1 Come, join the dance of Trinity, before all worlds begun—
the interweaving of the Three, the Father, Spirit, Son.
The universe of space and time did not arise by chance,
but as the Three, in love and hope, made room within their dance.
2 Come, see the face of Trinity, newborn in Bethlehem;
then bloodied by a crown of thorns outside Jerusalem.
The dance of Trinity is meant for human flesh and bone;
when fear confines the dance in death, God rolls away the stone.
3 Come, speak aloud of Trinity, as wind and tongues of flame
set people free at Pentecost to tell the Savior's name.
We know the yoke of sin and death, our necks have worn it smooth;
go tell the world of weight and woe that we are free to move!
4 Within the dance of Trinity, before all worlds begun,
we sing the praises of the Three, the Father, Spirit, Son.
Let voices rise and interweave, by love and hope set free,
to shape in song this joy, this life: the dance of Trinity
Text: Richard Leach; © 2001 Selah Publishing Co., Inc.
1Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." 3Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.
4Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" 5Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above.' 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
…is the Octave of Pentecost. The church long has celebrated important events in octaves of eight days—you may know the musical octave of eight notes. Trinity Sunday celebrates a doctrine or teaching, instead of an event. Scripture strongly implies God as triune or three-in-one / one-in-three, yet never uses the word "trinity." The Trinity is a mystery, but our human brains insist on trying to describe it. That's not at all negative! In many classes in school, teachers have students write about almost everything. The idea is if you can talk/write about a concept, you essentially understand it.
You've probably heard the Trinity described in ways similar to "ice – water – vapor" // "son – friend – brother"? Those attempts end up with the heresy of modalism with its claim God manifests in different ways at different times, yet they still provide some idea of the variety of roles the triune God rocks. Instead of an analogy that never approaches the essence of the godhead, early church fathers and mothers frequently talked about the Dance or the Perichoresis of the Trinity. "Peri" refers to in the vicinity of, around, nearby–perimeter, peripatetic, pericope (a scripture or other literary passage cut out from its surroundings). "Choresis" has the same root as dance-related choreography. Father, Son, Holy Spirit interact with each other, collaborate, do life together so wonderfully we also want to dance in response! Maybe more than anything, the Trinity models our interactive and cooperative lifestyles and ministries. The Church [that's us!] is the Image of the Trinity; as the hymn sings, "Let voices rise and interweave, by love and hope set free, to shape in song this joy, this life: the dance of Trinity."
Holy, Holy, Holy
"Holy, Holy, Holy" absolutely without a doubt is the most famous and best loved Trinitarian hymn. It acclaims a "Holy" for each person of the Trinity.
"Jesus answered, 'Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.'" John 3:5-6
We baptize using water and the trinitarian formula, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Holy, Holy, Holy triune God. Matthew 28:19 is the only scriptural occurrence of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit baptismal formula; it was a later addition to the text. The early church probably baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, Jesus the Savior, or with similar words. However, the early church would not have imagined that baptism into the redeemer and savior Jesus would not also encompass baptism into the Holy Spirit of life Jesus bestows on us.
John 3:3, 5, 11 – the Greek original brings us John's famous double amens! Jesus says, "Amen, amen," that the Douay-Rheims retains, yet that dramatic phrase otherwise gets translated "truly, truly," "verily, verily," "most assuredly," or into other less evocative words. Pastor Eugene Peterson first phrases it, "You're absolutely right," and dilutes it more further on. In general I find his translations usually bring added dimension and understanding, but (editorializing) not this time.
John 3:3 is the only time the fourth gospel mentions kingdom/reign of God. Synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke say Reign of Heaven / Kingdom of God literally all the time, but John doesn't. This wonderful scripture passage contains other riches including verse 16, "God so loved the world," possibly the only verse some people have memorized; many claim John 3:!6 as their life scripture. The less familiar verse 17, "God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him," reminds us of God's inclusive longing and loving, and reminds us to help erase stereotypes and mistaken ideas too many people have about God and church.
If religious leader Nicodemus sounds doubly familiar, he's the same Nicodemus we read about in John 16, when along with Joseph of Arimathea, he anoints Jesus' body for burial and lays it in the tomb Joseph has donated.
Holy God, Holy People
One of the times God commands holiness to the people:
"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.'" Leviticus 19:1-2
How does Leviticus describe this divine holiness God calls, commands, and promises (you shall!) us to participate in? This holiness reads like a summary of the ten words or commandments of the Sinai Covenant: keeping Sabbath; caring and providing for each other; equitable wages, marketplace measures, and legal judgments; stewardship of the land, welcoming the stranger and treating the "other" of any category as part of our own community. Final verse 37 in this chapter: "You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and observe them: I am the Lord." We can be confident that God fulfills the charge and the promise of shall in the reign of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost.
More than anything, the Holy (Holy, Holy) Trinity models our interactive and cooperative lifestyles and ministries. The Church [us!] is the Image of the Trinity, after the way the Dance of Trinity hymn sings, "Let voices rise and interweave, by love and hope set free, to shape in song this joy, this life: the dance of Trinity."
Next week we'll start counting Sundays after Pentecost as the Church moves into its own in the 6-month long, green, and growing season of Ordinary Time. We'll continue walking the talk as we follow Jesus into worlds around us as his presence. This year's Ordinary Time may feel less structured, less already arranged than most years. We're not yet post-COVID, yet the church worldwide necessarily will be experimenting with new ministry models, trying out new possibilities, and being more imaginative than usual. Baptized into the Dance of Trinity, we minister to the world as the presence of the Triune God.