First Sunday after Pentecost / Holy Trinity / May 26, 2013 / Resurrection Lutheran Church / Text: John 16: 12-15; Romans 5: 1-5 / Message by Rev. Carol Kniseley / The Divine Dance
“I still have many things to say to you,” said Jesus to his disciples on the night of his betrayal. “But…you cannot bear them now.” Jesus knows, doesn’t He? That there are things in this life that put quite simply, you and I are unable to understand. Not with our minds….and most certainly not with our hearts. Oh there may be scientific reasons as to why two mile wide tornados are apt to form in certain parts of our country as opposed to others….creating winds up to 200 miles per hour….capable of not only ripping apart buildings as if they were made of mere twigs but dismantling lives…many of whom were elementary school-aged children….”hunkered down” in what they thought was a “secure place” to ride out a storm.
We long to hear a word of rational explanation amid “signs of hope”….tied up with reassuring acts of love. And yet, until the Spirit of truth comes….you and I are pretty much left to fend for ourselves. At least that’s how the disciples felt….upon hearing the news of Jesus’ untimely departure….from the lips of Jesus himself. Until Jesus came on the scene, no one had even thought of God as being somehow divided among two individuals…much less three.
The Bible itself has oftentimes muddied the waters by making “it sound” like all three expressions of God operated independently of one another. And yet nothing could be farther from the truth. In the sixteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, verse 5: Jesus says, “Now I am going to him who sent me.” And then in verse seven, Jesus adds: “Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Finally, Jesus concludes with verse 15 of today’s Gospel lesson: “All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine…and declare it to you.”
Leaving us to ask: Who are all these people? How can God the Father…be his own Son? And if Jesus IS God (and we believe that He is), then to whom is he talking to? And where does the “holy spirit” enter into this rather convoluted conversation? Is the spirit of God…the spirit of Jesus….or someone else entirely? If they are all “one”....why do they come and go at different times? And how can one of them….send another one in their place?
If we think that after all this time, the church has come up with final answers to these really good questions….then sadly to say, we are the ones who remain clueless. Even Orthodox answers are accepted only as far as honest human efforts will allow The truth be told, it still remains a mystery at best….this nature of God that seems to exist as three persons…and yet, remain wholly one.
We’d probably be better off if we’d simply let this whole affair go. And yet, something deep down inside of us draws us in for a closer look…and our imagination is stirred once again. And we begin to put into words what we can only experience with our hearts. In other words, God is letting us all in on a little secret: it’s OK to live in the mystery of God’s presence.
I appreciate what author Robert Capon says about human beings who try to describe God….we end up like a bunch of oysters….trying to describe a ballerina. We (like the oysters) simply do not have the equipment to understand something so utterly beyond us. BUT….that has never stopped us from trying!
In today’s first lesson from the Book of Proverbs, we hear how The Lord (presumably God) created someone who was with him before the beginning of the earth. Could that someone be the same “wind” that in Genesis 1:1 moved over the face of the waters when God created the heavens and the earth? And then, in verse twenty-six appeared to be with God when God said: “Let us make human kind in OUR image…according to OUR likeness.”
Even the apostle Paul, in today’s second lesson, was sure to be “inclusive” of all three persons (God….our Lord Jesus Christ….and the Holy Spirit) when it came time to putting into words where we stand…in relationship…to God…BECAUSE OF Jesus’ saving act of grace. And it is to that RELATIONSHIP that I would like to turn our attention.
IF our “relationship” is anything at all, it is a personal one that is dependent upon HOW WE RELATE TO GOD in our day to day lives. The issue being that God seldom relates to one person in the exact same way he relates to another. Some days, God comes to us as a judge…walking through our lives wearing white gloves. At times, God comes as a Shepherd with rod and staff in hand…ready to defend us at every turn…and to provide for our every need. There are days when God blows through our lives with such power that we are forced to “let go of” our cherished absolutes….LEAVING US wide open and exposed to the blowing of the Spirit.
No doubt we have all seen the “visual aids” offered throughout the years. Using props like a three leaf clover (that was St. Patrick’s idea), or pointing out that water can be seen in three different forms (ice…liquid…and steam). Peeling an apple and pointing out the peel…the flesh…and the core as a picture of God: 3 in 1…is still a yummy choice. But my favorite comes from a hymn…adapted from a Shaker tune by a man named Sydney Carter. This hymn brings to my mind an image that is so compelling, that it makes me “shiver” just thinking about it. The image being that of: God….the dancer!
Picture this: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit all three engaged in a close, joyful, loving dance…arms woven together in perfect harmony. And as is true in any dance…only one can take the lead. It is Jesus, who in turn seeks to bring us into this TRINITARIAN relationship…by inviting us…to join in the divine dance. Whether we understand it or not….is not the point. The point being, how can we refuse such a divine offer from the Lord himself…not only for this life…but the next?
(From the Lord of the Dance…we hear the refrainJ
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.