Quick survey—and be honest. Who woke up this morning, bounced out of bed and said, ‘Oh, boy! I can’t wait to hear Nancy preach on the doctrine of the Trinity! I sure hope she uses the word perichoresis!” ?
Nobody? Yeah, I’m not surprised.
All week long I wrestled with the basic question: do I do a traditional Trinity sermon and watch everyone’s eyes glaze over, do I do something a little more exciting, knowing I’m flirting with heresy, or do I throw it all to the wind and just admit that no-one’s heart will be broken if I go in a different direction?
I decided I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I have earned the chance to do something a little different. Because the Trinity really isn’t about the math. It’s about how we are invited to observe and perhaps even participate in the relationship at the heart of the Divine.
So sit back, get comfortable in your seat, close your eyes if you want, take a couple of deep breaths, and prepare yourselves. We’re going to contemplate the mystery of the Trinity.
How have you experienced God as Creator?
In the beauty of creation? The beautiful new green leaves popping out right now? The light glistening on the lake as the wind blows across it? Imagine yourself standing outside in a very dark place on a warm spring night. (You can leave the black flies out of it.) Look up. Look up into the open sky and see the stars spread out across the heavens. Think about how very, very big the universe is. Are you overwhelmed? Awed?
Think about how God created you—with your particular gifts, your strengths and weaknesses. Think about the amazing truth that the God who created the masterpiece of the universe (however you understand that) also created you. God the Creator cares about YOU.
Sit with that for a minute.
How have you experienced God as Christ, or Redeemer?
In a moment of great joy? In a moment of great pain? Through the greatest love you’ve known? In a time of loneliness or confusion? By being set free from burden or sense of guilt? In reaching out to someone in need because you see Christ in them?
Think about what it means to be redeemed, and what it means that Christ didn’t run away from the pain and suffering of the cross because he loves us. He loves you. God the Redeemer loves YOU.
Sit with that for a minute.
How have you experienced God as Holy Spirit, as Sustainer or Sanctifier?
In being lifted up and carried through a difficult time? In that inward urging, that little voice that pushes you to do something, to try something you’ve never done? In daring to reach out to someone with the good news of God’s love?
Think about what it means to be sanctified, how it means God dwells within us and entrusts this work of creating and redeeming into our hands. We have been given the responsibility to carry the Good News out into the world because God trusts us. God the Sanctifier trusts YOU.
So, guess what. To wrap up, I’m going to use that fancy word perichoresis, after all.
It’s Greek for “to dance around” and it’s used in conversations about the Trinity as a metaphor for the ways in which all those experiences of God as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier flow into each other, as they dance together in the divine mystery of the Trinity.
But here’s the beauty of it all—they are inviting us into that dance. And we don’t need to understand it to jump in.
Come join the dance of Trinity, before all worlds begun—
the interweaving of the Three, the Father, Spirit, Son.
The universe of space and time did not arise by chance,
but as the Three, in love and hope, made room within their dance. ELW #412