Holy Trinity 31 May 2015
(Isaiah 6:1-8 Psalm 29 Romans 8:12-17 John 3:1-17
“Quarks and the Holy Trinity!”
We celebrate this weekend–the Holy Trinity—three Persons in One God! But all my life I’ve been told that three is not a good number when it comes to relationships. “Don’t date in threes!” “Don’t jointly own anything in threes!” “One person always gets left out, and another tries to take over.” “Then there’s the person in the middle.” Threes are always a disaster when it comes to relationships. That’s what I’ve always heard!
It was odd, then, to learn a few years ago that the “quark” [Q-U-A-R-K] the smallest subatomic particle, the fundamental building block of everything, only comes in relationship, most often in threes.
I don’t mean to get all scientific on you this morning, but stick with me for a few more minutes. “Quarks” prove to be highly elusive, making sense only in groupings. In the words of one physicist (Roszak)1, “Quarks give up their family connections stubbornly, but if forced into isolation, they decay in a micro-instant, as if they have no way to survive out of relationship.”
What this suggests is that “quarks” are always in a quantum dance of interrelating and connectedness! You take away their connectedness and you take away their life!
It sounds an awful lot like the dance of the Trinity! So let’s go there!
It may help to remember this morning that the Holy Trinity, a dogma hotly debated over the centuries, is not first and foremost a doctrine. Rather, it is how God has been experienced through the ages, as a unity of three “persons”—like the “quark”, always and eternally in relationship.
If we can begin to see dogma, or doctrine, if you will, less as a landmark for certainty and much more as a “pointer” to a deeper truth, the totality of which is never understood, then today is much more a reminder that the essential nature of God is about connectedness and the capacity to relate, and that the power to relate is, in fact, the very essence of God. In the plain but profound language of the Christian Bible: God is love!
When looked at this way, Holy Trinity is the very foundation of John 3:16—“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”—God’s primary relationship with the world!
We have been given, through no merit of our own, the gift of life so that we might grow into conscious loving for all eternity. The Triune God loves us before we even knew what the Word means, and keeps drawing us into that love. Our home is the Trinity—Father, Son, Spirit.
This is not a fuzzy, feel-good way of looking at God…..which leads us to Confirmation
As a Confirmation class, we’ve spent lots of time asking the question, wondering what, really, is the meaning of Confirmation. And we’ve gone to some of the typical answers—“we become an adult Christian, we become an adult member of the church, we can now vote for council members.” And that is part of it.
But maybe it is much more fundamental, more basic that all that. Maybe it is what “quarks” remind us: that unless we are in relationship, we will die in a micro-instant. And maybe it’s what Holy Trinity reminds us: that just as God is in relationship with Godself, so the fullness of life comes in being in relationship with God and with others.
And maybe it is even more basic than all that! As human beings we cannot get stuck within ourselves. It‘s not always about me! That all other people matter! That we do not have the right to take any other person for granted! That it is high time for Christians to get out of the business of judging others!
The responsibilities we hear at every Baptism and we hear again (ELW, p. 236), at Confirmation are all about being in relationship with God and with each other!
Christians are called to be a distinct community of faithful believers.
If Holy Trinity is ever going to be more than a doctrine we look at and discard as unintelligible, then I know it must push us more deeply into understanding who we are as “The Body of Christ.”
“To be led by the Spirit of God,” as Paul writes to the Romans; “is not to be slaves to fear,” but to live by a new relationship as children adopted by God….” [8:15].
What if God’s purpose is not that we all agree, but that we practice the integrity of a non-judgmental community? What if the goal of our journey of faith—of which Confirmation is more of a road-marker than the end—is the continued maturing of an engaged, prayerful faith willing to listen to the Spirit even—especially—when the costliest part is that we move outside ourselves!
As we’ve also said many times as a class, God doesn’t call the qualified; God qualifies the called! Today we can celebrate that God calls each one of us, and along the way, as we remain open to God’s Spirit, God, likewise, qualifies everyone of us for the journey of life! Amen.
1. Quantum Theology. Diarmuid O’Murchu. P.86.
Holy Trinity 31 May 2015