The Dance of the Trinity

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Second Sunday in Easter, Year A May 1, 2011 Second Sunday of Easter, Year A Acts 2:14a, 22-32, I Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31
Easter Sunday April 24, 2011 Easter Day, 2011 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; John 20:1-18
Good Friday April 22, 2011 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, April 21, 2011 April 21, 2011 Maundy Thursday 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011 April 17, 2011 Palm Sunday Mathew 27
Fifth Sunday in Lent – Raising of Lazarus April 10, 2011 Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-45
Fourth Sunday in Lent April 3, 2011 Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A John 9:1-41; Psalm 23
Second Sunday in Lent, Year A March 20, 2011 Second Sunday in Lent, Year A Genesis 12: 1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3: 1-17, Psalm 121
First Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2011 March 13, 2011 First Sunday in Lent, Year A Matthew 4:1-11, Romans 5:12-19, Romans 8:18-25
Ash Wednesday Sermon March 9, 2011 Ash Wednesday Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Last Sunday After Epiphany March 6, 2011 Last Sunday after Epiphany Matthew 17:1-9
Don’t Worry About Tomorrow February 27, 2011 Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Isaiah 49:8-16a; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34
Choose Life February 13, 2011 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37
We are the Salt of the Earth February 6, 2011 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Matthew 5:13-20, Isaiah 58:1-12
Shalom January 30, 2011 Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A Matthew 5:1-12


The Dance of the Trinity

Sermon Date:December 26, 2010


John 1:1-18

Liturgy Calendar:

First Sunday after Christmas, Year A

Many of us have been to stage performances. The audience gathers with anticipation. The lights go down, darkness descends on the audience, and there is a collective breathless hush while the audience waits for the performance to begin.

And then, while the audience remains in darkness, the stage grows light, and the performance begins.

In this particular performance that we imagine on the stage in front of us, three dancers emerge, and we are mesmerized by their exquisite dance.

Finger tips touching, then arms linked, the dancers moving away from one another, then circling back in, the space through which these dancers flow becomes transformed, electrified almost.

Although no words are spoken, the dancers communicate silently with one another, each one anticipating the movements of the others, so that the group moves in what appears to be one motion.

Such an exquisite dance captures us, the audience.

We are captivated by the beauty of the dance, by the simplicity of the dance, as we watch the three dancers merge into one great cosmic dance of joy.

And then, transfixed, we see that this flow of motion is moving toward us, as one of the dancers leaves the light of the stage, and enters into the darkness in which we sit,

And this dancer comes to each of us in turn, and draws us into the dance, and even if we don’t know how to dance, or we are reluctant to enter the circle,

Yet we find that if we dare accept this invitation to go into the light and enter the circle, we become part of that eternal circle of motion.

We find that we too are wordlessly communicating with the other dancers and that we too move into this cosmic dance of joy.

The passage that we have just heard today from the great mystical gospel according to John describes this very dance, the dance of the Trinity, known in theological circles as perichoresis,

an ancient term that goes all the way back to Gregory of Nazianzus, who lived only about four hundred years after Jesus, s one of the great church fathers known as the Trinitarian theologian.

As Christians, we believe that God exists in three equal persons, and as Catherine LaCugna, a contemporary Catholic theologian puts it, the substance of God is the “perichoretic relatedness of three coequal persons.”

These three coequal persons of the Trinity eternally move together in a state of inclusiveness, community and freedom with one another.

We hear this idea in the very first part of John.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

The Word, Jesus,
Who brings all things into being through the work of the Holy Spirit,

And has been one with God from the beginning,

This is the Trinity that we affirm every Sunday in the words of the Nicene Creed.

Theology can be heady, full of dramatic images and thoughts, enough to keep the mind reeling, but what exactly does this cosmic dance have to do with you and me?

Anything other than a mind game, something to puzzle over?

So John, very kindly, at the beginning of his gospel, in addition to laying out the design and dance of the Trinity, brings us into the story, because after all, the good news of Christmas is about how God sends Jesus to us to draw us into this great cosmic Trinitarian dance.

“And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”

“From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace… is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”

Jesus is the dancer who enters the darkness in which we walk, and draws us into the cosmic dance of light—the light that shines so brightly that it can never be overcome by darkness.

And seeing Jesus in that light that shines so brightly, we can see both who God is, and who we have the potential to be.

We see who we have the potential to become, and so we enter into this cosmic dance and become children of God.

Now let’s leave these theological musings, and consider how this cosmic dance plays out in real life.

Maybe some of you read the article in the Free Lance-Star this week about Fred Hargesheimer, a World War II pilot who recently died at the age of 94.

On a hot summer day in June of 1943, Hargesheimer was flying a P-38 over the Japanese held island of New Britian. A Japanese fighter appeared out of nowhere.

His P-38 damaged beyond repair, Hargesheimer scrambled out of the burning plane and parachuted into an endless jungle.

He barely managed to survive for 31 days, until he was found by local hunters, members of the Nakanai tribe.

Now these local hunters took Hargesheimer to their village on the coast, and for seven months they hid him from Japanese patrols.
They fed him. They nursed him back to health as he suffered through two severe illnesses.

Finally, in 1944, Hargesheimer, with the help of Australian commandos, was rescued from the island when he was picked up by a US submarine.

Hargesheimer came home, married, and had a career. But as the years went on, he found that he could not forget the people who had saved him.

He said “The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a debt I had to repay.”

So in 1960, he returned to New Britain, and visited the villagers who had cared for him.

And when he returned to the United States, he reaised enough money to build a school in the village.

Over the next decades to come, Hargesheimer managed to raise enough money to build a clinic another school, libraries in the village and others that surrounded it.

In 1970, after their children were grown, he and his wife moved to New Britain, where they taught in the village schools for four years.

They helped created a local economy for the people based on the oil palms that are native to the island.

And a native teacher at one of the schools says that the people of New Britain are very happy. They will always remember what Fred Hargesheimer has done for our people.”

Hargesheimer was drawn into this cosmic dance of the Trinity.

He used his freedom to move in community and inclusiveness with people on the other side of the world, people who had used their own freedom so long ago to move in community and inclusiveness with him.

This story is light that shines in the darkness, the story of people drawn into the cosmic dance of the Trinity.

The good news of Christmas is that Jesus comes to free each one of us from darkness and to enter into the light of the cosmic dance ourselves.

So as a Christmas gift to yourself that will help that cosmic light to shine in the world,

enter into the dance.

Because when allow ourselves to be drawn into this cosmic dance, we are free,

Free to live as Jesus lived among us,

Free to offer hospitality to the stranger,

Free to live lovingly and nonviolently toward those who hate and oppress us,

And free to live with openness, respect and regard for every single of God’s creatures.

Some of you may be familiar with the Celtic hymn, Lord of the Dance.

I want to end with this hymn because it simply sums up the Christmas message.

I danced in the morning when the world was young
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he

I danced for the scribes and the Pharisees
They wouldn’t dance, they wouldn’t follow me
I danced for the fishermen James and John
They came with me so the dance went on

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame
They ripped, they stripped, they hung me high
Left me there on the cross to die

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he

I danced on a Friday when the world turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body, they thought I was gone
But I am the dance, and the dance goes on

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that will never, never die
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me
I am the Lord of the dance, said he

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he


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