Of difference and goodness

9 Sep

Thanks to all who have responded to my thoughts about Trinity and about ‘sin’.
It has been a challenging discussion. More of that now …

But I want also to reflect something further in relation to the disaster in New Orleans. We are not only weak, or wicked, we are also at times surprisingly good, generous and hospitable.

The two topics are in fact connected.

How heartening it was to hear on the radio stories of people in many
neighbouring areas, in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, where ordinary
people in towns and cities have pitched in to help. I heard the first
hand accounts of people who have taken into their own homes total
strangers, families in need of somewhere to stay. One fellow described
how this came about through their local church. The church is doing
this kind of thing. Some have the home and are willing to give
hospitality to strangers in need (a good biblical term). Others are
providing support, with food, clothing and the like.
This is community, and it shows the real heart of a nation, a people,
despite what we may think of the actions of governors, mayors and
It also challenges the one-sided idea of humans as sinners, not capable of goodness, mercy and generosity.
No, there is indeed much in human life that is ‘the image of God’. How crucial it is to remember both sides.

Then, too, I am grateful to those who have offered different views about the scripture passages in some of my posts. One colleague sent me his sermon on the same passage about the Canaanite woman.
These comments and posts remind us of the reality of what we have said about the Trinity. There is difference, real difference, within the community of faith.
If we use the image of the circular dance, or remember Rublev’s icon of the three sitting around the table, it makes a difference where we are —as we say commonly, ‘where you’re coming from’.
There are differences. How is it that they do not divide? Well, they can. If our differences are shared so as to set the other right, for example, then they divide us. But if we share them as part of the dance, the relationship of belonging and looking to one another, moving towards and apart, then we come to see what the other sees, and to say something different because of that experience.

Just through receiving these comments this week, I have come to add this point to my talk with the young people about the trinity: the trinity is the story of our relationship, with each other.
It is the God-story, as Moltmann would put it, of our experience of Christian community.
We are called into and given a community in which love makes it possible to share differences without division. Only one love ultimately makes this possible. The divine tri-unity is the source and the story of this love.

Young people, – and older! – wonder what the trinity is about. Is it just an idea, one asked, which someone dreamed up, which you are supposed to believe. I want to suggest to them that we live in this community of mutual indwelling; we practice this life; we share trinitarian perichoresis,  the community of the Spirit. Through this community, that’s how we come to know what the trinity is about. It’s something we give to each other and receive from each other, together.

We have been sharing some of this, in this blog discussion, I reckon! Thanks to you each, and to God.

And a special blessing for Jason Goroncy who goes to Scotland next week to study for his PhD.

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