Vicar Noah Herren
The Holy Trinity
June 15/16, 2019
The Future is Fluid
The Future is Female. The first time I remember this slogan really catching me was a couple of years ago when my roommate, Michael, and his boyfriend wore it on matching t-shirts. There was something poignant about two gay men professing this statement, and especially these two specific men. They were the first people to use my preferred pronouns and call me by my chosen name.
When I shared my fears about transitioning gender, Michael said, “We can try something different with your pronouns, just around the house, to see how it feels to you.” This suggestion became a true gift as I lived into an expanded identity. A part of me that hadn’t been recognized and seen publicly, started to grow with a friend’s willingness to see me in a new way.
The cover art on our bulletin portrays the Holy Trinity as three women. This image is a modern artistic interpretation of a classic 15th-century icon of the trinity we have displayed at the back of our church. The original is based on the story of Abraham and Sarah showing hospitality to three mysterious figures.
Modern art like this, that lifts up feminine expressions of God, is an indication of the extensive scholarship that has been done in recent decades to expand our image of God beyond just male. It may suggest to us that the future of how we see God is female.
Of course, at Holy Trinity, we are no stranger to female images of God. Just in the past year, we’ve explored several: the biblical image of God as mother hen, God personified as Holy Wisdom or Sophia (who we read about today in Proverbs), the hymn “Mothering God, you gave me birth” using words from Julian of Norwich from the 14th century.
Our church is committed to lifting up a wide variety of images that conveys we not only recognize the God of the future is female, we acknowledge the God of the past is female too!
But as we open ourselves to female conceptions of God, we don’t let go of God as male. When we baptized and welcomed Henry, Alistair, Vaughn & Sonia into the church today, we baptized them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we say the Lord’s Prayer, we cry out to “Our Father in heaven.” Our creeds use male language for God. And as we celebrate Father’s Day today, we rejoice in all the magnificent qualities of the men and fathers in our midst. Although historically male representations of God have significantly outweighed female images, we must still hold onto God as male too.
As we were preparing for Holy Trinity Sunday, our office administrator Beau shared this story. His hymn-writer friend wrote this piece that employs inclusive language and images for the Trinity. The hymn-writer received some negative feedback and decided to jokingly write something more “mainstream”, calling to mind much of our traditional imagery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here it is:
Two dudes and a bird,
Two dudes and a bird.
The God I love and serve
He is two dudes and a bird
O Sacred Trinity
O Sacred Plural “He”
His Life, his Breath, his Word
Two dudes and a bird.
The silliness and simplicity of this poem, communicates how absurd it is to reduce our complex, everlasting, trinitarian God into limited identities.
In less than 40 years of life, as a transgender person, I’ve held a number of identities: brother and mother, daughter and son, wife and boyfriend. And we all hold a multiplicity of identities, because we are all created in the image of God. In our community, we see God manifest, in the faces of our neighbors, in icons and artwork, at the table where we encounter God’s real presence fresh and new each week. As we expand our ideas of what God can look like, who God can be, who God is...we open ourselves to who is invited, we become more inclusive of all identities.
Father Richard Rohr in his book, The Divine Dance, describes the mystery of the Trinity: “Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Three.” He conceives of God as the masculine and feminine and all the spaces between flowing and working together, to make God’s presence and purpose known in the world.
So what are God’s pronouns? How do we balance “two dudes and a bird” with “The Future is Female?” Our God who is and was is and is to come is all of them, AND more than we can even imagine: He who creates and orders life, she who nourishes and sustains, and they who flows and moves through us and all of creation to proclaim the good news of salvation for all.
In reimagining the statement, The Future is Female, to be more expansive and inclusive, musicians Tegan and Sara created a new t-shirt, The Future is Fluid, stating “We’re living in a time of divisive rhetoric and it’s important to remember that we’re all equally valuable human beings with endless potential.”
Today as we gather at the table and in worship, may we remember that we are a people of endless potential, who serve a triune God of endless potential. Amen.