Trinity Sunday: The Psalm Passage – Knowing & Naming the Divine

Preacher: “O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”
Seeker: Who is this Sovereign Lord? What shall we call this Divine Majesty? By what name shall we know and worship this Deity?
Preacher: “Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.”

Seeker: The young and innocent know the Lord’s name, but we who have maturity and wisdom falter when trying to discern the mystery of the Divine.
Preacher: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”
Seeker:
Yes, does this nameless Lord care about humanity? Is there no aspect of this Deity that has regard for we who dwell in this broken world?
Preacher: “Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”
Seeker:
The Lord God knows us, then, and sees us. We are held tenderly in the Divine’s regard. But what shall we call this Majesty who undertakes for us? How shall we know this Lord in our daily lives?
Preacher: “O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8)

Yes, you are right beloved reader, if you think that Seeker’s question was not answered. And that Preacher did not give a description of the Lord God, and the full scope of the name of the Lord. How can one describe the full and complete nature of the Divine? The truth is . . . . even giving the Divine three names does not describe all there is. How can you sum up everything from creation until this present day? What words or group of words can describe the Divine movement that is behind it all? Or, even sufficiently prove that there is a Divine movement – if we are being painfully honest?

We (meaning those who believe as I do) say that the Lord is a Triune God because we believe in the three large movements of the Lord God; Creator, Redeemer, and Presence with us. Under those three very broad categories lies, literally, a whole world of meaning.

May you, beloved reader, be blessed by the Triune God and come to know the Divine in fullness. Selah!

Advertisements

Trinity Sunday: The Gospel Passage Being sent by the Three-in-One

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16 – 17)

There are two things in these two verses I have to wonder about. First, what does the writer of Matthew mean by “worship”? In our modern context when we worship God or the Lord or Jesus or the Divine, it usually without them present – except for the Presence of the Spirit and the both imminent and transcendent. What clues I can gather from commentators and the Greek-English interlinear is that they fell down at his feet. The second thing I have to wonder is what did they doubt? Again the bible commentators suggest it was like the apostle Thomas felt, to stunned to know what to think.

But the writer of the gospel of Matthew does not ponder on those things as I do. He continues on to get to his point.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Verses 18 – 20)

Sometimes these verses are referred to as the Great Commission. And trust me, beloved reader, they have been pondered and considered by many generations many times. Doing mission work and evangelizing has taken up a great many lives of believers, and a great deal of money, time and energy has gone into it. But the RCL I suspect uses these verses for this Sunday because of the sending of the disciples in done in the “name of the Father [Parent] and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It is a mission on behalf of the Triune God. And the further implication is that the disciples/apostles will teach the theology of a Triune God.

I sometimes feel a little awkward and shy about strongly putting forth the theology of a Triune God. Not because I have problems believing it myself – no, I believe in it very strongly. I hesitate because I am not sure if it is a strong belief for those I am talking to. It seems so obvious and basic to me . . . . but I am not sure how it is for other people.

Since Trinity Sunday only comes once a church year, and other times of the year the concept and theology of a Triune God is not as heavily presented, this awkwardness and hesitancy is not often an issue in writing this blog. The Divine is . . . . . what the Divine is. And what we know in part now, we will know in the fullness to come. Until then, I will state my belief clearly but gently. Shalom!

Trinity Sunday: The Epistle Passage – Paul talks about the Trinity

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.” (II Corinthians 13:11-12)

Being that this was Paul’s second and last letter to the Corinthians, I am sure it was a final farewell. I do not think Paul got back to see them before his final missionary journey, nor before the time he was put to death. But the Revised Common Lectionary does not include this passage because of his final farewell. It was for another reason, the following verse.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (Verse 13)

The attributes listed for Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit are not the only attributes the Triune Divine has, nor are the exclusive to each aspect of the Divine. What is important here is that Paul separates out the Divine to three aspects. I do not know if this was the first time ever a Triune God was presented in the Epistles; I do not think it was the first time in scripture. Old Testament passages contain traces of a authoritative God or a creative God, as we read about yesterday. There was scripture and prophetic scripture about the Messiah. And scripture about the Presence of God. So, beloved reader, a Triune Divine is not a new concept but well steeped in history and scripture. It just takes writers who have a firm but multi-functional sense of the Divine to write about it. Selah!

Trinity Sunday: The Old Testament Passage – The perfection of creation . . . and then there was us!

