Saturday, June 06, 2020

Trinity Sunday 2020

Rise, Shine, You People!

1. Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
Our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
With grace unbounded!

2. See how he sends the powers of evil reeling;
He brings us freedom, light and life and healing.
All men and women, who by guilt are driven,
Now are forgiven.

3. Come, celebrate, your banners high unfurling,
Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.
To all the world go out and tell the story
Of Jesus' glory.

4. Tell how the Father sent his Son to save us;
Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Tell how the Spirit calls from every nation
The new creation.

Text by Ron A. Klug with the tune Wojtkiewiecz, after composer Dale Wood's original Polish name


Trinity Sunday initiates our fourth month being together away from the church campus.

Trinity Sunday…

…is the octave of Pentecost that celebrates a doctrine or teaching rather than a time-and-place event. "Octave of Pentecost?" The church long has celebrated important days for eight (think an octave on a keyboard) days rather than only one. "Trinity?" Scripture strongly implies a Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier God as three-in-one / one-in-three triune, but never uses the word trinity. Although the Trinity is that copout word mystery, human brains still try to describe it, with most attempts turning into the heresy of modalism. Those include ice, water, vapor; son, friend, accountant, father… oh. That equals a quadrivium of four.

Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

"The Great Commission"

We baptize using water (an element of creation) accompanied by the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism incorporates us (literally immerses us) into Jesus' death and resurrection, into the trinitarian nature of God as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier.

Although Jesus' great commission in Matthew 28:19 is the only occurrence of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit baptismal formula in the bible, it was one of many later additions to the original text. When we read and interpret scripture, we sometimes need to remember Matthew's gospel is the most heavily redacted or edited of the four canonical gospels. The early church baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus, Jesus the Savior, or similar words. The first recorded mention of the Trinitarian baptismal formula was in the late fourth century!

None of us was there when Jesus sent his disciples into the future with a promise to be with them forever—neither was Thomas Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother/Saint Teresa of Kolkata. Jesus probably said something like go everywhere you can, teach everyone you meet by word and example, and baptize (immerse) them into my way of life that brings heaven to earth, the lifestyle I've been showing you and you've been learning.

Perichoresis=Describing the Trinity, Anyway

• peri=around
• choreo=dance

Instead of analogy or simile, early church fathers and mothers wrote about the perichoresis of the Trinity. Peri refers to around, nearby as in perimeter, peripatetic, peripheral, pericope, perigee… Choresis has the same root as choreography, so perichoresis means dancing around. Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier / Father, Son, Holy Spirit interact with each other in harmony, agreement, consonance, integrity, shalom, etc. Humans casually assign characteristic traits to each Person, but in reality they all participate together in every aspect of the life of the world.

Experience and Scripture and Jesus

The discovery of God as trinity first came from everyday human experience, then got talked about, then written down, then organized into books that eventually got further compiled into a book of books we acknowledge as scripture. Our knowledge of God still comes from everyday human encounters with God who always is with us, never leaves us, always loves us, and baptizes us into participation in the life of the triune God in the world, for the world.

How did people begin to realize Jesus of Nazareth was God in a human body?

Backtracking: although God promised the Exodus desert wanderers a place and a space, ultimately their identity as the people of God depended upon keeping Torah. This God of liberation from Egyptian slavery uniquely was a God of commandments (ordinances, laws, statues, precepts) spoken and given – and written down – as grace-filled gift for the well-being of all creation. Unlike other gods in that vicinity, Israel's God was not connected to a particular geographical or physical place, but accompanied the people everywhere they went.

Along came Jesus. Like all Jews of his day, Jesus knew the words of scripture, but more than anything, he lived those words every day in every way. He showed up around strangers and outcasts, reminded everyone of God's call to justice and love, rocked a good party yet provided basic bread before bringing in all the flourishes and fancies. Jesus was a regular guy, but rumor had it his conception and birth had happened in an unusual manner. Besides, when Jesus spoke in synagogue or in the public square, he had authority unlike no other local. Hmmm… "All authority in heaven and on earth?" Jesus was a regular guy who claimed to have fulfilled the Hebrew scriptures; on at least one occasion, he announced anyone who had seen him had seen God. Then there was the third day after Friday when Jesus who had been undeniably dead suddenly was undeniably alive…

People of church, synagogue, or mosque aspire to make the witness of scripture part of everyday family, community, and civic life. For people of the church, Jesus Christ is the ultimate interpreter of scripture because Jesus is God's living word that literally has jumped off the pages of scripture into history, into our lives, promising to be with us always, wherever we go.

Challenge – Backwards and Forwards

The creative, redemptive, inspiring triune God baptizes and calls us as partners in lives that speak grace, love, justice, hospitality, and newness in words and actions.

• Look back to an especially striking two or three times you experienced God's presence in a special way from someone else and/or when you suddenly realized you had been Jesus in that situation in an exceptional way. Maybe even during this past week?

• Peer into the future and claim a particular dream you have for (1) your nearby family, friends, and community—church, neighborhood, workplace; (2) the country and the world at large. Maybe related to this past week, or possibly to yearnings and hopes you'd had so long ago you'd almost forgotten them?

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