I’ll bet you know a “Good News/Bad News” joke when you hear one. Good news is great; the bad is a funny punch-line, unless you are the recipient of the joke. The good news for the priest: The Vestry accepted your job description the way you wrote it. The bad news: They were so inspired by it, they also formed a search committee to find someone capable of filling the position.
Today is Trinity Sunday, sort of like a “Good News/Bad News” joke on the church. The Trinity is a doctrine, that isn’t in the Bible. It was coined centuries after Jesus, and is no more understood now than then. The good news is God is three in one and one in three. The bad news: someone asks you, “What does that mean?”
In Isaiah’s day the king has died. God sends Isaiah a vision – the Lord, high and lifted up, enthroned as the ruler of the entire world, surrounded by winged seraphs calling “Holy, holy, holy,” His fullness filling the temple. God’s fullness – could this be a nod toward Trinity maybe as our psalmist today does also? Isaiah’s so caught in the moment of God’s fullness, that when God says he needs a prophet, Isaiah says, “Here, here, me; send me!” Good news, Isaiah’s chosen. Bad news – Isaiah accepts, and will learn if he brings the Lord’s word the people don’t like, they shoot the messenger
In John, Jesus and Nicodemus, a fine leader of Pharisees, have a religious fireside chat. Jesus’ miracles attract Nick’s interest. He wants to know more how Jesus knows God so well. Something’s missing for Nick. Jesus tells him that in order to see the kingdom he’s got to be born from above. Nick thinks Jesus means “born again,” and he must literally – “Go find momma and get born again?” Bad news – Nick’s doesn’t get it. No Nick, it’s from above – it’s spiritual. It’s like the wind, blowing where it will – from beyond us, beyond our control. And it has just blown by Nick, and he doesn’t get it.
The good news: God comes in the Son with pure love for us and all creation. That’s bad news for those who prefer rules to God’s free grace, who decides for God who He can love and accept, and who keep those they think don’t belong – out. Jesus’s news: God can do as God pleases, and if God so loves this world to send His son to save it – and you don’t like it – get over it. We all get the same – God’s justice, which is divine love even if we don’t deserve it. That doesn’t mean when God loves everything about the world, or blesses how we want to be. Divine love doesn’t accept everything. God changes us by His love, transforming what’s wrong within us and among us if we let such love touch our hearts. One day we’ll finally get it – because that love already has us. Such love can only be pointed to – a mystery. It’s called God three in one, the Trinity. It’s an experience of God – busy everywhere – birthing and rebirthing us, blowing, dying, lifting up, saving – loving us into our healing, wholeness, and eternal life until all of us finally arrive home.
In the early church people told stories of experiences they felt were moments of God’s presence as the Father, Son and Spirit. If one of the three shows up, they found the other two had come along as well. It’s like a divine dance of love drawing us in their steps. Talk about Dancing with the Stars – move over Donald Driver.
I experience the divine dance of love if on a dark night, I am smart enough to slow down, look up into the night sky, and realize a vast mystery staring back at me. Same thing happens when I see a full moon glistening on the lake waters. I experience the divine in holy conversations with you, friendships, blessings I cannot explain. I am filled with awe, wonder, and amazement: “Holy, holy, holy.” I am captured by Spirit, blowing, nudging and awakening me beyond myself. When I sense these things just don’t happen. I’ve been born again – into a world – the Creator, who is our Father, loving parent, and Abba, according to the Jesus, the Son, the Father sends. Those are life-changing moments – experiences of God, three in one, bringing us to new birth from above – sort of Trinitarian, you know.
And that’s the good news: God’s got more love for us than we can take in. Even when we don’t know it, feel it, or understand it, that love is there. If we dare open our hearts to God – we might find a loving, gentle wind blowing nudging you. The bad news: we easily forget these moments, or ignore them, don’t notice, or just don’t buy that God loves us so. But the best news: God still so loves us in spite of ourselves – and all this vast, wondrous universe of His making. God doesn’t play good news/bad news jokes with us. In the Trinity of God’s life, we experience good news only – an endless love, that one day, finally brings us all where we belong – into God’s eternal life. And that, my friends, IS NO JOKE – it’s Trinity – and God the Father has taken away the bad news in Jesus Christ, the Son. And when we get it, the Spirit lets us know. Trinity – there: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!