What do we dream of
What, if it were to take place for you this week, would fill your eyes and heart with tears … tears that could hardly stop, tears for all things lost, and tears of unbounded joy.
Age of Adeline
In the movie Age of Adeline a woman stops aging as a result of a car accident at the age of 29. This starts out to be the fulfillment of a dream that many of us may have: to live without the effects of aging. The movie follows her life as those around her age and she does not, as she is able to accumulate wealth that others simply cannot, for she has time and through the years an abundance of wisdom. She remains a young and beautiful woman inside and out as she accumulates decades of life with no end in sight.
Ah, to have it so. No arthritis, no forgetfulness, no impending death, no illness, no drain of one’s energy, no need to be impatient with life, but to be able to travel, to enjoy, to work, to read, to write, to create; all without the pressure of knowing it will not be so someday, for one will eventually lose the ability to do all of these wonderful things, yet one will live on.
Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity
This Sunday is the only Sunday of the entire church year that we celebrate a doctrine of the Christian Church. The doctrine of the Trinity is the core doctrine of the Church. The doctrine that defines more than anything else what is Christian and what is not.
The spectacular Doctrine: relationship
God is Three Persons in one Godhead. So God is one God, but God is three. Three yet one. That’s a paradox. What usually cannot be is: Three describes one and one describes three.
Martin Luther spoke of the two sacraments, and then he would name Baptism and Holy Communion, and Marriage and Confession, and on he would go until he had named most of the seven sacraments of the Catholic church that he tried to reform, had booted him out, named him a nonperson who could be killed by anyone who wished, and it would not be murder, and who Martin Luther demonstrated it’s corruption as he corrected it and established churches similar but improved, sort of. Still filled with sinners, even if everyone is a God made saint.
That kind of numbering of the Trinity, Three in One, is not what Martin Luther was all about in naming the Sacraments. This is us being as clear as we can be about God who really is beyond any clear explanation.
What we know and affirm is that God and all of creation is at it’s core about relationship.
The lessons speak about Trinity and about life.
In our lesson from Proverbs Wisdom calls out to all who live, to know her. (As the original Hebrew ascribes gender to her): She is God’s first act of creation. She witnessed all God’s acts of creation and she was God’s delight as she delighted in God’s inhabited world and in the human race.
Proverbs was written long before Jesus walked the earth, before the triadic expressions of God in the NT writings, and before the doctrine of the Trinity was formalized starting with the Nicene Creed of 325, revised in 381, and settled under the leadership of the three Cappadocian Fathers in its current form by the end of the fourth century. In Proverbs we have a similar relationship between God and wisdom as Arianism understood the relationship between God and Jesus; that God created Wisdom and Jesus. This understanding was not accepted by the wider church. It was supplanted first by the understanding that Jesus is fully God, present always as one of the three persons of the one God. The last piece of the doctrine to be settled was that the Holy Spirit, often understood to include the OT traditions of Wisdom, was also not a creation of God, but existed with God always, the third person of One God, the Trinity.
Even in Proverbs we see how significant it is that God delights in Wisdom and how Wisdom delights in the human race. Creation is all about God’s delight and God’s glory, all portions of what love is.
The Psalm celebrates God’s glory, and presents that same glory in lesser portion given to humans. It is stated that God has put all things under the humans’ feet. Today we would understand that this is not just dominion over, but responsibility to preserve, nurture, and ensure the survival of. We would no longer embrace any idea that we are to exploit creation for our selfish benefit to the detriment of future generations or the future of creation. Which is also a good portion of what love is all about, love for future generations and for all of creation.
The Gospel of John is chosen because in Jesus’ Farewell words, given after the Last Supper and before his arrest, he gives words to the trinitarian God; God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Today we might better express that as God the Parent recognizing first the equality of all genders, second our innate limits when it comes to knowing anything about gender for God, and third the powerful impact our providing God a gender has towards gender inequality.
The one powerful and crucial point that John’s Gospel makes is that it is God the Holy Spirit who continues to reveal to us more of the truth, as we are able to bear it. There is a kindness in God’s approach, revealing to us what we can bear; and we would expand that to say, revealing to us what we can grasp, understand, and make use of. It is always helpful to remember that God is not ever done teaching us about the truth.
At no time do we posses the truth of God in its entirety. At best we have a good start. That is a powerful reminder that humility is always a good starting point and ending point for us. Which is also a good portion of what love is all about.
Our lesson from Romans is one of the enduring passages of wisdom, hope and love that Paul provided to the Church. First that we are justified before God not by what we do, but by the faith given to us by the Holy Spirit. Second that what we value and can boast about is not us, but God, and not our accomplishments, but God’s, and not in our glories, but we boast about our sufferings.
