Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Clever, Crafty Giggle of God

Disclaimer for my insistently orthodox friends: I am not denying the Trinity. See my statement of faith. Thanks.

Holy God, we long to fully know you, and yet our words fail us. We seek your face, yet flinch away in fear when we get a glimpse of you. We read your Word and find it hard to digest. We long for your Spirit, yet resist surrendering to the life you call us to. We ask "What would Jesus do?" to avoid the question "What did Jesus do?" Come, sweet Spirit, and light upon our hearts. In this moment we rest in you.

Sermon, Sunday May 30, 2010
by Katie Mulligan
Scripture Readings: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 and Romans 5:1-5
Today is Trinity Sunday, that day in our church calendar when we lift up the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  As I was thinking about this high holy day and all of its formulaic glory, I was reminded of this t-shirt I’m wearing this morning. I went to MIT my first year of college. On the day of the first freshman physics exam, and organization named SPAMIT sold t-shirts outside the lecture hall. SPAMIT stood for Stupid People At MIT.  Nearby, perhaps more of a comfort, a Christian organization was selling t-shirts; this one has five Bible verses translated into Calculus equations (the specific scriptures are listed at the bottom of this sermon). The Trinity doctrine reminds me a bit of Calculus—in some ways it is simple and elegant, and in others convoluted and tortured.

The Trinity is an important part of our tradition, and it dates back to the Council of Nicea when the heated question of “What is the nature of God” threatened to split apart the unity of the early church.  Was the Father and the Son of the same essence?  How did the Spirit relate? Who proceeded from whom? How can we claim three persons in the Godhead and still insist upon only one God?  Is the Spirit of the same essence as the Father and the Son?  What is the function, form, relationship of the three persons in the Godhead? Like any question of the nature of God, it did actually split the church, into winners and losers, orthodox and heresy, those who were of the true faith and those who must be rooted out.  We’re still doing that by the way.