Excerpt from Pastor Katie’s sermon on Trinity Sunday, May 27th, 2018
“For Love of the Trinity”
…God is revealing truth to us in regard to the Trinity through the experiences and testimony of queer folks. Queer people are experiencing God through the Trinity and seeing themselves in the image of God, and are actually teaching the church about the importance of our theological traditions. Queer folks are saying, “You know the Trinity witnesses to a God who is non-binary. Our God is queer. Our God is omnigender. Our God is genderful. Our God is THEY: Three in One.
In our time, when people who identify as queer are being told by the church that there is no space for you, or that your gender identity or your sexual orientation is a perversion of God’s creation, queer folk are pointing to the Bible and seeing themselves in the holy scriptures, saying “Look at how God delights in me. Look at how God is genderful.”
Austin Hartke is a transgender Christian theologian and writer. Reflecting on Genesis 1, he talks about how when he was a kid he was always keen on order and organization. He liked how God in Genesis 1 was said to break things into pairs and opposites; separating the light from the darkness, separating the waters from the dry land and so on and so forth, as the poetry goes in Genesis. But as he got older, Austin began to learn about how biologically “the world isn’t separated distinctly into land or sea. What about marshes, estuaries, and coral reefs.” It’s not so binary when it comes to the biological world. And he wondered are people really divided into male and female, as Genesis 1 seems to say they are? And though the poetry of Genesis 1:27 breaks humans into two groups—male and female, Austin concludes: “This does not mean we should discredit other sexes or genders, any more than the verse about the separation of day from night rejects the existence of dawn and dusk, or the separation of land from sea rejects the existence of marshes and estuaries. These binaries aren’t meant to speak to all of reality.” Rather: “They invite us into thinking about everything between and beyond. Genesis 1 is using a poetic device to corral the infinite diversity of creation into categories we can easily understand.”
Austin goes on further to say that ultimately queer folks are teaching us that the binary system really breaks down. He says, “Perhaps, instead of insisting that each person can be charted along a line, we should be looking up and seeing that the multitude of sexualities and gender identities exist in 3-D, sprinkled through space like the stars…This expansion in our understanding of the world actually opens the door to a new reverence for God’s creation.”
Queer folks and theologians are pointing to the Trinity and testifying: “Thirdness troubles binaries.” Our scriptures witness to a God who troubles the binaries in Their very nature as God.
Queer folks are claiming their own identity as children of God and as made in the image of God, in the image of the Trinity.
And so today we celebrate the Trinity, the “Theyness” of God.
…People like the apostle Paul in Romans, transgender theologian Austin Hartke, Julian of Norwich – these are all very different people living in very different times and cultures. And yet each of them witness to the Trinitarian God. They are people who have found themselves enveloped and wrapped up in the love of God in ways that are so difficult to describe, but they reach for language anyway. They teach us that the Trinity is important not because it’s a doctrine of the church. But rather because it testifies to a God who keeps us and loves us with a love that is so much deeper and wider than we can ever imagine, and this God invites us continually into God’s life in community.
The Trinity is a mystery. But not a mystery to be solved as if we were detectives like Sherlock Holmes. But a mystery to move deeper into, to find ourselves in awe of, to find ourselves transformed into the people we are called to be in God’s family.