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Monday, May 28, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings -- How does 1+1+1=1? Edition

Well that clears it up....
Let us start with an old prayer -- an excerpt from St. Patrick's Breastplate:
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Or here is the whole prayer in chant form (as seems most fitting):



Trinity
This week is Trinity Sunday.  And I am SO thankful to not be preaching. I remember many years ago reading a story about a gentleman who rarely went to church on Easter Sunday but always went on Trinity Sunday.  Why?  Because he knew that most preachers could do a passable job of the Resurrection but always wanted to see how the preacher could explain the totally unexplainable (or incomprehensible) doctrine of the Trinity.

At any rate, the readings for Trinity Sunday Year B are here.

 On this Sunday do you choose to preach the doctrine or do you choose to preach one of the passages?  Certainly there is a sermon to be found in Isaiah's vision?  ANd many sermons could come from the Nicodemus story [is it just me or does John 3 show up far too often in the lectionary cycle?].

Where are you headed this Trinity Sunday?  Is it possible to explain the Trinity in one sermon?  Maybe it helps if, like St. Patrick did in legend, you have a helpful 3 leafed plant to pick on as an illustration....


{PS: I have heard it suggested that the math for the Trinity is not so much 1+1+1=1 as 1*1*1=1 -- which at least has the value of being a logical mathematical statement}

30 comments:

  1. In Boolean logic, 1 + 1 + 1 is 1 or 1 or 1, which comes up 1.

    1 * 1 * 1 is 1 and 1 and 1, which still comes up 1.

    That said, I posted about how Kevin Smith is a trinity: http://cindik.com/2012/02/kevin-smith-and-the-trinity.php

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  2. Good morning! In case you missed it, we are giving away a copy of ring member Katherine Willis Pershey's new book, "Any Day a Beautiful Change." Click here for details!
    I'm off-lectionary this week, writing a liturgy for Children's Sunday, and it needs to happen this morning. She said hopefully...

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  3. I'm off to a family reunion (maybe preaching the Trinity IS the better option) and a 120th celebration of the church of my youth.

    If I were preaching I just might tell a God story, a Jesus story, and a Spirit story...and let the mystery hold itself.

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    1. Great Idea, Purple. Thanks for tossing it in.

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  4. I'm not doing Trinity - focusing instead on Isaiah, since the coming week will see the ordination of our last-year's summer seminarian and the welcoming of our new diaconal intern...love to talk about God's call! I may sorta link it to the Trinity by talking about how God's voice comes to us in different ways (something inborn in us from our beginnings, a nudge of the Spirit, the power of the Word calling us), but that may stray into modalism, and I'm heretical enough as it is...

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  5. I'm using Psalm 29 this week, exploring how we hear God's voice today. The all age worship resource I'm using starts with the psalm before launching into the lectionary passages about David for the summer - its been a challenge but looking forward to confronting difficult texts.
    This weekend we're also celebrating the queen's diamond jubilee - an even bigger challenge for me!

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    1. Liz, thanks for the link, love the Awesome Trinity bit.

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  6. I'm preaching Isaiah's vision and proclaiming Isaiah's God as Jesus' God. I'll talk about how each names God and how we name God using trinitarian language. Now I'm writing next week's sermon, because I'm trying to keep a week ahead.

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  7. I think it was David Lose who pointed out in his Dear Working Preacher article that this is the THIRD TIME John 3 has shown up in the lectionary even just this year. Come on folks. Really? I think I've missed it each time this year, but not really intentionally.

    To answer the question Gord asked, I preach the text, not the doctrine for sure. I put lots of Trinity language in my prayers, etc, but I don't necessary try to write a Trinity sermon. I don't get it enough myself to do that, and even writing one that admits I don't get it enough hasn't seemed to be good preaching for me in the past.

    I'm still a little torn about what to do, however. I, along with many others, love Isaiah 6, but I can only imagine the sermon I wrote and LOVED 2 years ago, or at least the idea of it. I keep thinking about it and can't hear anything else but that one when I'm reading Isaiah. It was in February 2010, and the basic idea was that God doesn't call perfect people, but God cleanses us for our calling.

    I could do a re-preach and the short week, a few folks in the hospital, a desire to get ahead of myself in planning for the summer and fall, and a need for some time to read for a class I'm taeching at Synod School in July would certainly justify that. However, no matter how much I think it's OK to work with sustainable sermons, sometimes it just feels like cheating, especially when I did it a month or so ago.

    Another thought I had was to sort of preach through the whole service - - sort of a teaching service, entering into the setting of the Isaiah text as an experience of worship, and then explaining why we do what we do at each stage of the service, maybe finding places to "touch" the Trinity in there. I don't know.

    Still sort of lost.

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    1. Stephanie, I'll be at Synod School!!!

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    2. I like the "Preach through the service" idea....

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    3. Really Purple? I need to figure out who you are!

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    4. Stephanie- Synod school as well- I think I am in your class? Purple- RevGal meet up!

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    5. I do believe that is a RevGal Trinity!!!!
      my email is purplespeaking123(at)gmail(dot)com.

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  8. I need all the help I can get. I am covering for the Vicar of Hogwarts and in a UMC church. It has been 40 years since I have been to a UMC communion service. The congregation will be between pastors so perhaps the Isaiah reading would be better too. At least I will have someone else leading the service. All you UMC's out there, got any suggestions?

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  9. Cindi, now I understand why I never understood Boolean logic. ;>)

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  10. OK. I'm having a little more inspiration. The FOTW pastoral perspective gave a little more info about King Uzziah and his reign - - how he built up the kingdom, but forgot he was an earthy kind. "Prophets are often called to speak the word of the Lord to those who have forgotten the distinction between holy and human." I think I might spend some time pointing out evidence that we forget that distinction, too. We have a woman coming from a local domestic violence emergency shelter to receive teddy bears our children made. The shelter gives bears to kids who have fled their homes with practically nothing. Violence and attempts to grab power over other human beings as an example of human arrogance? I'll have others, too. Anyway, I think I'll dwell with the reality of sin for a bit (something comfortable for my middle of the road to left leaning little church, as it probably was for Isaiah!) in the face of God's holiness. Then I can turn to how we are invited into the realm of God's holiness, how we are welcomed into the throne room of God, as imperfect as we are, we are made co-heirs with Christ when we receive him by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Look at that! A Trinitarian sermon!

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    1. When I read Isaiah today with my lectionary group, we noticed that the pardon that comes with the coal on the lips can't be painless. A hot coal on your lips? That has to leave a mark.

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    2. Oops. Just noticed some glaring typos in my post from yesterday. That was supposed to be UNcomfortable - - meaning talking about SIN is UNcomfortable for us. We sort of brush by the whole sinfulness things pretty easily I think. I would guess that most people in my church would think that really they're pretty good; they make mistakes, sure, but everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes aren't sin. Even I don't really focus my own spiritual attention on mistakes and sin as much as the tendency to seek my own good first as sin. Anyway, I'm going to wrestle with the heart of sin, why exactly Isaiah thinks his lips are unclean in the face of holiness, what sets us apart from God, but at the same time is overcome by God's welcome and love.

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  11. Since the name of my church is Trinity, and I make a big deal about this being our "name day" I feel compelled to at least touch on the notion of what it means...sort of...kind of... One of the things I realized back in seminary was that I could not talk about the trinity without committing one or another heresy, and in another congregation that might make a cool sermon, but not so much here I think.

    I am mightily drawn by the Isaiah passage. So not sure where I'll end up.

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  12. Not preaching on Trinity tbtg - have a guest introducing a visioning process we are undertaking this summer. Sooooo....

    Im working this week and next on Summer Plans and coming up with zippo. Got a little three-week thing on Being The Community of Christ from corinthians at the end of june/beginning of July. Then all the rest of the summer stretching before me... Taking ideas for good series - on or off lectionary - if you got 'em.

    And BTW, the 3 weeks I did on Ruth was not NEARLY enough -- What riches! If you are looking for something off lectionary, I totally can recommend spending the summer with Ruth, Naomi and Boaz!

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    1. Thanks, Juniper. That just may be the ticket. There were ideas being floated over on the RevGals Group FB page as well.

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    2. Thanks purple! Going over to FB to see what I can pick up.

      As it happens we use the Mennonite curriculum Gather Round (totally recommend it!) and their summer theme is The Things That Make for Peace, which I think has some real potential...

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  14. I'm going with the Trinity. I am so tired of John and just now noticed he comes back again at the end of the summer. Maybe my attitude will have changed by then.

    Am intrigued by the relational aspects of the Trinity and the challenge of transposing that to a small congregation that is relational by cultural background and by congregational practices.

    Looking forward to working on this but have to have it finished by Thursday at noon. (OMG--it's already late on Tuesday. Yikes!)

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  15. I am going with trinity, thinking about images of God.

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  16. Oh crap. On Wednesday afternoon with almost half of the bulletin complete I just I had a thought about the direction or worship this Sunday. I'm not usually a big Trinity Sunday person in terms of preaching the doctrine or the names or the language we use. I usually just go with the text and what comes out comes out. I don't try to "force" the festival itself.

    Anyway, I'm thinking about how we're going to have a representative from the domestic violence emergency shelter with us. I'm wondering if this might be a unique opportunity, a time the congregation might give me "permission" to explore the issue of trinity language - - not just "Father, Son, Holy Spirit" but other images and names for God. With the issue of domestic violence right there, I might be able to use it as a jumping off point to explore other names and ways of thinking about the Triune God that might not be problematic for some. I know that's not the only reason for inviting other formulae, but it might be the understandable reason to start the conversation.

    Oh crap. Now I'm all confused and about out of time to think and pray through this one today.

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  17. SheRev-- you probably can't get your hands on a copy in time, but the best book I've ever seen on the relationship between domestic violence and God-language is "Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us" by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker.

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