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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 11, 2017    

Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20          
1st Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:4a      
2nd Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

                As we’re going through my grandma’s things, my mom found a diary of hers from when she was about 9 years old.  She writes about her mama letting her roller skate on the porch and going to visit relatives in Iowa for the summer.  Precious stuff! It is a little glimpse into how she saw the world and what was important to her.  It is interesting to think of life in the 1930s and 40s.  And it is interesting to think of what experiences made her who she is, she who shaped who we are.

                The reading from Genesis is a little like the diary of God.  It tells us what is important to God and some of God’s activities.  It tells a little about how God sees the world and how God sees us, God with whom it all began and who continually shapes us.  On Trinity Sunday we attempt to explain and understand some glimpse of who God is, what matters to God, where we came from, who we are, and what is our purpose.  On Trinity Sunday we stand in the mystery of who God is and who we are.

                The word Trinity is found nowhere in the Bible, but it is a way of making sense of the complexity and relationality of God.  The Israelites had something unique in the ancient world, and that is monotheism, belief in one God.  No more appeasing multiple gods, trying to keep up with sacrifices and offerings, trying not to make one jealous by paying too much attention to another, trying to guess which might be the one who could help.  So here comes a religion with one God.  One God made everything.  One God has one intention for us all.  One God is God of both darkness and light, looks after people and animals and the cosmos, is all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful.  And as the story of God unfolds, we find that this one God can be viewed as three persons of one being, having three modes, that we know of. 

                I’ve struggled with how to teach this to my child.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is God’s son.  And it gets so confusing in the Bible when Jesus prays to God.  Is he praying to himself?  How do these two persons of the Trinity communicate with one another?  Don’t they already know what each other is thinking?  Are the prayers for the sake of us all who are overhearing them?  If they appear in different modes, do they each take on limits?  I say, that as a whole God is all-powerful, which means having the choice of whether to use those powers or not.  This is already beyond what a kid can begin to understand and we adults are right there, unable to grasp the concept of the Trinity. 

                We’ve got God the Creator, an artist in no hurry at all, painting and sculpting the heavens and the earth, speaking life into being, interrelationships and interdependence, redundancy rather than efficiency, covering the jobs that nature does several times over.  We’ve got God the Son, the word that was in the beginning, moving over the waters, made flesh in Jesus, who lived God’s love on earth, who died and rose again and makes us part of God’s family.  We’ve got the Holy Spirit, Sophia wisdom, the breath of God, the Advocate, who we have with us when Jesus returns to God the creator.

                So what does God’s diary tell us about who God is and who we are?

                God made all things good.  Sometimes it is easy to forget, because we get so caught up in the idea of sin and all the wrong we do, that God made us good  and very good.  The good is in relationship to all the other parts, accepting responsibility and limits, and interrelatedness.  God mentions so many times the goodness of creation, and when humans are created, there is no special pronouncement, but only when the whole of creation is considered, God declares the whole of it very good.

                God made us in God’s image and likeness.  We don’t know if this is a likeness and appearance or in creativity or in responsibility or in tenderness, or all of the above, or something else entirely.  But what an honor and responsibility to resemble God in some way!  When we see ourselves, we must contemplate who God is and what the resemblance must be.

                God made us to rest. Only the sabbath, the day of rest, is called holy in this Genesis story.  There is something very important here. If God needed to rest, certainly, we do, too.  We are not meant to wear ourselves out by constant movement, but we have the invitation to care for ourselves and each other and this earth, to ponder God’s world, God’s creation, to breathe, to listen and pray and sing, to see how God sees as God rests.

                God makes all things new.  Not only did God create the world anew long ago, but every day, there is newness.  There is no day when we can predict what will happen.  There is no day when we are the same as we were the day before.  Every day is a new beginning, created anew by God.  We can picture God once again speaking over the waters and finding some order in the chaos and sending light and plants and animals and forming us, giving us another chance to be the people God created us to be.

                The reading from second Corinthians is a kind of diary of God’s people as the church was forming.  It was a statement about what is most important, that community matters, that we shouldn’t squabble about things that don’t matter, that we should put others first, that we need each other.  It is another beginning, God making the world anew, creating us again into the body of Christ.  It was a reminder that being powerful wouldn’t look exactly like people thought it would, that it would mean giving up power.  It was a reminder that it would not be traditional strength, by might, that accomplished all that God had in mind, it was the strength of love, of relationship and connection with God and creation.

                And finally, we come across the diary of the disciples.  The women at the tomb tell the other disciples to meet Jesus at the mountain of the transfiguration.  When it seemed like it would be the end, it was another new beginning.  When they got there Jesus told them to make disciples of all nations.  This message of Jesus and his love was not for a few any more.  Now the apprentices of Jesus are charged with going out to all the earth, baptizing, washing, including, bringing new life to all nations, every person invited to love and community, revealing to each one their part in the story. 

Jesus says to them, “I will be with you always to the end of the age.”  In other words, as we are become Christ’s body in the world, we are not alone, but God goes with us giving us strength and love to share with all.  Even in death, Jesus is with us, raising us to eternal life and making us new again.

We can’t understand the mind of God.  We can’t understand the Trinity, just like I will never understand all the experiences and gifts and complexity of what made my Grandma who she is.  I can catch glimpses and I can let go of what I don’t know and I can feel her love for me and for many.  Multiply this experience too many times to consider and we can start to realize just how much we don’t know with God.  But when we let go of needing to understand and let ourselves ponder the memories we have , maybe we can embrace the mystery.  When we look around us at this earth God created, we can feel close to God, even if we can’t understand God in all God’s complexity.

The Bible is less of a diary than it is the writings of a group of people trying to understand themselves and their place in the world.  We are the all nations that Jesus was telling the Disciples to go to.  And we become the disciples going out to all nations to do what Jesus did, to love, because God is love.  We could do much worse than to love what and who God loves.  We know God will be present in our love.  We were made by God.  We were made by love.  And we were made for love, for relationship and compassion and interdependence on each other, on God, on creation.  And the scriptures offer a vision that where we are going is very similar to where we came from, a vision in which we live closely with our Creator and fellow creatures in unity and love.  There are many ways we can know God better.  We can read the scriptures.  We can look for clues about God around us.  By far the best way is to receive and give love, the way God does as God creates and recreates us, the way Jesus did as he makes us into his beloved family, and the way the Holy Spirit does as she empowers and equips us for relationship and connection with each other and with God. God is love.  We are love.  All is love. Amen.

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