Song of 3YM
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
In the name of God, the Lover, Beloved and Love itself. Amen.
The gospel reading was about the Great Commissioning, we all commissioned to go out into the community, don’t stay in this safe space, but move out into the community. Since retiring from school ministry at the beginning of the year, I have had more time to go out into the community.
In January I applied to join a Rock Choir, I am sure some of you may have heard of Jonathon Welch who started the School of Hard Knocks. Jonathan and his husband Matt moved to the Redlands, where I live, during COVID. The Rock Choir was no ordinary choir, we were people from all walks of life, young, old, professional, retired, working, students from university and school, and people with different abilities. We had 9 weeks to learn 12 rock songs and then sing at two performances at the Redlands Performing Arts Centre. The two concerts were sold out, so we performed to over 1,000 people.
Why talk about a Rock Choir on Trinity Sunday, one of my favourite times to preach? Well, this was a choir with a difference, we did not have to audition, we were not asked if we were alto, tenor, bass, or soprano, or if we could read music, or even able to sing, and we did not have to have any previous choir experience. As I said earlier, we were people from all walks of life with varying abilities, physically, mentally, and I would like to say spiritually.
I joined the Rock Choir with my eldest grandchild, Aneira, who for the context uses they/them pronouns, who could read music and sings in their school choir. I was also with a friend who had no trust in their voice and could not read music like me, and another who could read music. I honestly thought it would be great fun and easy. I was wrong, it was hard work! Not only did we come together at rehearsals, each week, and some of those rehearsals were all day, but we also had to practice through the week. In the end I had songs like Beds are Burning or Someone to Love going through my head all night!
But it was an incredible experience and over time we became a community, I don’t think we really thought about that at first. For those 9 weeks people with different abilities from different walks of life came together as one, we became an inclusive community. The Trinity, three yet one, One God yet three, each working together, mutuality, inclusivity, belonging, and a union of love.
For me the Trinity reveals the way of being community, a God who dances the dance of love with us. And we are called not to be spectators of this extraordinary God of love, but to be part of God’s all-embracing love. My favourite icon depicting the Trinity is the Rublev icon you will see on your booklet. What I find striking about it is that there is a mutuality, they are sharing a meal, and that there is space at the table for all of us.
Recently I saw an icon of the Trinity by Kelly Latimore which I had never seen before. I found it thought provoking as the Trinity is portrayed as three females of different races. It made me ask, why depict God as female when we are told God is neither male nor female. I think partly because for 2,000 years we have been told God is male, and the artist wanted to confront us, and make us think. In the Trinitarian formula which we hear every time we gather as a Christian community, we hear that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and this formula that uses male pronouns, can exclude others. It also reveals that names matter, that pronouns matter. Teresa Brown suggested, people who identify with different pronouns end up being unseen and silenced. Naming matters. Brown goes on to say, “names evoke a sense of the seen and unseen, of knowing and being known. Names can reveal and conceal.” A lot to think about.
In the Moses reading God revealed self, as “I am.” I believe that God is beyond gender, and beyond human constructs, its just that we find it hard as we are in a world that likes to label and name, sometimes to the detriment of the other. Yet the Trinity reveals, inclusivity, a God of love, and relationships.
The Corinthians reading, reveals a God of love who invites the community to live in peace. We hear the Grace being evoked, “the God of love and peace be with you”. It seems that there is hope within community, and within this community, difference is celebrated. We live in such a diverse world, with diverse world views, and the Cathedral is no different. We all come from different walks of life with different experiences. It is in talking, sharing our stories, and really listening to each with respect and understanding that we are somehow able to hold the messiness of community with love.
God is love- God reaches out, invites us into relationship. The challenge is that God reveals unconditional love. We are invited into that love. God love us and asks us to love all people, those who we love, who are easy to love, but also to love those who we find hard to love, who are different, who are not like us, who we disagree with, who are new in our community, who are still trying to feel part of the community.
The Trinity, neither male nor female. There is space at the table for all of us. There is space at the table, we are invited to join the dance, to sing, no matter what our abilities and experiences, because it is being together, bringing our voices together that we become one. There will be times of disagreement, of tears, laughter, pure exhaustion, and times we would rather run away than start and work hard to grow this community to its full potential. But God shows us a different way, we are never alone for as Moses revealed, we have found favour in God’s sight.
The Rock Choir has grown and has now morphed into several new choirs, new people are joining, because they saw our performance and wanted to be part of an inclusive community. As Rachel held Evans suggests, “The Holy Trinity doesn’t need our permission to make all things new.” God’s presence, God’s love is there, making all things new. We are invited to share our faith in a God who loved us so much they were willing to give their life for us. To invite, welcome and make space for those who join us, no matter how they define self.
As we continue our journey towards welcoming our new Dean, we pray for Naomi and ourselves always remembering that wherever we may be, God is with us, let us recognise God within every person we meet this week, both here within our community and hopefully beyond.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen