Trinity Sunday, Year C
June 12, 2022
There are lots of jokes about preaching on Trinity Sunday—
mostly having to do with finding a seminarian to preach on this day.
You see, if they commit a heresy from the pulpit
the congregation are not ready to send them to the gallows.
Today you’ve got me, again, and I am ready to fulfill my duty
to preach on the somewhat controversial doctrine of the Trinity,
the Triune God, three persons of God in one Being.
I want to start with Wisdom. We should, after all, start at the beginning…
The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, [wisdom said] the first of his acts of long ago.
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–
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
We read this amazing passage today from Proverbs—
Which is one of the books in the bible
from what is collectively called Wisdom literature.
Included with Proverbs in the Wisdom books are
Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and parts of the Psalms.
The Hebrews were influenced early in their formation
by the ancient Eastern wisdom writings —writings from as far back as the time of the pyramids, writings that came from Egypt and the Sumerians.
Israel literally borrowed ideas from its interactions with other cultures
and over time integrated the knowledge of wisdom they’d gained
into their historical faith, as God’s people.
We can see the evolution of this from an early proverb
which stands out to us as very secular—these have no mention of God,
“A wise child makes a glad father, but a foolish child is a mother’s grief.”
To a later proverb like this one which is repeated throughout scripture. This Proverb sums up Israel’s teaching of the sages,
“The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.
And the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Maybe you thought that schools of wisdom
came only in the time of the Greeks,
but there were schools as far back as two thousand years before Christ.
Eventually, when East met West, and the Greeks ruled,
they fell in love with the breadth of wisdom in the world.
They brought it all into the school we are most familiar with,
that is the school of philosophy—
philo meaning love, and sophia, the word for wisdom.
Greek Sophia or Wisdom is distinctly feminine—just as in the Hebraic writings of Proverbs we read today,
Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
In the first part of the book of Proverbs, we learn that
those who seek wisdom are invited to choose between two women.
One is the Strange Woman,
seducing passers-by to follow her foolish self-indulgent ways.
The other is Wisdom Woman who entices people to pursue peace and joy. By the time the reader reaches this wonderful part of the poem in Proverbs,
there is really no choice.
The second Woman is the personification of Wisdom—
as close to God as one can get:
with God in the beginning of time, the first of God’s works, preexisting all of creation. And most profoundly, Sophia is co-creator with God…
when God assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when God marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.”
This is where the Blessed Trinity comes in.
Frankly, we cannot fully fathom what it means for God to be three in one.
Yet, in scripture (from Genesis to Wisdom literature, to The Gospel of John) we hear that God was not alone creating the world.
Who knows if the Trinity is a perfect description?
Yet we find its markings not only in wisdom literature,
But also in the words we hear from Jesus,
In Paul’s understanding of God and the Spirit and Jesus as Christ,
In the work of folks long ago and now who are much smarter than I am
And we know we cannot try to explain God as a single entity.
God is communion rather than solitude,
God is unity rather than disarray.
God dances and delights in creation.
As a theologian I studied in seminary helped me understand,
“Believing in the Trinity means,
that at the root of everything that exists… is movement;
there is an eternal process of life, of outward movement, of love.”
Last Sunday, as I was driving to Nashville, I called my mom to tell her about Rob’s bike accident. She said, “For crying out loud.” I knew she would.
This is her favorite saying—and it works in a variety of circumstances.
For good situations, “I caught a 2 lb. largemouth bass today,”
“For crying out loud.” And In tough situations,
“Rob is in the hospital,” “Oh, for crying out loud.
I really don’t know what it means, but it is innocuous or harmless’
It is a safe response.
My mom also has some favorite old wisdom sayings,
for when the time is right,
“You can lead a horse to water….” Leaving me to fill in the rest.
Or “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
That one is more disturbing than helpful.
One of the Women’s Wednesday books we read earlier this year
was Becca Steven’s Practically Divine,
It this wise book, Becca shares her mother’s wisdom sayings.
I love that much of her mom’s wisdom came in the form of questions,
“Can you believe it? Right there in broad daylight!”
(when she remarked on the boldness of someone’s actions)
And, “Who promised you fair?”
(when one of the kids were complaining)
Becca’s mom knew the wisdom of asking questions:
Seeking and Searching are part of who we are made to be.
When we ask questions about the meaning of life
Or the purpose of our human existence, we are seeking Wisdom.
From the beginning of history Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah, and on down to us:
we have all asked ourselves, What is God like? How does God live?
Seeking God, striving to Know God, is seeking wisdom.
Truthfully, we are limited in our ability to fully understand God.
The holy God is beyond all human categories, not male or female,
not old or young, not big or small.
But our limitations should not discourage us, as there is splendor in the exploration itself.
In the end we take our experience of the divine,
our collective experience and individual experience,
our wonderings and our pain and find words to make sense of it.
Just like this,
Wisdom for our biblical ancestors was understood as a way or path,
not a rule book to read and memorize.
Jesus taught within this wisdom tradition.
His parables were part of the mashal,
the Jewish branch of eternal wisdom teaching.
Jesus taught that seeking God is a journey of humility and faithfulness we take together one step at a time.
One current translation of the wisdom Jesus taught, is to ask,
“What does it mean to die before you die?
How do you go about losing your little life to find the bigger one?
Is it possible to live on this planet with a generosity, abundance, fearlessness, and beauty that mirror Divine Being itself?”
Wisdom calls to all that live, Proverbs tells us.
Wisdom creates, is God’s Architect from the beginning of time
and even now Wisdom dances joyfully, rejoicing in us, the human race.
May we bravely join in and find ourselves
Dancing in unity with the heart behind the world,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.