Somewhat regularly my 5-year-old grandson says, hey Gugga, “who is God anyway”? I usually start with saying that I don’t know, that I’m always learning about that; then I segue into something about I think God is your super powers of kindness and Love. Wes being Wes, is fine with this, I think he’s trusting.
On this Trinity Sunday, I’m wondering if the Holy Trinity can help us imagine who God is?
I found this online from: “Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: (are you ready!) “While the Trinity doctrine purports to solve a range of theological puzzles it poses a number of intriguing logical difficulties akin to those suggested by the identity of spatio-temporal objects through time and across worlds…”
I found a much better resource, this great children’s book written by the late Rachel Held Evans and beautifully illustrated by Ying Hui Tan. (I’ll put it in the children’s corner so you can see it up close.)
What is God Like, by Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Turner
Rachel begins by saying that this question of who God is, is a very big one, one that “people from places all around the world have wondered about since the beginning of time.” She says God is too big for anyone to fully see, but we can know what God is like. “God is like an eagle, sharp eyed and swift, with wings so wide you can play under their shadows. God is like a shepherd, brave and good, a protector who loves her sheep so much that she watches over all of them and knows each of their names by heart. God is like a fort, strong and secure with walls that are mighty and safe. Inside there are hidden places to hold you when you’re scared or need a quiet place to rest.” And here, where the kids are in the midst of a cooking project and there is food all over the kitchen: ” God is kind, God is forgiving, God is slow to get angry, God is quick to be glad, God is happy when you tell the truth and sad when things are unfair.” “Keep searching”, Rachel says, “keep wondering, keep learning about God.”
So how can we imagine what God is like? Imagination, that human ability to form ideas or concepts about something which is not obviously present. Imagination is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Imagination is what leads to creativity, and creativity to everything else. God must have had to use the ultimate power of imagination before becoming the Great Maker we believe God to be.
God has given us a fine gift, this gift of imagination. God knew that we, like the disciples, would have difficulty bearing things, that we would need guides along the way. God’s truth, as we know can be difficult stuff; things like love your enemies and do not worry about tomorrow for example. We may not have the answers, but we do all have imagination. Imagination, and all the tools God gives for understanding; some God given, like sight and touch, and some human made. Can our imaginations help us search for ideas about those big questions: who is God? where is God? what is God like, and, as Paul writes, how can God’s love be poured into our hearts, and the Spirit of Truth guide us into all truth.
How can we imagine God in our lives? God in three forms could be a helpful guide.
Have you ever needed a God who is all knowing, all loving, Strong, and sure, like a Mother hen gathering her chicks? This God’s truth is not always easy, but it is always right. This God is the parent who will love you, no matter what? God the Father, God the Mother.
Have you ever known a God who walks beside you, teaching, and encouraging, chastising, and cheering you on? God who endured human pain and suffering and showed us by the resurrection that we don’t need to be afraid of anything. God the sister, God the brother.
Have you ever felt your heart break open and your voice crack when you see the most beautiful sky, or read a poem that speaks to your life or hear music that lifts you up? A friend told me that last Sunday, during the chanting of the creed set to Quentin Faulkners’ beautiful organ music, the hairs stand up on the back of her neck! I’m sure there is a physiological explanation for this, but I believe it’s God the Holy Spirit calling out to us, telling us to pay attention, this is important. Last week in John’s gospel we were reminded that this Holy Spirit, which Jesus called the Advocate, will be sent by God in Jesus name, the Holy Spirit will teach us what we need to know about God’s truth.
Imagine God in a million ways and then, I imagine, we might be better able to understand God’s love and God’s truth and help to spread it in this world.
There are many tools for the imagination and if we look around us here and listen carefully, we will know some of them. We can imagine God’s love and truth in this community of faithful people. We can imagine God in beauty, the flowers and the candlelight, the iconic images, the table and the bread and wine we share, the vessels, and the flowing robes, all ingredients for the imagination. The words we read and the songs we sing. All lovingly human made and all fuel for our imaginations.
The beautiful poem in Proverbs 8 tells us that wisdom and understanding, which God made first, is out there, calling us, raising her voice, in the heights, in the depths of the sea, in front of the town, everywhere, if only we can imagine it.
Here’s a challenge for us this week; let’s try to imagine God every day in a different way. Imagine God and God’s love in glimpses of beauty, birdsong, the flowering tree, and garden, in relationships; the neighbor you don’t know, in the person you lose patience with, in the movement of your very own breath and heartbeat.
God has given us unlimited powers of imagination. We, like the disciples, will always have difficulty bearing and understanding the truth, but the Spirit of Truth will come, if only we can imagine it. Amen
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