in both beauty and woundedness, and when we come to terms with both we may be on our way to doing the new thing that discipleship calls us to do.

Lastly, NT Wright’s trinity of mission is evangelism. Not the frightening and bullying harangues or tactless and offensive behavior of some, or embarrassing and na├»ve presentations of the gospel. Evangelism is the powerful announcement that God is God, that Jesus is lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that Love wins and that God’s new world has begun. What this means is that we allow our lives to be reshaped by God, knowing that it is painful at times, but that it is the way to genuine human life in the present, and a glorious resurrection in the future.

I bind unto myself this day, the strong name of the trinity. I bind unto myself this day, the strong name of the trinity; by invocation of the same, the three in one, and one in three, of whom all nature hath creation; eternal father, spirit, word; praise to the lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.

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