The Circle Dance

Daily Reading for June 3 • Trinity Sunday

When Nicodemus comes to see Jesus, he comes at night, which is probably the writer’s way of saying that he was in the dark or didn’t get it. Nicodemus is interested in Jesus and what he’s teaching, but he can’t get past his usual way of seeing things. “How can I be born again?” he asks. “I’m already a grown-up.” But as Jesus always seems to be doing, he tells Nicodemus that if he wants to meet God, he’s going to have to let go of those old understandings and see things in a new way. “The wind/spirit blows where it wants to,” he answers Nicodemus, “and you can hear it, but you’ll never know where it came from or where it’s going.” God is always doing more surprising things than we can imagine, right in our midst, if we’re willing and ready to notice.

That’s probably the biggest hint we get about the Trinity—God is always more, and more mysterious and surprising, than we can imagine. The early theologians talked about the three in one as a circle dance—God who creates, the human face of God, and the way God continues to come into our lives, unbidden and unexpected. We experience God in different ways because God is most fundamentally relational.

About fifteen years ago theologian and Roman Catholic nun Sandra M. Schneiders wrote a famous paper entitled, “God Is More Than Two Men and a Bird.” We may use the language of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Old man, young man, the dove or the bird. But it’s just language—it hints at, or points toward, the ways in which we experience God, but it can never fully describe God.

What Nicodemus learns is that if he thinks he knows who God is and what God is all about, then he’s several cards short of a full deck. He cannot predict what the fullness of God is like from just the few cards he has. He has to be willing to let go of his fixed and unchanging ideas. He has to be willing to engage the Spirit and be surprised. We discover God in wrestling with what the Spirit brings—the very wind blows us off our secure footing.

From “Finding God in the Differences” in A Wing and a Prayer by Katharine Jefferts Schori. © 2007. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On View: The Father’s Embrace by Ruth Councell as seen in Art and Faith – A Spiritual Journey at Episcopal Church and Visual Arts

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