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1:1 – 5)

Many civilizations have a creation story. Other than the one in Genesis, I know one or two of them. Or know enough of them to know, many or most civilizations have one. The one in Genesis is simply the Jewish one, or the one of that area. It is, I think, the only one that has a monotheistic God. But then Judaism/Christianity is one of the few monotheistic faith systems.

I actually like the one in Genesis very much, aside from it being the one associated with the Christian faith system. It has a personal and intimate edge and tone to it that draws me in every time. Even better, it is so easy to retell inserting even more emotion and intimacy than the way it is presented in scripture.

“And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Verses 6 – 8)

I also like, very much, Trinity Sunday. I like (the word “like”, however, does not do just to my the intensity of my feelings) the concept of a Triune God. It seems fitting to me that a God who embraces the acts of creation who have multiple aspects to the Divine’s nature and character. A Triune Lord embraces the possibility of many faith traditions yet keep to a monotheistic model.

“And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.” (Verses 9 – 13)

I have had the honor on several occasions to tell the creation story to someone who has never heard it as a story of a mighty Lord who bends down to form a world from dirt and water. Or more precisely, to form “something” where there was once “nothing.” It reminds me that we are stewards of the earth, and that the earth has come a far distance from first creation. The Lord created it “perfectly”, then handed it over to humanity. If the earth is now diseased and ailing, it because of what humanity has done. It also reminds me we have done just as “good a job” in caring for our fellow humans.

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.” (Verses 14 – 19)

It does not stretch my faith to encompass the fact that creation did not happen in 6 days, or 6 weeks, or anything else like that. I am quite willing to accept the millennia concept of creation – that dinosaurs etc roamed the planet and that humanity did not start out in the form that we find in Genesis but that we too had many steps in our evolution. The Lord God created the reason for the division of days and nights but we put the numbers to it, so why should we expect the Divine to keep to our system of enumerating the passage of time?

“And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.” (Verses 20 – 23)

What the Lord God established in creation is the building blocks of DNA, RNA, genes, cells, and matter. Everyone that is alive today, and everyone who had life, comes from the same source. Why would we give lessor value to some members of humanity than others? We come from the same source of Divine creation.

“And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Verses 24 – 27)

Humanity was created in the image of God. Does that, should that, tell us what God is like? Two arms, two legs and everything in-between? Furthermore, Jesus was sent as a human being to bridge the gap between the Divine and humanity – a further indication that we are made in the image of God. And if this is so, how can we give less honor and respect to some members of humanity than others?

“God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.” (Chapter 1 verses 28 – 31 and Chapter two verse 1)

Now, if you will look at those verses closely, beloved reader, you will see that the food chain then is not the same as the food chain now. Basically, everyone and everything is a herbivore. There was no “something eat something” world. There was utter peace, shalom. Everything was as the Divine intended. And the Divine handed this perfection over to humanity.

“And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” (Verses 2 – 4a)

Into this perfection and unity came imperfection and disunity. The God of creation may have rested on the seventh day, but the God of Salvation and Redemption has continuing work. It is because of humanity that we have a Triune God. We need more than just a God of creation. Let’s face it, we need a lot of things beloved reader! But whatever our needs are, we can find the answer to that need in the Lord God.

Trinity Sunday: The Psalms Passage – An Ode to God, and Humanity

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalms 8)

The final aspect of the Triune Divine is God Parent and Creator. Many believe, and their theology reflects it, that God is a singular aspect or Deity, and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are subsidiaries or lessor motifs or deities of the God-self. Anabaptist theology incorporates the theory of a triune God, which means that Christ and the Holy Spirit are joined in God yet distinct in their purpose. It is admittedly confusing, for to which Holy Aspect do you pray to and look towards. On the other hand, a triune theology provides the believer with an unlimited array of God-selves for their faith life. There is no aspect of life or living that God in one aspect or another can be a part of.

But Psalm 8 brings in a new strain and thinking. While God (meaning Parent & Creator) is praised and adored, humanity also is raised up in estimation to the level of being very close, just one step, below being divine (small “d”). But it reminds me, beloved reader, that humanity is made in the image of God. Whether that means in limbs and body, or in intellect or thought, I am not sure. And in no way intend to establish. But if humans are just below divine and immortal beings in the hierarchy of things, if not for our sinful nature who knows what we might be worthy of.

It makes me all the sadder to see what we are capable of when we do listen to our sinful natures. We who have been given the knowledge of good and evil choose evil over God. And thereby confirm that we are lessor, even it is only slightly lessor. That “slightly” is enough to keep us outside of the Trinity, and mandates that is it a Trinity and not a Quartet.

