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Archive for May 2016

The Perichoresis of the Trinity, The Holy Trinity May 22nd 2016

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Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 (RSV) The Gifts of Wisdom

Does not wisdom call,

Does not understanding raise her voice? 

On the heights beside the way,

in the paths she takes her stand;

beside the gates in front of the town,

at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:

“To you, O men, I call,

and my cry is to the sons of men.

Wisdom’s Part in Creation

22

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,

the first of his acts of old.

Ages ago I was set up,

at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,

when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped,

before the hills, I was brought forth;

before he had made the earth with its fields,

or the first of the dust of the world.

When he established the heavens, I was there,

when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

when he made firm the skies above,

when he established the fountains of the deep,

when he assigned to the sea its limit,

so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

then I was beside him, like a master workman;

and I was daily his delight,

rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in his inhabited world

and delighting in the sons of men

 

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

Psalm 8 

O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is thy name in all the earth!

Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted

by the mouth of babes and infants,

thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,

to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,

the moon and the stars which thou hast established;

what is man that thou art mindful of him,

and the son of man that thou dost care for him?

Yet thou hast made him little less than God,

and dost crown him with glory and honor.

Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands;

thou hast put all things under his feet,

all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the sea.

O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is thy name in all the earth! 

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

John 16:12-15 (RSV)

12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

The Holy Trinity May 22nd 2016

Proverbs 8:1-4,22-31 Psalm 8 anthem v.2, Romans 5:1-5 John 16: 12-15

The Perichoresis of the Trinity

If you look at the Gospel lesson, you would have to say, “I declare!” The word “declare” comes up three times. The word “rejoice” comes up four times in two lessons and the gospel lesson gives us reason to rejoice. If you read the Romans lesson carefully, you will see that every sentence, almost every phrase packs a sermon. “The grace in which we stand,” “Rejoice in suffering!” “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us… these are just a few examples.

But because it is the Sunday of the Holy Trinity, it is with awe that we need to contemplate the triune God of creation, whose wisdom, Sophia drew the circles in space, so that all the planets circle the sun, the moon circles our earth, and our galaxy, the Milky Way swirls around our black hole, like all the galaxies around their black holes in the universe. The universe is created by God through the handiwork of divine wisdom, Sophia, in Greek, causing all children of humanity to rejoice, even as St. Paul bids us rejoice, and Jesus tells us to rejoice because he is leaving to us, i.e., bequeathing all to us that his Father God gives to him. “Rejoice in the Lord always and again Paul says, rejoice!” You know the song.

When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,

    the moon and the stars which thou hast established…

 Did you notice the sun-rise lately? I watched it on Thursday at 5:30 am from my Chicago hotel room and while the sun was rising it seemed that a bright full moon was rising beside it. In the Internet it says two suns were rising. How could a second sun be rising? Our sun is no twin. Tonight we will have the full moon, so I would wager it was the moon rising beside the sun. I have never seen that before. I guess Sophia just drew another circle in the sky for us to see.

Our Psalm for today, Psalm 8 is filled with awe and wonder. “What are we that God is mindful of us?” Our New Horizon’s spacecraft is sending pictures back to us on earth of the dwarf-planet Pluto and one of its moons Charon. It has taken ten years for the spacecraft to get there, because Pluto is over four and a half billion miles away. While no life could exist on Pluto, we now know that billions of exoplanets are in goldilocks zones, which are just the right distance from their stars for liquid water and life to exist. They are orbiting their stars like our sun, but they are circling in other far-away solar systems lightyears away from us.

Contemplating the universe is very humbling and imagine how magnificent and beyond conception our God must be to have created it all!

Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted

    by the mouth of babes and infants,

thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,

    to still the enemy and the avenger.

Our psalm says that God chose infants and little children filling them with trust and faith to protect us from those who doubt and become adversaries of faith in God. Just like God is enthrones on the praises of Israel, God’s people, – so ever anew God fills babes and children with pure faith, trust and wonder to witness to us that God is in heaven and sends children like gifts of love as examples of faith for us to love and follow. Oh, what are we that God is mindful of us? But out of the mouths of babes and children, God defends us from doubt and unbelief.

So God is as simple and wonderful for our faith as the little kid who told his parents, “Heaven is for real!”

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But at the same time the maker of this universe is more complex than anything in the world, because God is the source of the whole creation. In graduate school my theology professor gave me the assignment to tell whether the immanent Trinity preceded the economic Trinity in the philosophy of Hegel. The immanent Trinity is God in Three Persons per se apart from the creation. The economic Trinity is like we heard in the Proverbs lesson, all involved in creating and sustaining this world, sending the Son, raising him from the dead, and sending us the advocate, the counselor, the Holy Spirit to be with us.

Dorothy Sayers, the mystery writer, wrote a book about the Holy Trinity called The Mind of the Maker. She compared the Trinity to authoring a book. So the three persons were one, the idea for the book by the author is the Father, the concrete book itself is Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit is everyone reading the book and getting the same idea first had by the author God. It is all one book, conceived by the author, the book itself taken in hand as the Son, and the whole gist and story received by the readers, the Holy Spirit, one God in three persons.

