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June 11, 2017

The Holy Trinity

Pr. Craig Mueller


 What if God had a Facebook page? What would be on the divine profile? Though there may be one God, there are a slew of opinions about who God is.

 Start with a picture for the profile. White-haired man on a cloud? I hope not. Maybe an icon of Jesus, Mary, or a saint. They may be holy people, but some religions are against any visible representations of God. Maybe a symbol. Or a photograph of a sunrise or the Milky Way.

 Maybe the friends category would be easier. How many friends does God have? Everyone created in the image of God? Those who live a good life? Those who are religious? Those who believe the right things about God? And who gets to fill out this profile, anyway?

 Perhaps the about section can be more decisive. Christians could put down the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or there could be a list of metaphors in the bible like shepherd, rock, fortress, father, mother, lamb, everlasting arms. Yet we know God isn’t literally any of those things. The only way we can speak of God is to use metaphors, yet each one is limited as well.

 I have it! The key category is relationships. Some Christians talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber talked about the I-thou relationship.

 The Facebook profile gives us choices for this category: single, married, divorced, widowed, engaged, and my favorite one: it’s complicated. But for God? None of the above, right? God can’t be in a relationship with God. That would be weird to think about, right?

 Which leads us to Holy Trinity, the name of this congregation. And the feast we celebrate today.

 Full disclosure. Much of my inspiration and examples come from a provocative and inspiring new book by spiritual writer, Richard Rohr. It’s called: The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation.

 Here’s the thing. Most of us think the Trinity is an abstract doctrine, having nothing to do with our lives. The three-in-one, one-in-three math conundrum seems like theological speculation—trying to put into words concepts beyond our understanding. After all, all talk of God is in the realm of beyond, of transcendence, of mystery. What does the Trinity have to do with us?

 Christian theologians spend a lot of time talking about how Father, Son and Holy Spirit—three expressions of the divine—are all one God. But maybe God is the essence of relationship itself. After all, as Rohr writes, “the energy of the universe is not in the planets or in the protons or neutrons, but in the relationship between them.”

 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Another way to think of it: In the beginning was the Relationship. The Greek Fathers in fourth-century Turkey, talked about the Trinity as a circle dance of love. God is flow. God is radical relatedness. God is communion. God is community.

 That’s why we value Christian community. That’s we baptize people not just into God’s grace, but into community. We find our identity in relatedness.

 Yet, let’s be honest. Relationships are challenging. Getting along with a parent, a boss, a spouse. Many of us carry wounds from broken relationships. We may feel lonely or estranged even when we’re with people. We learn a lot of helpful information in school, but the thing that will affect the quality of our lives—how we maneuver through relationships—we are expected pick up on our own.

 The name of our congregation—Holy Trinity—may seem like an old-fashioned name for a church. Yet God-as-Trinity is a great spiritual reminder that all things are related, that all things belong, that all people belong.

 In our chancel today is the most famous icon of the Holy Trinity, by a Russian iconographer in the fifteenth century. It is based on the story of Abraham and Sarah finding the Holy One in the in the presence of the three strangers that join them at table. A version of it is on the bulletin cover as well. It’s meant to signify God as hospitality, mutuality, community, relationality.

 The problem with making a divine Facebook profile is that God is mystery. Yet, if the Trinity is a dance of love, we are invited to join the dance. Go, make disciples and baptize people in the name of the Trinity, Jesus says. As we will do this morning.

 But then … let us open our hearts and minds to the divine Relatedness at the heart of everything that is. Join us in the dance and invite others to the dance. Be part of this community of faith, be part of the divine flow, the networks and communities that bring hope and healing to the world.