When she’s not heading up our Pastoral Care Committee, our own Linda Goertz can be found musing on the Trinity, as she did here, sweeping us all into a lovely homiletic dance of mystery for Trinity Sunday…
When I was about 30 and a fairly new Christian, I found a lump in my neck and shortly thereafter had surgery for a thyroid tumor. It was an emotional time for me; I was single; I lived alone; I was scared. Thankfully, my new church family surrounded me with love and care – an outpouring I will never forget.
But still, I’d never thought about possibly having cancer, and I was in tears a lot. Before the surgery, I had been singing in a community choir that was preparing a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem, and I deeply hoped I could still sing with that choir.
Now, since I don’t read music, I took a little cassette player with the music on it (remember cassettes? no? well, they were before CDs) and I would listen to it in the hospital and then at home so I could memorize my part of the chorus. And listening, I would just cry – even though I was lying on my back and the tears would end up pooling in my ears.
And then I would listen to the soprano and the chorus singing, “Yea, I will comfort you, as one whom his own mother comforteth,” and I would find myself crying with joy and relief, because I really did feel God’s comfort.
Those moments stayed with me, as I’m sure many such moments stay with you all – the moments when Wisdom, or the Holy Spirit, or Mystery, come and almost touch us, saying against common sense, it will be well. And I believe those are our visions of God.
God comes to us in many forms, not always recognized. Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity and in that doctrine the church has historically tried to address who God is, what God is like, how we experience God.
Now there are jokes and Internet memes about how on Trinity Sunday it’s fun to count the heresies uttered by inexperienced folks preaching about the Trinity – so I’m going to admit right now that I’m not a theologian, I don’t have a linear, left-brain concept of the Trinity, and I can’t explain it all to you. I deeply admire people whose analytical minds and deep hunger to understand the Holy have parsed the paradox of three Persons in one God – but I’m not one of them.
It’s like reading certain poems – I hear the words and my inner being says, YES, that’s true – but I couldn’t explain it intellectually for the life of me. When it comes to describing God’s nature, I pretty much vote with Iris DeMent when she sings, I think I’ll just let the Mystery be.
I do love, though, the way our texts this morning give us a little picture show of the faces that God turns to us –we see Wisdom, a clearly feminine being, working alongside the Creator “like a master worker”; we hear the tender words of Jesus the Redeemer; we anticipate the poured-out Holy Spirit that will guide us into all Truth. Notice that Jesus says we cannot bear what He has to say – we cannot bear the pain and tragedy of life that He, and we, will experience — and so the Spirit must be the teacher, the comforter and the glorifier. The passage from Romans almost sings it, showing us that what we cannot bear sometimes, we endure and out of that blossoms hope and the pouring of the Spirit into and around us, and it doesn’t make “sense” but it isn’t non-sense. And maybe it’s more like a dance than pictures.
Now, here I’ll say I have learned one theological word that attempts to describe how the Three Persons of the Trinity interconnect – it’s the Greek term perichoresis, and its most common definition is “to dance around.” Isn’t that great? The Persons of God dance around and within each other, permeate, communicate, relate with one another. And from our viewpoint, as the dance goes on, we first see one face of God, then another, then another, yet it is all One God.
When we suffer and feel it’s more than we can bear, we experience the consoling, strengthening Comforter. The dance changes and we celebrate the great delight and beauty of the Creator. We weep for our persistent, painful sins and call out for the Redeemer to heal and cleanse us. Each of these is our encounter with the Trinity, who is One. Maybe it doesn’t lend itself to easy understanding, but there is dancing, and what more do we need than that?