Monday, June 17, 2019

Trinity Sunday C

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

1Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?
2On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4"To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live."

22"The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
23Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—
26when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world's first bits of soil.
27When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
29when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race."

Trinity Sunday...

...celebrates a doctrine or teaching, rather than an event. Scripture strongly implies God as triune or three-in-one / one-in-three, but scripture never uses the word "trinity." The Trinity is a mystery! Our human brains insist on trying to describe it, with most attempts ending up with the heresy of modalism (ha ha – those would include ice, water, vapor; son, friend, brother...)

In our readings this year we've had at least two explicit theophanies or revelations of the Trinity: the Baptism of Jesus and the Transfiguration. In the year 325 the Council of Nicaea articulated the doctrine of the Trinity and wrote the Nicene Creed some churches recite during worship as a testimony of faith. Discussion: LCM hasn't featured the Nicene /Constantinopolitan Creed since I've been attending, but Barbara said they sometimes have in the distant past. Pastor Peg said we may recite in the future, and I suggested she could do a brief intro beforehand.

Trinity Sunday is the Octave of Pentecost. The church long has celebrated important events in octaves of eight days (similar to an octave of eight notes in music). Rather than attempting an analogy that never ever approaches the essence of the godhead, early church fathers and mothers talked about the perichoresis of the Trinity. "Peri" refers to in the vicinity of, around, nearby as in perimeter, peripatetic, peripheral, pericope, perigee, peristalsis... "Choresis" has the same root as choreography, so perichoresis is dancing around. Father, Son, Holy Spirit interact with each other, interpenetrate, mutually indwell in union, harmony, agreement. consonance, integrity shalom, etc. They always travel together.

Sadly, in class I omitted this important comment: the Trinity models our interactive and cooperative lifestyles and ministries. The Church [us!] as the Image of the Trinity.

We baptize using water and a Trinitarian formula, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 is the only occurrence of the Father, Son, HS baptismal formula in the Bible, but that almost definitely was one of many later additions to the text. We've noted Matthew's gospel most likely is the most heavily redacted or edited of the four canonical gospels. The early church probably baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus, Jesus the Savior, or used similar words.

Old Testament / Hebrew Bible Overview

Preparing for our move into the green and growing season of Ordinary Time next week, a synopsis of the three main sections:

1. Torah or Pentateuch

the first five books, sometimes called Books of Moses, not because Moses could have written them, but because parts of them focus on Moses as liberator of God's people.

2. Prophets

include Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings—the former prophets; and the writing prophets or latter prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel plus the Book of the Twelve or the Minor Prophets that are minor in length but not minor in content.

1, 2. Pentateuch and Prophets both carry a sense of an authoritative, revelatory Word of the Lord; Pentateuch and Prophets emphasize God's covenanting with humanity and with all creation. Torah and Prophets reveal an active, intervening God;

3. Writings

a miscellaneous collection that includes Psalms, Proverbs, Chronicles, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Song of Solomon... The writings are not a coherent body of literature; the official canon even varied some over the years. Among other angles, they bring us human words to God and human speech about God. They have a sense of discerning God's work and God's presence in the world from observing creation and social structures, a sense of what we learn from living daily life. Some books report narrative events (Chronicles, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther for example) or address God in temple or another worship context (Psalms).


The book of Proverbs belongs to Israel's religious literature, but rather than being about covenant or temple, it mainly contains practical advice for living with integrity or wholeness in community. Its 31 chapters contain essays, metaphors, similes, memes/ cultural pieces of different types that reveal structure, order, continuity of creation and of all life.

Most likely Proverbs came from many different authors over a span of 400 years. In a similar way to Moses' connection with liberation, Israel correlated Solomon with wisdom, and some of the content of Proverbs probably is from the united kingdom monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon. Wisdom in Proverbs and in the other scriptural wisdom books of Job and Ecclesiastes isn't so much head knowledge as it is heart- and foot knowledge—the sense of how life comes together people often gain after they've journeyed for a while. Wisdom literature discerns and discovers God in creation, in the order and structures of human life and activity, and in ongoing human experiences

Today's First Reading

In the first part of today's divided first reading, Proverbs 8:1-4, Wisdom personified stands in a very public place; late Pastor Eugene Peterson's The Message translation says:

"She's taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection. Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts, 'You – I'm talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets!'"

The attribute of wisdom is for everyone, what a banking commercial a few years back called the "regular people." Wisdom is not an obscure, esoteric trait for super-smart scholars in the library or explorers scaling the highest mountain peaks.

The second section, Proverbs 8: 22-31 is a creation account, somewhat parallel to the creation stories of Genesis 1 and Psalm 104.

Wisdom the "master worker" was like a cooperating craftsperson or artisan alongside God at creation. Wisdom was essential for creation to happen. God wove wisdom into the fabric of reality and made Wisdom – not Chance – at the heart of all that is. This passage ends with Wisdom again personified, "then I [Wisdom] was beside God, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in God's inhabited world and delighting in humanity." Wisdom delights in God’s presence and in God's creation.

Pastor Eugene in The Message translates verses 20b-31:

"Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause, always enjoying his company, Delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family"

Wisdom sets all of this into motion as a graceful, endless, "dancing around" perichoresis of the Triune God's joy at creation.

From the epistles we know Jesus Christ as the Wisdom of God—I Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:2,3

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