Yesterday was Trinity Sunday. I intended to post this entry then, but found it difficult to write. I had made what I considered to be the usual preparations, reading and praying with the scriptures this week, and also consulting a few other sources which I anticipated would provide for helpful inspiration or direction. But when I sat down to write, several times, I could not come up with more than a marginal paragraph.
Then last night it hit me, the mistake I made. I know that the Trinity is all about relationship, both amoung the three divine persons, and also and importantly with us. Much more than any doctrinal statements, this history of the God’s relationship for our benefit is revealed in the scriptures and also in each of our individual and communal lives. As I was contemplating what to write, I had assumed that the message would be in this history of relationship. That was my mistake. Today, I think that the message is not only in the history, it is also in the future.
God’s power manifest in the Exodus is not only about saving a group of exploited immigrants from the harshness and hopelessness of four centuries of slavery. It is also in giving them an experience and a story which would provide for their national identity formation and a future full of hope. This story is one that will bind them together during difficult times and also provide for renewed inspiration in similar situations of trauma and loss. By remembering God’s faithfulness in the past, they can also be assured of the continued blessing in the future, even if it is not always visible in their immediate context. Memories are not just stories of our history, they also help to disclose and orient the hope for our future.
Speaking for myself, I know I can look at my past and see the trauma and loss clearly. But sometimes the magnitude of that pain, even though it is in the past, can still cloud the reality of what God has done, and is still doing in my life, to bring wholeness and healing. I know that God is present and active, but because the end of the story (of my life) is not written yet I am not exactly certain how all of the details will fall into place. But I really do have faith that those details will ‘fall into place’ so to speak.
The story of Moses is a fascinating one to me. According to our tradition, he lived 120 years. He spent 40 years in the desert with the Hebrews and an equal amount of time living in both Egypt and then in the desert with his father-in-law who worshipped YHWH, the Priest of Midian. God spent 80 years preparing Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. God must be a very patient person. I must confess, I hope that it does not take God 80 years to prepare me for whatever it is that I need to do. I am not sure I can be quite that patient.
The gospel reading for yesterday’s feast is from the very end of Matt’s gospel. It narrates some of the final instructions of Jesus to his followers. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This gospel probably came to its final form about 50 years after the end of Jesus’ life on earth. This means that the community had a lot of time to reflect, not just on the events of Jesus’ life, but also on the significance of Jesus’ life for their own lives and times. And even after 50 years, the community is still confident that Christ has given them a global mission and a promise. “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” What an incredible testament to their living faith.
About 10 years ago, a friend invited me to join an intentional community house in San Francisco. There were five of us in total, all lay women. We moved into a five bedroom home in the Mission district, which is perhaps the oldest neighborhood in San Francisco and named for the first Mission church in the City founded by Spanish colonists in 1776. Today the neighborhood retains its Hispanic character, but primarily due to a great the number of immigrants living there. It’s a really great neighborhood, even if one needs to be bilingual to get a job scooping ice cream. Fortunately, there were other jobs for which I was qualified.
Four of us had studied together at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, and the fifth had recently finished a time as a Jesuit volunteer in the area. Three of us were teaching theology or doing campus ministry at a local Catholic high school or university, and two of us worked for non-profits doing either advocacy for civil rights or work with at risk youth.
As we were getting settled, it was suggested that we name the home. Sara proposed that we call our new home “Trinity House” and there was an immediate agreement. Erin had a beautiful painting of three women dancing; we hung it by the front door to remind all that entered of the chosen character of our house. As we were growing in our own relationships as friends living in community and offering hospitality to others, we were also creating a home for the Trinity in the heart of the Mission. And that is exactly with the Trinity belongs, with us, in the heart of the Mission.
“I will be with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)