TRINITY SUNDAY (The Dance Goes On)

dancing feet

…but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40.13)

 

ISAIAH IS such a poetic prophet (or two, even three prophets as literary theologians have suggested). But this is beautiful. The prophet has been telling of the dust-like nature of the nations, of human existence and history, in comparison to the greatness and vastness of the Creator, in whom all being, material, cosmic, spiritual, political, substantial, non-substantial, eternal, is held in perfect balance. The mountains, the sea and stars, wind and rain and all creatures commune with, in and through the Creator God, God beyond naming, whom just to speak of with any integrity requires poetry, art, myth and metaphor. Even these are not themselves sufficient but they open doors for the mind to pass through to a deeper awareness of what Is. In truth, great nations, kings, political leaders, rich or educated people all run out of steam and collapse, return to dust, under their own efforts. Even young, athletic men and women, in their physical prime, lose their strength and collapse after running, let’s face it, not very far. Even Usain Bolt is going to retire this year! No one can keep going long if they just rely on their own strength, their plans, schemes, training, personal or corporate expertise. But those who wait for the Lord, these will rise up like eagles on a warm thermal in the sky. Once again, the Bible teaches us the power of waiting for the Lord, contemplative prayer.

 

But this is Trinity Sunday, so a little theology might be helpful. Often, before a silent contemplation, I find it helpful to read some Scripture and think about it theologically for a while. I might then relate the reflection to something going on in the world or in my life, before letting all this go and falling into contemplation. Like music, painting or poetry, this kind of thinking often leads me to the door Christ speaks of in Revelation 3: “Behold I have left an open door before you, which no one can close”. That door, may we go through in our holy communion in a little while. May a little reflecting aid our path now.

 

The Great Commission – Matthew: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

 

Again, with poetic and beautiful language, Jesus gives his final instruction to his Apostles before Ascension. One of the biggest problems through the Christian era, has, I think, been the failure to understand the poetic and mystical nature of Jesus’ words and the teachings of the Hebrew Prophets. Instead, Christians, apart from the mystics, have almost always thought and taught in literalistic ways. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been separated from each other and given delineated personification. This really misses the point of Jesus’ teaching and invents something completely different. So, what has been transmitted usually is a kind of hierarchical faith in an all-powerful, king-like man with a long white beard sitting on a throne, who sends his son to earth and blows some kind of strange creative and spiritual wind around the place, which the church has never quite managed to get a theology for. This has more to do with the almighty Zeus and the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece and Rome than anything Jesus said or illustrated! Much of Western theology has been based on Greek and Roman philosophy, not on Jesus Christ or even the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

So, if Jesus did not mean that the church should go out and baptise people in the name of Zeus, Apollo and the Holy Musai (muses), then what was this Trinity he spoke about and which we celebrate together today?

 

The inheritance of Greek philosophy, through which religion has been lensed in the Western world, has led to an inherent dualism in Western conditioning. Something is right or it’s wrong, dark or light, good or bad and so on. This informs capitalism, competitive outlooks, hierarchical politics, nationalism, religion and just about everything else. But Jesus’ teaching and the parables and histories of the Bible are non-dualistic. There is much human dualistic thought recorded and parodied in the Scriptures but the flow is non-dualistic. The Divine which emerges through below the surface reading is non-dualistic. Jesus is inclusive, universal, cosmic.

 

The Creation story in Genesis gives us a clue from the outset by using plural pronouns: “Let us create in our image” (Genesis 1:26-27). Of course, this is problematic for monotheistic Judaism and Christianity and it took centuries to work out the doctrine of the Trinity. The Church Fathers (eg Gregory of Nyssa, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory Nazianzen) of fourth century eastern Turkey finally turned to a word from Greek theatre, perichoresis—circle dance—to describe God’s character, God’s being: relationship and communion. In the beginning was relationship.

 

Richard Rohr has written, “God is not the dancer but the dance itself! God is much more a dynamic verb than a static noun. God is constant flow. You don’t even need to understand it intellectually or theologically to participate in the flow of God. You are already there. Within your heart, body, and mind is an implanted flow toward life, goodness, love, communion, and connection. “Sin” is quite simply any resistance to that flow.

 

Trinity Sunday, then is not about any complicated formula for baptism or for literally describing how God is three and yet one, for the sake of monotheistic integrity. It is about dance and flow, communion and connection.

 

We are never separate from God or from each other, even from life or death, not ever, though we often twist our minds to think that we are, or else we have them twisted for us!

 

Let’s go now to our Eucharist, Holy Communion, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of time…” Oh, and, by the way, time that begins and ends, that’s just an illusion imagined by linear-thinking historians…The dance goes on…

St Patrick knew the dance very well. Let’s imagine a moment St Patrick and the Gower saints, who slept with their heads on the grass or in a bed of leaves, on the cliff edge or under a tree, who moved with nature’s dance to take the gospel of truth so all with feet to dance may…dance…

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

dance in peace

 

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~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on June 11, 2017.

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