Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Holy Trinity May 21/22, 2016

Happy Trinity Sunday!

Do you ever think about God?      If you do, “What image comes to mind?”

          Now, no image can ever give a complete, or even an adequate, understanding of God.  St. Augustine, not our St. Augustine of Canterbury but rather the other St. Augustine, of Hippo, tells us that whatever you think God is, that is NOT God. 
          To comprehend God you would have to somehow grab hold of God, somehow get a handle on God, and somehow figure God out and confine God.  
          But God is always much bigger, or another way to put this, more mysterious, than we can ever grasp.  God is always too big, too ineffable, too other in order to be grasped.  You just can’t do it.
          So where does that leave us?   Well, you could say, “Oh, God is a mystery.  Never going to get this one figured out, so why bother?”  And then basically ignore God.  I think a lot of people do that nowadays.  They just kind of write God out of their considerations, out of their plans, out of their decisions, out of their life, and act as if God does not exist. 
          It is not a very good approach.  Because ignoring God doesn’t make God go away.  God is still there.  God is annoying like that.  Still lurking in our hopes.  Still pushing those questions about life and death and meaning and love and morality, like an itch we just can’t quite get at.  The God problem is still there, and won’t go away.
          Or we could just declare God is Other, or another way to say the same thing, All Holy.  God is totally different from us.  We cannot picture God, cannot limit God, cannot in any way conceive of God.   That is what Moslems do.  In Islam, with its strict adherence to monotheism, God cannot be pictured in any way.  God is Other, Holy, and mysterious.  There is one God, God, and God is totally different from us.  God is all Holy and we are not.  This approach is definite, clear, but to me at least, not very satisfying.
          And then there is the Christian way.  God is all Holy and totally other.  Absolute Mystery.  But this Mystery also has a human face, which is the face of Jesus.  Christians make the outrageous claim that out of love for you and me this Absolute Other, who is God, entered into human history about 2016 years ago, in a squalid little village called Bethlehem, in a poor and defeated kingdom called Judah.  His name is Jesus.  Jesus grew up in a dirt-poor hick town in the sticks of Galilee, taught for a couple of years, ran afoul of the powerful and was executed.  But in His teaching and life Jesus showed us that the truest nature of God is not power, not might, not domination, but rather service and love.  Love is the truest nature of God.
          And to make this story even wilder and more spectacular, this loving God has come to dwell in our hearts, closer to us even then our own breath.  God’s own inner life, God’s Holy Spirit is poured out on us so that we can live the life of God’s own being, for all eternity.  You and me in intimate union with God!   Pretty wild.
          We call this spectacular drama the Holy Trinity:  The Father Creator, the Son Redeemer, the Holy Spirit Sanctifier.   Three, but essentially one.  Bad math, but great theology.
          That is what we celebrate today, the Most Holy Trinity.  It means that God is the cause for all that is, God revealed God’s self in the life and death and coming to life again of Jesus, and God dwells in us, closer to us than our own breath.  It is a wonderful love story, and if you think about it, really pretty wild. 
          That is the Most Holy Trinity.  Happy Trinity Sunday!

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