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The Trinity and the Web of Being

Lectionary Readings for the week found here.

When we first came up here to look at the house we would end up buying, it was winter time. There was lots of snow, ice, and it was very cold. And quiet. I had the idea that moving here from New York City would mean moving to a quiet, calm life.

However, within a few weeks we were battling bats in our attic, wasps that had made a nest by my son’s bedroom, and tree roots getting into the foundation of the house. And of course, that is not to mention the POLLEN! So much for a quiet, calm life… I learned quickly that “nature” is a force. An energy. Even on a beautiful day where the sun is shining and the breeze is gentle – the force of nature, the same force that makes floods and hurricanes – the same force that brought bats and wasps into my house, the same force that makes weeding a daily, not weekly, chore.

I’m a nature lover, but I’ve never gotten to live this far away from a city before. I learned my lesson.

It’s hard to talk about our beautiful world – “nature” – without being or feeling political, sad, or angry, because of course we know how much destruction of other species has come from human hands.

Likewise, It’s hard to hear the Genesis story without also thinking about the debates that go on about evolution “versus” creation – as if saying that there is a divine and sacred force coursing through the cosmos means that scientific inquiry into the origins of the world and of humanity is suspect.

But this creation story of Genesis came before any of that. This creation story, like all ancient myths, comes from an ancient people who were making sense of their place in the cosmos. Unlike some of the other myths of nearby peoples, - Babylonian, people understood to be made from the blood of a defeated God and created to do menial labor for the victorious God, one of the Egyptian myths, humans were an accident – this Genesis creation story suggests that the cosmos was created because God loves creating, and people were created in the image of God.

Not an accident, not to do work God doesn’t want to do – but to actually be a divine incarnation.

That’s you – that’s me – that’s the bats and the wasps and the wind and the water – a divine mirror.

So it follows that we can learn about God from creation. Our native American sisters and brothers would probably add: we can learn how to be better humans from watching and imitating creation. We can learn how to be good human parents by watching birds take care of their young. We can learn resilience and patience by watching seeds become plants.

And we can experience the presence and the mystery of God through the creation.

Today is Trinity Sunday and we’re doing this wonderful Celtic Eucharist. It reminds me of the legend of St. Patrick who is said to have taught Celtic peoples about the Trinity – about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – by using a three leaf clover, and comparing it to the Trinity.

I have my own version of a three leaf clover … We have a huge cottonwood tree in our back yard that I often think of as a bird metropolis. If you look at it quickly it just looks like a tree. If you look for a little while longer you see so many different kinds of birds flying in and out. If you listen, you hear all of their different songs. If you go closer to the tree you’ll see all the different insects that make the tree a home and that also become food for the birds. If you keep watching through the night you might see the fox that goes hunting around the tree, or the deer that graze on the long grasses around it. If you could look inside the tree you’d see the ways that its roots take nutrients from the soil and how worms and other insects help make the soil what the tree needs. And if you could see the leaves under a microscope you’d see how the green leaves ingest sunshine and make oxygen that you and I breathe.

In short – you’d see that that cottonwood tree is not just an individual tree – but is part of a huge interdependent web of being. And that web of being is made from the joy of God, and is made in the image of God.

“Father, Son, Holy Spirit” – we say these words every week in the Nicene Creed and I know that it can seem pretty dry. They are ancient words that often don’t capture the mystery and wonder of the doctrine of the Trinity.

But here are two things about the doctrine of the Trinity I’d love for you to hold on to:

First, God is one and God is three. That means that were everything to disappear, the entire cosmos evaporate, all that is left is God – all that is left is relationship. There is one God, and God is relationship, community. It’s beyond our comprehension but we get glimmers of it from how the world works, how the cottonwood tree exists in a sparkling web of being.

Second: God is still creating. The earth, the cosmos, is not a finished product. God is still creating ponds and forests and baby birds and baby humans and yes, God is still creating you and me. We are still in process. We are all still being created. Thanks be to God.

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