Monday, June 12, 2017

Three In One God

Matthew 28:16-20
Trinity Sunday
June 11, 2017

 I think Holy Trinity Sunday is the only
church day that celebrates a doctrine.
A doctrine is a basic principle or teaching
that the church holds as 
true and teaches to its adherents.
Today we remember 
the doctrine of the Trinity.
The doctrine that says that God is one,
and at the same time, God is three.
Most often known as 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Many a pastor and teacher has spent this Sunday morning
trying to explain this doctrine using apples, or ice and water,
ice cream, or clovers, or triangles,
and using sleep-inducing
words like ”modalism” or  “perichoreisis”

Now I like thinking and debating these ideas
as much as any seminarian, but I’m not sure doctrines
like this are that important to people’s faith
that we need to spend an entire sermon picking
apart the esoteric pieces of it,
and there are plenty, believe me.

Until a few decades ago, doctrines
used to define and divide the church.
I think we’re past that now, thankfully,
but we still shouldn’t just get rid of them,
because what doctrines do, is they remind us
important things about God that we shouldn’t forget.
And that thing that the doctrine of the Trinity reminds us about,
is that God does not work alone.
God in God’s self is an example of Community.

The word community is one of those
words that can have a couple of meanings
The differences are subtle, but they’re different.

When we hear community,
we might think of neighborhoods or cities,
people in schools, or even churches.
They use the word a lot in the news I’ve noticed.
They call a place a community just because
there are people who spend a lot of time in the same place.
And the dictionary says that community is
a group of people living in the same area,
or having the same interests.

But it’s more than that, it’s it?
Just because something is called a community
doesn’t mean that it’s a Community. With a capital C.

Community with a capital C brings along
images of more than just people who live
on the same street or share an interest.
It brings images of people who support,
and of love one another.
Who treat each other as equals.
It talks of shared respect, shared work,
being mutually accountable to one another
and helping each other.
Having love for one another that includes others.
People who are not all related to one another
that treat each other like family.
There is a lot of talk about community these days.
Mostly , I think, people are talking about it so much
because we feel that it’s slipping away
It’s something that some of us remember from the past,
or seen it in the movies, read about it
or heard about it from others,
but over time, Community with a capital C has become scarce.
We don’t easily form Communities here in the US
we don’t rely on them, we don’t seem to need it.
So for many people, it doesn’t exist.

Lots of things have taken away our Communities
There’s technology which is giving us wider spread communities
but without human contact or responsibility.
We’re also more self sufficient –
when we’re more financially secure,
we don’t have to rely on others.
We can buy what we need ourselves.

And I think we spend a lot of our lives now
living in protection mode, there is a level of
paranoia that we seem to be living with,
and so we spend a lot of energy protecting what we have:
our families, our time, our privacy, our feelings, our things,
and with the need to protect everything so much,
it’s hard  to let other people into our lives.
In some ways it’s easier not to be part of a Community of any kind.
To just be responsible for yourself and your business.
It’s just simpler to be alone with family, a few friends.

As a culture, Americans have been shying away
from being part of a Community with a capital C.
But at the same time, we long for it.
People talk about it, we dream about it.
There are countless articles written about it.
“Community” is the marketing buzzword
when talking about those who are thirty five and younger.
We might not have it, we might not know how to make it,
but we want it, we are drawn to it.

I think that is because God created everything to be in community.
And everything that we see and know --
the earth, the sea and stars, plants, animals
and humans -- we are all created by a God
who in God’s self is a community.

The doctrine of the Trinity tells us that
God is three in one.
All equally important parts who work together
Not just a couple but three
It tells us that the nature of God is Community
 – with a capital C.

To be part of a Community is our natural state,
to be in relationships that stretch beyond family and
selected few friends - is in our DNA, it’s part of us.
The world would love us to live for ourselves,
and just our small family units
because we’re more manageable that way.
The market would love for us to surround
ourselves with things instead of people.
The devil would love us to be in separate silos
to not trust or rely on anyone else.
But Community is part of God,
and therefore Community is part of us.

In the Gospel reading for today,
we hear Jesus’ last words in Matthew.
On Easter morning, Jesus told the women
to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.
The disciples find him there on a mountain and he gives them
these instructions, “make disciples of all nations.”

Now some have taken this command
that to mean that we should convert every person
to our culture and our religion by force if necessary.
And sometimes its hard to look at it any other way.
But that’s how humanity has taken it in the wrong direction.

What I hear Jesus saying to us is this:
Go and gather people that are different than you,
people that you don’t know, people of all different colors
that speak different languages than you,
and make them part of your community.

Meet them and talk to them gather around
the worship of Jesus.
Learn to love one another and care for one another.
Become sisters and brothers with one another.
Individual parts, but one body.
Go and make a community in my name.
Father Son and Holy Spirit
Creator, redeemer and sustainer
God eternal, God in flesh, God in inspiration.
God in us, God for us, God through us.

However you want to say it,
We love and worship a God that works in relationship.
An equal relationship, sharing the pain, the glory
the sorrow, and the joy equally.
The work of any one rests on the other two.
Any one would be less without the other.
God the Trinity.

And the Community in the Trinity,
that is the Community we imitate.
That is what churches are:
Not hothouses to grow theologians in,
not a place to send your kids and grand kids to
so that they can learn morals.
But a place where we all go to learn how to live together
using the teachings of Jesus.
A place of Community,
imitating the God that we worship.

And Jesus said where two or three are gathered in my name --
Where there is an effort to form this love
across bloodlines, beyond family, across cultures and languages,
- this Community with a capital C –
Then we know that God -- the three in one –
will be there with us always till the end of the age.

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