Yeah, I GET to preach on Trinity Sunday! No, that’s right, the other five preachers are celebrating that they don’t HAVE to! I am NOT going to try to explain the trinity because, for one thing, really ONLY THREE!
I do believe this concept of God as community, as three in one is a commission for us to LIVE in community. I look often at the icon on my desk of the three visitors to Abraham who some believe to be the triune God, and I see community. I see entities who cared about Abraham and Sarah and the deepest desire of their hearts: to have a child, a son. God is with us.
Nicodemus raises the question, “Who IS Jesus?” Who is God? Because the Triune God we worship is just that: God. And our view of God has changed over the millennia. We read the stories of the Jews and we often encounter a vengeful and vindictive God and we want to turn away. The Creator is loving and caring for the worlds created, the animals created, the people created but The One casts them out when they disobey the rules. Out into the larger world he created where there is work and murder and painful childbirth and flood and famine and death and visions.
I’ve often wondered about Isaiah’s vision of God whose robe hem filled the temple. I suspect God and the robe are always there but Isaiah is the first and maybe the last to actually see it. Because this confusing God who is vengeful and casts people out is also always with us, in community, and is always aware of the deepest desires of our hearts. As Paul tells us, Our Father.
I am a Facebook friend of Diana Butler Bass and I have read her posts as she wrote her latest book. She just went through the editor’s notes and corrections and it is off to be printed for release in October. The editor wrote a note at the very end saying how much she enjoyed the book. I am looking forward to its release. I listened to a podcast on Friday of an interview of Diana with a HuffPost Religion staffer who is also a friend and former colleague of hers. I was struck by something she said about faith and our changing viewpoints of God. The title of the podcast was something like, “We have been looking at God all wrong.” She talked about her early adulthood immersion in Evangelical Christianity and how she finally had to leave it behind. There were all kinds of reasons for this. What struck me in what she said was that many Christians have moved from looking at the transcendence of God as something “UP THERE” to recognizing God’s transcendence is “OUT HERE”, “RIGHT HERE”. Like that robe hem that filled the temple. We can’t see it but God is always here--we are tucked in those robes of God--not so we can hide from one another, not so we are protected from one another but so we can BE with one another, so we can step out and do outrageous things for Christ. We never step outside that robe hem because we never stop being in God’s presence. God is here with us and as Paul states, within us. “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
So, what if, instead of looking UP to talk to God, we look straight ahead or at the person sitting next to us. I’m not saying we are each of us a god. I’m saying God is always with us. We are in community with this Triune God. God sent Jesus to save the world. And, the world still needs saving. We need to preserve and make the world inhabitable for all God’s creatures and plants because God is with us and God created us.
As Edgar Mitchell said of the Apollo 14 mission when he was returning to Earth, “I was gazing out of the window, at the Earth, moon, sun and star-studded blackness of space in turn as our capsule slowly rotated. Gradually, I was flooded with the ecstatic awareness that I was a part of what I was observing. Every molecule in my body was birthed in a star hanging in space. I became aware that everything that exists is part of one intricately interconnected whole.” Community. The hem of God’s robe extends out into space, into that capsule Mitchell was sitting in. And, though Mitchell was looking at physical objects that anyone else could see, he had a sort of vision, what he calls “the Overview Effect”. He saw that all is connected, all, everything in the universe is in community. God IS out there, God IS in here, and God is with us, always. And, we live inside God.
So, when we look off to the side, at our fellow creatures; they are part of us and we are part of them. We are made from the same stardust.
This is why I speak up to protect the environment and why I speak up for the right of people to have a place to live. We all must look at these pictures from space and take the Overview of the world so we can see how we are all connected. The forests in Borneo are part of my life as they are ripped out and planted with palm oil trees so we can eat Oreo cookies. The Orangutan is my brother, my sister and shouldn’t I resist the destruction of their home? The loss of the trees and other plants should break our hearts because they are part of our community.
I cannot look into the eyes of my friend and tell him he does not deserve to have a home. A home that has clean floors and walls, reliable electricity and water and sewer lines, and no cockroaches, vermin or mold. And, now, thanks to Sarah, I have several of these friends. Anxious over losing their homes and the things they have been able to accumulate, knowing how hard it is and how long it takes to gather what one needs to be comfortable, to be creative. Will I be warm enough? What will I eat? What freedom must I give up? Will people be living too close? Will people hurt me when they know more about me? Who will help me to move my things? What will I leave behind? How much do I have to give up in this life? And God is there in the midst of it. God hears our deepest desires.
Community. Our community is the universe and it is our home and it is the birds at the feeder and it is those without homes and those with homes and it is those orangutans in Borneo. My community is the young couple with their new baby and an uncertain future but their lives are joyful because of their son.
My heart breaks for the world, for her people, for her creatures, and for her plants. I live a good life yet it is precarious because it is life in the world of work and murder and the pain of childbirth and floods and famines and death and the joy of visions. When do we stop looking up for God and recognize that God is here with us always and we should take care of what we have before we have destroyed the creation? Let’s take care of one another and the world out there. Let’s resist the destruction of the creatures and plants of creation. Let’s work for all: human and animal to have a home. “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world. But in order that the world might be saved through him.”