top of page
  • pastor4pocket

Dance of the Trinity



In the beginning, the Creator sought to know and be known, to love and to be loved, and so the Creator’s Holy Spirit blew out across the dark waters of the formless void and the Word of God said, “Let there be light.” And it was good. The Triune God continued to create in order to know and be known, to love and to be loved, and it was good. And God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them and blessed them and invited them to step into the rhythm of the Holy Dance with God- 3 in 1, 1 in 3, a perfect triangle of love.

But the serpent entered in and distorted the love triangle into something else entirely. What was once a divine love triangle became a triangle of rivalry, fear, and seeking power. “You will not die if you eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” says the serpent. The dancers fall out of step with the holy rhythms, and Eve and Adam seek what is not theirs to take. And their son, Cain, steps out of the divine love triangle, fearing that God’s love cannot cover both he and his brother and so he must overpower his brother. Adam and Eve step out of relationship with God because they believe they do not have enough; Cain steps out of relationship with God because he believes he is not enough. Humanity recreates ourselves with a spirit of fear and it is not good. These two fears plague us and control us even now. Even now the serpent hisses in our ears that others have more than we have, and we must take what we want to have what we need. Even now the serpent hisses in our ears that others are better than us and so we must cut them down, break them down, bring them down that we might be great.

But even still God sought to know and be known, to love and be loved. And so, God, the 3 in 1, 1 in 3 calls out to Abraham- “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” It is an invitation to step back into the Holy Dance, to lead others into the rhythms of grace, to bless all the people of the world by being in relationship. Abraham steps into the dance.

Later, the burning-yet-not-consuming fire of God calls Moses to move to the holy rhythms of the 3-in-1. God called Moses to return to Egypt and to say to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” But as Moses led the people God rescued from enslavement in Egypt, they began to doubt God and Moses, saying “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” The people of God give themselves back over to their ancient fears- we do not have enough; we are not enough to face the challenge ahead of us. Shortly after, poisonous snakes came among them, biting them and killing some. And the people came back to Moses, repenting, asking God to take away the serpents. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.[1] The thing the Hebrew people hated and feared, the thing that was killing them, became the thing that would save them. Step back into the dance, God called out to them.

Even later, through the voices of the prophets, God spoke to humans, calling them back. Hear these words from the prophet Hosea: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” Come back into the dance, move in step with Trinity, God calls out.

And again and again and again, humans step out of the divine love triangle made of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and into distorted love triangles made of distorted loves- love of power, love of control, love of self-preservation. Over and over, the ancient fears reclaim us. And again, and again and again, God invites us to step back into the divine dance. This is grace, this is love. We continually make choices based on our fears of not having enough or not being enough and God calls us back to ourselves, to who we were created to be. God calls us back in love.

And when the time was just right, God showed love in this way: God sent his only begotten Son that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. At least, that’s how Jesus, the Son, the Creator’s Word to us, explains it to Nicodemus in John 3. In the dark of night, Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews and a Pharisee, comes to Jesus with his questions. “I know that you are a teacher who has come from God.” Jesus says, “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus is, of course, confused. What is Jesus talking about?

“You must be born of water and Spirit,” Jesus explains in his sideways, confusing kind of way. Perhaps another way to say it would have been “you must learn to dance with the 3-in-1. You must learn to be in relationship with God and with humans.” In John 3, we have one of the few mentions of each part of the Godhead in the same moment- the God who loves, the Son who saves, the Spirit who offers new life.

Words fail us. Our analogies only take us so far. The Trinity is the composer, the notes on the page, the soundwaves. The apple’s skin, flesh, and seeds. Steam, liquid, and ice. The Lover, Beloved, and the love shared. The source of light, light itself, and the warmth of the light. It is impossible for us to understand God fully, and, in fact, if we did understand God, it would probably not be God. We do not need to understand that which is beyond our understanding. Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox church says it this way, “God as unknowable and yet as profoundly known; God as invisible and yet as personally accessible; God as distant and yet as intensely present. The infinite God thus becomes truly intimate in relating to the world.”[2]

The point is not in our understanding the mechanics of the Trinity, the point is our understanding of the purpose, the priority, of the Trinity, which is relationships. God’s very self is defined by relationship- the Spirit, the Son, the Father. God created us to be in relationship with God, to be in relationship with one another. God is relationship- 3 in 1, 1 in 3 and God cares about relationships. And that brings me to the words from the book of Romans that we heard earlier.

That passage begins with “so then” which makes it important for us to go back and understand what comes right before it. Paul is explaining to the church in Rome that the Holy Spirit is within us, offering life and righteousness and a new way of being to each of us. Romans 8:11 says “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” God’s Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus to life gives you life also. Resurrection is now, eternal life begins now.

And then, as we read earlier, the next verses explain that God treats us the same as God treats Jesus. We are brought back to life. We are children of God. We have a spirit of adoption. God is our father. We are God’s heirs. We are joint heirs with Christ. It is astonishing. Miraculous. No matter how many times we break step with the dance of the Trinity, we are invited back in. No matter how we step out of the Triangle of Divine Love, there is always a welcome back in. We are the children of God, and there is nothing to fear, not our not-enoughness, not our not-having-enoughness. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of adoption. There is no fear in the family of God. We are children of God; we have everything we need and we are everything we need to be.

So, what do all of these metaphors and theological words actually mean for us in our lives today? Right now? I would suggest that if relationships, connections, are God’s priority, they should also be ours. If God’s actual identity and God’s interactions with humanity are all about being in relationships, I think that tells us something important about how God wants us to be in the world.

Because of the Trinity, we know that we must tend to our relationships in our families, our friendships, and within our communities. Because of the Trinity, we as a church know we cannot, we do not, operate on our own. Because of the Trinity, we live as children of God, with no fear. Because of the Trinity we can believe that there is enough and we are enough. Because of the Trinity. Because of God. 3 in 1, 1 in 3.

When Jesus talks to Nicodemus about who he is and why he is in the world, he references that strange story about the snakes in the desert. “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life,” he says. The snakes that were killing the Israelites in the desert were the same as the snake that, when looking up it, provided them with healing, with salvation. On Trinity Sunday, I have to wonder if Jesus’ point was this: those ancient fears- “I am not enough” and “I do not have enough” are killing us, destroying our relationships, driving us into lives where we must seek control and power, where we must cling to false securities. We are afraid of love, of serving one another, of making ourselves vulnerable yet, when we look upon the Jesus lifted up on the cross, that is what we see. On the cross it is just Jesus, wounded, raw, vulnerable, possessing nothing. And he has everything. And he is everything. Jesus is enough, and more. And he saves us. That which we fear is where our salvation lies.

Friends, step into the divine love triangle, into the family of God, into the holy dance. Look upon the 3-in-1, the 1-in-3, and be saved. Know and be known, love and be loved. This is for what you were made. Amen.


[1] Numbers 21:8-9

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page