Texts: Genesis 1; Matthew 28:16-20
So, its Trinity Sunday. A few of you facebooked me and joked that I should explain the Trinity to you all this morning. So I’m going to start off with an apology. I won’t be explaining the Trinity this morning.
But, I am going to talk about what I think is important about the Trinity. Why I think its important to our understanding of our faith.
In our first reading, we read that beautiful poem, the first account in the Bible of creation, of God creating the heavens and earth. When we read that great poem, I think that we are conditioned to think of God is a certain way. As some king in the sky, who is creating and orchestrating everything. “You, tree, go there.” “You, human, go there.” Whoops, time for a storm. God as acting alone, some sovereign deity pushing buttons in the sky.
There is another way to think of God, and the Trinity helps us with that. In the Trinity, God is not alone; God exists in relationship. God exists in relationship, between Father, Son, Holy Spirit, between Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, existing in all of life.
There’s a great big Greek word early church theologians used for the relationship of the Trinity: Perichoresis. It’s a word that can mean a lot of things, but I like to think of it as “a big hug”. Or it can mean a dance.
It is my favorite metaphor for the Trinity: a dance! Its funny, because I can’t dance and I’ve got too left feed. But I love the idea that Pentecost is an invitation for us to take the hand of Jesus, of God, of the Spirit, and dance! It’s the dance of life—the dance of abundant life —that we are invited into. The dance into a restored creation.
So, in light of this idea, lets look at our gospel text for this morning.
Jesus, in this very final passage of the gospel of Matthew, is saying goodbye to his disciples. He’s come home, to Galilee, and he is giving his closest disciples his last farewell. He shows up with a command and with a promise.
There is the command first. “Go, make disciples of all nations.” Invite other people to follow me, baptize them, and build a movement. Invite everyone to join us, to join God, to join Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in a divine dance. And what kind of dance is this?
The Jesus Movement started in Galilee with a bunch of tired out farmers and fishermen and tax collectors. Jesus taught them that they were worthy; Jesus helped them recover their dignity and self-respect. Jesus taught them to live in a new way—with love and dignity, relating to the world in a new way. Jesus, in essence, was mobilizing the Galilean and then the wider Jewish community, mobilizing them for liberation.
Mobilizing them to take back their dignity. Mobilizing them—the tax collectors who had made a killing off of other people’s desperation, the farmers who didn’t have enough to eat, the fishermen who were tired of paying more taxes than they could bear. The women who were so often invisible in that culture.
Mobilizing them to stand up against an empire that brought death—actual death as the empire crucified so many of them, and social death as the empire told them they were nobodies, slaves. Mobilizing them to hold their heads high. To claim their status as children of God.
2000 years later, we are still invited into that dance, toward liberation, toward freedom, toward fullness of life.
We get to dance away from our culture that tells us to look out only for ourselves. To dance away from a world that tells us we are not good enough or smart enough. To dance away from a culture that often glorifies greed and power, at any cost. To dance away from hatred and cruelty.
We get to dance toward each other. Toward God. Toward dignity and self respect. Toward loving our neighbors. Toward life.
In our community, in our time, what does that look like?
Since I know you all so well, I am going to share with you something that is weighing on my heart this week.
Recently, I have noticed, in both Aberdeen and Elma, more and more efforts to bar people from public space. To make people invisible. In both places, there are many young people who either live on the street or spend a lot of time on the street. Recently, I heard a city official in Elma refer to these young people as “undesirables” and, as more and more cities are doing, they are coming up with strategies to keep people out of town. To ask people to leave.
That broke my heart. That is how our society chooses death. We look at our young people—people who on the harbor have few options for jobs, people who are struggling, people who have few places left to go, most kids who have grown up here—and say “we don’t want you around. We don’t care what your struggles are—we just want to pretend you don’t exist.” They are us—our neighbors, our young people, our future. If are going to join God’s dance, we must reject this way of death.
Jesus’ message instead invites our young people to join in the dance of God. To celebrate their worth and their dignity. To fight for their right to life. We, the young people of the harbor, must claim our future. We, the 800 children who experience homelessness in our county, long for life. We, the hundreds of young adults who are told they are worthless, we long for dignity. And, sometimes, all we can say is what a man told me a few weeks ago; “At least Jesus is on our side.” Jesus is on his side and we are all called to join Jesus in demanding life. In dancing for life. In welcoming our neighbors. In affirming our common dignity. In choosing life.
And, as we choose life, we remember the second part of our text—the promise.
Jesus left us with this great promise: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
I am with you when things get hard, when there is nowhere left to go, when cities choose a way of death, when the struggle is hard.
I am with you when things change, when life gets hard. When sickness comes. When uncertainty comes. When it seems nothing is getting better. When ankles are sprained and health fails. I am with you.
I am with you. You are surrounded by the Holy Trinity. Surrounded by the love and care and comfort of God in Christ through the Spirit, of a God who exists in relationship.
When the lights seem to go out. When the world seems to get darker and more frightening. When it feels like the end of the world as we know it. When those in power fail us. When systems of greed and power overwhelm us. When our young people seem to have no future. I am with you.
And, so, this day, let us remember that we are held in the arms of a God who dances in relationship. Let us remember that we live surrounded by the life of God in creation, that God cared for each of us. And, my brothers and sisters, lets dance! Even with two left feet.