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Divine Choreography
Revd Sue Lucas, Sunday, June 15th, 2014
I have a confession to make – yes, another!  I am addicted to ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.  Maybe it’s the feathers and fake tan…but come September, requirement to eat at the table is suspended on Saturday tea time as the Lucases gather with a TV dinner to watch Brucie, Tess and the gang. My favourite year was the one Pamela Stephenson almost won – just to show that being a lady of a certain age is no bar to the odd pirouette or fleckle or being cheek to cheek with a handsome man half your age!

I mention this, because the Greek word that attempts to characterise the mystery of God as Trinity is perichoresis – which as a sense of ‘around’, ‘space’ – and – albeit stretching a point a bit – choreography. To understand God as Holy Trinity, then, is to understand that God’s own very nature is loving relationship; loving relationship between three persons, perfectly equal, perfectly balanced, perfectly interconnecting and yet distinct; moving around one another, yet giving and having space – and we get a sense of this balance, equality, dynamism and mutuality when we watch dancers; the Trinity, God’s very self, is not a static, fixed thing, but an eternal dance of mutuality and loving relationship.

But in the Christian tradition, we are said to be ‘made in the image of God.’  Now, of course, there is much dispute about what that little phrase might mean; does it mean free will and moral choice?  Does it mean the language and speech – through which God creates the world and we go on recreating it?  If we take seriously the core of Christian doctrine though – the Trinity – to be made in the image of God is to be made for, and in loving relationship; to be most ourselves when we are around one another, yet giving one another the space to be. Here, then, is a truth about our human nature; we are not made to be alone; and we are most ourselves, at our best, in relation to one another – whether as sister, brother, parent, child, friend, husband, wife, partner, friend, student – our relationships, at their best, bring out the best in us.

So you and I too are  ‘three in one’; I am your parish priest, and I am also a wife and mother, and a daughter – and in the past I have been, to a couple of generations of students, a teacher. And I’m sure you can think of examples like those for yourself.  And in those relationships, though we are the same person, we express that person-hood slightly differently.

Of course, it isn’t always so in human relationships; our solidarities with one another can be toxic as well as redemptive and fulfilling.  It’s expressed most pessimistically by the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘hell is other people.’ That might sound rather cool when wearing a black roll-neck and beret in a café thick with Gauloise smoke; but there is a truth here, of course; we humans can wound one another terribly, in our relationships to one another; we see some of the worst of this in the news, yet all of us are capable of meanness, of gossip, of biting one another instead of building one another up.  And in society we create social and economic relations that, far from reflecting our equality and mutuality divide us from one another and exclude.  ‘We have wounded your love, and marred your image in us,’ are the words in one form of the confession.  We have – but that Trinitarian image of loving relationship is in us nevertheless; and with God, there are no last chances; because it is the image in which we were made in the beginning, and in which God, our loving Father and creator is constantly remaking us; it is the image renewed in us through Jesus, the Son, God with us, in whom God’s love is made visible in the most direct and concrete way; and it is the image into which the Spirit is constantly stirring and prompting us to grow; for we are invited into that dance of the Trinity, not once, but over and over again; we are remade in the image of God, over and over again; and we are called constantly to live in the truth of God’s love and equality and mutuality with one another – in the image of the God who is love – one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who was, and is, and is to come.  Amen.

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