June 4, 2021 – Trinity Sunday

Psalm 8; Ephesians 1:11-14, 2:4-10

We start staff meetings with devotional show and tell, something that touches / inspires. Two weeks ago, Amber brought a watery globe with birds, circulating glitter. When stressed and overwhelmed she gazes at the calming twinkling beauty. Then Carl read a book excerpt—an especially beautiful way of seeing goodness of the world, and our life in it. This week, Shelly had us get creative. Here’s the task. Look at someone across the table and without lifting your pen or looking at the paper, draw the person you see. We find a few masterpieces on our bulletin cover. All of us went for physical attributes – eyes, glasses, chin, hair, nose, mouth. They’re a bit more abstract / surrealist Picasso than delicate Vermeer! So here’s a little human and liturgical / theological fun for the day – our mission, should we choose to accept it. Imagine or determine two things. First, which staff person is depicted by each drawing? And second, which of these faces swirling in space represents which person of the Holy Trinity?

You see, it’s a big day of the church year! A pivotal moment, filled with anticipation. Chrissy loves it! Can we feel it? Yes, our annual picnic with burgers, dogs, potluck delicacies, animal balloons and face painting far better than what’s on our bulletin. I’m told that for some kids it’s about as memorable as Christmas. This Holy Day isn’t quite so high – Trinity Sunday! Half-way from Christmas and to Advent again. First half of the year we center in Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection. Second half we center in the church living as the risen Christ. Pivoting on the Trinity.

But as the Bible says often: Do not fear! This sermon is no lecture with speculative metaphysical gymnastics about “God in three persons, holy and one.” I like exploring theological questions. I like poetic metaphor—what theology really is. No laboratory explanation, engineering manual, computer program. We need wonders of science and technology as vital partners with faith. But I’ve never seen a diagram of Holy Love in AutoCAD or patented chemical formula. That could be fun! I love faith questions reflecting deeper reality– feelings of joy or fear, existential yearnings for direction, purpose, even certainty or at least something to hold onto when life starts to spin like we’re lost in space. I cherish sharing that journey, at its tender and wondrous best. At its worst, we know conflict about “answers” or orthodox dogma entwined with power can hurt. Literally killed people deemed heretics. And 1,000 years ago Orthodox and Catholic churches split over debate about whether the Spirit flows from God the Father or through the Son. Sure, there’s meaningful implication. But let’s not lose loving relation. Anyway, that’s not where we’re going today.

Here’s our core good news. God gives life in Holy Love. However we name it—the Sacred, the Divine gives life in Holy Love. That’s the big simple point. We make sense of it as source that creates all life, mercy that redeems and transforms, ongoing blessing that sustains. Amid all the big words and long logic, I want to feel that power, share that purpose, wonder at that beautiful mystery. That’s what God wants us to do.

That’s what ancient Hebrews expressed in Psalm 8. Wonderful God … heavenly glory, babbled by babes and sung by children, when I stare at the full moon, stars in the desert, photos of spiral galaxies, where do human beings fit in the pattern? Where do we fit? That’s what I feel when I gaze or really meditate on amazing images captured by the telescopic marvels named Hubble and Webb. Gifts of effort, expertise of people some of us know intimately. It’s just so beautiful, so mind-blowing to even try to conceive, so humbling and scary and inspiring to ponder. Who are we that the Divine Force still creating the vast universe cares about what we face and feel and do? You see, that’s what the Trinity tries to convey. Three central questions of faith. Who is God? Who are we humans? How in heaven or hell do we relate?

Ancient Hebrews affirmed we’re made in God’s image, gloriously and honorably, to care responsibly for all things created and entrusted to us in Sacred Grace. Earliest Christians confirmed: we’ve received this glorious inheritance, made real for us in Jesus the Christ, set fire inside and among us by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians radiates nascent ideas for the Trinity, before dogmatic indoctrination. Maybe it’s an attempt to convey God’s ways like making animal balloons with words. Or imagine face-painting—the word early Christians used is more like changing masks on a theatre stage—what actors speak through or sound through. So God is known, Holy Love gets revealed, as we take on roles nurturing life in grace.

And friends, here’s what really strikes me about it all today. At the heart of who we most truly are and what we’re called in living faith to do, we are creative and called to keep on creating symbiotic circles of abundant life. The glory of God is human beings within all creation fully alive! We feel that glory in many stunning places—desert canyon vistas as far as we can see. Hiking literally inside striations of glacial ice or deep forest teeming with life. Pausing to observe with holy gaze a hummingbird or cardinal, roses or hostas, veggies sprouting from tiny seeds. So much wonder from the hand of our Creator! We feel that glory in moments of healing and transformation. When life gets hard, hurtful, often a consequence of choice by us, or someone else. We say sorry. We seek another way. With humility and courage we take another small step in what we call salvation. So much hope from the mercy of our Redeemer. We feel that sacred glory when life works out in and beyond our ability to plan or comprehend. We’re touched by personal blessing. We treasure goodness permeating history. We’re caught in coincidences or we might call providence, holy convergence of people, events, efforts. So much gratitude for the power of our Sustainer.

We are what God makes us—created in love for good works to be our way of gratitude. So here’s what I yearn to know for us today. What’s a good fit for you and me? How can we use holy gifts in our creative resources to help others and all creation flourish? I visited a couple seeking a way to find life and service among us. As ever, it’s great to be in their home and chat about their lives. Science teacher become VP for Human Resources at a major corporation and school counselor become executive of a technical vocation preparatory college with campuses around the country, now settling into studio space with gorgeous still life paintings all around and looking for ways to serve by helping others most in need. They want to know how to put their gifts of life to good use through the church? What fits? What’s their job to do?

Creativity fits in so many ways—which filled Bronson Park and Arcadia Creek Place this weekend, and so much more. Randy and his son use their love for engines and rebuilding race cars to help fix my old tractor. It’s a good fit. Some of us love to organize, cull, makes lists and spreadsheets, all to empower others to live fully. It’s a good fit. Others love to cook food for CtV on Wednesday, for youth, family gatherings, our potluck soon to come—my tummy grumbles: Amen! It’s a good fit! Gardening or mowing at Pine Island, tutoring in schools or learning together, working for justice in society and making peace with neighbors or family, helping people find jobs or a place to live, caring for people lonely or lost … It’s a good creative, innovative, festive, inclusive, adaptive, sensitive, inclusive, redemptive fit.

Another teen worshipped among us for the first time last Sunday. Don’t really know, hope to chat more … one way or another I expect he wants to make friends, find direction, explore deep questions. He marveled at this gorgeous sanctuary and all the beauty of music, worship, warm welcome he experienced. I pray that, as stunning and inspiring as this architectural masterwork, he finds our life together to be a sanctuary in the city living faith fully. A kind of devotional show and tell for the world every day, not just this holy day. That’s our mission, however we accept it—our talents and tongues to employ.

You see, dear friends, we hold an esteemed place in God’s great artistic masterpiece—far more beautiful than surrealist squiggles on our bulletin. And more than static objects, we come alive and keep trying to create that masterpiece to include others. I love that a line of faithful people inherit the privilege of making our bread each time we gather for communion. Many grains become one loaf, as our many gifts become one creative, innovative, Divine Life. Such a good fit!

Thanks be to God. Amen.