Monday, June 13, 2011

Woud you like some cheese...

...with my whine?

I'm fairly certain I write this same whine every single year. Triiiiiiii-nity Suuuuuuuunday? Really? Again? Blech. I just can't stand it. I have YET to hear a sermon that tries to directly address what the Trinity is or why we should believe in it by any preacher that I like. Frankly, I just don't think that's the point of preaching. I have tried to do the same, and it has never turned out well, so I have finally learned not to mess with it. Or at least not to mess with that traditional use of Trinity Sunday. I think we'll still sing "Holy, Holy, Holy," particularly since I hardly ever pick it any other time of year, but I'm not going to try to force my sermon into a Trinity explanation. The Trinity is not something to be explained. How do you explain God?

So, I'll stick with the lectionary Scriptures - - probably Matthew's gospel; I don't think I've ever preached the Great Commission. It obviously uses the Trinitarian formula, but I don't even think that's the most important part of the pericope. I'm pretty drawn to the people who followed even though they doubted. The people who got the same commission as those who believed. The commission itself seems more important to me for preaching than the formula in which all of these actions are to take place.

Trinity sermons just don't seem to work for me, so if there's any nod to the Trinity in here for me it's that the work of the church takes place in community just as God exists in community. Within a community there are all different kinds of faith even those who doubt, but we don't leave any behind. Their participation in the work and fellowship is just as important and are part of what makes us us. No one is more valuable than another.

(Hey wait? Did something in their just sound like Trinitarian theology?)


Common Household Mom said...

I had no idea that preachers find the concept of the trinity difficult to preach on. It's definitely difficult for the layperson. In our Bible study this past Friday we got into an argument about the Holy Spirit. How come we never pray to the Holy Spirit, says one. The Holy Spirit is God, and we pray to God, says I.

My question is, why isn't it a Quadrennity, or the Quintennity instead of a Trinity? I am not afraid to ask that question anonymously but publicly, here on the internet, but would never ask it at church. I mean, how do we know it's not supposed to be God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Wisdom (Sophia)? And that takes us right where mainline Presbys fear to tread - possibly calling the God-head female. Oy vey. On this question I think I am influenced by my Jewish family, and I stick more to God as one-ness.

And that is way too long for a blog comment, so I will leave it at that.

Common Household Mom said...

I have to add that I am not expecting answers to my questions here. That would be unfair, especially since you have a sermon to write!

Stephanie Anthony/She Rev said...

I stick to oneness much more, too, as I think we Presbys do in general. If we have erred in our speaking and teaching about God, I think it is in this direction instead of in a direction that takes the 3-ness more seriously. We talked a lot about that in discussions of the Trinity in seminary - - the Eastern tendency toward the 3, the Western tendency (particularly Protestant) toward the 1.

I also agree that we fear to tread toward the feminine images. I say easily publicly and privately that of course God is neither male nor female (although I wish I said publicly more often that I really think God is both male and female instead of neither). I long ago removed male pronouns from my talk about God in worship, teaching,prayer, etc., but frankly it makes it feel very impersonal and worse than using a pronoun - - a problem with our English language more than my theology, think. Anyway, I've been challenging myself more and more to not just strip gender pronouns altogether, but instead mix them. I've slipped some "she"s into sermons lately, even some "Father and Mother"s. It is a stretch for me because that language, while I find it appropriate, is still quite foreign to me. I don't disagree with it; it just isn't the first to roll off my tongue and feels unnatural coming from me mouth. Anyway, I find it funny now that I am getting a little more comfortable slipping a "she" in, but I still haven't put "he"s back in at all.

And the pendulum swings the other direction....

I can give all the answers I've been taught to give about the Trinity, even some that are more "liberal/progressive" and less "traditional" about how it developed as a doctrine and how the formula appears just a couple of times in Scripture itself anyway, but that doesn't help me "get it" any better myself. The doctrine seems a confusing, mathematical puzzle and does little to strengthen my relationship with the God it tries to explain. The God it describes is what I try to focus on - - God who is over all creation, God who became part of creation, God who moves within creation. It's all the same God.

All that said, I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure it all out. I tend to think there are better things to do with the energy of my faith. That doesn't make it easy for me when people come with questions, though! I don't always have my own thoughts organized enough to help them seek their answers!

Common Household Mom said...

I hope everything is okay with you. I read today about violent storms in Wisconsin. Just wanted you to know I was thinking about you.