From the Pastor’s Desk – June 2023
Once again, it’s the time in our lectionary where we pastor’s squirm, trying to sound intelligent, while explaining the unexplainable; the Holy Trinity. I floundered my way through bible study. Several years ago, I gave a sermon on and interesting metaphor for the Trinity—the dance. I must admit I thought it was pretty good, but everyone looked at me with the “deer in the headlights”
look, scratched their collective heads and said, “Huh?” The following are excerpts from an old sermon of mine. Perhaps it deserves it’s own resurrection.
To talk of the Trinity is to dance on the edge of mystery. There is no way we humans can fully grasp the doctrine of “God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity.” But we keep trying. The most ancient Christian formula of God was one of 3 persons and one essence. Irish preachers like to use their national emblem: the three-in-one shamrock. Early Christian preachers used the “root, the shoot and the fruit” of a growing plant, or the sun, its ray of light, and the point of the ray where it touches the earth.
Here’s one from the New Zealand Prayer Book:
- God is the Earth Maker,
- Jesus is the Pain Bearer,
- Holy Spirit is the Life-Giver.
For some in the Christian tradition, even stodgy theologians, the metaphor of the dance was used to celebrate and demonstrate the power and majesty, love and tenderness, presence and
movement, of the divine. This divine dance, dubbed perichoresis, using the Greek choreo ‘where we get the word, choreography’ for the way each person of the godhead was contained or filled by
the others. “Perichoresis” was a moving metaphor.
According to theologian Paul S. Fiddes, in his book, Participating in God: A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity wrote; “In this dance the partners not only encircle each other and weave in and out
between each other as in human dancing; in the divine dance, so intimate is the communion that they move in and through each other so that the pattern is all-inclusive. In fact, I suggest that the
image of the dance makes most sense when we understand the divine persons as movements of relationship, rather than as individual subjects who have relationships.”
When Jesus commanded his disciples to go, make disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, he called believers to participate in this divine dance, the
perichoresis, of intertwining attributes and relational rhythms. The greatness of the great commission is not just found in the expanded geography of the mission (“make disciples of all nations”) but also in the totality of these new disciples’ (and our) relationship with the divine.
One of the landmark spots in New York City is called “The Rainbow Room.” At the top of the GE building at Rockefeller Center, it’s famous for two things: a panoramic view of the city from its 64th floor, and a place where you can dance the night away.
The Rainbow Room is another name for the kingdom of God – a place where you can dance the night away – the night of despair, the night of disease, the night of depression, the night of doubt,
the night of death. “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light. On those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.” (Isaiah 9:2).
Why then are so many people’s spiritual lives stuck on groundfloors or locked in basements, afraid of elevators that lift life to the Rainbow Room heights? Why do so many of us not feel right?” We know something’s wrong. We don’t feel comfortable in our skin. The tingle of tiptop, tiptoe living is at best a far-off memory.
Life sometimes goes into reverse. The clouds of glory dissolve into feet of clay. When it does, whatever is most cherished in your life, you can bring it to God in trust and confidence, and leave it
- When your heart is wormed out with worry, trust in God for a new heart.
- When the body is willing, but the brain isn’t, keep the Rainbow Room clean and maintained.
- When the music of faith stops playing in your life, let God lead the dance.
- When you can no longer dance even with God as your dance partner, let the church dance for you.
- Then when your mind is healed and your faith secure, you can pick up the pieces, pick up where you left off…and dance.
- Will we be a church to help people dance the night away?
As always, I welcome your comments.