St. Patrick of course took the shamrock, a three leaf clover and said like it was one plant with three leaves, so we believe in One God in three Persons. My brother Johnnie, a chemistry teacher, liked to show that all of nature and science are triune and can be classified in threes: for example, matter comes in solids, liquids and gases. The great Philosopher Hegel of about 200 years ago, who was a Lutheran pastor, also classified all of creation into threes. When his colleague, the theologian, Schleiermacher, in the University of Berlin hardly believed in the Trinity, (He considered it irrational.) Hegel had his whole philosophy and creation proceed out of the Trinity. Then he used his threefold way of thinking, called dialectics: the thesis, antithesis, and synthesis to think through the whole world, and then his philosophy and the whole creation returned into the Trinity, God becoming all in all.

We have to approach the mystery of the most Holy Trinity, the triune God with awe. Maybe it was because the mystery writer Dorothy Sayers saw the Trinity as a mystery that she wrote a book about it.

William James in his book The Varieties of Religious Experience claims that we are not external to the Trinity, outside looking in, but we are internal to the Trinity. Thus we too can rejoice, because we too are invited to dance in what is called the perichoresis, the dance of the Three Persons, each with fervent and steadfast love, each for the other, standing in for the other, and, participating in the concern and work of the other. The Small catechism, which separates the work of each Person in the articles of the Apostles’ Creed gives us the wrong idea. And also it does not make us mindful of the continuous creation, in which God is sustaining and renewing the whole creation. The creation is not just an event that took place in the distant past. God is not finished yet. God is not finished with us yet.

What awe and wonder the choreography of the divine dance of the three persons of the Trinity inspires in us! Our God is one, but what we call the perichoresis is the communion and mutual indwelling of the three persons of the Trinity. Peri means around and choresis means dance, like choreography, means making a dance. The word chorus and thus singing can also be heard in the word perichoresis. So peri is going around and choresis is the dance of mutual, indwelling love of the three persons of the Trinity.

So we ourselves in the communion of our Trinitarian community can participate in the dance of the Trinity and we can sing the praises of the Trinity because of the witness that God has provided for us by the faith of little children. As the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father and we are in Christ and Christ is in us, so we ourselves become one heart and soul together in a communion that is greater than mere empathy. We are invited to join in the dance of the Three Persons of the One God of all creation, the continuous creation, filling us with creativity. We are invited to dance with the Son to save the lost in God’s great plan of salvation, and invited to dance in the procession of all the saints, who witness to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Blessed Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, invited to dance enraptured by the Holy Spirit, filled with awe for the majesty of God’s Holy name. Yes, how majestic is the name of the Blessed and Most Holy Trinity over all the earth. Amen.

A Mother’s Day Blessing for Mothers

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A Mother’s Day Blessing for Mothers:

Bless, Oh Lord, mothers-to-be, who are about to bring new lives into the world, blessed children, your gifts from heaven. Be the strength of their strength and at birth protect both mother and child from all harm. Bless all mothers as they continue to love, nurture, and nourish their children in all the many ways that children need to be cared for. We thank you for the strength of their love, which mothers must receive from heaven. There is no other explanation. Make them aware that you are always with them only a prayer away and that they can call upon you in any time of trouble, you will deliver them, and they will glorify you. We thank you as well for mothers who have fulfilled the full measure of their devotion and who now reside with you in heaven. We thank you for them and all the blessings which they bestowed upon us their children, blessings that we can never repay, but you O Lord, can reward abundantly for ever and ever and ever. Amen.

Written by peterkrey

May 9, 2016 at 9:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Ascension of Our Lord, Sunday May 8, 2016

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Ascension Sunday May 8, 2016

Acts 1:1-11 Psalm 47 Ephesians 1:15-23 Luke 24:44-53

The Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday was Ascension Day. My sons, Joshua, Mark and I ascended Mount Tamalpais (2571 feet) and God watched out over us, so it was a beautiful experience. It is wonderful seeing clouds up there drift in. you walk right into the mist of a cloud and it is like walking into a different world. Think about the transfiguration of Jesus. The scripture says, a cloud overshadowed them, that would be Peter, James, and John and above them, higher on the mountain, Moses, Jesus, and Elijah, and a voice from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, Listen to him.” In the ascension story, a cloud took Jesus out of their sight. Up there on the mountain that is easy to explain: you’re in the cloud and the mist thickens and someone can no longer be seen.

Now I always thought that the Ascension marked the end of the appearances of the risen Christ bodily, which is also true. But this time I noticed the 40 days – a number that always marks suffering of some kind. So Jesus did not immediately ascend into heaven, but had to stay with his disciples, transform them into apostles, to send them out to witness to his name. After the Ascension Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God the Father Almighty up in heaven, while promising that he would always be with us in the Holy Spirit that he and the Father would send to us. The Holy Spirit would clothe us with power from on high and we’ll celebrate the Pentecostal rush of the Holy Spirit’s mighty wind in the temple and the fiery tongues alighting on the apostles’ heads next Sunday at the seminary. Sophia will also be confirmed and Soren a little later.

