According to the calendar of the Christian year, today is Trinity Sunday, the day in which we lift up and celebrate the mystery of the Three-ness yet One-ness of the nature of God.
For some of us the notion of the Trinity may be just weird at best. For others, perhaps it’s simply irrelevant, or at worst, just another case of the way the Church turns people off with its dogma and doctrines. It is true that the Trinity has been thought about and argued about and written about in such abstract ways that cause the brain to hurt. But what if “ultimately, the Trinity isn’t meant to be defended, explained, rationalized or really even believed so much as experienced and entered into.”
You see, there’s another possibility altogether … that in catching a glimpse of the relational life that is at the heart of God --that is God-- we find ourselves drawn into--not just spectators -- but gathered up in and part of this divine life in community. In other words, far from being irrelevant or detrimental in some way, our contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity might well open the way for a new or renewed appreciation of our life in God … God’s life in us … and what that means for the living of our lives and the life of the planet in these uncertain and fearsome times.
It’s no wonder we’re given the first chapter of Genesis to read on this Sunday. It’s very first words might just as well have been “in the beginning was relationship” for that’s the story it tells. Right from the beginning we are given to see it, and hear it, and celebrate it … the essential connection between God and the whole creation. There’s the Spirit of God brooding over the formless chaos and then through the creative power of the Word of God, light and all manner of life are spoken into being. Through the Creator’s generous and generative outpouring, the whole creation is called into being.
And not only that. There is something of God’s own generosity and generativity woven into all that is created. Sun and moon and stars pour forth light. The earth brings forth vegetation, and the vegetation brings forth seed. The seas bring forth sea creatures and the dry land, creeping and flying creatures of all kinds … all of whom are given to be fruitful and to multiply.
In the beginning was relationship -- this essential, creative, outpouring, and sustaining relationship between God and the whole creation.
Well then we get to the scene of the creation of human creatures. It’s there that the cadence of the poetry changes, slowing us down as though we’re intended to notice something. Instead of “and God said ‘let there be’ -- and it was so,” here we’ve got “let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”. In a way that wasn’t so explicit before there’s a “we”-ness revealed about God … Let US -- in OUR image, OUR likeness.
There it is again … “in the beginning was relationship.”
A few weeks ago I came upon, what is for me, a fresh and refreshing image. Richard Rohr in his reflections on the Trinity recalls the water-wheel … how the water is picked up and poured out, only to be received and then poured out, and received and poured out … and on and on it flows in this endless round of outpouring and receiving, filling and emptying. “Like a waterwheel of divine love,” Richard says, the Father empties himself into the Son, the Son receives and empties himself into the Spirit, the Spirit receives and empties herself into the Father and the cycle continues.” The dynamic is one of letting go in trust; of sharing and making space for grace to be given … an endless giving and receiving of an infinite love.
Think about what that means for us if we are made in the image of God. And instead of just thinking about what this means for us, I want to read to you a note that I think paints a picture of what it looks and feels like, among people made in the image of God, sharing in this endless giving and receiving of an infinite love.
The note is one Marg sent to Thrift Shop volunteers 2 Fridays ago. Marg has this beautiful practice of coming home from the long day’s work at the Thrift Shop each Friday, and sitting down and writing up some of the stories of the day, which she then sends out to the team of volunteers.
As you listen to this note that Marg wrote a couple of weeks ago, see if you notice something of that waterwheel of divine love. Here’s what she writes:
It IS quite an accomplishment to have a sales day of 4 hours where we deposit $2,000.90! How do we do it?
Well, it starts with all the sorting and pricing and re-cycling that happens each week on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is no small job as those of you who work on those days know. Every week we display what we think we can sell; we store out of season things in the attic; we send bags of goods to SPCA, Sandy Merriman House, Single Parent Resource Centre, and Our Place. Big Brothers picks up about 20 bags of soft goods each week which have all been culled or sorted and prepared for them, and we take metal, soft plastic, un-saleable books and old electronics to various drop off points for recycling. And that's before we ever open our doors to customers. Whew!
And, on occasion we sell otherwise un-saleable gold and silver (broken jewellery etc)….thanks Kim AND, otherwise un-saleable silver tableware (that big silver tray no one wants etc)….thanks Penny. Today, for example, we started with $76 from just the silver that Penny took last week. It all adds up, and it gets all that "stuff" moving on to where it belongs.
Then the story continues: Volunteers start to arrive at 8:30 on sales days and they make the house beautiful in readiness for customers, and they set up that amazing canopy and loads of goods outside. More volunteers arrive and spend the day greeting and chatting and selling and laughing and sharing stories with each other and with customers. That is it's own kind of magic.
More volunteers arrive with lunch or goodies (today thanks to Penny we had rhubarb cake, Dana for cookies and Norma for wonderful sandwiches). It's somehow organized and somehow organic how the food appears and is appreciated. We are grateful to the regulars Norma and Betty and to all of you who sometimes just bring a treat.
Today we had a couple of particularly poignant stories. The first is the story of the electronic piano donated by Johan. For those of you who don't know him, he is a member of the church who has had a stroke and so can't play his piano any more. He wanted to give it to us in hopes it would benefit us and whoever bought it.
Well, this afternoon a woman came in and was so excited to see it. Her kids are all grown but she has a young friend with a little girl
who is musically gifted but the Mom hasn't much money.
This customer was so excited to be able to buy such a gift for her friend's daughter and knew that that child would be over the moon to have it. Lynne, thanks for the care you gave this woman and the willingness to go the extra mile to see she got her purchase. I know that Johan will be thrilled to think of this child playing his piano and making music for her world.
The next story is from the Tuesday morning group who host a drop in for needy neighbours every Tuesday morning at the church.
I had an email this week from Sylvia who is one of the hosts on Tuesdays. She said: "Marg....just letting you know that we gave away 2 quilts? Blankets? to very cold park dwellers at Outreach today. Sleeping bags would have been better so please save any that you get for us. Many thanks to you all from Alex and William." That's good, it's what we do whenever we can. But the best part? Of course, today we had one sleeping bag donated and 3 more offered when volunteers heard that we had a need. Eunice will pick them up and keep them for future needs. As I say…..It's pure magic what we do every week.
So, you decide….what's the best part of this story….the $2000 to support the church (and all it does), or the fun we have, or the million other good news bits? Do I sound like the MasterCard ad when I say…..you are all priceless? Wow.”
Marg, maybe you do sound like the MasterCard Ad -- I’ve never seen it. But what I’m hearing is God’s Trinitarian Life in motion among us!
Surely this is the flow of God’s infinite Love, drawing us in to be part of that filling up and spilling over for the sake of abundant life, for all.
In the beginning was relationship.
As it was in the beginning, it is NOW, and ever shall be!
Thanks be to God.
 Richard Rohr, Daily meditation: Trinity: Week 2 Self-Emptying; posted on March 5, 2017