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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.

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