Saturday, May 25, 2013

Holy Trinity, Three Blurred into One

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

 I want to start by teaching you a few words in American Sign Language. It’s another way to imagine God.
God is a vertical palm up in the air then drawn down. (one of several God signs)
Trinity is one hand held open sideways like a shield, while the other hand moves from behind it to in front of it, changing from three fingers to one finger.
Father is like a man tipping his hat.
Jesus points at the wounds in his hands.
The Holy Spirit combines two signs, Holy and Spirit. Holy is the first two fingers wiped across the palm of the hand. The Spirit is a squiggly line drawn by one hand from the opposite palm up into the air.

… It’s the sign of the Holy Spirit that I like the most. I think it does the best job of describing God as impossible to describe. Make the sign of the Holy Spirit again.
The text from Proverbs about Lady Wisdom first calls us to pay attention to God’s plans and purposes for all people. The text then turns to Wisdom’s presence from the very beginning of creation. According to this text, God created Wisdom before creating anything else, and then tt was with the assistance of Lady Wisdom that God created everything that is.
If we turn to the first verses of Genesis, we remember that when God created the earth, God’s Spirit moved over the waters. That could have been Lady Wisdom. Make the sign of the Holy Spirit again.
At the beginning of the Gospel of John, we remember that it says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Here, the Word is linked with Lady Wisdom, and so Jesus is linked with both God and Lady Wisdom.
We talked about this overlapping dynamic in class last Monday, and the more we talked about Lady Wisdom and the Holy Trinity, the more our separate images of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit blurred together, looking more like that hard-to-catch wisp of Spirit.
Certainly, God incarnated in Jesus helps us know God, but Jesus is not the whole story.  God intends for us to not fully understand God, because God is God and we are not. The Trinity as an image of God helps us understand the many ways in which God expresses God-self, but even the Trinity is not all there is to the ways in which we experience God.  Make the sign of the Trinity.
… We’ve been talking since Easter about the many ways in which people saw Jesus after the resurrection and how people experienced the Holy Spirit ever since then. The best way to understand the Trinity is to see God in action. Sometimes we can see one image of God better than the others, but all three are present, blurred together. It’s as if we wrote Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on the chalk board and then dragged an eraser across the words. We can see the writing, but it is blurred together.
We can see the results of the creative power of God. We can see the forces of creation inherent in nature. Through this power, the mountains were raised up, the oceans dug out, the grains of sand formed from the grinding of wind and water upon stone, the birth of flower from seed and babies from mothers’ bodies. We notice more the power of God the Father and Creator, but the Son and the Spirit are also present. Make the sign of the Father and the sign of the Trinity.
We can see Jesus embodied in the hands and feet and voices of those around us. We can see the love and forgiveness Jesus offered and promised each time one person reaches out to love another. We can feel the healing Jesus offered each time we help bandage an injury, diagnose and treat a cancer, give a hug to a sad friend. We can hear Jesus’ voice each time we speak out against an injustice. We notice more the physical presence of Jesus, but the Father and the Spirit are also present. Make the sign of Jesus and of the Trinity.
We can sense the Holy Spirit whenever we pray, have a conversation, worship, form and maintain relationships, share the Good News of Jesus with others, experience forgiveness, hope in the resurrection, know deep in our beings that we belong to God and nothing can ever change that. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are formed into the living body of Christ. We notice more the connection of the Holy Spirit, but the Father and the Son are also present. Make the sign of the Holy Spirit and of the Trinity.
… We can, if we look, discover the Trinity at work in the tragedy that the tornado caused in Moore, Oklahoma. I do not want to imply, ever, that God intended to cause such disruption, injury and death. Insurance companies may still call tornados “acts of God” but they are really acts of nature. God weeps with us at the losses the folks of Moore have experienced.
I have a few quick examples of God in action in Oklahoma. I’m sure you have more.
Of course, the power of creation is evident. It’s the natural forces God created, most likely aggravated by human abuse of nature, that caused the extreme power of the tornado.
We can see Jesus in the body of the teacher who tried to protect several of her students with her own body.
And we can see the Holy Spirit in the relationship between a grandmother and her missing dog as she surveyed the rubble that used to be her house and called for the dog, just in case.
Where else do we see the Trinity at work as a result of this tornado? … Ourselves as we pray, and as we send money to Lutheran Domestic Disaster Relief, and as we put together our own hurricane kits each year.
When we notice that God is present, all of God is present, Father/Creator, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit/Lady Wisdom. Isn’t it wonderful that we can experience God in the way that we need at that very moment?
Your challenge for the week is for you to take some time to think about how you think about God. When you pray, to whom do you pray? Father? Jesus? Spirit?
When you are grateful, to whom do you offer your thanksgiving?
When you know you have made the right choice, whether large decision or small, who gets the credit for granting you wisdom?
One more time, let’s use the sign for God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and Trinity.  How do these signs help or hinder your understanding of the fullness of God?

Please pray with me. Awesome God, you do amazing things in the world, and in our lives. Help us see the signs of your presence wherever we are. Amen