6.19.11 sermon – Trinity Sunday
Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a
During my recent NYC trip, I had the pleasure of experiencing my first Broadway musical ON BROADWAY, and it was The Book of Mormon. So good. If you watched the Tony Awards, it won many awards, including Best Musical. It’s an edgy, but sweet show. The song featured during awards show was one of the few with appropriate lyrics.
In the song one of the Mormon missionaries, Elder Price, is singing about what he believes. He is earnest and sincere and he realizes that some of what he believes is hard for non-Mormons to understand or accept. He begins with “I believe that the Lord, God, created the universe. I believe that He sent His only Son to die for my sins.” Now so far, most of us could stand right with him and say, “Yes, that’s what we believe, too.” But the next line is, “And I believe that ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America. I am a Mormon. And a Mormon just believes.” Even Elder Price recognizes that last part is hard for a lot of people to swallow.
Now, before we get judgmental, let’s look at what we profess to believe. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord.” Ok, that part is generally accepted, at least among Christians. But what is the next line? “Born of the Virgin Mary.” A lot of people get hung up on that one, but we’re Christians and we believe some things we cannot explain and that sound a little odd to those who are not committed to the faith, and truthfully that sound a little odd to some who ARE committed to the faith.
And on this Trinity Sunday, we lift up our understanding of God as triune: 3 in 1. I’ve never heard anyone explain that to my satisfaction.
The point is we believe. Even though we have a faith that is often without easy explanation. It is part of how we wrestle with and express who God is, who we are, and how we relate to God and to the rest of creation.
Thousands of years ago, a group of people felt compelled to make a statement about who God is and who they were and how they were to relate to one another. All around them were other people who believed and practiced many different religions. All of these religions had creation stories. In many of these stories the world was created with violence, a battle between two or more gods. The result of the battle was this world we live in.
But our Hebrew ancestors of the faith did not believe that the world was created as the result of a battle between warring gods. They affirmed their belief in only one God. They believed that God created the world in order to delight in it. God did not fight the world into existence. God spoke the world into being. And when God had completed each step of the creation, God looked at it and pronounced it to be good.
This text from Genesis that we read together this morning also affirms that we were created in the image of God. You and me – all races, genders, and types. Tall people and short people. Bodies that skip and dance; bodies with disabilities. Chubby toddlers and awkward teens. Each and every one of us created in the image of God. And each and every one of us declared good in the eyes of God.
God placed the people on the earth with the plants and animals and fish of the sea and birds of the air. Then God gave the people a job to do. God placed the precious created world into the loving care of the people God had created.
And being created in the image of God means that people were created with both the ability and the desire to recognize that all of creation is interrelated. There is no part of creation that is separate from any other part. Each piece of the world, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, was carefully constructed to fit together and to work together. Sometimes we don’t want to see how each piece is interrelated because it means that we have to own up to our responsibility to all of creation. Humanity has devolved a mindset of “Us versus Them” rather than looking for and working with the concept that we are all one in the eyes of God and that we are all loved by God. We should treat one another & creation accordingly.
You don’t have to step too far out of your door each day to see that we don’t always do so well on this front. We were created good, but we are not perfect. But we keep at it. And we work together.
God has placed us in communion with all of creation, and we must step outside of ourselves to see this divine connection we all share. The psalmist asks “who are we that God should care for us?” We may never know. And we may never know why we have been charged with the care of God’s creation, but everything we do should be working toward this goal. The Triune God is one who rejoices as the poor receive good news, captives are liberated, the blind see, and oppressed go free.
How do we participate in God’s joy, celebrating life in a way that embodies God’s peace? How does our celebration of creation influence what we eat, what we wear, what we buy?
A few years ago, our denomination affirmed that “We are children of God, the body of Christ, and the movement of the Spirit in the world.” If we believe this to be true and claim it for ourselves: that “We are children of God, the body of Christ, and the movement of the Spirit in the world,” then we must ask ourselves, especially in this Pentecost season:
- Is the way I treat my neighbor exhibiting the movement of the Spirit in the world?
- Are the things I buy and the way i treat the earth exhibiting the movement of the Spirit in the world?
- Are my attitudes toward those who differ from me exhibiting the movement of the Spirit in the world?
-Is the way I approach my work and my relationships exhibiting the movement of the Spirit in the world?
Just as the Triune nature of God exists in a state of relationship, so do we exist in life-giving and life-empowering relationship with God, with one another and with all of creation. The wind of the Spirit is eager to move us;
the wounded hands of Jesus are reaching out to us;
and the face of God is being revealed to us.
God in the Trinity, ever present, always moving, is calling us to dance together – to delight in the goodness of God’s creation.
Genesis reminds us over and over, each day of creation, that God declares it good. God delights in creation. God delights in us. And we are invited to participate in this delight – we are invited to dance, even if we don’t always know where that will take us.
So, does everything we believe make sense to anyone who hears it? No. It doesn’t even all make sense to us. Some things we believe because of who we are. We are followers of Christ made in the image of God who is love. But we are never meant to be settled with what we “just believe”, no matter how messy or confusing it might be. I do think it is important to believe in something, and I think it is ok for those beliefs to change over time. What we believe gives us the roots we need to grow and thrive as God’s beloved creatures. But good roots are only as good as the fruits the plant produces. It is how we live out our faith that matters. So yes, believe in something. But on this Trinity Sunday, let’s not try to explain the Trinity to people. Let us go from this place embodying the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the welcoming communion of the Spirit in all that we do. Amen.