June 07, 2020
It is Trinity Sunday. It comes to us amid a wave of racial division and civil unrest sparked by the murder of George Floyd, an African American man by those in authority – the police. It also happens a during pandemic…not humanity’s first – but our first.
A part of what contributes to our experience of both of these happenings is our amazing technology oddly. It wasn’t always like this. Today, news is all the time every day be it next door or around the world. How overwhelming. It is a dark and chaotic time.
Trinity Sunday speaks into this. The Trinity. God the three in one and one and three. We think we may grasp this, but it also completely eludes us. It is mystery. But where we dial in this morning is that God is big. God is so much, and we are so small. God is in charge and we are not.
We see in our Genesis reading that God lives in union and invites us into union with God and others. God has all authority and is in charge and invites us to rule and reign with God.
This shows us a lot about who God is. In the midst of power, authority, and love God is a God of risk. God has designed us to fundamentally participate in God’s plans – not only relationship with God, but it is on us to develop ourselves to participate in ruling and reigning with God. And that starts now…not some far off float around in heaven passive thing; but now we help build up the kingdom of God, we help promote those things that will forever be with us in eternity. Think in terms of what can be in God’s presence: hate – no, brutality – no, rejection – no, love – yes, kindness – yes, inclusion – yes. We can be about, and we can promote eternal reality now. God’s kingdom.
Our readings today help us glimpse this – Paul’s exhortation in 2nd Corinthians: put things in order, agree with one another, live in peace…and in Jesus’ command in Matthew: Go make disciples.
Union with God.
Ruling and reigning with God.
In our Genesis reading we see God moving in Trinitarian union. We literally go back to the beginning today. In the beginning…it was dark and chaotic: “the earth was formless, and void and darkness covered the face of the deep,” in Hebrew this formless and void is the phrase: Tohu wa-bohu Something we face today. We personally, corporately, and globally are in a dark time of Tohu wa-bohu.
We see that God then and now creates order out of chaos, out of formless void and darkness. And though it begins simply in a verse, do not miss the power it must have taken. Episcopal priest Carole Crumley writing on this passage offers: “Those brief verses depict the immense power of the spirit of God that hovers and broods over all darkness.” The more direct the translation of this verse is “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Moving there is “Rachaph” that is that hovering and brooding that Crumley mentioned. To stay, to move, to shake, to grow soft and spread over – to cover.
Tohu wa-bohu. All darkness and formless and void. Hovering. Brooding. Power. Change.
God is into creating order out of chaos from the beginning and for us today.
Today we have Illness, Violence, Oppression, Division.
Are those things that will last forever with God? That we will take with us into eternity? No, it is our Tohu wa-bohu of today.
But we have been designed to and created for ruling and reigning with God. We help, being empowered by the Spirit to being order out of chaos, out of darkness, out of formless void. We can cultivate the forever things now: Peace, acceptance, unity, kindness.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago earlier this week articulately stated while battling tears– “we have to turn our pain into progress.” Ironically, in this time – she is an African American woman in leadership and a role model for us as she shows up uses her voice.
We have been a little spoiled over these recent decades. Historically we have seen movement, though not always very far forward, through slavery, the reconstruction era, the civil rights movement and in health we have seen epidemics and pandemics that we have lived with and overcome: small pox, Spanish flu, polio, Asian flu, AIDS.
Historically we are a people who overcome and a people who know we are not in control. That we will exist with and do battle with things that are bigger than us, that may appear to beat us – physically or ideologically. But we do constructive battle. We are people building a kingdom to take with us forever into eternity.
We further see in our Genesis passage that we have been made in God’s image. We are people who are like God. We are made that way – all of us. We are people of relationship, unity, love, power, and authority – together. In the creation narrative we are mandated to “have dominion over” – to rule the fish, birds, cattle, all the wild animals, every creeping thing that creeps AND we have been given plants and trees. The way to dominion: labor – work.
This dominion or ruling is not about being mean or advancing our individual opinions or being people of exploitation, we are back to bringing order out of chaos…moving from the created design of being made in God’s image we rule and reign. We cultivate the kingdom – those things that will last forever in God’s presence with us.
In this narrative do not miss the special relationship humans have with God but also that we are designed to have with each other. We as humans are all on an equal playing field. We do not subdue each other. We labor – we work together - side by side to bring order out of chaos. Black, white, yellow, brown. Man, woman, trans, gay, bi…as we pay attention, we are reminded that God never said to have dominion over one another.
Pandemic and protests and systemic racism and police brutality problems are huge and fear, anxiety, and maybe even anger producing. What can we do?
We can remember that we are made in our Trinitarian God’s image. We can be like the Spirit in the Tohu wa-bohu – the darkness and void of this time and stay. Hover. Brood. Pray. We can be like God and help bring order out of chaos: we can educate ourselves, display patience, be persistent, support the process of change. We add our voices – the power of speech. We see it in this narrative. God spoke and it was created. What are we speaking? What are we creating? And we can be like Jesus, our only advocate and mediator. We can advocate, which simply means we support. In the whole we image the Trinity.
It does not mean we go to a protest, but it could. It might mean we write our congressmen. It might mean we vote on each issue and for each person with a different lens in November seeking to bring order out of chaos. It might simply mean that every time we cross paths with someone of color we express kindness and acceptance out loud. We show up. We use our voice.
Moving in our Tohu wa-bohu may we see the Trinity in action. Let us be image bearers in this time.