First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday 2017
June 10 5:30 pm and June 11 8:00 am
The Rev’d Vicki K. Hesse
Genesis 1:1 to 2:4a, Psalm 8, 2 Cor 13:11-13 and Matt 28:16-20
Glory to the holy and undivided Trinity: The Creator, and the Word, and the Holy Spirit; three Persons in one God, Amen.
Today is traditionally known as Trinity Sunday – the first Sunday after Pentecost. Historically, Trinity Sunday is a day to *celebrate the doctrine of the Trinity, defined in the BCP (852) as three persons of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If that sounds like sermon quicksand, you might be onto something. Even those of us who have been to seminary know that understanding the Trinity is difficult. It’s like, “…trying to figure out what color the letter seven smells like.” So with some trepidation, we explore this doctrine and wonder how it applies in our lives.
In her book on the Trinity, Episcopal priest and mystic Cynthia Bourgeault tells a story of her friend Murat Yagan. Murat had, as a young man just after WW2, learned about ranching in a remote village in Turkey. During this time, he befriended an elderly couple who lived nearby. Years after his time there, he returned for a visit. The elderly couple was happy to see their friend, but the one sadness was that their only son had moved away to Istanbul. They proudly shared with Murat the new tea cupboard that their son had shipped to them after he was settled in business. It was a finely crafted piece of furniture on which the woman proudly arranged her best tea set on the upper shelf. Curious, Murat pressed if they were sure this was a tea cupboard? With their permission, he took a closer look, unscrewed a few packing boards, and found a set of cabinet doors. These doors swung open and revealed a fully operative ham radio set. That “tea cupboard” was intended to connect them to their son, but unaware of the real contents, they were simply using it to display their china.
With this story in mind, Bourgeault poses the question: Have Christians have been using the Holy Trinity as a theological tea cupboard, upon which we display our finest doctrinal china: Jesus as a human being is fully divine. What if inside is concealed a powerful communications tool that could connect us to the rest of the worlds (visible and invisible)? And with provocation and intellectual intrigue, we too can unscrew a few packing boards and swing open a fresh perspective of the way the Holy Trinity might work.
Some of you might know that it has become popular to ‘feminize’ the Trinity – making it more gender accessible. In this way, the Holy Spirit is understood as the feminine face of the Divine among the Father and the Son. Some scholars argue that the Holy Spirit is really identical to Sophia, the wisdom of God, personified as female in the Old Testament and embodying that “feminine” way of knowing. You may have heard some people, in reciting the Nicene Creed, replacing the masculine language for the Spirit with “she.” This somewhat helpful gender corrective offers a contrast to the extensive male representation of God that is fused onto a male political hierarchy. This approach, however, still emphasizes a binary system of masculine/feminine. This surface rearrangement, revisioning the Divine persons doesn’t quite capture the surprising and creative power of Divine Love.
So here is where it gets interesting. When we engage the Holy Trinity as Love in Motion, emphasizing Divine action and movement, we can find that the communication between persons is just as important as the persons themselves. I know this can be elusive, but stay with me here. In a ‘ternary’ system (as opposed to a binary system), balance arises from the interplay of two polarities that calls forth a third result. That third force mediates and generates a new synthesis that begins again. And that dynamic generates a fantastic new realm of possibilities. That sense of movement, those processes that trigger other processes is the exciting power of creation, manifestation and reconciliation. That’s a Holy Trinity ham radio!
So here is an example: Sailing. How many of you are sailors, or how many of you have watched sailboats? A sailboat is driven through the water by the interplay of the wind on the sail and the resistance of the sea against the keel. These two forces result in a third force: forward movement through the water. But as any sailor knows, for forward movement to occur, the destination must be set by a helmsperson. When the destination’s tension meets the sail’s resistance and keel’s pressure, the three create a successful course. Indeed – it is all three of these processes working together that creates new situations for new processes to unfold.
So what does this have to do with the Good News of creation, or of Jesus or of the Holy Spirit?
Think for a moment about your life. Are there places where you grieve the loss of a loved one? Do you foster anger or resentment for someone in your heart or sadness about another’s struggle? Are there hopes and dreams bursting in your heart, about to come to fruition? Listen to the Good News of communication through the Trinity, Love in Motion. Reflect: How is God the creator and Christ the manifestation of Love in tension with your heart’s desire, that yearning, that drawing that seems to pull you forward? That is the Trinity at work in your heart and in your life. That is love in motion. Through that kinetic energy exchange, Creator/Word/Reconciler fuels and stimulates our lives, constantly inviting solutions, re-invigorating our faith life, fueling our life on the way of following Jesus.
This is the process of unfolding that we hear about in the readings from Genesis today. This is the Love in Motion of the great commission of Jesus- to “Go therefore and
make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Open your Trinity tea cupboard. Engage the hum of the Trinity’s power that is inviting you to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. We can, with God’s grace, engage the power of the Holy Trinity through movement and powerful love.
And remember, Jesus, the Divine creation’s manifest Word, inspired by Divine Spirit, is with us always, to the end of the age.