Dancing with God 10-9-16

Today I’m exploring the claim that God is the dance that is in the very Being and makeup of reality, what we call the Trinity. The Trinity is never explicitly outlined in the Bible, but the more early Christians understood Jesus Christ to be part of God from the very beginning, the more they worked to explain how that worked. Their brilliant solution was the theological concept of God as Three in One, Creator, Christ, and Spirit. Listen for the unchained Word of God

2 Timothy 2:8-15 Remember that Jesus Christ, a descendent of David., was raised from the dead.  This is the Gospel I preach; in preaching it I suffer as a criminal—even to the point of being thrown into chains—but there is no chaining the word of God! Therefore I bear with all of this for the sake of those whom God has chosen, in order that they may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus, and with it, eternal glory. You can depend on this:  If we have died with Christ, we will also live with Christ If  we hold out to the end, we will also reign with Christ.  If we deny Christ, Christ will deny us. If we are unfaithful, Christ will remain faithful, for Christ can never be unfaithful. Keep reminding people of these things.  Warn them before God against quarreling about words, which is of no value and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

October 9, 2016

Generous Orthodoxy: Dancing with God

For the last three years I have enjoyed the privilege of working together with Matthew Phillips-English in creating worship for this church. As most of you have probably heard by now -(if you read your electronic newsletter!) – Matthew is going to be leaving as of November. He was promoted in his job at Penn and they are requiring more weekend hours of him and this is making his job as Music Minister here difficult to do.

I hope over the next few weeks that you will let Matthew know how you have appreciated his ministry here – remind him of some of the specific things you have appreciated. I’ll never forget the Harvest altar we created last fall, singing “Trading My Sorrows” and “All My Days,” and, of course, the Easter confetti cannon. Lots of great memories….

The transition period we are facing for the next couple of months is a difficult one for us as a congregation. Our music program is changing, but we are not sure exactly how. We will be looking for a new music director to help guide us. We start that process Tuesday evening. Please join us if you are able.

In our music as in other areas, we have been aiming for a kind of very generous orthodoxy – appreciating and utilizing our United Methodist and Christian tradition of great music and generously offering it to new generations in ways that incorporate styles they can appreciate. Our music praises God, Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit. Just as John Wesley did, we proclaim that message with music of our own time and place. We do this because we are called to be the light of Christ for new generations in our neighborhood and in our world.

Matthew has opened up some doors to us using some different styles of music in worship, and we still have some learning and growing to do. And that will come with a new director. So, when facing a difficult task or transition where do we turn for help? Scripture is a good first step.

As it happens, both our readings today address people who were going through difficult transitions and trials. Both passages speak to people who have actually been persecuted or imprisoned for their faith, and who remain faithful and full of praise. The Psalm celebrates God’s deliverance through the parting of the sea, as our Jewish brothers and sisters commemorate this week through Yom Kippur starting on Tuesday evening. 2 Timothy celebrates God’s deliverance through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

In this sermon series, I’m working to connect these two acts of saving grace through the powerful Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Richard Rohr writes in his new book on the Trinity, “’I’m convinced that beneath the ugly manifestations of our present evils—political corruption, ecological devastation, warring against one another everywhere, hating each other based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation—the greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound and painful sense of disconnection. We feel disconnected from God, certainly, but also from ourselves (our bodies), from each other, and from our world.”

Rohr argues that the doctrine of the Trinity can actually overcome these basic issues of disconnection, because of its modeling of connection and unity. Early Christians – as they struggled to comprehend Jesus as the Christ and totally one with God – began to understand God as three ‘persons,’ three separate but totally connected parts of God. The idea celebrates God’s complete delight in the diversity of creation – God’s unity rather than uniformity.

In the Trinity we understand that God is all about relationship and connection. The grace and love of God, and the grace and love in our relationships is exactly what gets us through difficult times, connecting us and reconnecting us when we feel lost or distraught.

In the Trinity we know God as a dance- a constant flow of love and relationship, which dissolves any sense of disconnection. Rohr says, “The principle of one is lonely; the principle of two is oppositional and moves you toward preference and exclusion; the principle of three is inherently moving, dynamic, and generative.” Sorry for the big words, but this makes total sense to me, despite my wife being Unitarian.

When we do the benediction each week in the name of God our Creator – the Source of all things, Being itself, the Father and Mother of all – and in the name of Christ our companion – the renewing and saving force in the universe, the Son and our Brother – and in the name of the Holy Spirit of Love, sustaining power and comfort, synthesis and uniter – when we bless our children and each other in that name, we are invoking God who participates in all life and who dances within Godself and with us to create, renew and sustain all that lives.

“Nothing can stop the relentless outpouring force that is the divine dance.” Richard Rohr. It is that divine dance, that endless grace that deep reality that we celebrate each Sunday in worship and that we call on whenever our lives get difficult. It’s that divine dance that makes music such an important and sustaining part of our celebration each week.

So we give thanks to Matthew for evoking the dance, helping us to celebrate God’s presence and power, and we look forward to the next phase of the dance in our midst.