“Mystery Loves Company”
June 11, 2017 – Trinity Sunday – Year A
In the name of Lover, Beloved, and Love” I stand before you to share the Good News on this Trinity Sunday. Scattered around the sanctuary are pictures and descriptions that reflect the Trinity. The Trinity triplets are before you to spark your imagination. God is revealed in so many ways!
And yet, when you are in the midst of treatment for cancer, you are not likely to care that this is Trinity Sunday. If you are a teenager and are pregnant, you likely don’t care that this is Trinity Sunday. If your son or daughter has just been laid off work, you likely don’t care that this is Trinity Sunday.
Let me assure you that God is greater than we can imagine and God somehow knows who you are, where you are, what you are doing, and what you need. God, who is mystery, cares so deeply about each of us, that care and compassion was lived out in Jesus. Hungry were fed, crippled healed, lonely befriended, and followers were taught. God blows into our lives like wind. The creative rustling of God’s breath is such a life-giving force! We are bathed in the glory of God breathing hope into creation.
St. Patrick, a 5th century missionary, was teaching and leaned down and plucked a shamrock from the grass. “How many leaves does the shamrock have: one or three?” he asked. Some said one and some said three, and in the end, all agreed that the plant had both one leaf and three leaves. “So it is with God,” Patrick explained. “There is one God, but three persons, all equal, all bound together.
As we heard in the Gospel text from Matthew, Jesus’ final appearance to his disciples after his resurrection is described. Jesus came to the disciples once more and they worshiped him even though some doubted. Apparently, such an immediate experience of the resurrection as they had, didn’t answer all their questions with absolute certainty. In spite of what appears to be a lack of readiness on the part of the disciples, Jesus commands them to go, to baptize, and to teach, promising that he will be with them until the end of time. Through these actions God’s presence and way will be experienced and made known. The church in Matthew’s day had begun to use the “threefold” name of God in Baptism. A new convert would be baptized in the name of Creating God, simplified by the term Father – Liberator, the Son – and Wisdom, the Holy Spirit.
We experience God in many ways and no words are ever adequate to describe those awesome, yet intimate encounters. God is not contained in creeds or Trinitarian formulas. However, we still attempt to name our experiences and understandings of God at work in our lives and our world and throughout all time. Trinity Sunday is one of those times when we struggle to do that while also acknowledging that we can really only stand in wonder and praise. From creation to the end of the age – God is with us. And so we herald thanks to God!
An African monk in the fourth century named Augustine let his imagination go a bit wild and thought of the Trinity as a love triangle, although not exactly as you might be thinking of that term today! For Augustine, God is the Lover, The Son is the Beloved. And the Holy Spirit is Love itself, the invisible, powerful bond between them.
Jesus’ parting words to his disciples of 2000 years ago as well as to us today is to go, to baptize, and to teach. Jesus promises that he will be with his followers until the end of time. All of this we are to do in the name of God who is Provider, Redeemer, and Joy Giver.
The task to which the disciples are sent, according to theologian Tom Long, is not “hit and run evangelism. What the disciples are sent to do is not to hurl gospel leaflets into the wind or hold a rally in a stadium. They are called to the harder, less glamorous, more patient task of making disciples, of building Christian communities.” It is while in community that we truly experience the fullness of God’s grace.
We gather each week as Christian community, knowing the value of being together as a family of God. We bring diverse experiences of encounters with the Holy One. In this year’s Lenten study group, each week we shared our “God moments” from the week past. They were experiences or encounters with the Divine. Sometimes we would respond, “the Holy Spirit was at work.” Other times we would acknowledge that Jesus was walking with us. Each God moment was a happenstance event with Shepherd, Emmanuel, and Breath of God.
Marjorie Suchocki, a feminist theologian of the 20th century, saw in the Trinity 3 basic characteristics of God. God is power, the power by which all the world is created and governed. Christ is presence, that is God with us in the world. The Holy Spirit is wisdom, who gives us the ability to discern and relate to one another. Though these are not personal images, they do serve to tell us what God does and how God acts as the Trinity.
Our God is essentially a God of communion and embrace. We are a blessed people who have been touched by Creator, Son and Holy Spirit. Does this matter to the person with cancer? Is this insight going to have an impact on the pregnant teenager? Will the grandparent feel any less concerned for their unemployed son or daughter? I hope that one short phrase or an image of God expressed in this message may help you to feel the comforting arms of God envelop you. For our God is tender hearted. Rest in the assurance that the One God who is Our Rock, Christ, and Dove will give you strength and comfort.
I wrap this message up with a blessing from today’s scripture readings: “Go and teach disciples the Good News, confident that Jesus the Christ is with you always, to the end of the age. The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Amen.