Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Please join me in a moment of Prayer:
God of delight, your Wisdom sings your Word at the crossroads where humanity and divinity meet. Invite us into your joyful being where you know and are known in each beginning, in all sustenance, in every redemption, that we may manifest your unity in the diverse ministries you entrust to us, truly reflecting your triune majestyin the faith that acts, in the hope that does not disappoint, and in the love that endures. Amen.
As many of you may know I’ve begun my Masters in Divinity with the Atlantic School of Theology, with the intention of being ordained when I graduate. Part of my studies is to set learning goals for each year of study. Creating and running Wild Church was one of those goals I had this past year. Another goal I had, was more personal, it was to learn more about the Trinity, because lets just be honest the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit is really confusing. There are three, but they are one? Three persons one substance? I don’t (didn’t) get it. As students who are candidates for Ministry we’ve been given a list of ‘learning outcomes’ things we should know by the time we finish school. On the very first page of this document is, “Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Christian Trinitarian theologies and discern how they are integrated into one’s faith.”
Since that seemed next to impossible for me, I made ‘being able to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Christian Trinitarian theologies and discern how they are integrated into one’s faith a learning goal. Again, if I’m going to be honest, I probably still can’t explain the complex Trinity Theologies that various theologians have created over the centuries, the controversies over whether Jesus was of the same substance or of a different substance as God. Or ones where they wondered if praise to God came through Christ as a Mediator, permissible to worship Spirit together with the Father and the Son, all of the being equal.
And I’m okay with that, because I suspect that if I spent this sermon explaining all of these, you would fast forward to the end of this video pretty quickly.
For me understanding the Trinity comes more from a sense of ‘feeling it’, if I think about it too much I get confused and lost, but if I allow it to just be present I can feel an understanding. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Grace, Love and Communion. Three things that sum up aspects of the Trinity.
In the prayer I read at the start of this sermon there are words for the trinity: in the faith that acts, in the hope that does not disappoint, and in the love that endures. Faith, Hope, Love.
Both of these suggest that Jesus is the Grace and faith that acts, The Love of God is hope that does not disappoint, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit love that endures.
In my reading and study of the Trinity this year I’ve found many Trinity metaphors that have helped me – what were the words from the learning outcome – ah yes – discern how the trinity is integrated with my faith.
My favorite metaphor is from the Cappadocian Fathers who defined the Trinity in the 4th Century using a Greek word Perichoresis.
Perichoresis can be translated as “rotation” a ‘dancing wheel’ a ‘triple helix’ or spiral. The Celtic knot with three leaves, a shamrock and triple spiral can all be visual representations of Perichoresis. The three are separate, yet connected without confusion. The idea that they put forth was that each ‘indwell’ within each other and within creation.
The modern writer, Pamela Cooper-White, also uses the concept of Perichoresis to define the Trinity as relational with Creation and Humanity. She uses the God as Creative Profusion, God as Incarnational Desire, God as Living Inspiration.
God as creative profusion expresses the limitless and immense diversity of creation. God as incarnational desire is God deep in the blood and bones of creation. God as a human present on earth in the form of Jesus and present with each of us. Willingly present in all life, all love, all suffering, all death, all rebirth that comes out of death.
God as Living Inspiration is breath, power, wind and breathing yet again. We breath in and out and share a living spirit breathing, whispering, sparking, echoing in the liminal spaces between us.
This is an incarnational Trinity. One where God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are present in the world around us. Prior to these readings much of what I knew about the Trinity was based on a Transcendent understanding of the Trinity. An understanding of the trinity that firmly places God outside and sperate from creation and humanity. For me, it’s impossible to have any sort of relationship with something outside and separate from me. However, once I started thinking about the Trinity from this incarnational point of view, I discovered a closeness I previously did not have, which has brought me a great deal of comfort.
The trinity as deep incarnation is grounded, surrounded, infused with communion, equality, and union. They are three divine persons dwelling within one, drawing life from each other and exist as they are because of their relation to each other. God is a being in relationship. A parent because of the child, a child because of the parent, spirit because of both.
Just as I am parent because of my child, sister because of my siblings, child because of my parents.
In my class on Eco Theology one of our assignments was to creatively express as aspect of our learning from the course. I chose to explore Perichoresis and Creation and created the Fibre Art Piece hanging here today. I presented this piece with a video that explains my creative process as well as the meaning the piece holds, which we will share at the end of service today. In the center of the piece is an image of a Trinity, but it is not Father, Son, Spirit. It is Jesus, Mary, and Jesus’ Grandmother. The image is loosely based on an icon painted on a chapel wall in Italy of the same figures. It was painted sometime in the 14th century by an unknown artist. This feminine image of the Trinity, of Perichoresis, works for me and helps me to understand this concept of ‘indwelling’ of a relational God.
When a person, designated as female at birth, is born, she has within her all the eggs she’ll ever have for children already created. Which means I had the cell that would become my child already within me at birth.
Prior to my birth, while still in my mother’s womb, I had that cell already created. So, there was a time, when both myself and my child indwelled in my mother. We were all connected, all together, yet completely separate. We were 3-in-1.
We all indwell within creation, we are interconnected with nature and the deep incarnation of God so when Paul says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” He doesn’t just mean that these things will come from other worldly source, rather we have all the grace, love and communion already present within us and by sharing these and by being in relationship with each other we embody the Trinity.
We reflect the Triune mystery through our acts of faith, our hope that does not disappoint, and our love that endures.
May it be so. Amen