Trinity Sunday 2014Appointed Scripture
In the Name of the One God, the Holy Trinity. Amen.
It was my Sabbath day. My day off. And I decided that, instead of doing chores or any of the things on my yawning to-do list, I would really and TRULY take the day off. I enjoy the visual arts, so I headed to the Museum of Fine Arts to take in a special exhibition.
As I made my way through the galleries, I came upon a painting that caused me to stop and draw in a breath. It was a painting by Paul Gauguin, entitled “Breton Girls Dancing.” In exquisite and sophisticated colors, three girls, wearing long dresses and white bonnets, link their hands in dance on a soft, yellow wheat field. They are accompanied by a small dog, frolicking among the stacks of cut wheat. Their village is in the background, out of which rises a tall Gothic church spire, piercing the early-evening sky. I could almost hear the church bells ring as I looked upon those three, interlocked, dancing figures and whispered to myself, “The Trinity!”
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Creator, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.
“He who loves, that which is loved, and the power of love” (Augustine).
Today is Trinity Sunday. When we pause after dramatic Pentecost, and look back to recognize the pattern and movement of the Trinity in the sweep of salvation history. It is worth noting that the Trinitarian formula was first used in the context of early Christian hymns, worship and baptism. Only later was the doctrinal theology — One in three and three in One — worked out.
In the concluding words of Matthew’s gospel today, we hear Christ’s instruction to baptize: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This is not a perfunctory act or formula, but in fact, incorporates each of us into the life of the living God. What does that look like? I invite you to think of it as joining the divine dance of the Trinity.
Perichoresis is a word used by early church theologian Gregory of Nyssa and has been put to good use by contemporary theologians. Peri meaning “around” and chorea meaning “dance,” it is a way for us to understand God’s unity, life, and movement of love — in the world and in our lives.
Our foundational reading from Genesis reminds us that God created us for relationship: to be, if you will, dance partners.
Our dance with the Creator: reminds us of who we are and whose we are. The One who created us from the same stuff as stars, who knit us in our mothers’ wombs, who ordered the universe, and who continues to create. When the world and our lives seem out of control, the Creator is the one who brings order to chaos. When beholding the beauty of a delicate flower or the grandeur of a mountain range, it is to the Creator to whom we give thanks.
Our Dance with the Redeemer: Jesus, God with us, who knows not only joy and laughter, but also suffering, betrayal, heart-ache, sweat, and tears. Whose life and death demonstrated and made real divine mercy and forgiveness. Who destroyed death and through him we are lifted to divine life – in this life and the next. When we feel alone or without hope, it is Jesus, the Redeemer, who promises he will be – and is -- with us always.
Our Dance with the Giver of Life: The Holy Spirit, Sanctifier. As close as your very breath is the One who swept over the face of the earth at Creation. Called “Sophia” and “Wisdom” in Christian tradition, she inspires, animates, and brings faith and boldness from otherwise tentative and fearful disciples – then and now. Purifying flame and breath of life. “Breathe on [us], breath of God, till [we] are wholly thine, till all this earthly part of [us] glows with thy fire divine” (Hymn 508).
These three, in a divine dance, include us in their unified movement of love.
On The Trinity, Augustine wrote: “the substance of all things is love – in its three-fold appearance of he who loves, that which is loved, and the power of love – everything created by God has traces of the Trinity.”
Everything created by God has traces of the Trinity. Do we look for it? Do we see it the natural world around us? In each other? And when we look at ourselves?
We are made in the image of God, and in baptism we are engaged in the divine dance of the Trinity.
A few weeks ago, I was leaving the Cathedral office later than usual, and I came upon a couple of students break-dancing on the Diocesan Center sidewalk.
I stopped to watch. I marveled at not only their skill, but also their joy. And, I had to ask myself, and now I ask you: when was the last time that you danced? Taking time out, away from the chores, the to-do list, all that is pressing, serious, and sometimes overwhelming…to trust God and dance.
On this Sabbath day, take time to rest, and recreate. Make a space, to see the traces of the Trinity and divine love in all things. And, as did the early Christians, Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa, the Breton girls, and our friends on the Diocesan Center sidewalk…to once again accept God’s invitation into the divine dance of love.