The Trinity by Kelly Latimore
Trinity Sunday Yr A June 7 2020
Genesis 1:1-2:4a, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20, Psalm 8, or Canticle 13 (or Canticle 2)
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 spilling over into humanity, you and me.
Trying to figure out the trinity, trying to define a trinity doctrine, trying to intellectualize trinity is not helpful to us today, but relationship is.
Because Trinity really is relationship, and 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, and 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, it is in the flesh, in Jesus. Jesus, who makes God’s presence known, 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 leaving the presence of Holy Spirit with creation, with us. Holy Spirit, present in the water, the flame and the oil of baptism, present in the bread and the wine, present when we gather together, present in the space in between while we remain apart. Present in the sending out into the world to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. Present as we are about the mission of sharing God's love in 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, a diversity of which we fall far short. Each person interdependent with the others, where 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 all God’s children. We join together, while honoring the diversity among the many, in a unity that does not seek uniformity.
Trinity is one in all and all in one, therefore, we are created in the image of trinity. We are created in the image of diversity, unity, and overflowing love.
Trinity is a very clear picture of God’s intention for humanity. Justice, mercy, compassion. And as we continue to witness, over and over and over again, the killing of our black and brown bothers and sisters, Trinity shows us the way of relationship. But it isn’t enough, it isn’t enough for us to talk about this amazing relationship. And friends, it isn’t even enough for us to know that Love wins. It isn’t enough for us to say we treat all people equally. Because what we see outside our windows, down our streets, and in our cities is not about equality, it is about a country that has built itself on the systematic oppression of those who are not like us.
These sound like harsh words, don’t they? We want to say it’s not my fault, I can’t be blamed, I treat everyone just the same. I love everyone. And as true as that is, it isn’t enough. It is simple to say, I love my brothers and sisters, no matter the color of their skin, but we don’t know what it’s like. We don’t know what it’s like to be prevented from buying any house you want to buy, because there is a deliberate system keeping black people out of particular areas. Now you may say that doesn’t happen anymore, or that never happened, but it did. And today we are seeing the results of that. You see, when you buy a house, any house, any place you want, you are making an investment, building wealth, you may have inherited something from your parents, you may have something to leave to your children, but at the very least you have provided your children with a decent education because you live in a neighborhood that has a good school because of your property taxes that you pay on the house that you could buy. A house, an education, all build wealth and opportunity. Even if you have a middle-class job, the color of your skin keeps you from the middle-class house. And the next generation falls further behind, and hope begins to fade.
Or how about the GI bill. The promise was made to every person who served in the military that they could go to college. What they didn’t say, was that colleges offered one seat for black soldiers, and unlimited seats for white soldiers. Promises made, promises broken.
And I know your first reaction is to be defensive. I know that because I am that way too. But as you get defensive, get curious also. Ask yourself why this makes you defensive, and expose yourself to the lives and work of black and brown people, and open yourself up. Listen to the stories, just listen.
I speak from experience. I spent 12 years in Rapid City SD, listening to my native brothers and sisters. Listening to their stories, listening to their heartache, listening to their joys and the beauty of their culture. I can’t fix or solve any of that, we can’t fix or solve any of that. But we can listen, and we can walk next to our brown and black brothers and sisters. And we must listen because it’s important to our spiritual health. Remember, God is fully and completely present with us, that is what Trinity is about. And God is fully and completely present in every body, and for every body to matter, black and brown bodies must matter.
We bind unto ourselves this day, the strong name of the Trinity.
Thanks be to God.