“Balance and Connection”
A sermon given by the Rev. Clare L. Hickman on June 11, 2017
Texts: Genesis 1:1-2:4a; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
Clare L. Hickman
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Ferndale
June 11, 2017—Trinity Sunday
Genesis 1:1-2:4a; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
“In the beginning…” The very beginning. We are delving back into the central truths of our existence here. The deep stuff. The essential stuff about the meaning of life and creation and the nature of reality. In. The. Beginning.
In the beginning, there was chaos. Tohu wabohu, in the Hebrew, which my Old Testament prof translated as “waste, schmaste.” In other words: disorder. In other words: un-creation. In other words: not good.
But the Creator was there. The Holy Spirit was there, moving over the face of all this mixed-up disorder. And the Son, the Word was there, as the Creator spoke that word and brought order to the chaos. Where all had been swirling, formless waste, suddenly there was … the beginning (the Genesis) of something.
There was light. Before, there had been only darkness. But now, there was both: light and darkness. Balance. A world that could move through one to the other and then back again. Over and over, finding warmth and strength, then rest and rejuvenation. Light and dark. It is good.[i]
Then came the separation between the waters of the sky and the waters below. Before, there was all this chaotic mixture that couldn’t seem to do or become anything. Now, there is a sky above, separating the two waters. There is balance. There is a way to interact, with the waters above falling on the waters below (and the waters below replenishing the waters above, because precipitation, condensation, evaporation, right? Right.)
And that’s good too, especially because it makes the whole separation of earth and waters possible. More balance. More life-giving capacity for interdependence. There is earth, for the creatures of the earth, and there are seas, for the creatures of the sea, and there’s still all that air for the creatures of the air. There is separation, and there is balance, and there is interaction. And that, according to the Creator of all things, is GOOD.
It is good, to have light to balance the darkness, to have daytime and nighttime with a light for each. It is good, to have an above and a below. It is good to have earth and sky and sea, all in relationship and harmony with each other. It is good, eventually, to have man and woman as a full reflection of the image of God.
It is necessary and it is good, for this world to contain both light and darkness, earth and seas, above and below, men and women. Otherwise it would be chaos. If there were just one thing (light or darkness, earth or sky, man or woman) there would be no order. There would be no life. There would be no reflection of God in this world.
The central nature of Creation is relationship and interdependence. It is also the central truth of Trinity Sunday. Because the Trinity expresses the essential truth that the Creation is founded upon relationship, interaction and balance. Creation and life require balance, and they require us to come together, to work together. We cannot be single actors. We can’t go it alone, not without denying the image of God within us, and without denying our role in the continuing process of creation. We are connected: with the earth and skies and waters, and all the creatures therein; with God; and with each other.
Because it is GOOD. And disconnection, well … it’s chaos, of a kind. It is bad. It frays at the fabric of Creation, when we attempt to break any of those bonds. When we suggest that we have no responsibility to care for the earth (which was given into our stewardship as a mutual relationship: it provides for us, as we tend to it. Balance. It is Good!). And we fray the fabric of Creation when we act as though we do not need each other, when we pretend that we do not need to care for and be cared for by each other. We break the balance. We make a choice for chaos. For un-making. For destruction rather than creation.
At a fundamental, essential level, we are in relationship with each other, just as God Godself is in relationship. Inextricable, balanced and interdependent. THAT is what “good” looks like! That is the nature of created humanity.
Which is what that Second Corinthians reading reminds us of, and what we remind ourselves of each week when we exchange the Peace. Greet each other, Paul begs us, with a kiss of peace. Remember that the God of love and peace will flow between you when you do. Remember that the love of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit will be between you when you do. Come together, remembering that nothing less than the goodness of Creation hangs in the balance! Come together, especially with those with whom you have disagreed, especially with those you find perplexing or distant, especially with those with whom you have been impatient, or who have been impatient with you. Greet them, across the chasm of all that might be needed.
It does not matter which of you (this time) is more in need of forgiving or being forgiven. It does not matter which of you is in need of kindness, and which has kindness to give. It does not matter if you can’t even tell who is giving and who is receiving, and how the blessing is flowing. The goodness of Creation simply demands that we come together, and recognize that we are in relationship. Recognize that remaining separated (to protect ourselves, or to punish another, or to keep what’s ours, or to nurse a grievance or whatever it might be that urges us to keep ourselves apart), that remaining separated denies the goodness of Creation. Denies the very image of God within us. And, yes, makes it impossible to be a true disciple of Jesus.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” he said in John. And here in Matthew itself, he makes it clear that the way we treat each other (especially those who are least and last and lost) is the way we are treating him.
We are connected in a web of mutual nurturance: with the world, with our God, and with each other. Interconnected and balanced, needing and needed by each other. From the very beginning, to the very end of time. And that, my friends, though it might be scary sometimes, is GOOD. It is very good. May it be so, Amen.
[i] Working Preacher “Sermon Brainwave” podcast SB544-Holy Trinity, posted June 3, 2017.