McFarland

Holy Trinity Sunday May 30, 2021

Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Second Reading: Romans 8:12-17
Gospel: John 3:1-17

Prayer of the Day:
God of heaven and earth, before the foundation of the universe and the beginning of time, you are the triune God: Author of creation, eternal Word of salvation, life-giving Spirit of wisdom. Guide us to all truth by your Spirit, that we may proclaim all that Christ has revealed and rejoice in the glory he shares with us. Glory and praise to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Hymns of the Day

If you don’t have hymnals at home,
lookup the hymns on YouTube or other websites.

Come, Join the Dance of Trinity (ELW #412)
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! (ELW #413)
Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth (ELW #735)
O Holy Spirit, Root of Life (ELW #399)
Our God Saves (Paul Baloche, YouTube)

Reflection on John 3:1-17

by Pastor Tim Dean

Let’s Dance!

It’s Holy Trinity Sunday—the one day we are guaranteed to fumble around trying to describe the God who defies description!

The first image of the Trinity that I remember as a child was the geometric model. The triangle inside the circle. This didn’t do much for me as a child because I couldn’t understand how a triangle created the universe. If God were a triangle, wouldn’t we all look like triangles?

Another popular image of the Trinity in my childhood was what I call: the hand, the lamb, and the bird. While each symbol may be appropriate for a specific Person of the Trinity, their inter-relationship is lost. I mean: how in the world is a lamb begotten of a hand? And how does a bird proceed from a hand and a lamb?

It’s a great comfort to me that throughout the history of the church, gifted theologians, preachers, mystics, and hymn-writers have also struggled with how to describe the indescribable.

It’s not easy to wrestle with or the understand the Trinity—let alone preach on it!

Yet our forebears in faith have given us over the years a wealth of diverse images and words for this wonderfully mysterious One-in-Three, Three-in-One. Here are a few of my favorites.

From Augustine: Lover, Beloved, Love.

Martin Luther says: Speaker, Word, Listener. Fits well with Luther’s take that faith comes through hearing the Word!

14th-century mystic, Julian of Norwich, gives us this beautiful image: Mother, Brother, Holy Partner. Another contemplative, Hildegard of Bingen, sees God as: Fire, Brightness, Warmth.

Even the second-century church teacher, Tertullian, who was kind of known as a grump, blesses us with an image for the Trinity ripe with possibility: Root, Tree, Fruit. You can almost taste those delicious words—especially with summer fruit season approaching!

There is another image that the ancient church passes on to us. Strangely enough for some, this image is the dance.

Early church theologians saw the three Persons of the Trinity—Father, Son, Spirit—as dance partners, gliding fluidly and gracefully, an eternal communion of creativity and love.

We hear this in the hymn we will sing in a few minutes:

“Come, join the dance of Trinity…The universe of space and time did not arrive by chance, but as the Three, in love and hope, made room within their dance.” (ELW #412, v. 1)

Think of Olympic figure skaters, gliding together on the ice. Or ballroom dancers, twirling in rhythm. Only not two—but a threesome!

This image of the dancing Trinity is good news for you and me. We are invited to dance with God!

The loving God of all creation has become human in Jesus, our brother, who was brutally killed but now is raised to new life. This Spirit of resurrection animates our weary hearts and bodies and calls us to join the dance of new creation.

Our gospel reading today from John is a bit of a dance between Jesus and the seeker Nicodemus. There is a back and forth, and I often get the feeling that Jesus is nudging Nicodemus to jump in, like a friend encouraging someone to come out onto the dance floor.

At the heart of this back-and-forth is Jesus’ invitation to be “born of water and Spirit…born from above” or anew or again. That word has layers of meanings and a depth that cannot be nailed down.  Jesus says the Spirit blows where it chooses—we don’t know where it comes from—but this windy Spirit helps us to move with God.

In the waters of baptism, by the blowing of the Spirit, we are joined to the dance of the Trinity—Father, Son, Spirit, Creator, Sustainer, Living Breath.

This is a powerful reminder that no matter what else might be true in the world, we are given a place and identity that will not be taken away. We are children of God and inheritors with Christ of the kingdom. We are joined to a dance, a community of love, to the encircling Trinity, a life that has no end.

Many years ago, Susan and I took a ballroom dancing class. It’s a lot harder than it looks, and I needed a lot of forgiveness for all my miscues. But our dancing improved as we were able to trust each other—trust that neither of us would give up, trust that neither of us would let go and send the other spinning into a wall.

So it is with the one true God. God births us into a new life, and will not let us go throughout the dance, even when we step on someone else’s toes, or question where we are going, or are afraid of what will happen next.

So much of this last year with the pandemic has left us feeling like our lives are spinning out of control.

It is good news and deep comfort to know that we are held by God within the dance, even as we spin and turn and sometimes feel out of control. It is a comfort to know the rhythms of God’s love when we experience loss and the promise of God’s hope when we experience uncertainty. We are beloved children forever—belonging to the God who keeps this moving, breathing, changing universe going.

In the end, all we can do is praise the Triune God of Life, join in creation’s dance, and receive the mystery of the One who whirls around and through us.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s dance!

Amen!

Let Us Pray

Mysterious and Loving Trinity, we praise you for creation’s dance to which you have joined us and all living things. Revive, sustain and enlighten us as we live out our baptismal identity as your children. Breathe your love and comfort on all who are ill, alone, afraid and oppressed by injustice. Bring healing and hope to all who are brokenhearted. We thank and praise you—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Mother, Brother, Holy Partner—for the life you give us each day. In the name of the One-in-Three, Three-in-One. Amen.