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A sermon preached at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill on May 22, 2016.
Trinity Sunday; Year C: Proverbs 8:1-4; 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. Amen.

I’m a huge fan of the reality TV show, “Dancing With The Stars.” For those of you not familiar with it, celebrities partner up with professional dancers and compete against each other in weekly elimination rounds to determine a winner of the prized Mirror ball trophy. There are expert judges who critique and score the performances and the general public gets to weigh in each week by voting for their favorite couple. Now in its 22nd season, the show has participants that come from a variety of celebrity: actors, TV personalities, sports figures, and pop culture icons.

This year, one celebrity competitor who continually amazes me personally, and so many others as well, is Nyle DiMarco. Nyle is an actor, model, and spokesperson, who was born into a large multigenerational deaf family. Yes, I said DEAF. He’s an alumnus of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only liberal arts university in the world for the deaf. Nyle was the stand out star and winner of America's Next Top Model's Cycle 22! (Perhaps the number 22 is good for him!) He has gained A LOT of attention for being the first completely deaf contestant on “Dancing With The Stars.”

Regularly relying heavily on muscle memory developed through unending rehearsals, and touch cues from his professional dance partner, Nyle added a new twist this past week to their performance: He danced a portion of their Argentine Tango blindfolded. YES, I SAID BLINDFOLDED! Try to picture the Tango, known for its close holds, walking strides and bent knees, stops and starts, quick leg flips and kicks, where posture and presence are everything. For Nyle, being challenged already, not hearing the music or even a beat, he was temporarily without any visual cues. Now, if that isn’t trust … No, rather … if that isn’t FAITH, then I don’t know what is! Nyle had to trust and have faith in his partner's touch and training, and she had to trust and have faith in his ability and muscle memory. Believe you me - watching them dance together was a powerfully moving and inspiring moment! (It's on YouTube if you missed it!)

Today is Trinity Sunday when we consider how our God, constituted by relationship– the Father with the Son, the Son with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit with the Father – draws each of us into relationship with God and one another. It is in such loving relationships that Truth is discovered. But, as the gospel tells us today, people cannot bear the truth all at once, so the call to active discipleship and practices of faith formation are lifelong processes of learning to be aware of and respond to - learning how to dance, if you will, - with all aspects of God. Like Nyle, we must give our trust over and place our faith in a God who says we are beloved children, made in the image of God.

Guided by that same Spirit, accompanied by Jesus Christ, and having peace with God Almighty, we hear in Paul’s Letter to the Romans about the truth of where Love originates and how it grows in us. Poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, God’s Love gives each of us, and all of us together, a hope that will never disappoint, a hope that directs our dances, even when we feel deaf and blind. It is that hope which reveals to us God's Wisdom, even in the deepest, darkest places of our lives.

We know from Scripture that the Holy Spirit is equated with Wisdom and Wisdom has many faces. It is sometimes portrayed as human and sometimes as divine, and it is often personified as feminine. In the passage from Proverbs, Woman Wisdom is depicted not only as the first creation of God, but also as God’s helpmate, God's partner. See how the language sounds like a formal dance - 'When God drew a circle -- made firm the skies -- established the deep -- assigned the seas their limits -- when God made the foundations of the earth' -- Wisdom was there with God and clearly was God's delight. God choreographed and Wisdom showed the patterns rejoicing in this dance of creation, especially in humanity - we who are also destined to be partners in the dance with God.

In today’s Epistle, Paul describes the life of faith with reference to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Even now, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ, and our hope for the future is grounded in the love of God that we experience through Christ’s Holy Spirit.

And let us not forget in this dance of relationships, God sent the Son to be with us here on earth. In the Gospel from John today, Jesus himself gives us clues on how this will work. Jesus’ ongoing presence with his disciples will be borne by the coming Spirit, who will guide them and communicate to them all of Jesus’ will and glory, as given from the Father. The holy choreography and direction is right there!

Based on today’s readings and the ever growing comprehension of how God moves in my life, I am open to the ancient Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity that imagines the three persons of (1) God, (2) Jesus, and (3) Spirit, to be engaged in a circular dance that seeks to embrace each one of us and all of creation, awakening love and life in us and in all things. And Jesus Christ, the Son of God; crucified, risen, and ascended, is the Lord of that dance in which heaven’s love embraces the whole earth and all of her children.

If you are going to dance, you must first be conscious of the rhythm. There’s a beat. Find the cadence. Pay attention to the rhythm. On “Dancing With The Stars,” the professional teachers constantly try to teach their celebrity students about musicality. The rhythm is part of that. But pay attention to the tempo, whether it’s fast or slow. It is rhythm and tempo that allows two or more moving at the same time to keep from bumping into each other, or stepping on one another’s toes. Rhythm and tempo gets them dancing together. Another aspect of musicality is the actual song they dance to. This added to Nyle's accomplishment, making it so powerful. The song for their Tango is titled "Unsteady." Nyle heard the lyrics ("If you love, don't let go. Hold to me because I'm a little unsteady ..."), then learned the rhythm, the tempo, and the choreography. It is amazing how he responded to his partner in the way that they danced.

A word that comes up in theological conversation when discussing the Holy Trinity is perichoresis. One source I found this past week explains it this way:
“There is a Greek word that has been used to describe something of the life of Divine Unity we worship: (perry-cor-ee-sis). The word literally means ‘dancing around’ or ‘dancing in a circle,’ but Christian theologians have used it to describe this dance of the Eternal-Three-in-One, each person: source, word, and spirit (father, son, and spirit) each distinct yet interpenetrating the other, each pouring out grace and love to the other in the dance.” In such harmony and rhythm with each other, they become One.

And maybe this is how we can imagine the Trinity dancing together: three persons who respond to one another, who are in relationship with each other, which coordinates their movement to the rhythm and tempo that they might dance well together in ways that we find mystifying. Whatever the mystery, we can trust that all three dance as One with us.

Maybe the disciples felt deaf and blind when Jesus was trying to explain how the Spirit was going to be part of the cosmic dance. They couldn't see or hear how this dance would work. But because they trusted Jesus and had faith in God, they followed the Spirit out into the world, carrying this mystical dance of the Three in One - to teach, preach, heal, and baptize.

May we all be similarly trusting and faithful in our own deafness and blindness, and like Nyle DiMarco, I hope we all can inspire faith through our own challenges, remembering the words of the Apostle Paul, that "suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope ... (look up) that hope of the Holy Trinity that directs our dance ... does not disappoint.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.