Trinity Sunday – leave the equation alone

I want to acknowledge the work of Rev Rex Hunt that has led to this sermon – Gordon

Can I invite you to think of a life changing experience –
something that when you look back at it you can strongly affirm
that it has changed the way you view the world and the way that you live.

Now if someone asked you to record that experience and its impact on you
in one or two sentences so that it covered all of its impact and wonder –
what would those sentences be

And then now, can you summarise those two sentences into a mathematical equation
What would the equation be?

And now, can I get you to think about how you and your friends
or everyone that has been affected in someone way by that experience,
how all of those people could be invited together to spend a weekend once a year
celebrating that mathematical equation –
how excited do you think your friends would be when they opened the invitation

Welcome to the joyous world of celebrating the Trinity

For many people, Trinity Sunday has become an ‘empty cocoon’ –
empty, because the life which shaped it has long since departed.

It is about trying to capture a life changing experience
But in the process of time, the ‘experience’ seems to have been drained right out,
and what we have left is just the formula

One of the Uniting Church’s great story tellers – Rex Hunt (not the fisherman!) –
tells the story of the experience this way
There was once this man by the name of Jesus – or Jeshua,
who was landless and probably worked as an ‘odd-jobs’ man for some years,
and then who changed jobs in mid-stream, and
became an itinerant teacher, healer and storyteller – respected as a sage 

And during one to three years
he seemed to attract a mixed group of people, usually from the fringes of his society. 

With these people he was able to share himself so completely
that over time and after a lot of struggle they became new people –
gripped with a new creative imagination.

In this becoming, the thoughts and feelings and stories of each other,
resonated with the thoughts and feelings and stories of others.
This was not something which Jesus himself did.
It was something that happened when he was present,
like a catalytic agent. 

One theologian, has put it like this:
“…something about this man Jesus broke the atomic exclusiveness of those individuals so that they were deeply and freely receptive and responsive each to the other…  It transformed their minds, their personalities, their appreciable world, and their community with one another and with all [people]…” (Wieman 1946:39-44).

Following the death of Jesus despair gripped this group of people so much
they could not see any good in him.
He was not the messiah they had expected or hoped for.
In fact, for them, he was no messiah at all. Period.

However, this is not the end of the story.
After a while, when the numbness and the shock
began to wear away, something happened…
That transforming creativity previously known only in fellowship with Jesus,
began to work again.
It had risen from the dead.

About 300 years later, a group of people got together
in the context of arguments and dissension about how to describe this story
And the mood of the times developed into a definition of “orthodoxy” and “heresy”

And in that context, they created the doctrine of the trinity.
The intention was to try and make sure that the power of that experience
wasn’t lost to others

The experience that they were trying to hold for others was
similar if you like, to the resurrection experience.
An experience of life over death, of making new and alive,
that which was dead in their lives…
An experience which pointed to the divine – expressed in life and in creativity –
An experience, which points to this divine being present in the world,
and an experience which points to the divine in the very human being Jesus of Nazareth.

And, of course, the creative divine is not limited to only one form or style of self revelation.

Christianity isn’t a faith where you are invited to turn your brain off.
What makes us truly human, and by implication truly Christian,
is not accepting a superstition
or or holding on to what can’t be believed by reason or thought
nor is it accepting things can only be presented in some kind of arid equation
(whether that equation is trying to capture some important truth, or not).

What makes us truly human is being able to live in relationship to the other.
The relationship is what constitutes our existence and our wholeness,
not the efforts to formulate and analyse.

Just like we thought of as I started today,
I wonder if you can think again – what are your best moments?
Not your good moments.   Not even your great moments

What are your really best moments?
Are you game to speak with someone else about them?

When I do this I think of moments with Lyndelle.
I think of the birth of my children Joel and Justine.
I think of moments with my family.
In fact I think every one of my best moments involves someone else.
And when I speak to others, the same comes out over and over again.

These experiences are universal experiences that tell us about ourselves.
Relationship is what makes us what we truly are.

And what makes G-o-d God, is relationship.
That’s what the thing we call “Trinity” is trying to say.
God is relationship.

Relationship is what God is about, and therefore it is no wonder that we,
who are made in God’s image and likeness, are also essentially about relationship.

The Trinity is not a mathematical question.
It’s not even a theological question.
At best it’s a relationship.

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