And here we encounter what appears to be the upside down, and inside out logic of God’s relationship to us and our relationship to our own experiences. Who ever heard of boasting not about our successes, but about what others have made us suffer! The Word of God though is right side up, outside out, inside in. It is our thinking that is topsy turvy. It is our taking over God’s place by thinking that our successes are what constitutes real glory. No Paul makes it clear, we followers of Christ know that our suffering is what we can boast about, because 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.
God’s love begins with the Holy Spirit pouring love into us and it grows through suffering that begets endurance that begets character that begets hope.
And hope is an essential portion of love, which the Holy Spirit pours into us!
Through all the generations of Christians, we have utilized the doctrine of the Trinity to clarify that though we cannot know many things absolutely about God, as the Holy Spirit continues to reveal to us more and more as we can bear more truth, we can affirm whole-heartedly that the basis of God’s own being is not as an independent God. God exists in relationship with God’s self, with all three persons together.
As we are created in God’s image, God intends for us to exist in relationship as well, in relationship with God, in relationship to each other, and in relationship to all of creation.
Though they involve suffering, endurance, character and hope supported by love, our relationships with God, each other and all creation are to be fundamentally relationships of delight; which is perhaps the best portion of love.
All the things that we could dream of
enjoyment of life’s opportunities and options.
(You can fill in examples or stories about each of these.)
The one thing that the doctrine of the Trinity affirms is THE EVENT of our dreams.
A relationship of love.
It can be a life partner, a spouse.
Or a companion, or a person with whom one can share one’s life’s work.
There is a reason that movies, books, poems, yearnings, and our hopes so often land on falling in love.
We fill life with all kinds of other strivings and measures of success.
But our life is made up of what we are: we are made in God’s image. We are made for relationship.
Our lives are made to make sense only when we love.
It is not that we need to be ‘in love’ which is indeed a life changing matter. We are made to love other people.
Not just the people we like.
But the people, all the people around us. Even our enemies.
The meaning of life, not 42, or chocolate: but love
What really is the meaning of life??! The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy presents it as the completely random and meaningless number 42. Some people say with taste buds delighted and a bit of energy renewed from the caffeine and sugar that it is chocolate.
On our death beds, almost everyone, who has opportunity to tells us, reports, we will find no solace in the many things that we have striven for and achieve or not.
Not in Work success, wealth reputation, security, enjoyment of life’s opportunities and options, nor anything else.
On our death beds only one part of life will gives us solace, comfort and a sense of union with God’s universe. Only one thing will afford us a sense that all is well, all is well, indeed all manner of things are well. The one thing that will give us a sense of what God has had for us all along is the love we have given to others, and the love we have received.
Adaline Looses the Essential of Life: to Love and be Loved
Adaline’s ideal life, where the ravages of age do not touch her, does not progress so ideally. Because she does not age she suffers profound losses. She loses the ability to keep her own name. She loses the ability to develop life-long friends, not even pets. But most of all she loses the ability to love and be loved; and most precious of all, to face suffering and one’s impending death with someone she loves, with someone who loves her. She has great opportunities to delight in all of creation, but her tears that continue to increase in intensity are of losing the meaning of her life; she is unable to love.
The cinematic highlight of the movie arrives when she must decide, whether to risk choosing to love, as she is able, even though she will never grow old with the one she loves; even though if she is found out, she will be treated as a specimen to be studied, probed and experimented on. Can she, will she dare risk that suffering, in order to finally be able to love someone?
Jesus’ Command: Be as God Created us to be
This Trinity Sunday we celebrate that God is a God of three persons in one godhead. Which sounds paradoxical, but that is how it is with relationships of love. We are people meant to love one another.
Jesus’ command to love our neighbour as ourselves, and even our enemies, is not a command that we need to follow … or else!
It is a command that we should follow if we want to not just to be happy, but because it is who God created us to be! As we love others we will be right with God’s universe and with God’s Will for us.
The words sincerely said: “I love you” do not just give us life, but withholding love from another robs them of God’s intent for them. So wherever you are in your life, know this: God the Parent, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, all three, in one voice that shakes the greatest molecule at the beginning and ends of the universe … God says most sincerely to each of us, “I love you.”
Now it’s okay to cry with tears that cannot stop, for both the suffering and pain of all that has been lost, for the pain of all that never was which should have or could have been, and with all the joy of all the love that has been, is and always will be. It’s always okay to cry those tears of loss and overwhelming joy. This is what being at Peace with God looks like!
For this God created us, to be delighted with one another, with all creation, and with God, three in one.
Readings and Psalm
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31