How I wish humanity as a whole could step forward and take its place beside the God-self (all that is within the God-self), worthy of being made in the image of God instead of being needful of confession, penance, and forgiveness – needful God’s grace and mercy. God’s mercy comes to us through Christ; and God’s grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit (although having a triune God means all that is God comes through all the Aspects of God). But this is important – although we are made in the image of God and capable of so much, we need God and all that is God to achieve our greatest potential. This is the offering, gift, and blessing that comes from God, to be all that we were created for. May you beloved reader reach the greatest and fullest potential that you are capable of through all that God represents to you. Selah!

Trinity Sunday: The Old Testament Passage – Wisdom in the world (the Fourth Aspect of God?)

Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. “
(Proverbs 8:1-4, )

It is said of some that “they don’t have the common sense that God gave them.” I have heard this said of young and old alike. More often than not, however, it is said in comparison to the person who is speaking, and not necessarily common sense (or good sense) that is from and of God. What is common sense according to the world may not be common sense according to God. After all, Christ turned upside down many precepts and perspectives. And I am reminded that Paul talked about being foolish according to the world’s perspective. So do you thinking beloved reader, that wisdom according to the bible is the same as common sense?

And just in passing, what do you think of wisdom personified as female?

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth— when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” (Verses 22-31)

Wisdom is old, older than creation. From the way the writer of Proverbs has her speak, you can almost imagine her saying with God concerning creation (as Genesis is structured) “that it was good.” We talk about “Mother Nature”; is that an “off-shoot” of wisdom? If Jesus was with God, as “the Word”, does that mean that wisdom formed part of the aspect of Jesus? And what does that mean for the “male-ness” that seems to be superimposed on God? Or was Wisdom created as a servant of God? Created to be a sounding board for the Divine? Could this be part of the “image of God” we were created in? And again, how is this influenced by the fact that Wisdom is characterized as a woman?

I have always been fascinated by the idea that Wisdom is portrayed as feminine. When I have felt pushed aside in the “world of men” I have cling to the fact that Wisdom is seen in the bible as a woman. And have strived to hone my wisdom.

May you, beloved reader, heed wisdom as you find it in yourself and in the world. Selah!

Trinity Sunday: The Epistle Passage – When the going gets tough

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

From early on my writing has sought to integrate the principles of the Christian life with every day living, based on the assumption and assertion that what our faith and beliefs tell us MUST be reflected in how we live in the world. That Christ came into the world not only to provide deliverance and forgiveness of our sins, but to show us how to live in the world yet not be caught up in the priorities of the world. This perspective, amongst others, has set the course for my life and has been a guiding precept. I am not declaring that I am abandoning it now, so put such fears away. But over a span of months I have seen how far apart ordinary life and faith life can be. And as I have tried to bridge the two in my life, at times it threatens to tear me in two. But again, I am not abandoning it.

What I see myself needing to do is to even more closely knit the two together. What my faith tells me I HAVE TO live out. It is the ONLY way to have peace in my life. And I suspect, beloved reader, it is the only way to have peace in your life as well. We cannot just stop living in this world; there is no other world to live in. And at times it may seem like this world is just too off course, but there is no other alternative.

What should we do then? Abandon the Christian live because it is too hard to maintain? Re-format our faith to tenets and precepts are easier to follow and honor in this world? That is not an option either. What we must do is cling to our faith, have faith in God that the Divine will hold us together, and refuse to let the world rend apart our faith making it meaningless. It has probably been said by every generation, but it seems as if our present reality tests Christian faith more than it has ever been tested before.

Or perhaps we need to concede that our spiritual forebearers withstood more than we know. And if that is so, then there is hope for us! As the writer of Romans said, we boast in our suffering. Not that we suffer more greatly, but that God meets our suffering and helps us through. That endurance, character, and hope will sustain us. And that God’s love floods our hearts and spirits. God’s love is tougher, stronger, and more enduring than the world thinks love can be.

And the writer of Romans reveals to his reader, and to us, how God’s love and Christ’s example is made manifest to us – through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is one aspect of the Divine. But it is not a created presence that stands in for God, but is God! Not a wisp of smoke and a gust of wind, but the Divine covering and infusing the world. When we say “the Holy Spirit” we MEAN the Holy Spirit of God!

May you, beloved reader, endure the days that are in your life, keeping yourself whole and intact by God’s love, grace, and mercy! Selah!