Monday Week 8 Year I Sunday Week 11 Year A

Trinity Sunday Year A

Print Version May 30th, 1999

Somebody’s hiding here. Or, truer to tell, someone’s being hidden.
E-mail! All those messages flying up and down the wires. All that urgency of communication. And what’s in these person-to-person packages of such life and death import? Jokes, get-rich-quick schemes, and invitations to porn. Isn’t technology wonderful?
OK, somewhere in there, there are messages that make a difference: memos that matter, real news, love letters, long-lost friends. And there’s that whole class of e-mail whose principal purpose is in the passing on. We’re back to jokes. Someone has a joke from someone and they forward it to you—Rob’d like this—and you forward it to someone else—hey it beats expressing yourself—and pretty soon the original three-liner is buried in pages and pages of headers and “hi”s and all the hokum of electronic intimacy. Is it worth digging for the gold in all the dirt? Is it even going to be gold if we find it? We forwarders of such stuff recognise this because we try and sell the product with our first line—”You know I don’t usually send this kind of stuff but this you’re really going to like.” As if!!
But sometimes the message isn’t a joke—sometimes it’s a call to action, a petition, or breaking news, or a virus warning—but still it gets buried in pages of passed-on waste. Can you be bothered to go looking? And if you do you might easily find that layers and layers of quotation have not only buried the message but transformed it. Somewhere along the line someone has decided that they have purpose for the message that seems to them to fit but which would horrify the original sender. Claims for one cause taken over and used as evidence by the opposition. But that’s cyberspace—you speak and your voice roams the wireways until nobody cares enough to pass it on.
Care is the key. Care is what keeps the message alive and care is what trivialises it, distorts it, uses it for other ends. But somewhere, somewhen, there was a sender.
It’s the sender that’s being hidden today. Only half hidden but enough hidden to frustrate. There’s a God here trying to get a message across but generations of care have overlaid that message with others—well-meaning but bland in comparison, even contradictory. How do we let God speak? How do we let the Sender come out from behind other people’s words?
“What are you talking about?” I can hear you thinking … Well listen to God’s self-description: “Adonai, Adonai, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” Then listen to Moses as he is bowed down in response: “oh, we are a stiff-necked people, so pardon our wickedness and sins.” It’s not that he’s wrong, it’s just that he doesn’t seem to be listening to what God is saying so when the message is passed on the meaning is muddied.
Or take Paul. There’s a message in that greeting he uses and the message is pure blessing: “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the companionship of the Holy Spirit, be with you.” But Paul has to wrap the unconditional beautiful blessing with well-meaning conditions: if you mend your ways, if you agree with one another, if you live in peace.
And finally, even John, even in this most famous passage, has to wrap the good news in bad. What could be better and brighter than this: God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that all who believe in him will not perish but will have life. God didn’t send the son into the world to condemn us but so that we might find safety.” But then John has to go on and talk about condemnation all the same.
We all do it—we all take the message—and precisely because we care—we send it on with our own words watering down the wonder of it. And all I’ve just said is no exception—I’ve added a layer of language to the voice of God who is beyond all words. But that God wants to speak—I’m convinced of it—wants to shout through the wrappings of scripture and get to us. If we take God at her word, that seems her sole passion in life—to get through to us. And we, we keep on taming God. But he is not tame.—God is beyond tame, beyond wild, just as God is beyond gender. God is the source of all the passion our hearts can only hint at. He is the reality that our deepest desires only dimly reflect. She is the life that will not be contained, wrapped, or watered down. And he—she—anything but it—wants to speak to you today. If Trinity means anything it means that.
God so loved the world that she parted with her only child so that the world might live. He sent him into the world to bring us all back home and not to drive us away.
Who? Adonai, merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the friendship of the Holy Spirit be with you today and forever.

Entry Filed under: Berkeley,Homilies


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