Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Our God is characterized by collaboration.
Wisdom speaks in Proverbs about being beside God from the very beginning, a master worker, delighting in all that God called forth. Our God is characterized by gratuitous giving. Paul says in Romans that while we were weak, Christ died for the ungodly. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Truly, God’s giving knows no end. Our God is characterized by stalwart, steadfast, advocating presence. Jesus tells his disciples in John that ultimately nothing will be left unsaid or unrevealed. Keenly aware of human finitude and limits, God makes accommodations, sending the Holy Spirit to tell the truth and help humans grasp the mind and heart and will of their God.
Trinity Sunday grants us the joy of remembering and celebrating the amazing grace, the glory, the beauty and the goodness of our God. Trinity Sunday challenges us to pattern our lives after the character of our merciful and creative, lavishly kind and always giving God. Trinity Sunday invites us to listen for the truth in order to proclaim and live it. Trinity Sunday, that day in the liturgical year that can feel like an abstract, theological puzzle, really offers us the opportunity to stand back and take in, as much as we are able, the multifaceted splendor of our God who loves us enough to become accessible to us even in our sinful weakness. Trinity Sunday spurs us to consider the character and characteristics of our God and ask ourselves if we, our congregations, and our community are reflective of the One we worship and follow.
Master workers, delighting in the new thing God is doing. Radical givers, known for foolish generosity to those often deemed unworthy. Stalwart, steadfast people who show up and stay in places where needs are great, suffering is persistent and hope is a rare commodity. Truth tellers in a world awash in lies that crush the vulnerable and mock the worth of creation. Collaborators who seek to join forces with the good, the just, the beautiful wherever and with whomever it can be found. Those whose currency is patience, kindness and tangible love, even with those who deal in exploitation and greed.
Trinity Sunday is no less down to earth, nitty gritty and central to our faith than Christmas and Easter. Trinity Sunday demands that we hold up our life together and ask if it resembles the life of our Triune God.
Recently, I have had occasion to hear a variety of speeches at multiple events marking high school graduation. I listened to an equal number of musing from graduates and from school officials. They were the usual fare, mostly. Some more engaging than others. Some longer than others. However, I noticed a marked difference between those of the soon-to-be-graduates and those of the officials. The younger pontificators talked about the need for each other, the importance of honoring all people, the inevitability of challenges that will not be surmountable alone. The adults relentlessly said: “Follow your passion, you have the power to do whatever you set your mind to doing.” One quoted the television show “Friday Night Lights” saying, “Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.” Really? Certainly, such pep talks have their place, but the wisdom of the younger speakers struck me. They refused to capitulate to the very American individualistic sentiment that all one needs in this world is one’s grit and wits and will. Despite their youth, they recognized, and knew personally, circumstances and hardships that clear eyes and a full heart did not best. Instead they offered a vision of communal care, corporate creating, mutuality and collaboration in joys and suffering.
The latter story resonates with Trinity Sunday and the character of our God as even the Messiah did not do his ministry alone. He enlisted the least likely of people and commissioned them to continue his work of preaching, teaching and healing together. Imagine if we in our communities of faith took this Sunday to ask ourselves: Whose vision of the world are we following? How do we reflect the character of our generous, collaborative, accommodating, steadfast, creative God? Are we proclaiming the Spirit-given truth or are we parroting cultural platitudes? Where do we see communities embodying our God and what can we learn from them? How are we master builders beside God?
On this Trinity Sunday explore with prayerfulness your own life and that of your community of faith. Ask honestly to be open to the truth of God as made known to you through the Holy Spirit. God’s Word may well surprise you, pushing you to give more than you thought you could, telling you to go and stay where you never would elect to visit, instructing you to collaborate with people you would not expect to work with and create things you never could build or imagine on your own. Your passion will become subject to Christ’s passion and even in suffering you will know hope, community, reconciliation and love.
Trinity Sunday offers a powerful corrective to our cultural propensity to laud lone rangers, justify blatant selfishness and celebrate self-interest above caring for others and all. A cursory read of any newspaper, a glimpse at the pervasive advertising coming at us relentlessly, a simple analysis of the majority of commencement speeches, reveals our deep need for a bold celebration of Trinity Sunday, a proclamation of the Spirit-given Truth about our loving, generous, merciful, creative, collaborating, poured-out-for-the-sake-of-the-world God who shapes and sends a people to go and be likewise.
- What difference does it make that our God is a Triune God? What would be lost without a clear and strong doctrine of the Trinity?
- When you think of God being collaborative, what images come to mind? What acts in Scripture?
- How might you mark Trinity Sunday in a way that is as memorable as other high and holy days on the liturgical calendar?
- How are you and your faith community reflective of the character of our Triune God?
- List some of the characteristics of God and consider which characteristics you struggle most to emulate.
- Spend some time in silent prayer seeking for the Spirit to reveal a word to you, individually and corporately.
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