Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Divine Fiber Optics

Epiphany 5, February 5, 2012, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church

This morning we baptize a little girl named Trinity.  I first met Trinity she was in her mother's tummy.  At that time her grandmother was very ill and in the hospital.  But her grandmother got better, and Trinity, almost as a sign of hope, was born.

Trinity, what a propitious name!  We normally reserve discussions of the Trinity for Trinity Sunday, and preachers around the church will wrestle with ways to cram what is in all senses a mystery into the small confined spaces in our heads.  Not this morning.  Trinity is a very fitting name.  If the word means anything to a Christian it must mean love.  Trinity, that holy community of the godhead, in which each person, distinct yet fully unified, dances with the others in a glorious dance of love, spinning out of the joy and love they mutually share, the very creation of which this little Trinity is a part.

That is a lot of big churchy words that I don’t even understand, so let’s break it down.  Out of love Trinity is born, of the love of her father and her mother, they were God's helpers in the creation of this beautiful little girl, created ultimately out of the loving, productive, and all-encompassing love of God.  The first thing we can say about Trinity, indeed, about us all, is that she is God's creation, brought forth through human parents by the love of God, and incredibly loved and desired by God.  This comes before original sin, this comes before evil, this comes before willfulness or pride or hurting one another or stealing toys or cookies.  This is first, primary, foundational and essential.

Now, Trinity came to the point in her tender life when she figure out that if she cried at just the right time she could make things happen.  Suddenly her own ideas about the world emerged, sometimes in opposition to the ideas of others.  She had discovered—her free will.  But that free will, like with all of us, began to distance her from those she loves.  There was what she wanted, and then there was what others wanted, and they weren't always the same, sometimes they were even mutually exclusive.  Oh, what to do!  Well, we all know what gets done!  “MINE!” –Oops!  The second thing we can say about Trinity, indeed, about us all, is that we messed it up.  But that does not obliterate or destroy the essential and primordial goodness that resides deep within.  It covers it over, it obscures her vision of it and ours.  It makes it hard for her to live as she once did, in innocence.  Baptism is the initiation of a journey back to the goodness within.

The third thing we can say about Trinity and indeed all the rest of us, is that we are on a journey back to the source, back to the love of God, known deep within our being and then lived out between one another.  It is a journey of learning to wash away all that clutters the view of that good, divine love that lives at the core of each of us.  It is learning to forget and remember, forget that which obscures, and remember the source to which we are called.

Maybe you could liken it to fiber optics.  God is the source light, we are the ends of the chords.  Anything that obstructs that light is our sin, and must be taken out of the way.  But the essential light is always there, the spark of divinity deep within each and every one of us, and indeed, in everything.  In baptism we recognize that God has already placed her little fiber into His glorious light, we ask God to wash away all that might obstruct a total and free transmission of light, and we promise to help her let her light shine brightly as she grows up.

In summary, Trinity, and the rest of us start out good, mess up and get broken, and get called onto the path back to the loving light deep within.

But it's a bigger concept than just baptism.  If we remember that at the core of each of us is something incredibly good, we can value each and every one of us as a potential window into the heart of God.  That goodness just might peek out at us at any moment, and we will see, first hand, up close and personal, the presence of the love of God.  Then we know that the hurt we dish out to one another is not the real us, but something else, the brokenness that we have chosen.  So we can hold one another's offenses lightly, and forgive easily—just as we have been forgiven.  And we can fearlessly, even recklessly, love one another and the world for Christ's sake.

Then we can look for God right in the midst of life.  We see Jesus in the midst of life in the Gospel today.  He heals the sick, He teaches the truth of God, and He casts out demons.  We baptize in the midst of the community this morning.  If the life of God is just under the surface of each of us, then it is just under the surface of all of life.  God will show up as a bit of wonder in the midst of things—in the grocery store, and at school, the office and at formation, at PT, and in the doctor's office—even the dentist's office, under the rug at home, and in the eyes of your puppy who just relieved himself on your rug—

Until we finally see that the one who sees not God everywhere sees God truly nowhere.

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