Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31
John 16: 12-15
After the Day of Pentecost comes a season of rest from church holidays and festivals. We have filled the weeks since last November with Advent and Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter Day and fifty days in which to study and meditate on Easter... until now: Pentecost season. Pentecost reminds us that God gave us the Holy Spirit.
We open this “ordinary time” by calling attention to the nature of God, the Three-in-One. This has always been the nature of God, but we humans have been struggling to grasp it since before Jesus sat down with Nicodemus, a couple of thousand years ago (John 3). A hundred years or so into the Christian era, a teacher named Tertullian invented a word for God’s three-fold nature, and it stuck: “Trinity.” That’s a mash-up of “three” and “unity.”
Christian teachers have devised all sorts of ways to try and communicate the truth of the Trinity, but as Elvis Costello said (originally in reference to writing about music), it’s kind of like “dancing about architecture” – it’s nearly impossible to do.
The Bible’s way of communicating the truth of the Trinity is storytelling. When God was creating the earth, the Spirit was moving over the face of the deep. Prophets foretold that the Son of God would come into the world. Baby Jesus was born in a stable, in a manger. Jesus got baptized, but the Baptizer prophesied that Jesus would go on to baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus conducted his earthly ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus promised his followers that, when he was no longer with them in the flesh, the Father would give the Holy Spirit to them. And that came true after Jesus returned from the dead, after he ascended into heaven, at Pentecost. Do you see in these stories the interplay of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ?
When I read today’s StillSpeaking Daily Devotional,
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I thought maybe it could serve as a way of applying the truth of God the Three-in-One to our stories today. Look in it for the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Keep in mind that Jesus suffered for us, with us. This is written by Vince Amlin, co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and “co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.”
The Years the Locust Has Eaten
"O children of Zion,
be glad and rejoice in the LORD your God.
I will repay you for
the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent against you.
I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions."
- Joel 2:23a, 25, 28
Sometimes biblical narratives of restoration strike me as too simple. Too uncomplicated.
Like when Job receives a new family to replace the one he lost, as though that were an even trade. Or when God promises through Joel, “I will repay you for the years the locust has eaten,” as if good years somehow erased bad.
But trauma echoes. In bodies and communities.
I remember learning in a human paleontology class that signs of childhood malnutrition were present in the fossilized remains of an adult some tens-of-thousands of years later. The years the locust has eaten are written into our bones.
Pain and oppression have lasting consequences, scrawled across generations. And a better world today (or maybe tomorrow?) is not enough to heal past harm. It doesn't begin to be enough.
It's hard to imagine what ever could be.
So God sends a new imagination, pours out a greater vision.
A dream of true restoration. Of meaningful reparations. Of healing, down to the bone.
May all flesh receive it.
Spirit of Restoration, be poured out over us. Give us greater understanding of the trauma that echoes within and around us. And greater imagination for a world in which it can grow quiet and still, truly healed.
[Dan here, again ! ] Look! God creates. People rebel. Jesus calls us to repent, and we are saved. Jesus suffers with us and leads us to new life. The Spirit lends us imagination to see God’s perfect plan. God creates things anew. And around and around.
Come, celebrate the mysterious Trinity.