Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trinity Sunday reflections


Trinity Sunday. The only day of the liturgical calendar devoted to a theological concept and not an event in the life of Jesus.

I know from the start it’s going to be a short Sunday. Holiday weekend. People gone. People sick. Anna is at the bus stop with puppy, waiting. I’m pleasantly surprised to have Brian, one of my bicoastal members arrive. Anna comes in, picks up the broom and pan to take her turn at sweeping.

I gather chairs in a circle. Invite everyone down and begin. It’s also Memorial Day weekend. Not a day to celebrate the military..why does major league baseball have to go GI Joe with all the camouflage this weekend? But a day to remember our loss...

My father always tried to place flowers on his father’s grave on this day. I can’t be there to do that fro my father. But I  can see where he is buried. Imagine myself at the grave side, placing  flowers there.  The feel of the wind, the smell of the place, there in my hometown.  Imagine myself there.

After we read the scriptures for the day( Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8, Romans 5: 1-5, John 16: 12-15), we begin our conversation. John of course begins with a reference to the father, son and holy ghost. Nirka focuses on the person of Jesus. Anna recalls her upbringing as a Catholic and all the different religions and their threes...Brian recalls his being Santa Claus at West-Park, his story about the candy cane and its  stripes. For the big three again. And if you turn a candy cane upside down, it’s a J for Jesus, the reason for the season, as he puts it. Also a shepherd’s crook, say, and the red and white, blood and purity....

There are conventional approaches to explanation, like I can be my parents’ child, my wife’s husband and my children’s father all at the same time. Also the idea that key to understanding is relationship.

That’s what the father language is all about, not masculinity, but intimacy, relationship. And strange that the Wisdom lesson, Proverbs, is about, well,  wisdom. The  language makes John think of Jesus, but it’s really wisdom, and feminine.

Wisdom, too, comes from experience, relationship. Wisdom is not knowledge like facts are not truth. It’s deeper than that. An inner knowledge of whats right. 

Likewise, the Paul passage refers to Jesus as the human one.  The suffering/endurance/hope sequence doesn’t always work in real life. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger sounds  good but doesn’t always work fro everyone.  Sometimes what we experience, endure, doesn’t make us stronger, just messes us up. I’ve got a lost patrol of marines  on my steps with PTSD to attest  to that reality.

But as one of my colleagues said, suffering  is a given, misery optional.  In the end, suffering is  not a punishment, it simply is. And although few of us are truly innocent victims, there is simply a function of grace, or at least mystery at work here. 

Hope does not disappoint. Being what we WILL be begins now. And as Sharon Welch has said, cynicism remains the  prerogative of the privileged. Hope is not optimism, as I’ve said here so many times. As Jim Wallis has said, hope is believing despite the evidence and having the courage to work to make the evidence change. And the reality is, hope works. 

It’s about resilience. And hope is the one thing that can counter depression. Like Lincoln, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Believing that in the end God’s will will be done. 

Finally, the Holy Spirit. What sustains us, keeps us going. Jesus says he’s got more to say, but we won’t understand it. Mystery again. Again, truth is relational. Again, facts and truth not the same .Jesus did not say he was the facts, he says he is the truth. 

So as I say in my Spanish benediction every Sunday, con el amor  del Dios, nuestro creador;  la gracia de Jesucristo, nuestro hermano, companero y salvador; y el poder sustenando del espiritu santo....

(With the love of God our creator, the grace of Jesus Christ our brother, companion and savior and the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit....)

For today: 
Father and Wisdom
Son:  being, living...compassion....suffering....and the Spirit that sustains.

Don’t worry about doctrine or theology. Live. Be. Relationships...know the Trinity by experiencing it.

We gather in our circle. Say our benediction. Sing amen. Worship is over. The service continues...

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