The Moreness of God – on Trinity Sunday

Sermon – David R. Weiss – June 12, 2022
Pilgrim Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN
Texts: Psalm 8, Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 and John 16:12-15

So, it’s Trinity Sunday, and I must confess, I’m not much interested in reflecting on the sacred mystery of the godhead: three persons in one divinity … whatever that means.

Like you, I am reeling from the rising gun violence in our country—and our seeming inability, either politically or culturally—to stem access to assault weapons or our love affair with violence.

Like you, I am torn over the racial injustice, the roots of white supremacy that reach everywhere in our society, our synods, our lives—and our determination to change the subject rather than repent.

Like you, I am transfixed (all over again) by the spectacle of January 6, the fragility of our democracy, and the rising threat of authoritarian white “Christian” nationalism that seems hellbent on making America “great” again by erasing voting rights, reproductive rights, and pursuing a xenophobic assault manner of civil rights.

Like you, I am anguished and terrified at the planetary crises (climate and so much more) that are ready to unravel the only world we have ever known—already in our lifetime and echoing across the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren.

And we’re here to talk about how the unseen dynamics of divinity itself are inter-related, three yet one—not three gods, but neither one simple God, but a sacred mystery?

Trinity Window, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Liege, Belgium

I don’t think so. Unless—

Unless that holy mystery somehow addresses the anxiety and injustice and outrage of this precarious moment.

Here is a long sweep of history overly simplified, but condensed to get us to where we need to be.

The Bible nowhere lays out an explicit doctrine of the Trinity. It doesn’t even very effectively hint at it. Even in John’s gospel, which is sort of a prequel to the doctrine, you get words stumbling around as they do in today’s reading, making as much nonsense as real sense if we actually attend to them.

What the Bible does hint at is a Moreness to God. An alluring complexity beyond understanding.

In the reading from Proverbs we have an attempt to name how divinity drips and dances, laughs and delights throughout creation. Personified as Wisdom, an attribute of God or a partner with or within God, the energy of the sacred spills into the world as pattern, beauty, system, purpose.

Across the New Testament we encounter a multitude of voices that wrestle with the astonishing reality of Jesus. A person who seemed more fully human than was humanly possible. Not because of some halo above his head, but on account of his ministry at the margins, his redeeming welcome to outcasts, his boundary-breaking bread-breaking—his very gritty embodiment of grace.

On account of his ministry—and then his shattering death, and then his wholly unexpected ability to regather his followers into the church—these voices are compelled to wonder, how then do we speak of Jesus?

John’s gospel finds a dozen different ways to wonder whether somehow the Divinity behind all that is, the Divinity that spilled over creation, the effervescent Moreness of God, was deeply present in Jesus.

It fell to the early church fathers to debate, argue, accuse, and condemn one another until the first official “doctrine” was developed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 and refined over the next hundred years or so. A refinement ongoing still.

But for all of the ink spilled and insults hurled and condemnations declared, Augustine, who wrote an entire book on the doctrine, comes closest to the truth when he remarked that finally the Trinity is a fence around a mystery. It speaks the Moreness of God, but it hides as much as it reveals. Ultimately, all our words fall short.

This much we can say: the mystery behind the fence is Love. Anything more—mapping the respective roles of the Three Persons, their exact relationship to each other, and the manner by which they are at once Three yet One—any of that is rampant speculation. Distraction. It pretends that human intellect can apprehend the inner workings of God.

The Truth is that naming God as Trinity—even as the words themselves twist in the Wind—simply says that the very ground of God is love. Divinity itself is not solitary because love is not solitary. Somehow—and this is the fence, not the mystery itself—somehow Divinity is multiple-yet-undivided: such that the very ground of holiness is love-flowing-in-community. The words barely do it justice. We come to the edge of God, and it is as though we sense a blazing brightness just beyond—or an absolute darkness that can’t be pierced—or a rushing wind—or a complete stillness. And all we truly know is that this which is Beyond us is full of love for all that is.

Everything else is speculation or distraction. But this small glimmer is enough.

We used to think that if we traced material reality all the way down, we could find tiny individual pieces: molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons. That ultimately the universe was comprised of the tiniest bits of stuff, pulled apart. Each alone.

But what we have come to understand is that even material reality at its most basic is relationship. No thing exists apart from its boundness to everything else. If we try to put it into words we might say, the very baseline of all that is, is bubbling, gurgling, dancing, unfolding relationship.

The doctrine of Trinity suggests the same about divinity. It is not solitary; it is bubbling, gurgling, dancing, unfolding relationship. It is love longing to immerse itself in creation … including humanity. Anything more than this … is behind the fence. But this tells us plenty.

Still, in the gospel reading Jesus says, “I have much more to tell you … but you can’t bear to hear it now.

Can we bear to it today?

