A Sermon for Trinity Sunday; Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-17
You may know that Angie and I have sold our house on W Pecan and are moving to Westminster Village. The grand adventure started Monday a week ago with a project to reconfigure and expanded the fenced in area of our new backyard. Even with a late start, Monday was a good day. Marcel, our nephew who is helping us, and I
- took down two sections of existing fence,
- dug 5 new post holes, and
- planted 5 new posts.
Tuesday was another late start, with a supply problem, it is hard to install what isn’t there. Still, we relocated the existing sections of the fence we took down Monday. The supplies arrived, ~ and it rained. Wednesday, we continued, only my inability to measure 8 feet caused a problem; it is hard to install an 8-foot fence section in a 9-foot span between posts. Again, with some ingenuity from Angie, we were successful; however, it rained again. Thursday, Marcel, and I were back at it, and it rained again. We finished up Friday, except for the gate. Saturday was gate day, I never thought the easy part would be figuring out how big the gate should be in an angled fence line. No rain and perseverance paid off. The fence is installed, the gate is installed, it even opens and closes.
Sunday, with help from a friend with a trailer, we moved our bedroom and stayed the night. Monday, with the help from the Mississippi County Union Mission, we moved all the furniture. Tuesday, with continuing help from the Mississippi County Union Mission we moved some items to controlled climate storage near our daughter. We also moved all the boxes. Wednesday, we moved all the little stuff, flowers, backyard furniture, stuff in the garage, and backyard shed; would you believe it took all day. Thursday, after Rotary, I
- picked up the last of the little stuff, and the trash can,
- swept the garage, and
- said goodbye to the lady who spent most of two days cleaning the empty house.
When I got home, I joined the earnest and continuing effort to unbox everything we had spent weeks packing.
You may wonder what our moving adventure has to do with celebrating the Trinity. Well, what they have in common is that the more I think about both the more I realize what I still don’t know about either.
You may recall the church spent nearly a thousand years, and at least four major councils producing 3 creeds, all trying to explain our understanding of one God, as Father, Jesus, and Spirit. You know one of these creeds, we say the Nicene Creed every time we celebrate communion. You are at least familiar with a second creed, the Apostles’ Creed, we say in Morning Prayer, and with Baptisms. You are probably not familiar with the Athanasian Creed, which is not used, primarily because of its length. It is in the historical documents included in the prayer book. All of them try to explain how three equals one; or one equals three, which any elementary student will tell you isn’t true. So, where can we turn for inspiration?
You know I believe cosmology gives us the language of science to talk about the how of the world as we can see and measure it. The language of science informs the language of philosophy, we use to talk about the why of the world, especially relationships between individuals and groups of people. The language of philosophy informs the language of theology we use to talk about the meaning of the world, and of course God. Last Monday the New York Times published an article titled Every Cell in Your Body Has the Same DNA. Except It Doesn’t (Zimmer). We all know our DNA, is the stuff the defines what we look like, and all sorts of our physical being. The DNA in every cell has all the information necessary to recreate us. This is why cloning works. Only now medical scientists, seeking explanation for unusual illnesses, are learning this is not true. Sometimes genes vary from cell to cell, not unlike the way they vary from person to person. It is not an entirely new thing, medieval Europeans knew about terrifying trees, that were one kind, but were also all scrambled up. Darwin was intrigued by similar observations. If you eat pink grapefruit, you know about this.
A Florida farmer noticed an odd branch on a Walters grapefruit tree. These normally bear white fruit, but this branch was weighed down with grapefruits that had pink flesh. Those seeds have produced pink grapefruit trees ever since.
What we now have is a scientific observation of how one thing, us, is made up of millions of identical cells, and that sometimes can be us, made up of mostly identical cells, but some that are different. This is not an explanation for our belief in our understanding of God as Trinity, but it at least introduces the idea of a complexity of being we have not previously known.
That same day David Brooks, one of the columnists I read closely, wrote What Moral Heroes Are Made Of (Brooks). Brooks writes about
- their unhesitating will to act,
- a simplicity of moral response – “This is just what I do.”
Moral heroes’ identities are tightly woven into their moral ideals. Typically, they are a part of a group sharing similar values, and aspirations, who share the core tasks, and support each other when an individual cannot carry the load by themselves. They have a profound belief they can make a difference when others say it cannot be done. Moral heroes understand that no matter the diversity of their individual passions they are all part of one big struggle to make a difference in the world. Brooks understands that a core attribute of moral heroes is community; the community they are in, the community that needs change, and the Omni-community that is all communities woven together. Brooks’ moral heroes know none of us are complete without our community, and our community is not complete without all its individual members. Blend this with the understanding, of identical DNA that is different, a same but different understanding of Trinity begins to emerge.
Our understanding is no longer one an understanding, it is becoming one of relationship. Neither God, nor Jesus, nor the Spirit can be without the other two, and the whole cannot be without all three. You know from Genesis that we are made in the image of God. A biblical idea that supports Brooks’ understanding of moral heroes. It also connects us to Trinity. As Trinity is important to us, so are we important to Trinity. We cannot be without each other, including Trinity, and Trinity is not the same without us. This is not an argument that we are like God. It is a proclamation that for us to be whole, to know shalom, our relationship with each other, in all those complex possibilities, we will mirror the perfect relationship of God, Jesus, and the Spirit, that is at times, spoken of, as love.
So now I see the circle. Understanding moving is not about understanding all the details of
- what happens when and
- how long, and
- the required materials.
No, understanding moving is being aware of all the relationships between all the people involved. And all those relationships are grounded in our relationship with Trinity, which is perfect love revealed and shared with us, and thus blesses us, every one of us.
Glory to our Trinity – God/Jesus/ Spirit, that brings blessings to you;
and blessing to you, that gives glory to our Trinity – God/Jesus/Spirit.
Brooks, David. What Moral Heroes Are Made Of. 21 5 2018. <nytimes.com/2018/05/21/opinion/moral-heroes-improve-society.html>.
Zimmer, Carl. “Every Cell in Your Body Has the Same DNA. Except It.” New York Times (2018). <nytimes.com/2018/05/21/science/mosaicism-dna-genome-cancer.html>.