In his wonderful little book Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner defines theology:
Theology is the study of God and his ways.
For all we know, dung beetles may study us and our ways and call it humanology.
If so, we would probably be more touched and amused than irritated.
One hopes that God feels likewise.
Trinity Sunday is an especially aromatic trap for dung beetle preachers, those among us who love to burrow around in deep thoughts that leave church folk confused and God’s nose unimpressed.
God is three in one and one in three, a beautiful mystery often mistaken for a math problem, as if God were something we can solve.
But if we can fully understand something, why would we worship it?
And its not for lack of information; walk around a seminary library sometime.
Step outside into creation.
Delve into Scripture; dive into prayer.
God doesn’t hold back; God overwhelms us, leading my wise theology professor David Yeago to remark that the sacred mystery is not what we don’t know, it’s what we do know.
It is too much to take in, too much to comprehend or master, which is the point.
Trinity Sunday and good theology drive us to awe and humility.
We need these gifts more than ever.
Today we add our prayers and blessings upon graduates launched into the world, likely with
half-truth platitudes like “now your education really begins.”
No, your education will continue, and shift from classroom to world, which is a bit larger and
more complicated, yet many students experience far more in formal education than others who have narrowed their vision and reduced their world to a manageable size.
Fish feel bigger in a smaller pond, and that threatens humility and perspective.
We are suffering enough of that already.
New graduates, old church members, and everyone else, please don’t compromise, squander, or lose these precious gifts.
Without humility and perspective, politics rot into us versus them.
Dialogue and debate wither into personal contests.
Relationships shrivel into power struggles.
Creatures who once laid on the ground looking into the endless night sky now bloviate into a tiny screen in an insulated basement.
It has become so perilously easy for us to feel superior and entitled and right.
We inflate ourselves and reduce the world and suffer the sad, violent consequences of missing humility and perspective.
Celebrating God as mind-bending holy trinity can help right-isze us, dislodging and restoring us by removing us from our little ponds and throwing us into the ocean.
Yes, it’s scary.
It’s scary leaving the classroom for the job market and the so-called real world.
It’s scary leaving the country to live in a new language and culture.
It’s scary leaving certainty to enter the far grander adventure of faith.
It’s scary to think about today’s readings and realize what they mean.
God the unequaled has an equal companion named Lady Wisdom, the feminine power and brains behind creation, which God later entered as a poor immigrant baby boy.
God showers us with dignity and honor and forgiveness and love and power we could never
deserve or manage.
God sends the Holy Spirit, whoever or whatever that is, poured out like a rainstorm into our
hearts and dispatched like a defense attorney into our lives.
This counselor will guide us into all truth, because truth is not a concept, it’s a being.
Truth is not a tool or a skill or a possession or an achievement or a reward or a weapon;
it’s a universe in which we are both tiny and treasured, so vulnerable and so valuable.
There is far too much for Jesus or any other preacher to tell or listener to handle, so the Spirit comes to hold our trembling hand and walk us into the overwhelming world like a kindergarten teacher leading a field trip to everywhere.
God, creation, life: there is so much to discover, too much to take in, wondrous and terrifying.
God shares it all—the Father with Jesus, and Jesus with us, because God’s generous love is broader and deeper than just our endless yet expanding universe.
And God’s generous love is small enough to fit in your hand and disintegrate in your mouth and float in your bloodstream and penetrate even shriveled, double-locked human hearts.
And, and, and … there is so much more.
You will never run out of wonder or reason either to worry or to worship.
And you, and everyone around you, is a miraculous universe too, fearfully and wonderfully
made in the image of God with more value than you can imagine, much less calculate.
That doesn’t stop us from trying.
We are collectively addicted to measuring, sizing up, forever trying to determine or
assign numerical worth in dollars, pounds, likes, steps, whatever.
If you must do that, if you simply can’t help yourself, look at your neighbor, and look into the
mirror, and use God’s holy number: Three-in-One.
Which is not a number at all.
Which is the point.