27 May 2018
I like good food. Granted, my version of good food may well be much different than your version. I also know that I have the luxury of being able to buy better quality ingredients than many folks. But I do believe it is a common human desire to prepare good food; I suspect virtually all cultures have dishes that are “signature” for them. We all love to eat!! As Iowa has become more ethnically diverse, one of the rich rewards of that diversity is the variety of dishes that are available. I have consumed things my grandparents could not even have imagined.
If you talk to a professional chef, he or she will tell you that the basis of many dishes is the same. It is often a blend of very ordinary vegetables cooked together. In French cooking this blend is called mirepoix and usually consists of carrots, onions, and celery. Potato dishes, roast chicken, and soup stock, three entirely different sorts of dishes, all use mirepoix. It can be prepared different ways depending on the dish: diced and sautéed, deeply browned in coarse pieces, or “sweated”, which is a way of barely cooking them. Yet they are the same three vegetables. In Italy the same three vegetables, called soffritto, make the base for everything from a ragu sauce to several types of soups. In Cajun cooking green peppers are substituted for celery and the blend is called the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking. Other nations have their own variations, but all have in common the formula of a trinity of vegetables that, in the end, is distinctly flavored yet individually unrecognizable as an individual vegetable.
I know you are thinking at this point I may be trying to compare the Trinity to mirepoix, but I assure you God is NOT celery, onions, and carrots. Yet what this very humble and basic blend is to cooking is what the Trinity is to us and for us. If you like etouffee, gumbo, and other Cajun dishes, you understand the Holy Trinity.
God is constantly working to be in relationship with us, to draw us in. So to understand the Trinity is not to debate the fine points of the Nicene Creed, a creed that was forged over an need for political uniformity and not relationship to God. Instead of knowledge it is participation in the life of our Triune God. Think of the Trinity as a perfect community where the nature of God is service and love.
In his rousing and long to be remembered homily, Bishop Curry talked of a glimpse into heaven given us in the power of love, a power that comes from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: creator, redeemer, sustainer. It was ignited last week for us in the fire of Pentecost and in the wedding homily of Bishop Curry.
We have seen and heard how God has called us through the ages: first as God the creator, then Jesus the savior, and finally with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We have witnessed how this triune God can transform us; will we, will you, let it? Look at Nicodemus; he came at night in fear and with a lack of understanding, but gradually he came to a fuller knowledge of Jesus and of the Godhead. Like Nicodemus we must be willing to ask the questions and to allow ourselves to experience God. Perhaps this is what John 3:16 is all about: not a statement of orthodoxy but a glorious invitation to experience and understand God. New birth in water and the spirit!! Are you willing to join the dance? And if you are willing to join in the dance, are you willing to take the hand of another and all join in the dance.
The entire thing is holy mystery and the encounter with the Holy brings us to our knees in prayer and a desire to be forgiven of our wrong doings so that we can embrace this mystery.
And if we embrace this mystery and desire to be a part of the dance of creation, we are then called to be more than we every were before. Nicodemus became a follower and defender of Jesus; Paul an ardent missionary to the gentiles; Isaiah among the mightiest of the prophets of Israel. We are called as a people to say yes to the Trinity, yes to perfect love. God loves you and invites you over and over and over to be part of that dance of creation.
If you love God, you love yourself and you love your fellow human beings. You start on the path of repairing this damaged world; first by how well you love yourself and then how well you love your neighbor. Without that love, nothing will every happen to make this a better place. That is the message of Jesus to Nicodemus, of Paul to the Romans, of God to Isaiah, and of Michael Curry to the entire world. This is the message I preach to you and the message that you can yourselves preach to the entire world: God is love and love is in this place and in any place you dare to take it!! Simple carrots and onions and celery can make an ordinary dish into a feast. Think what the Author or creation can do for all of us. All we need to do is say yes to love!!