Given the guns and white supremacy, the threat of authoritarian white “Christian” nationalism and the multiple crises of our own making that threaten Earth’s capacity to host life. Can we bear to hear the “more” that Jesus has to tell us TODAY?

This passage suggests that this “more” comes not simply from Jesus, but from the whole swirling Moreness of God. The Holy Energy at the Heart of All That Is wants to reveal Truth, Jesus says, to you (plural). The Divine Community longs to pour Itself/Themself, not simply into one another, not simply into creation, not simply into Jesus, but into human community, into the church.

What might this mean—and how might it be good news for us today?

I’ll suggests four things that this swirling Moreness of God means for church today.

First, despite our attachment to tradition and preference for certainty, the church as holy community is always and especially now emergent. That is, it unfolds fresh into each moment, because that’s how divine energy moves among Itself/Themself and into and among us.

This involves both more ambiguity and more audacity than we can comfortably bear.

More ambiguity—because emergent means that none of the deep injustices or dangerous human impulses or profound ecological perils before us have quick or easy answers. Whether or not they can even be resolved depends on a host of decisions not yet made. In some way, faithfulness to Love in this present moment is all we really have. And faithfulness will be what opens up possibilities in the future. Regardless of how precarious that future is. (And “precarious” is soon to be a synonym for “future.”)

More audacity—because while the early church and most of the Christian tradition rushed to reserve divinity-in-humanity exclusively for Jesus, there is zero biblical evidence that Jesus felt the same way. If anything, there are plenty of hints to the contrary: that Jesus is counting on us to become vessels of divine energy, bearers of the Moreness of God into this world. This doesn’t mean we replace Jesus. It means we extend his reach into the realms where we live today. That’s some audacity.

Emergent. Ambiguity. Audacity.

Second, affirming the outpouring Moreness of God means acknowledging a God-drenched kinship with all that is—alluded to in Proverbs 8. And it means renouncing the aspirations in Psalm 8 to rule over creation or imagine that God has set it beneath our feet. What may have been innocent words of praise 3000 years ago, became an ecocidal delusion in the last centuries and decades.

There is an alienation afoot in our psyches that has had damning consequences for our world and our life in community. There is no quick cure—but the Moreness of God, should we dare to take it seriously, tells us that every corner of this world, every type of flora and fauna, every river and every landscape, every yard and garden … holds family. It’s time to embrace our long-lost kin and remember that we are home. Here on Earth.

God-drenched kinship.

Third, inasmuch as the doctrine of the Trinity sets shared life at the very center of God-ness, and inasmuch as this shared life longs to pour Itself/Themself into our life, this means that our life as members of a holy community will be shaped deeply—and in stark contrast to the world as it is today—by radical sharing.

The culture of individualism and nationalism, personal status and private ownership, are antithetical to the Divine Life longing to be in us. What does such sharing look like? It emerges. Start small. Somewhere between ambiguity and audacity, between universal kinship and your particular place there is a sweet spot. Start there and grow.

Radical sharing.

Fourth, and held for last because this one is hard. Prepare to die. NOW HOLD ON. I don’t mean it like that. I mean it like this. A whole host of our human brokenness (maybe most of it), from interpersonal sin to ecological assault, is rooted in our refusal to acknowledge that the Wisdom celebrated in Proverbs, the Divine Compassion so fully present in Jesus, fashioned a finite world of infinite beauty … and placed us within its finitude.

We are created within the web of this life, and that web is tearing today because we insist on ignoring Earth’s limits as though they are not also our limits, and amassing stuff (rather than relationships) as the measure of meaning. Listen, this is not only ecocidal behavior, it’s heretical behavior. It sets us out to be God, rather than to be among the finite vessels through which God flows.

Our uniqueness in creation is not that we alone share in Divine life; God pours godself over and into all creation. Our distinction is that (so far as we know) we are uniquely endowed with intellect and self-consciousness, with empathy and spirit, sufficient to savor the way that God’s infinite Love dances across finitude with such wisdom and joy.

In this regard, John’s gospel is noteworthy for its concept of “realized eschatology.” Fancy words that mean, in John’s gospel, eternal life is not life after death; it is infinitely deep life beginning now. It is life flourishing in the fullness of relationships: with God, with one another, and with the world. For John, this IS eternal life. It is life lived in full awareness of finitude and without fear.

Finitude without fear. That will be hard, but it is the fullness of our faith.

There is a Song singing Itself in the Universe. It is the Song of Wisdom and Pattern, Beauty and Joy, the Song of unfolding Love. We are not the author of that song. It began long before us and it will continue long after we are gone from here, drawn back into the Song Itself.  

But here, now, in this oh so precarious moment, our joy, our purpose, our greatest thrill is to learn THAT song and to add our voices and to discover what emerges when we do.


* * *

David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist, doing “public theology” around climate crisis, sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. Reach him at Read more at where he blogs under the theme, “Full Frontal Faith: Erring on the Edge of Honest.” Support him in writing Community Supported Theology at

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