Sunday, June 11, 2017

Holy Relationships

Genesis 1:1--2:4a ; Psalm 8 ;  2 Corinthians 13:11-13 ; Matthew 28:16-20

Today is Holy Trinity Sunday. I’m sure you will be pleased to learn I am not going to try to explain a doctrine that arose out of 4th century metaphysics. Personally, I believe that when we try to take God apart into the three persons, we do injustice to God and our own faith. Especially to try to do this in a single sermon!

Instead, today, I want to talk about the Trinity as a relationship, Father, Son, and Spirit, inseparable, united in one purpose – the desire to love all creation, which includes us human creatures. We’ll do that by taking a quick tour through today’s readings.

… In Genesis, we remember that God created everything, one part of the universe after another. And we learn that everything God created was “Good.” Another way of thinking about the relationship God had, and still has, with creation is that it is “Beloved” or maybe even “Blessed.” God creates in order to have a relationship with the creation – otherwise, why does it matter that it is good, or beloved, or blessed?

As the last act of creation, God creates humans so that we might be stewards of all that God has made. God loves and trusts us so much that we are God’s designated caretakers of the earth and all that lives in it, on it, and around it. We are created by God with love, and we live in holy relationship with the Divine.

… In Psalm 8, the psalmist celebrates the relationship with a beautiful song about creation. He (or it could be she!) praises the majesty of God and the wonder of the relationship between God and humans. “What are we, who are we – that you should pay attention to us?” and, “Who are you, God, that you care so much for us and all you have made?”

… In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he seems to be attempting to resolve church conflicts. There have been people disrupting the order and peace within the congregation. Paul has spent chapters outlining how things should be done, how they should treat one another, and what they should believe.

Paul sums up what their relationships should be like with this blessing, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Their relationships should be filled with Jesus’ grace, God’s love, and Spirit’s presence. They should treat one another the way Jesus would.

… In the Gospel reading, these are the last few verses of Matthew’s Gospel, and the last time Jesus appears to the disciples, the last time he speaks to them. For three years, they have followed him, come to know him, listened to him, learned from him. They have wept at his death and rejoiced at his resurrection.

Now, their intimate relationship is ending. Now, he trusts them as he sends them out to be his hands, and feet, and mouth, and heart in the world. The relationship takes on a new dimension with a final promise, “I am with you always, everywhere you go.” The disciples went out to the ends of the known world, in many directions, carrying the news of God’s victory over death wherever they went. They went empowered by the Holy Spirit, developing relationships with new believers and teaching them about Jesus.

… God’s promises are always true – we can still trust in Jesus’ promise to be with us today because the promise is based on the relationship between God and us, God’s people. God is with us always, wherever we go, whatever we do.

So, if we are facing trials and troubles, we can rely on God to be with us.
If we are rejoicing in good news, we can also rely on God to be with us.
When we are talking with friends, hugging loved ones, making plans for a special event, we can rely on God to be with us.
We can always rely on God to be with us, and we can rely on God to be with others as well, even if we don’t want to remember that.

… Here is a story that illustrates what relationships look like when we remember that God cares about us and is with us always.

I am sure you are aware of the terror attack in Manchester, England, last weekend after an Ariana Grande concert. I have heard national news coverage of the injured, and the families of the deceased. I have seen coverage of the attempt to find and arrest the perpetrators. But, I have not heard in TV news coverage of this heart-warming response to the attack.

Dozens of people who live in the area posted on Twitter that they offered their homes to family members seeking concert-goers who were missing. For example, one said, “I can provide a safe place to stay, a cup of tea, charge your phone. Message me.”

Taxi drivers, many of them Muslims and Jews, offered free rides. In the morning, people brought hot tea and coffee and food to first responders, and bottles of water to people still stranded near the arena.

It all comes back to the relationship between God and us, and among us humans. Through Jesus Christ, we have relationships with each other, even if we don’t know them, and we respond to their need.  Because God loves us, we love God, and we share God’s love with others. 

Your challenge for this week is to consider how God’s love influences your relationship with God and with other people. Pay attention: do you remember God is with you always and everywhere? Do you remember that God is with other people as well? How does your awareness of God’s presence shape your relationships?

Please pray with me: Gracious and loving God, we are amazed at times that you pay attention to us. We praise you and thank you for your constant presence with us. And we ask you to guide us this week and always in caring for all that you have made, including other people. Amen