At a wedding reception Dallis and I attended, it was fun to watch the ways different people have of moving themselves around the dance floor – some with practiced grace and others with reckless abandon. But what impressed me the most was the number of times I saw people dancing in small circles – in groups of laughing, expressive joy!
The Christian faith celebrates the variety of ways we know God – God as Heavenly Parent, God as Beloved Son, God as Holy Spirit. The word Trinity does not appear in Scripture. But the Bible does portray three predominant ways in which we come to know who God is and what God is doing in the world – the Creator God, forming and shaping life; the Redeemer God, restoring life to its original intention; and the Sustainer God, continually breathing new life into all creation.
To know this Trinitarian God is a bit like getting up out of your chair and making your way to the dance floor, where you are invited to join a circle dance, a dance of relationship, in which you become part of the movement of grace, the stirring of joy, the music of the soul. One of the early church fathers, John of Damascus, even talked about the Trinity using the word perichoresis, which loosely translated from Greek means “circle dance.”
In the gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus seems to say that the Spirit is not confined by our beliefs, our expectations, or our literalisms. The Spirit is like the wind – it “blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (3:8). To enter the Reigning of God, to be a part of what God is doing in the world, we must become free to live in the transformative Spirit of God.
The Spirit blows where it chooses, and just try to stop it. The Spirit may even blow through the lives of those who have lots of questions and can’t quite believe, or through the lives of persons of other religious traditions, or even through the lives of those who are antagonistic toward organized religion, because you see, no one can control the wind of the Spirit.
For many of us, this uncontrollable, unpredictable Spirit of God might come into our lives and upset our priorities. This Spirit might come as the wind and sweep away the prejudices we harbor. This Spirit might come as the dew and refresh us, giving us a new way of thinking about things. This Spirit might come as a fire and cause a great burning within us – a refining of our personal faith, a greater sense of urgency about living the gospel.
St. Augustine speaks of the Trinity in this way: “Now, love is of someone who loves, and something is loved with love. So then there are three: the lover, the beloved, and the love.”
A personal faith is a precious gift. It is a relationship formed within the very relationship of God’s Trinity … three expressions of the one God … a dynamic community defined by love.
Thanks be to God for the winds of the Spirit blowing freely, unpredictably, through our world today. Thanks be to the Triune God who draws us into relationship and invites us into the circle dance of life, abundant and free, where together we experience God’s care!
Words and top photo (c) 2012 Mark Lloyd Richardson
Bottom photos (c) 2006 Dallis Day Richardson (Josh & Jenna’s wedding; Left: crazy nephew dancing, and Right: My Mom and me)