Written by: Rachael Keefe

An Invitation to Dance

If Pentecost is a celebration of the Holy Spirit, then Trinity Sunday is an invitation to dance. Yes, I mean exactly what I said. And here’s why… The Trinity is …

An Invitation to Dance

human-750910_1920If Pentecost is a celebration of the Holy Spirit, then Trinity Sunday is an invitation to dance. Yes, I mean exactly what I said. And here’s why…

The Trinity is not something we can logically understand. Theologians have tried for centuries and it literally does not add up. We can get trapped in the language we choose and distracted by the concept of three equaling one. Or we can be still and contemplate the mysteries of the God we worship.

I know it’s not as easy as it sounds. More than 25 years ago I gave my very first children’s sermon. As only a 22 year-old seminarian would do, I chose to do it on the Trinity. The little church had many children under that age of six and they all gathered around and I showed them the new thing I had learned in the cafeteria a few days earlier. I took out a banana, peeled it, and poked my finger down the center of it. The banana nicely separated into three equal parts. The kids all dutifully agreed that I had one banana and three parts. I went on to say that that was how God is – one God with three parts. They all smiled and nodded.

Everything was fine until I asked the final question:  When you have bananas on your cornflakes in the morning, what are you going to think about? One cherubic, blue-eyed, blond, dimpled boy smiles at me and says with a great deal of pride, “God’s bananas.” Amidst much laughter, I said, “That may be true, but that’s not what I was thinking!” And then the moment came to an abrupt end because, well, I am severely allergic to bananas…

I can’t help but think of that children’s sermon fiasco every time Trinity Sunday comes up. None of the lectionary texts really explain it, either. There is Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. Or we can use the traditional Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But the why and how is not really explained very well and our understanding probably is no deeper than Nicodemus’ was when Jesus told him that he had to be born anew.

Taking the Trinity apart is easier. We can grasp God as Creator, God as Redeemer, and God as Sustainer. What is trouble is how they are different and yet the same. This is where dancing comes in.

In addition to never asking open-ended questions in children’s sermons and not playing with things that make me unable to breathe, I learned some other useful things in seminary. One of those things is the word, “perichoresis.” It literally means “inner dance.” I can still see and hear Dr. Loder describing this wonderful inner dance of the Godhead. He was a man in love with this mystery, moved to tears as he spoke to yet another group of seminarians. He described the “perichoretic union” of the Godhead and the mystery of the inter-relatedness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And something stirred deep within me.

Imagine a sacred dance of mystery and love that has gone on and will go on for all eternity. Now imagine that you are invited to participate in this dance exactly as you are. There is joy in this. There is no need to know the steps or have any sense of rhythm. All that is required is to accept the invitation. To say, “Yes!” to the God who created you, redeems you, and sustains you. This is a dance that goes on even when we cannot hear the music. It’s a dance that answers that void that sometimes opens in the middle of our lives. It’s a dance of love, grace, forgiveness that sets us free in ways that nothing else can. I believe the yearning for this dance is what led Nicodemus to sneak out in the night to talk with Jesus. I believe it is the yearning for this dance that will transform the Church as we open ourselves to responding. Our response does not have to match that of generations past, but we must learn our own steps that will invite more people into the dance.

I’m thinking I want to change Trinity Sunday to Perechoresis Sunday and send everyone an invitation to join in the sacred mystery, the inner dance of God. What do you think? Is it a good day to dance?dance-108915_1920

RCL – Year B – Trinity Sunday – May 31, 2015
Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17

Images from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

2 thoughts on “An Invitation to Dance”

  1. I see a real richness in having a Perechoresis Sunday. I also think we can sense and experience the inner dance without necessarily being Trinitarian. Tho raised as such, as I become older, I am becoming more convinced that perhaps Hans Kung was correct saying, in essence, “If we can’t explain the Trinity any better after all these centuries, perhaps we should do away with it.” Just a thought.

    • Fred, I did say in my sermon on this that there could be more than three “faces” of God. Christianity claims three, but the ways of encountering God are beyond counting. For me, in many ways, Trinity is just a beginning, just the conversation starter.


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