Praying with our feet

This is my sermon from today, Trinity Sunday. If you’d like to read the lectionary, you’ll find it here. Near the end there is a reference to rainbow masks. As part of our Pride celebration, which also included having a table at NJ Pride, we wore rainbow masks this week.

Today is Trinity Sunday and we are reminded that the nature of God is unity.  God the transcendent, God the incarnate, God the imminent, all one God.  God the creator, redeemer, and sustainer – not separate but one whole, in relationship with and to God’s self and to us. 

This is so very hard to understand.  This Sunday is often talked about in preaching circles as “heretical” Sunday because it is so easy to move into heresy when talking about the Trinity.  I think the Trinity is one of those truths that might be described “within our reach but beyond our grasp.” (borrowing from Rabbi Heschel) 

We are created in God’s image, though no one of us can ever even begin to come close to what that means, to being a full reflection of the divine.  Together – and that means all of us – we can get ever so incrementally closer, but it still is one of those truths that it beyond comprehension and one that takes focused intention, effort, and energy as we seek understanding.

That brings me to the question I ask myself and you all the time: “If we believe in God, if we trust in God, if want to follow Jesus, how do we live our faith?”

Today’s reading from Proverbs has something to say about that.  The last verse feels like the place we need to start:

              rejoicing in his inhabited world, and delighting in the human race.

God delights in the human race.  Not just one of us. Not just some of us.  The whole human race.  All of us.

On this day that we will be at North Jersey Pride, God delights in all of us.

On this day after some of us were at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C, God delights in all of us.

In this week before Juneteenth – and if you’re wondering what is Juneteenth, it is the recognition that it was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation that the enslaved people were told they had been emancipated – that is Juneteenth.  In this week before Juneteenth, God delights in all of us. 

In this time in which it is all to clear that we do not understand what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves, when we let hatred and vitriol and division lead to unspeakable violence and death, God delights in all of us.

No matter who we are or where we’re from, God delights in us.

No matter what we look like or who we love, God delights in us.

No matter the language we speak or the way we know God, God delights in us.

Sometimes that seems as incomprehensible as the Trinity.   How can God delight in us, how can God delight in me, when it is so clear that we repeatedly fail to live into being created in God’s image? When we repeatedly fail to live into the image of a loving, merciful, compassionate, healing, and reconciling God?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that he understands how hard it is to understand how to live into this truth.  He says, “I have more things to tell you but you cannot bear them now.”  He also says that the Spirit, the third person of the one God will be among us to lead us into deeper understanding.  And, lest we forget, that is the same Spirit who descended upon the disciples and the crowds on Pentecost, opening God’s Word so that all could hear it in the way they needed to hear it.  That is the same Spirit who abides in and with us, and who works in and through us.

And that brings me right back to the question: “If we believe in God, if we trust in God, if we want to follow Jesus, how do we live our faith?”

And once again, the reading from Proverbs has something to say, this time in the very first verse:

              Does not wisdom call and does not understanding raise her voice?

When we know that God delights in the human race, we listen for the voice of the Spirit.

We trust the Spirit to help us discern how to act.

And then, because we are created in the image of God and followers of Jesus, we raise our voices, literally and figuratively.

First of all, we raise our voices in prayer.  We ask for the guidance and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and we ask for the courage and the strength to follow where we are led.

And then we act, which is sometimes known as “praying with our feet.”

We align our voices with and for those who suffer every day from injustices that are really hard for those of us who don’t experience them to imagine.

We march.  We rally.

We send in letters to the editor, if we’re in a place where such a thing still happens.

We write to and we call our elected officials.

We vote.

We reach out to our siblings who are hurting and suffering and tell them clearly and unequivocally that they are loved by God and that we love them, too.

We give them space to express their sadness and their grief, their frustration and their anger, their hopes and their pride.

We do not claim to be experts but to be allies and people who seek deeper understanding in ways that do not put the burden of our understanding on them.

We recognize and acknowledge, publicly as well as privately, that we do not have to have had the same life experiences to know that these our siblings speak necessary truth.

We love them and we honor them.  We celebrate them and their lives, with a whole lot less of a focus on how they are different from us and whole lot more about how we are all beloved children of God.

We lift our voices, literally and figuratively, always seeking deeper understanding of how to reflect the unity of God.

We do all of these things that people of faith and good conscience do to show in real ways – and those are the ways that matter now and in the future – that we share God’s delight in the human race.

And then we keep doing it.  We do it as often as we have to until “this world becomes the dream God has for it, rather than the nightmare it is for so many.” (The Very Rev. Michael Curry)

I pray for you and with you and for us that we continue the ministry of outreach and social justice that is such a hallmark of this place.  We each have a voice – we’re expressing it nowb in a fun way with rainbow masks, of all things – but let us together lift our voices.  Let us together pray with our feet.  Amen.

Copyright 2022 The Rev. Paula J. Toland

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