But today we celebrate that Christ ascended into heaven and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. As we sang in the Psalm: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy. O sing your praises to the Lord!”

I translated a German Ascension song that has a swinging upward and ascending note. You’ll hear it:

  1. The Lord Christ Jesus rules from Heaven.

To him all power and glory are given.

The whole world is his footstool (repeat)

  1. Let all tongues on earth confess him.

He comes to us with crowns of blessing.

His dominion he shall rule. (repeat)

Many of course resist the rule of Christ, but for those who receive him, he gives a new birth of freedom.

We could speak about our own experiences, the ways that we could speak of being more than victorious – but let me just relate the story of St. Paul, which we would have read in Acts chapter 16 if we had not substituted the Ascension lessons.[1]

On the road to Damascus Paul did a 180 degree turn, an about face, so to speak. As Saul, who persecuted the Christians, he became Paul, the little one,[2] himself, the Apostle, a missionary to us Gentiles, and now himself persecuted. Last week we heard how Lydia, a merchant of purple cloth, received God’s Word, and was baptized together with her whole house. Her house became the first church in the city of Philippi, the capital of Macedonia. And using her house as a base from which to evangelize people in the streets of Philippi, Paul and Silas were followed by a slave-girl, who for many days continually shouted from behind them, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” She was really aggravating. Her handlers were making money with her because she had the powers of divination – people had her tell them their fortunes. Paul turned around and exorcised that spirit out of her and that made her handlers very angry. They got the people to riot against Paul and Silas and they were flogged and clapped into jail. Sitting there in prison with their hands and feet locked into stocks, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns, making the whole jail into a church. Then an earthquake struck, shaking the foundations of the prison, the doors swung open and their stocks broke open as well. The Roman jail warden saw the open doors and assumed the prisoners had escaped – for a Roman his life was now a forfeit for his prisoners and he was about to fall on his sword. He didn’t realize, however, the freedom Paul and Silas really had and that his jail had become a church. Paul shouts, “Don’t harm yourself! We are still here.” The jail warden is amazed. He had never experienced the freedom of Christians before. He takes Paul and Silas, washed their wounds, feeds them, and then gets baptized with his whole house, his whole family. When St. Paul writes the letter to the Philippians, he is writing to Lydia and this warden among others, and a dear shut-in to whom we bring communion, read me passages from Philippians recently, showing me that Paul’s letter is filled with loving passages. She just loves Philippians. It is only seven and a half pages. Check it out!

These are the wonderful stories that make up the music of Paul’s witness, and also add music to our own witness when we confess Jesus Christ our Lord, who sits at the right hand of God the Father and who will come one day to judge the living and the dead.

Just two footnotes, one a warning and one a celebration: One: In an email from a member of our congregation I was asked to be mindful that it is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Hitler brought prosperity to a very depressed Germany with his new design of the Volkswagon (the VW) and a new national highway system throughout Germany. Economically he put Germany back on its feet. But as promised he tried to rid Germany of six million Jews and after no country would take them, he went to the final solution, the Holocaust. We have someone who has gotten to edge of the most powerful office in this country threatening to rid our country of 11 million people. As Christians we will have to protest or betray Christ. This has nothing to do with party affiliation, but a moral issue that requires taking a stand. As in Germany, it could come to a status of confession. A night could come in which no one can work. A wave of racism could hit us like a Tsunami.

Secondly, celebration: let us lift up our mothers. An intimate, intense, and unconditional love is what so many of mothers demonstrate, that we can do nothing less than just thank God from the bottom of our hearts for them. Can we just shout the names of our mothers out loud? Yes, we thank God for them. Without them, next to God, we wouldn’t be here. Amen.

A Blessing for Mothers, spoken after the prayers:

Bless, Oh Lord, mothers-to-be, who are about to bring new lives into the world, blessed children, your gifts from heaven. Be the strength of their strength and at birth protect both mother and child from all harm. Bless all mothers as they continue to love, nurture, and nourish their children in all the many ways that children need to be cared for. We thank you for the strength of their love, which mothers must receive from heaven. There is no other explanation. Make them aware that you are always with them only a prayer away and that they can call upon you in any time of trouble, you will deliver them, and they will glorify you. We thank you as well for mothers who have fulfilled the full measure of their devotion and who now reside with you in heaven. We thank you for them and all the blessings which they bestowed upon us their children, blessings that we can never repay, but you O Lord, can reward abundantly for ever and ever and ever. Amen.

_____________________

[1] Acts 16:16-34.

[2] Paulus-a-um in Latin means small or little. King Saul, who preceded David, was six inches taller than any other Israelite.

Written by peterkrey

May 9, 2016 at 9:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized