God is Good

On June 19, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

God is Good Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Trinity 2019 Let us dwell together in peace, let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. Scott Dittman in Pittsburg was invited to a Pride Parade. He heard about the free […]

God is Good
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Trinity 2019

Let us dwell together in peace, let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

Scott Dittman in Pittsburg was invited to a Pride Parade. He heard about the free mom hugs movement. And it occurred to him that dads, at least some dads, might be more likely to reject their LGBTQ children than moms would be. So, he decided he would give dad hugs at the parade. It changed his life. He gave over 700 hugs that day. He was moved as he considered that some people are so hurt by rejection that they would melt into the arms of a stranger. On this Father’s Day, I am happy to share the story of a dad who offered love to everyone’s children at Gay Pride.
Why do we still have Pride parades? Because rejection is still destroying lives, and Pride is affirmation, Pride is celebration, Pride is a chance to be embraced and affirmed.

Pride month recalls the liberating Stonewall riots where Queer people in a bar not only stood up to harassment from the police, but also stood up to shame and fear and said, “Enough.” That story still offers empowerment and the hope of finding our voice and daring to live out loud…LGBTQ Pride month actually sets the tone nicely for Trinity Sunday.

Trinity Sunday is always the Sunday after Pentecost. Luckily, unlike the 7 weeks of Eastertide, Trinity Sunday is just one day. I wouldn’t want to tackle it more than that.

The Trinity is not part of Jewish theology, and our scriptures were written by Jewish people. There is not a clear doctrine of the Trinity in our bible, but in Deuteronomy we read, “the Lord our God is One.” The word Trinity is never used in scripture.
In art, the Trinity is often depicted as two men and a bird. Maybe the bird is female; if their isn’t feminity, the image (in my opinion) is incomplete.

So, the Trinity for most of my adult life has been something hard for me to affirm. I finally got comfortable with public use of Trinitarian verbiage, letting it mean to hearers whatever it might. For me, I was simply naming three out of countless attributes of the one God.

But more recently, the Trinitarian metaphor for God has grown on me.

Just as the bible says God is one, we also find throughout the Bible that the ONE is experienced and explained and explored in countless ways.

All God language is metaphorical. So we see the ONE God in the Bible being Lord and Mother and Father and Healer and Warrior and Provider and Rainbow and Cloud and Fire and Light and Castle and Rock and Power and bunch of other things, each a metaphor pointing toward Mystery and each a poor substitute for the mystery to which it points.

But by 325 AD (296 years after Jesus’ death), the church codified another metaphor: the Trinity. It wasn’t biblical, but why should our metaphors be limited to the first century and before? And while the church eventually took the metaphor too literally, as it is wont to do, the metaphor may still be useful as one possible metaphor among many.

And so, I would like to offer, fittingly enough, THREE reasons the Trinity as a metaphor might be worth considering.

1. The Trinity subverts power systems.
The Trinity can be subversive.
Creator-Redeemer-Sustainer (Being-Wisdom-Glory)…Call the masques or modes or personas of the Trinity whatever seems right to and for you, but in every iteration, the three are working together. The Trinity is power with, not power over.
One aspect doesn’t boss or bully the others. They are one, united, sharing life together. There are different roles but a united purpose and there is harmony in working toward it. There are no power struggles in the Trinity. Power with, not power over. Isn’t that the kin-dom of God (which was Jesus’ preferred metaphor).
The Trinity is eternal, like a circle…without beginning or end. It’s circular power, not hierarchical. One power, shared by all. It is a subversive, divine vision of how things could possibly be. God is good, and goodness empowers, it doesn’t over power.

2. The Trinity highlights communion, or we could say, connection.
More simply put, the Trinity is relationship. The three in one shows the three united, flowing into and out of and through one another. The power flows, is shared. It unites, brings together, forms a community, a family, an interconnected whole.
A metaphor of God as Relationship affirms God’s relationship with us.
Creator – that’s God for us.
Redeemer – that’s God with us.
Sustainer – that’s God in us.
We are also part of the Relational God…God for us, with us, in us…The Trinity is a reminder that there’s not a spot where God is not. God is good, and goodness is always present. A good God will not, cannot abandon us, ever. God is forever offering mom hugs and dad hugs, leaving no one out.

3. The Trinity is a source of joy.
Wherever there are three, there’s a party. The creator, God for us looks at creation and calls it good…takes pleasure in it.
God with us gathers us around tables to share food and drink and companionship and prayer and hope and love.
God in us gives us gifts and helps us bear good fruit in our lives.
If religion has made you hate yourself or fear God or reject others because of what they call God or who they love or what they tell you their gender is…then you’ve missed the point. God as Trinity is joy.
God is at the dinner party. God is at the parade. God is at the celebration. God is admiring the good work. God is looking at our lives and seeing something good. If religion has made you mean, bitter, or afraid, you’re not doing it right. And if anyone has used religion as a weapon against you, they weren’t doing it right. The Trinity is the power of joy.

There is an old legend, it didn’t make it into our bible, but i do love it. It’s a creation myth. The story says the Trinity loved to play. And one day, that circular power, that love in expression, that relational impulse, the Trinity, started to dance. And the dance party got so ecstatic, that there was an explosion, an emission as it were, of pure delight. And the fallout from that explosion, is creation. Creation, according to that parable, is the manifestation of divine joy. God is good, and goodness is joyful.

If the Trinity as one of several metaphors for God can help you resist systems of domination and oppression, if it can help you experience and celebrate God in your life…God for you, with you, in you, if the Trinity as a metaphor for God can give you permission to experience and share joy, then why not give it a whirl?
If you are like i was for so long, and you just can’t with the Trinity right now…no worries. There are other symbols and metaphors for God. Just don’t over literalize any of them. But, whatever metaphor you work with and play with, let it be a constant reminder of this: God is good. And this is the good news. Amen.

God is good.
God is for me.
God is with me.
God is in me.
And all is well.

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