The Holy Trinity 11 June 2017
(Genesis 1:1-2:4 Psalm 8 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Matthew 28:16-20)
“Let the Dance Begin!”
Chloe O’Brien. Chloe was a red-haired nine-year-old girl at camp the year I worked as a counselor. Chloe was a cute kid, but she could also be a pain. She’d ask endless questions!
Her favorite question was: so what? May not seem like much of an issue to us today, but for Chloe “So what?” was a real question. I don’t think she was trying to be sarcastic or mocking, she simply wanted an honest answer to questions such as, why can’t we go swimming right after lunch? Or why does everyone have to wear a life jacket when we go out in the canoes; or why do we have to put both marshmallows and chocolate between the graham crackers to make smores?
For Chloe, “so what?” came close to “who cares?” Or maybe it really meant, “what difference does it make?” Chloe was a challenge that entire summer, but she did make me pause and think a little deeper.
When I sat down to begin writing my sermon for this weekend, Chloe O’Brien came into my mind. I can hear her say very loudly this morning, “Trinity Sunday, so what? The Holy Trinity, what difference does it make in my life?”
There may be many Chloe O’Briens sitting here this morning!
I wonder if people with cancer care that this is Trinity Sunday. The young couple who cannot get pregnant probably doesn’t care. The young man fighting addiction, the older woman who lost her spouse, the couple headed for divorce, or even the recent graduate headed for college. “The Holy Trinity, so what difference does it make in my life?”
Most of us just want to know that God is good and that God somehow knows who we are and what we are doing and is willing to forgive and and continue to love us even when we are at our worst.
This morning, what do we do with the Holy Trinity?
To all the Chloes sitting here this morning with hand raised, ready to ask, “So what?”, this is what I believe: I believe that the Holy Trinity does have something to say to the person just diagnosed with cancer, and to the couple struggling to get pregnant, and to the young man fighting not to take the next drink, to the grieving woman, the couple struggling not to end in divorce, as well as to the graduate planning for college at the end of the summer.
In each one of those life situations, there is struggle, conflict, and uncertainty. Today’s festival of the Holy Trinity reminds us that God is alive and active and present in each one of these situations with profound compassion and intense faithfulness.
Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest, writer, begins his most recent book, Divine Dance, by saying in the Forward of the book that “. . . relationship has always been the . . . the wild card in the midst of our hallucinations when we think we can ever be independent or self-sufficient.”
“If we ever think we can live our lives outside of relationship with others then our lives become an exercise in self-gratification, and ultimately dehumanizes who we are.”1
This is where the doctrine of Holy Trinity enters into our lives. As Christians, as members of the Body of Christ, we are brought into relationship with God and each other, and our lives can never be about self gratification, regardless of how difficult, tragic, or heartbreaking they become at any moment. As it was with Jesus, so it is with God, and must it be with us!
In the Holy Trinity—one God, three Persons—in this fullness of God we discover a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Creator, Redeemer and Spirit. This intimacy we are invited into; first with God and then with each other.
In this profound mystery, we realize our God in relationship with all creation and all humanity, with the worst of the worst, as well as the best of the best. In this understanding of God, no one is left behind.
It is from this profound intimacy with God where we become emboldened to challenge those areas of our world, those leaders, those issues that need to be challenged. It is from this profound intimacy where we recognize more clearly the eternal life of the Risen Jesus reaching through the pain and suffering and brokenness to heal us, hold us and enliven us in our Christian life together. It is only then that our boldness of action becomes a product, not of hatred for another person or group of people, but our boldness comes out of a love for the deeper life of each other and the world. That’s the vision of Trinity in our lives!
I am pretty sure the Gospel text for today was chosen because of the Trinitarian three-fold formula used by Jesus as He sends his disciples out. But there are a few other things that I think can be easily missed.
Matthew begins by saying that the eleven disciples went to Galilee. Eleven, not twelve. Immediately we realize they are a broken group. One is missing. One betrayed Jesus. Matthew also tells us that when they arrived, “they worshipped, and some doubted” [Mt. 28:17]. The word translated as “doubt” (distazo) is not so much disbelieving as it is wavering between two (or more) strong possibilities. We might say, “they worshipped but they had second thoughts.” From there they were sent by Jesus out on mission!
On this Trinity Sunday, we hear the commission for us to go out and make disciples, inviting others into relationship with Jesus. We are sent to do so as broken and wavering people, sometimes with second thoughts; and at the same time, we go with a deep trust that God’s relationship with us is the very foundation of who we are. Holy Trinity comes most alive in this trusting, caring, compassionate stream of love, where God is not just a dancer in this relationship, but God is the dance itself. Let the dance begin! Amen.
1 The Divine Dance. Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell. 2016. Whitaker House. p. 20.