Trinity Sunday (A)

In all the years that I have been ordained, I have struggled with preaching on

Trinity Sunday. The natural urge is to try to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, but

the usual result of that is a boring lecture. So I have tried to use metaphors to

describe what the Trinity tells us about God. Also boring and superficial as well.

And the fact is that the concept of the Trinity is something that most people really

don’t think a lot about anyway.

 

The fact is that there is no way to explain the Trinity, and to try is to answer a

question that very few people are even asking. To experience God is the only

way to get even a hint of it, and that experience is usually beyond words. So I

have come to a conclusion, which is to skip preaching on it altogether. If you are

disappointed with that and really do want to explore the doctrine of the Trinity,

please give me a call. I would love to sit down and discuss it with you. But I think I

will do something else from the pulpit this morning.

 

And we have wonderful things to explore in the Old Testament lesson and the

Psalm. This story of Creation is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry in all of

Scripture. It may very well have been done as part of a worship service – a kind

of litany. Imagine it with trumpets and drums as the reader says, “And God saw

that it was good.” Imagine bells and cymbals as the light is divided from the day

and the land from the ocean. And imagine flutes and piccolos and clarinets and

harps all rushing around as the reader talks about the swarms of living things all

swarming around. It really is written that way. And I think there is a reason for

that. Creation is not just fact, but art.

 

Take fractals, for example. Fractals are patterns that repeat endlessly, from larger

to smaller. Broccoli is my favorite example of a fractal. If you take a big broccoli

stalk, you will see that it is one large stalk that branches out. If you break off one

of those branches, you will see the same pattern in the piece you break off. Now

break off one of the branches of that smaller stalk, and again, you get the same

pattern. Fractals occur in snowflakes and crystals, in blood vessels and DNA. If you

are a mathematician, you can describe the formulas that make up fractals. But

you don’t need to be to see the absolute beauty and symmetry of them. And if

you have ever seen computer generated fractals, they are just stunning. It seems

obvious that there is an artistic hand at work here.

 

And if you haven’t watched Neil deGrasse Tyson’s show, “Cosmos,” you have

missed a breathtaking view of the ongoing creation that is our universe. He

explores everything from the smallest levels of atoms to the edges of the universe

we know. Tyson is avowedly non-religious, but his awe and excitement as he tells

the stories of the universe is clear. It is impossible to delve deeply into creation

without feeling that awe.

 

And it is good for us to experience that awe. It helps us remember that we

are not the universe, that there is a larger reality that we cannot even begin

to comprehend, that our planet is a tiny speck of all that is. And it helps to

remember that the universe does not revolve around us. We tend to dismiss what

we don’t understand, but an honest look at our place in the universe helps us

remember that what we don’t understand is most of it!

 

The psalmist understood this:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *

the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

What is man that you should be mindful of him? *

the son of man that you should seek him out?

 

And yet, what do we see in both Genesis and the Psalm? God has given human

beings a unique place in this infinite creation. We are given stewardship over this

creation, we are made “little lower than the angels.” It is our job to use all of this

abundance for the service of God, we are responsible for this work of art that is given to us.

 

Sadly, what we have done too often is to exploit, waste and squander the beauty

that we are given. To meet our immediate desires, to feed our greed, we destroy

and ruin the work of God’s fingers. And our greed and waste are now having

consequences that have already changed the earth permanently. Climate change

is now irreversible. In the next several hundred years, human beings will have to

deal with the consequence of the choices we have made in the last few hundred.

 

So what are we to do with all this? Perhaps what is needed is a new perspective

on what it means to be human. We need, on the one hand, to remember how

small we are in the infinite scheme of things, to realize that we know very little,

can control very little, and are not nearly as important as we would like to think

we are. On the other hand, we also need to remember that God has created us

with unique abilities (at least, unique to this world – there may be other creatures

like us on distant planets!). We are able to make choices that no other creature

can make and we can do things that no other creature can do. But with those

abilities comes great responsibility, and so that’s the other shift we need to make

in our perspective. The choices that each of us makes – sometimes tiny choices –

have an effect on the whole creation. We are inextricably interwoven with all of

life on earth. We cannot continue to act as if our behavior did not matter.

 

Creation is about balance – light and dark, water and earth, sun and stars.

It is also about our balance – knowing that we are not God and that we are

responsible for what God has given us. And when we have that balance, we can

sing with the psalmist, whose words I have changed slightly so that know that we

are all included in them:

 

O LORD our Governor, *

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Out of the mouths of infants and children *

your majesty is praised above the heavens.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *

the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

What is humankind that you should be mindful of us? *

the children of earth that you should seek us out?

You have made us but little lower than the angels; *

you adorn us with glory and honor;

You give us mastery over the works of your hands; *

you put all things under our feet:

O LORD our Governor, *

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

AMEN

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