If you remember back to ten reasons to do church, that I talked about last week, you'll remember that I began with eating. Much of our gathering together is around eating a meal, eating bread and drinking wine. In the book called People of the Way, Renewing Episcopal Identity, by Dwight Zscheile (Shylie), he writes
"Every Sunday at ordinary Episcopal churches, something extraordinary takes place. In a society in which tables of hospitality are mostly closed off to strangers, a public feast is held. You don't need to buy a ticket to this meal. Not everyone necessarily knows each other; not everyone gets along perfectly, but they come together nonetheless. The food is simple stuff - bread and wine - about to become something more than itself. As the story is told and songs are sung, a change takes place. Hearts are lifted. The brokenness in the lives of each of the participants, and the brokenness of the world, is brought into focus. Healing begins to pour through it. Lives turned inward are opened outward. In the midst of the messiness and richness of this meal is the presence of Jesus, felt and known through the Spirit, tasted in the bread and wine, inviting us and the whole of the world into community with God." (p.44)
This is exactly what we did on Friday, celebrating the life of Bette Hauk. So many people showed up, many more than expected, all were fed, both with Holy Communion, and with a delicious Loaves and Fishes lunch.
I think this description of what we do when we gather together has everything to do with Trinity, which we recognize today. I've told you before about the time when I was in high school at my regular Sunday evening youth group meeting. The young priest came to teach us all about the Trinity. I figured I'd have all my questions answered that night, but no, I left more confused than I was when I arrived. But it's really not that hard. Theologians and systematicians make it more confusing than it has to be. You know, in many churches that have multiple priests on staff, it's always the new guy that preaches on Trinity Sunday because no one else wants to.
Trinity is not to be explained, but to be experienced. Trinity is a way of talking about the richness of God's communal life. Trinity is community with God, it is relationship. It is God's nature to create others to share in God's life. As followers of Jesus in the first few centuries sought to make sense out of the relationship among the Jesus they had known as Lord, the Spirit they experienced in community, and the God of Israel to whom the scriptures gave witness, they developed the doctrine of the Trinity.
The reading we have before us today from Isaiah shows us the God who is creator of all, of all that is seen and unseen, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. And from Romans we see the Spirit that bears witness that we are all children of God. In John, we see Jesus, who comes into this world and lives and loves and suffers and dies and absorbs all the pain and suffering and violence on the cross. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about what new life is all about. This is Trinity. It is how God presents Godself, it is how we humans imagine God in relationship. It is a model of how we may live this life in community with others on the way.
I bind unto myself today, the strong name of the trinity, by invocation of the same, the three in one and one in three. Creative, compassionate, merciful. Father, son, spirit. Mother, daughter, servant. Composer, musicians, music. Author, story, reader. Swimmer, water, breath. Steam, liquid, ice. Light, wave, particle.
Essentially, the Trinity says what our sacred text says at its opening creation story: that it is not good for humans — or God for that matter — to be alone; that meaning is created in community and through relationships; that we do better as creatures when we join hands rather than raise fists. Trinity is God experienced in community, Trinity is God's abundant and amazing love spilling out creatively as it includes all of God's creation. Trinity is much less a doctrine, and much more a dance. A dance in which everyone participates.
So what does Trinity mean for us today? So many people believe the story that dominates American life today, you indeed may be one of them. That you are what you earn or achieve, that identity must be cobbled together from a wide array of shifting possibilities, that you must work incessantly at securing meaning and community because these things are not given. Amidst competition, consumerism, anxiety, and opportunity, life is what you make of it, largely on your own. Underneath these swirling waters of struggle lay the deep currents of isolation, fragmentation, and despair.
The story that we tell, the truth that we tell, is one in which every human life is precious beyond measure, created for loving relationship with the source of all life. In this story, your worth is given, not earned. You are welcomed into a community in which no one goes hungry, differences need not be a cause of division, but a gift to be celebrated, you are offered forgiveness and are released to forgive others. You are claimed by a love and power beyond your own. You are held in arms of grace, you are part of a community in which Love wins. And in that, you are freed to participate in the restoration of human community and all creation.
Trinity calls us to wholeness, to relationship, to community. Trinity calls us away from isolation, and frees us to call each other neighbor. Our response to that is to participate in what God is already doing in the world. If our God is a God of relationship, of community, of co-creativity, maybe that's what our mission is in the world. Maybe participating in what God is already doing in the world is about building bridges, reaching out, inviting others into the Love that wins, the love that embraces every one no matter what.
Maybe participating in what God is already doing is about accompanying people, walking with people who are hurting, and offering partnership in that. It isn't always about relieving suffering, sometimes it is walking the path with others, like Jesus does. Maybe participating in what God is already doing is about responding to those who would crucify us, with love and not revenge, therefore absorbing hate like Jesus does, instead of inflaming hate. Maybe participating in what God is already doing is showing that Love wins, like Jesus does, instead of spewing words of judgement.
Trinity, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, is about participating in a web of relationship, eating with a community of people, dancing with others to the music of the seraphim. It is proclaiming with Isaiah, Here I am, send me! It is proclaiming with Jesus, Love wins. Amen.