Blessed Holy Trinity. While sometimes disparaged as a late doctrinal addition to Christian understanding, a non-Biblical word determined by Councils of dispute and compromise, one in three and three in one in Holy Trinity, causing more confusion than clarity; the relationship of three persona, masks, communications of one God is significantly present in the Gospels and writings, as in the readings today, that we need to say or do something about how we understand the uniqueness and unity of God as Creator, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in a relationship that invites and includes humanity and all creation into this gracious and lifegiving unity. Did you get that? It is precisely what many suggest this festival day should not be, dry doctrinal discourse, or its disparaging and diminishing, rather than acknowledgement and awe before a holy Mystery. The key difference may be in needing to say less and do more in awe and holy wonder on this Trinity festival, to say less and dance, sing, eat and drink, trusting that the lesson will come.
Charla Huber, as some of you know, is Director of Communications and Indigenous Relations with M’akola Housing and Development, that serves as consultant to Luther Court and Church of the Cross on our proposed affordable intergenerational housing project. She was a guest at the recent Dessert and Dialogue and writes a regular column in the Times Colonist. The evening she was here and in a recent article, she quoted an elder’s teaching, “You set the table and the lesson will come.” She spoke of this related to an upcoming event, called Change-makers Gathering, bringing together indigenous and non-indigenous children and youth and other change-makers, artists and dance and drum groups, that begins tomorrow and continues through the week, all of it connected to National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21. It sounds like a wonderful week of gathering, setting a table and the lesson will come. Charla says this isn’t a new thought, but a teaching that is hundreds of years old and so important for positive change for indigenous and non-indigenous peoples together.
It is a teaching that we share if not articulate as clearly as the elders. Each Sunday we set the table, understanding it is Jesus’ meal we are sharing in remembrance by the Spirit, to taste and see the lesson that comes by God’s grace in new and renewing ways for our living God’s love for the world. We set the table and the lesson comes. What a gracious teaching, here as in the table gatherings of indigenous neighbours everywhere.
In that same article, Charla references a word from a previous article, nétsamaát, (my best pronunciation) which means: “We are all one.” When you walk in the Songhees Wellness Centre, the word is displayed proudly in the foyer. Across Vancouver Island, (Charla has) come across similar words (naut sa mawt, nawt-sa-maat and na’tsa’maht). While the translation isn’t identical, they are close: “Working together as one,” “One house, one heart, one prayer” and “One mind, one spirit.” The words speak first of the unity of the Lekwungen peoples, but graciously extend to the unity of all peoples, “We all are one; working together as one; One house, one heart, one prayer; One mind, one Spirit.” Good words.
These teachings, offered by the elders, without our appropriating them, may help us see something of our Christian teachings about ourselves and God on this Trinity Sunday. It is a day about unity, about being one as God is one in Trinity, one people, working together as one, one house, one heart, one prayer, one mind, one Spirit. And it is a day of movement, in holy awe and wonder, coming to God’s words, singing and dancing, lighting candles of prayer, sharing blessings of peace, setting the table, sharing the meal, all in and to and of God/creator, wisdom/word, Spirit/speaking – and the lesson and new and gracious life comes, to be sent out in love, to be shared with others and the whole beautiful, broken world.
Last Sunday, the Day of Pentecost, holy day of the Spirit, Affirmation of Baptism – Confirmation Sunday for young people of this community, felt especially full of this unity, being one in blessing and being blessed, in love and support, in diversity and acceptance, celebration and thanksgiving; and in movement, of the Spirit in awe and holy wonder before the mystery and grace of God. We heard from many people, many of you, who used just this word, feeling “moved” by what they participated in and witnessed: one of the confirmation students twirling in their ballerina-like dress as the worship procession was about to begin, moving those who smiled to see it; the flames of the Spirit with words and sign of so many different languages shared among us and gathered and coloured by the children into this beautiful visual Spirit/dove that moves us to see the Spirit is here; sounds of the Spirit in the strings, the voices, the organ pipes, in unity and harmony that surrounds and fills this space and that sounds and moves within our bodies, minds and spirits; the readings and gospel in many languages and Veni Sante Spiritus, come Holy Spirit, hearing and feeling the rushing wind and flames of the Spirit on and in each of us; the presenting of and standing with the students by their sponsors, our words of renunciation and confession together, words of affirmation of God’s Baptismal promise and promises made first by others and now for themselves, and each kneeling, and receiving Confirmation of the Spirit in each one, a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and fear of God, joy in God’s presence, now and forever, with the laying on of hands of pastors, teachers and mentors, family and friends, of a whole community whose prayer for each of them, unique and diverse, but one in the Spirit, is for their wellbeing and care and support, hope and joy, in their continuing journey of faith and life in the Spirit of Christ Jesus in and for God’s love of the world.
How the Spirit moved as we were moved by the Spirit. And following prayers and peace sharing, we set the table, and the lesson comes and moves us into more and more Spirit filled living in Christ Jesus for God’s love of the world.
The holy awe and wonder of God - Holy Trinity, moving and drawing us into unity with and in and through the Trinity, and moving with and in and through us and others, in love for the world each time we set the table, and the lesson comes. It is Jesus’ promise to his followers in the Spirit. It is the awesome wonder-filled role of wisdom alongside of God from the beginning. It is God who justifies by faith in Christ Jesus through whom we have access to this grace in which we stand, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Holy Trinity, holy unity, holy moving of God among and in and through you, and together. Let it be so, in all our relations.