Monday, June 13, 2011

Three in Order: Trinity Sunday, Year A

This Week's Lectionary Texts
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Psalm 8
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20

This Week's Reflection
Okay, here is what strikes me this week. Isn't it curious that the folks who created the Church calendar and those who created the Lectionary have us celebrate Trinity Sunday immediately following Pentecost Sunday? I find this curious because when I read through Sunday's texts, I am drawn to the fact that order is a subject of interest. We are reminded of the orderly way of God's Creation in both Genesis and Psalm. The 2 Corinthians text actually says, "Put things in order," and the Risen Christ gives the disciples the order for teaching and baptizing folks in the text from Matthew.

What is really fascinating to me is that when I read the Pentecost story, order is the last thing that comes to mind! There was crazy noise, people speaking "out of turn," folks showing up at the door from down the street. I don't imagine it was very orderly at all.

So, if the Holy Spirit has a way of shaking up the order of the day, what are we to make of the lectionary texts alluding to the Trinity keeping things nice and neat? I'm reminded of the controversial book, The Shack, in which the Holy Spirit is described in such a way as to be difficult to even look at, much less keep up with on a walk and God, the Father, is described as a large African-American woman whose down to earth style brings about the sense of comfort and home.

Could the lesson for us about the Trinity on this Sunday be that God has the capacity to be all these things at the same time? Pentecost reminds us that God's power sometimes works in the midst of chaos - heck, sometimes God's power is the very thing that causes the chaos! And, Trinity Sunday reminds us that even in the midst of that chaos, God has some kind of order happening whether we can see it or not.

We can try to think up all kinds of ways to explain the Trinity during our Children's Sermons, but ultimately, what we must admit is that we can't possibly begin to understand it and how it fits in with "tongues of fire" or a crucified carpenter.

Perhaps the early mothers and fathers of our faith chose to create this special observance of a doctrine (most feast days observe events or persons) in order to stop for one day of the year and say, "We just don't know." We don't know how God works. We don't know how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist as three, but one. We don't know what to do when our ordered life gets turned upside down. We just don't know.

Perhaps on this Trinity Sunday, that is the gift we can give to our congregations. The gift of mystery and lack of understanding. The gift of relying on the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds. The gift of a math problem that will never be solved. The gift of belief in a doctrine that can not be explained. So, go. Teach. Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, know that God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit is with you always, even to the end of the age. That is really all we know.

This Week's Artwork

in order of appearance in the reflection
The Trinity by Agastya
Dante’s Heaven by Laura Tucker
one hundred seventeen by Melissa Bridgman
161 by Melissa Bridgman
Trinity by Miranda Mangiapelo
Three Dancers by Esther Garcia Eder
Trinity by Derrick Y