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The Feast of the Trinity, Year A

Knowing God

Readings: Genesis 1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20

A woman is out in her front yard. She watches the little boy from the house next door walking past her house heading for home. He stops every few steps to take a look at something or other – a dandelion that he blows on, a wiggly worm, a bird singing at the top of a tree, the clouds up in the sky. She asks him, “Tommy, where have you been?”

“I’ve been to Sunday School, learning about God,” he tells her.

“I’ll give you a dime if you tell me where God is,” she says to him.

“I’ll give you a dollar if you tell me where he isn’t,” the child replies.

Seeing God is about looking on life with eyes of faith. When we look with eyes of faith we see what is there before us. We see it with our own two eyes. We see exactly what is there, but we view it in a different way. We see through a different lens. Yet unlike Tommy we so often simply miss it. I am going to read you a poem that I found. I do not know its origins. But it speaks to me of my struggle to know and understand who God is and how I experience God in my daily life. It speaks to me of how much I miss when I fail to see with eyes of faith. And it is so easy for that to happen.

I whispered, “God, speak to me”
And a meadowlark sang. I did not hear.
So I yelled, “God, speak to me!”
And the thunder rolled across the sky
but I did not listen.
I looked around and said, “God, let me see you”
and a star shone brightly.
but I did not notice.
And I shouted, “God, show me a miracle!”
And a life was born but I did not know.
So I cried out in despair,
“Touch me, God, and let me know you are here!”
Whereupon God reached down
And touched me.
But I brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly.

We encounter God in so many ways in our daily lives. Yet how we miss the point! So we come at it with our intellect. We come up with doctrines that describe our experience. Trinity Sunday is one of those days when we trot out such a doctrine. And you know, we come up against a real problem when we try to explain God using the doctrine of the Trinity because it is an intellectual way of expressing something that needs to be experienced to be understood. So we go a step further. We make analogies to help ourselves understand how God can be three persons and yet one God. We get ourselves tied up in semantics and Greek philosophy. And that gets us nowhere.

Yet when you come down to it, isn't the doctrine of the Trinity simply an emotional exercise that explains our relationship to God? 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit' are all relational terms. They are not about how we think. They are about how we relate to God. When we speak of God in human terms, we are relating God to ways in which we experience and respond. And isn't that what people are really hungry for? We want to be in relationship to God. We want to know and understand that God is present with us in all facets of our lives.

Today's readings remind us of the connection between all living things. The Genesis passage expresses the story of our relationship to God as creator of the world. It is a very human God who whimsically yet methodically goes about the task of creating and then takes a little rest to check it all out. God has a special on-going relationship with creation. God does not create and then abandon. God creates for a purpose, for God's purpose.

In the letter of Paul to the Corinthians we meet a group of people who are the product of Pentecost. They have experienced the power of God indwelling their lives. The Spirit that energizes creation is at work in them as they align their wills to God. Their experience of God so excites them that they want to share it, to pass the experience on to others.

And in the Gospel we meet the disciples, a fractured community following the resurrection, but a redeemed community, an empowered community being sent out into the world to relate to it as God relates to us.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not some great truth that God has put in stone for us to believe. It is not mentioned once in the Bible. It is a metaphor developed over the centuries for how we experience God's presence. We call God ‘Father’ or ‘Mother’ because we originate from God. God is our creator. We call God ‘Son’ because we are all created together in the Son. We are redeemed by God’s saving grace. We call God ‘Spirit’ because God breathed on us from the beginning of creation.

The concept of the Trinity allows us to explore our experience of God in our lives. It calls on us to turn to God to satisfy our hunger. In the midst of anguish and trouble we experience the God who walks with us. Through the beauty of nature, we experience the One who created us with wisdom and care. When life gets too serious, we experience God joyfully dancing at the thought of creating the human race. When we are filled with guilt, regrets and anxieties, we experience a God who justifies us, not like Judge Judy, in black and white according to some rule book, not because we are worthy, but because we have claimed it and are significant to God.

In a way we learn about God by identifying what God does. That leads us on a journey to learn about what God is calling us to do. We are called to go out joining God in caring for the earth. We are called to go out and tell people about Jesus. We are called to take up the work of loving the people no one else loves. We are called to pay attention to the places where God’s Spirit is at work building peace, and then immerse ourselves in that work.

It is not always easy to respond to God’s call. We can get caught up in our own importance. Or we can think that we lack the skills needed to carry out the mission of the church. We can so easily get distracted and not notice where God is. So as we go we need to remember that God who created us watches over us, that Jesus loves us and forgives us, and that God’s Spirit is with us, to comfort and empower us in ways that we could never ask or imagine. And if we like, we can call it the doctrine of the Trinity.

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