Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2013; Proverbs 8:1-31
Here is a little story about Jesus. Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was.
They replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma of which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships.”
And Jesus said, “What?”
My first internship supervisor accused me of being a Trinitarian. I might be because I tried to deal with the concept of the Trinity on Trinity Sunday.
An excellent summary of explanations of the Trinity is on the website at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw. Right now I will focus on what the Trinity can mean to us, and the place to begin is Wisdom. In the promise of the Holy Spirit, Jesus links Wisdom to the Holy Spirit. The author of the Gospel of John links Jesus to Wisdom. And Wisdom is related to God.
Wisdom is the architect of creation, and the guide to the abundant life promised by Jesus. Our reading from the book of Proverbs offers several qualities and consequences related to Wisdom. First, Wisdom is where we are, even when we are choosing not to be wise.
Wisdom is connected to sanity, knowledge, discretion, insight and righteousness. The meaning of righteousness has been confused with morality. Righteousness properly means living right with God, right with others, and right with self. When we respect creation, we are being righteous. Gently catching spiders and releasing them outside, choosing the least harmful options for plant and animal pests, avoiding polluting the environment are righteous acts.
When we work for good, not harm, for others, we are being righteous. Smiling at people we meet on the street, protecting the dignity of another person, and taking time to listen to a child’s story are examples of righteousness. When we take care of our bodies, minds and spirits, we are being righteous. Getting exercise, eating moderate amounts of sweet treats, keeping our minds active playing Euchre or reading, and claiming quiet time for just being are more examples of righteousness.
When we think of ourselves as loved children of God, and feel gratitude to God and life for what we have and who we are, we are being righteous in relationship with ourselves and with God, and probably will be more righteous in relationship with others.
Now, consider sanity, knowledge and discretion. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. If we want to be effective servants of God, we need to consider how we are and are not succeeding at being faithful servants, and initiate real change in those areas where we are not succeeding.
One area where many or most churches are not succeeding is in making effective contact with the communities around them. On Tuesday evening at our presbytery meeting, Stephen R. Harper said churches need to be missional — to go out into the community instead of waiting for the community to come to us. We need to meet the people in our communities face to face in ways that show them we are caring people who have gifts we willing share with others.
Before we can go into the community, we need to be clear about who we are and where we believe God is leading us. From this we will know how we want to engage communities and our purposes in doing that.
If we are going to succeed in being clear about our selves and our purposes for going into the community, I believe we have a different trinity that we need to develop.
The first part is clarifying what our values are as a congregation — what is right and wrong for us; what is important and what is not important. Michael Foss identified 5 core values where he serves: Growing faith in Jesus; Compassion; Personal Integrity; Innovation and excellence; and community.
Michael Foss started a course on membership at his church with 95 families. Over half of those families had been attending for more than 5 years, and the reason they had waited that long was because they wanted to know how the members of Prince of Peace treated each other. If our values are clear, and if we ensure those values are respected by our members, we will be able to communicate more effectively to others about who, what and how we are, and they will not be disappointed when they check us out. Our values determine which visions, missions and programs are right for us.
The second part of this trinity will be establishing our vision, that is where we want to go, and our mission, how we will recognize we are on the right path.
The third part of this trinity will be implementation of the vision and mission, and this will take years. For this to succeed, most of the people in the congregation will need to believe that doing what God wants us to do, being disciples and apostles of Jesus, is more important than what we may want for ourselves.
On the way the Trinity will be part of your Journey: God the Creator who makes things possible; God the Spirit or Sustainer who encourages, inspires, challenges and comforts us on the way; and the God made human in your meeting people face to face, person to person. May God help each of us, and all of us together, know we are loved, and know how we are to share that love with others, bringing us to the place that is just right. Amen.