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Trinity Sunday, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
May 27, 2018

Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

‘When I love the world’

“Perichoresis”, from the Greek peri, “around” and chorein, “to make room for” or “to dance” (as in choreography), is one of the oldest and most important words in the history of trinitarian theology … Trinity is a way of thinking about God as the Dance of Life. Life in a-barn-dance, as a jocular preacher might say. Trinity is a way of thinking about God as creative, redemptive and sustaining Love. It is a pattern or habit of thinking and speaking, a poetics, which includes us, as friends of Jesus, in all manner of divine activity and purpose. God/Otua be with you ...

There are many ways to explore this doctrinal theme.

Trinity names a quality within each and every relationship.

As givers and receivers of love, we are also inspired (the word is apt) to love more and to keep on loving. When I love my niece, I am also inspired to love the world. In my father’s love for me, my love for others begins again, or is born again.

It’s worth staying with this simple example.

Trinity connotes a Dance of Life or Love that resists idolatry – in other words, it is a way of saying that life and love, at the most real or divine level, free us from all objectifying, labeling, judging; all arrogance and fearful ignorance. Life and love, at the most real or divine level, draw us into creative, redemptive, sustaining patterns of holy threeness.

When I love the world (of light, trees, rivers or music), I am also inspired to love my work in this world.

When I love my friend, I am also inspired to care about her world, the particular world of her concerns.

In my cat’s regard for me (his trust in my care), my regard for good food, fresh water and clean air – my regard for rest and play and creaturely affection – begins again, or is born again.

Real love, real life, bears a trinitarian imprint – never closing in on itself, resolving or totalising the world, but inspiring reverence for all things in their infinite variety ... inspiring reverence for the world to come.

Trinity names a quality within each and every relationship, sometimes acknowledged, sometimes denied (whenever we treat someone asking for help – a neighbour or stranger/foreigner/seeker of asylum, for example – with disrespect or disdain … or whenever “we sacrifice entire ecosystems to small idols of pleasure” [Elizabeth Farrelly after Leonard Cohen]).

There are reasons to be cynical but there is much more to our life together in the world than foolish self-interest or manipulation.

And as spiritual beings, made in God’s image, Trinity names a quality within each and every one.

In my neighbour’s love for me – in the love of my neighbours – my inner capability-dependability-possibility – a sense of myself as love’s work in progress – begins again, or is born again.

Sometimes we express this in terms of a familiar narrative: Abba God so loved the world as to give the Only Begotten One to share in the struggle for freedom, to gather all the beloved of God in a Spirit of joy and peace. Abba God so loves the world, now as always, as to give the Only Begotten One …

We need stories for this kind of thing. Embodied, cultural, moving, engaging, converting/reorienting stories.

Sometimes we express this in familiar conceptual terms: the Incarnation, we say, lies at the heart of Christianity. Or, more philosophically, that “the sacred is the ‘subjectivity of objects’ the presentation in the contours of day-to-day things, of a meaning that sees ‘from I to I’” (R. Scruton).

We need statements like this because we are ever at risk of stating the faith otherwise – suggesting that some other notion of power or glory lies at the heart of Christianity – some kind of “power over” others, or some kind of force without regard for flesh, without reverence for bodies, for subjectivity, history, culture or matter.

The Triune God is a God in whom we find salvation, in whom we find ourselves made whole, made for relationship. Christ is the Only Begotten, the Child of God (because the faithfulness of Christ is our inspiration), but we are all children of God. The Apostle Paul says: “We are … heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing in Christ’s suffering and sharing in Christ’s glory.”

God is the Dance of Life. How might you, in silence today, complete the sentence: When I love my friend/neighbour/mother, I am inspired to ... When I love the world, I am inspired to … Emeni/Amen.