Given all that has and is happening in the world this week, maybe a sermon should be 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence. (Or at least 21 seconds, because like our Prime Minister we can’t find the words.) Silence to remember the life of George Floyd crying out, “I can’t breathe,” and never forget. Silence to listen, as Pastor Lyndon said last Sunday, to the voices and experiences of black lives that matter, experiences of anti-black racism and violence, too often, for too long, for too many - yes, in the US and across the world; but its own particular history and expression in Canada and how we must find a way together in this country to see it end, for black Canadians and indigenous Canadians, and other racialized Canadians, that their lives be honoured with respect and dignity and equality and freedom, privileges that I have because of the colour of my skin. Silence to remember and listen; but no more silence in the face of these injustices for our neighbours. No more complicity in it being forgotten again, another life, another violent death, another black or indigenous family and community in grief. No more turning away because it is too difficult, too painful, too close to ourselves and the racism within me, to see. No more, please God, and let the protests, this uprising, this movement for justice and transformation, be the change you, God, desire and intend, across the world and in our own city and community, in us, in me, so that I will not be the same, we will not be the same, and the lives of our black and indigenous neighbours, other racialized neighbours, queer neighbours, differently abled neighbours, will not be the same; living together in equality and justice and compassion and dignity and freedom and hope and joy together. This is our prayer, yes, but let this be our action, our words, in solidarity. Let it be so, by grace, in all our relations.
What is Trinity Sunday in the midst of this great uprising for justice, in the midst of a continuing pandemic? Not a festival day of doctrine, but could it be of the mystery and intimacy of God as Holy Trinity. Mystery, of one indivisible God, and three persona/masks, intimately relating to all creation, a common humanity, and the very breath/Spirit/wind within and around us? God, this mysterious, this near. This Holy Trinity is what we celebrate and honour this Sunday, in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of an uprising for justice and equality for all. Holy Trinity, ever with everyone and all creation for transformation.
No images, no analogies for the Trinity, suffice. All fall short. With that limitation understood, today the image of a dance may hold hope, truth, inspiration, joy. The Hymn of the day we will sing, and our guest will dance to, is “Come, Join the Dance of Trinity.” It is based on an early image of the relationship of the Trinity, the perichoresis, a Greek word meaning, “circular” or “around,” and “make room for,” or “go forward,” which has sometimes been connected to a “dance” of the Trinity, and one that makes room for, invites - us, humanity, creation, into God’s, the Trinity’s movement or dance. It is a beautiful image, one that has become more popular especially in a book by the Catholic theologian Richard Rohr, but with caution again that no image is sufficient, and all fall short.
What is this dance of the Trinity today that we might be able to see and even join? It is a dance of creation. As the Genesis creation poem reminds us, the whole universe, the earth, and everything contained within them, is of the creator’s speaking into existence, is of the Trinity all around and making room for creation in a great cosmic dance of matter and life and evolution and interdependence and fragility and resilience. And it is all tov, good, tov, tov/very good. The dance of all creation is the circular connectedness of everything in the Trinity and all creation. And the need to honour every part of creation in the dance, our movement on and with the earth and all its creatures. The pandemic and its isolation at home, not traveling, a slowed economy in many sectors, has resulted in a less stressed atmosphere at least, if not other climate and planetary systems. Less traffic on roads, in the skies and oceans, as just one example, is better for the planet and all creatures including us. The risk, some are noting, is that the environmental pandemic and all its related illness and death, will be forgotten as we desire economies to come roaring back. Will we recognize and learn from the pandemic the connections between the health of the earth and its creatures and our health and wellbeing?
The dance of the Trinity is a dance for justice for all in all relationships. Alongside the Black Lives Matter uprising going on across the world and in Canada, we recognize murdered and missing indigenous women and violence against indigenous people in Canada, domestic abuse and violence like we witnessed on Salt Spring Island this past week, poverty and inequity leaving so many with so little when a few have so much in our city and beyond, addictions and mental health crises, refugees and displaced peoples; these and more, crying out for justice. Commenting on the Gospel reading today and what has been called “the great commission,” author Richard Swanson in his commentary, Provoking the Gospel of Matthew, suggests a connection between the Magi at the beginning of the Gospel from other nations coming to witness the birth of Jesus, and the reference to Rachel’s weeping at the death of the children at Herod’s fearful and violent hand, and these words of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of God/Holy Trinity, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded. Instead of this being a commission to Christianize the world, it is commissioning the work of Jesus’ justice and peace in all nations of the earth, for Rachel and all the suffering children, that their and our morning be turned into dancing, the dance of Trinity, the dance of justice and peace for all children.
The dance of the Trinity is a dance for freedom. At the first memorial for George Floyd, his family shared stories of dancing, football, cooking, enjoying life together. Many used the words, “He can breathe now” in comfort and hope. Rev Al Sharpton in his eulogy repeated the phrase, “get your knee off our necks,” so we can breathe, so we can live. It’s a cry for freedom. It’s a truth-filled, hope-filled, faith-filled cry for freedom for all black lives, and for all lives. It is the freedom God desires for God’s people enslaved and oppressed in every time. Quoting from Ecclesiastes 3, that there is a time for everything, Rev. Sharpton said, now is the time! for freedom. And how dancing expresses freedom! Not just dance like no one’s watching. But dance for freedom, dance free, for life! The dance of Trinity is a dance of God of and for freedom, justice, peace, the life of all creation. Watch, see, come, join the dance of Blessed Trinity, now is the time, let it be so, in all our relations. Amen.