This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday, which is the only day of the church year that I can think of that celebrates a doctrine, rather than a story about humans and how God works in our lives. And so, Trinity Sunday can be a bit of a pain, particularly for clergy who have to figure out something new to say about the Trinity year after year. Because the thing is, the doctrine of the Trinity is a rather confusing one, and I don’t think anybody living on this earth really, truly understands it. Maybe for just a split second, we can get a blazing glimpse of what it’s all about, but that fades just as suddenly, and we’re left just as mystified and dumbfounded by the mystery that is God.
And you know what? That is good. Being left with the mystery? That is good news. Because I’ll tell you what: although sometimes I think it would be nice to completely understand God’s plan, I do not want a God I can completely comprehend and understand. Because if that is what we had, then that God would not be big enough. We are blessed with a God who is the God of galaxies and comets and stars and moons. We are blessed with a God who is the God of quarks and neutrinos and molecules. We are blessed with a God who is the God of crickets and locusts and cockroaches and spiders. We are blessed with a God who is the God of mountains and valleys, of rivers and lakes, of tornadoes and thunderstorms, of hurricanes and earthquakes. And we are blessed with a God who is the God of silence, of damp moss carpeting the forest floor, of still stones that rest along the path, of blind fish who live underground. We are blessed with the God of butterflies and roses, and the God of Japanese beetles and dandelions. We are blessed with the God of mitochondria and algae, and the God of chickenpox and cancer and AIDS.
And somehow, as if that wasn’t contradiction enough, we are blessed with a God who is the creator, our Father and Mother, who deliberately chose to be bound and restricted in a human body, who willingly allowed that human body to be humiliated and beaten and killed, and who returned to us – God’s beloved – in the form of a spirit that gives us life and breath and guidance and inspiration. We are blessed with a God who dwells completely outside of space and time, and who yet chooses to enter into our space and our time to breathe into our hearts. And we are blessed with a God who – no matter how horrible and awful and unlovely and unlovable we choose to be – loves us completely, perfectly, wastefully, profigately, scandalously.
Yeah, I know. I don’t get it either. It is a grand and a glorious mystery, and I am passionately in love with the mystery of this wonderful God.
The big thing in the readings this week is the creation story. And we all know this story so well, just as we know the gospel story so well, and the stories of all our special days. But still, it is good to share these stories, to read then again, to experience them with eyes and minds and hearts that have undoubtedly changed since the last time we encountered them. These stories shape us as individual children of God, and they shape our community as the body of Christ. These are the stories of who we are, and today’s stories especially so – even the teeny-tiny epistle, and the not-much-longer gospel story. In these stories, we see some very important things about our very identity, and those things reveal something about the very identity of the gloriously mysterious God we worship.
The first thing these stories reveal about our identity is that we are creations of God. We are made according to God’s likeness, in God’s image, male and female. And we have been blessed. God shaped us and God breathed life into us, and then God blessed us. This is something very special, very precious – the gift of life, of existence… and not just of those, but of blessing.
The next revelation is that we have been given this amazing planet to take care of and to make our home. We are instructed to watch over all of God’s creatures on our earth, to tend to the creeping critters and to the monsters of the sea and to the birds, as well as to all of the green and growing things. God has entrusted us with this beautiful place, this place that God shaped and formed and gave life to, and this is a tremendous honour and responsibility. We can squander this responsibility and waste our precious world. And the truth is, we all do. We all make choices to trade off one resource for another – maybe an animal for nutrition, or money for time, wood for warmth, or gas-powered engines for time and energy – and sometimes those choices are misinformed, misguided, or selfish. And at other times, we make choices that better tend to this wondrous home that has been entrusted to us. But it is one of the deepest parts of our very identity that we were born here, on this planet, on this earth, where God created us. We do not know any other home.
Third, these readings tell us that we are good. We are alive, we are blessed, we are home, and we are very good. Just let those words wash over you for a moment. YOU are alive, made in the image of God. YOU are blessed. YOU have been given a home. And YOU, my friend, you are very good. The psalm tells us that we are adorned with glory and honor. We are but a little lower than the angels – God’s children, treasured and beloved. Does that not feel wonderful? Who does not ache to be loved, to be treasured, to be valued for who you are, and not for what you’ve done or accomplished or made? And God gives us this priceless gift – just gives it to us, with no strings attached! – when God shapes us and gives us life. Just by being, we are beloved. And that is at the core of our identity. We are. We are good. We are beloved.
The teeny-tiny epistle reveals to us that as God made each of us, we are brothers and sisters. We share our wonderful home, entrusted to us by our creator. We are a family, sisters and brothers of a perfectly loving parent. When people share a home, they don’t always get along. We know this. We are flawed humans, and as hard as we try, sometimes we hurt each other and make each other angry. And just as it hurts a parent’s heart to hear his or her children trading insults, it hurts God at least as much to hear and see our disagreements and squabbles and wars. But just as we love our family – even when we have a hard time liking them – we are called to love each other, all of our brothers and sisters.
And finally, the not-very-long gospel story reveals to us that we are the baptized, and not only the baptized, but the baptizers. To us has been entrusted – not only the care and tending of this marvelous world – but the care and tending of all of our brothers and sisters. We have the responsibility, and the privilege, of sharing with each other that God loves us, and that Jesus will be with (us) always, to the end of the age. Isn’t that an amazing message? We are a family, living in a home entrusted to us by the God who gave us life. We are alive, and we are blessed, and we are good. And we are not alone. We will never be alone.
So here we are on Trinity Sunday. Last week, we got inspired and challenged by the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the beginning of the church, the day that the followers of The Way grew from 100 to 3,000. And this week, we’re being challenged again. Last week, the challenge was, Go! Teach! Tell the story! And this week, the challenge is Go! Baptize! Tell them Jesus’s message!
We can do this. We have been equipped by God for this. God reminds us that we are alive, that we are at home, that we are blessed, that we are good, that we are a family, that we are the baptized, that we are the baptizers. With these gifts, we can do anything.
God the Father created you and knows you to be good.
Jesus the Son saved you and blesses you.
God the Holy Spirit breathed live into you and is always with you, to the end of the age.
Our one God, scary and mysterious and wonderful, loves you more than you could ever ask or imagine.