Right Relatedness
2008-05-14 by Joretta Marshall

I am appreciating the conversation and ideas that are emerging in this hot tub. Thanks! I am particularly taken with this notion that God is "relational" rather than "managerial." It opens up God's activity in the world in so many powerful ways.

As I was reflecting on some of what has been said, I keep thinking about the notion of "right relationship". 

In the Christian tradition we often talk about being in “right relationship” with God. Perhaps the Trinity is a symbol of what it means to live in right relationship. One part of the Trinity would not be “God” without the others. Here we experience that God is not whole unless God is related to the various aspects of God’s being in ways that are connected and meaningful, dynamic and active. Every time we experience the Spirit moving within and among us, we know that God, the Creator is also moving and changing. As we live into the redemptive activity of God through Jesus we know that God is breathing new life into all of creation. And, as the Creator groans at the ongoing destruction of the earth, we know that this groaning changes the way in which the redemptive and active parts of God are at work in individuals and in the world. God is intimately interconnected, even as the dimensions of the Trinity are distinctive.


So it is also with our relationships with one another, with the earth, and with the whole of creation. What we do individually has an impact on the whole of our relationships and I would suggest it makes a difference in our experience of God and God’s experience of us. It is this dynamic of relatedness that offers glimpses of the suffering and groaning God, as well as the Redeeming and Spiriting of God. As we hear and see the visions of upheaval and chaos in China, we are aware that it is God’s body that is suffering and not simply individuals who live in some other part of the world. Our connectedness to their suffering reminds us that “right relatedness” requires of us an extension of the right hand of fellowship made real in the flesh and blood of workers to assist, money to support, prayers to encourage, and belief in the gift of love and hope.


As we watch the unfolding of violence in our homes, our neighborhoods, and in our streets we are ever more mindful of the reality of systemic oppression and pain. We know that our relationship to those who are our “neighbors” requires us to look into the eyes of others, to examine our biases and fears, and to move into the world with renewed vision and hope. We are called to be active disciples on behalf of God – Creator, Judge and Redeemer, Spirit.


And, as we participate in the living of those around us through our daily relationships, we are called to do so with a sense of integrity and care. “Right relationship” moves us beyond our individualized understandings of the God of salvation to a corporate belief that what we do in our daily lives makes a difference to God and to the world of God. The Trinity is embodied in our valuing of all of creation, in our movements toward justice on behalf of those who are poor in wealth or marginalized in churches, and in our engagement of the children, women, and men of our communities in ways that offer hope and nurture love.


In this way we participate in the “right relationship” the Trinity offers to us.


Chaos Reexamined
2008-05-13 by Steve Schuette

            Relatedness is certainly key...

            Along with that relatedness of Trinity I can’t help but think of the fourth dimension – the one whom this Trinity longs to make whole, the focus of the Trinity’s energies, the outlet for all the Trinity’s creative enterprise….the world and we who are made in God’s image.

            I had always assumed that the “chaos” or “original mix” was the object of God’s reorganization in a way that brought order out of chaos…..very Reformed or even Gnostic?, I suppose, thinking of the chaos as having a moral dimension of evil over against God’s goodness.

            And then, in Matthew is the odd tag to the beautiful scene of relationship, “…some doubted.”  There it is:  a little chaos in the middle of it all.  Jesus doesn’t react or get sidetracked.  There’s no attempt to begin a “reform” movement with them.  He simply moves on with the commission.

            So…what if God’s whole creative enterprise is relational rather than managerial?  What if, rather than opposing the chaos with order God works with it like Michelangelo, who claimed that the figures were already in the stone and he was simply bringing them out?  Could God’s objective have been not to subdue the chaos but to work with it creatively?

            I do know that genuine human creativity does not destroy such tensions, but enters into them, exploring them, and sometimes even lives with them until more clarity comes.  Maybe that’s a better option than the way we’ve traditionally understood the “dominion” of Gen. 1:26 both in terms of faith and U.S. policy.  Maybe the image of God in which we are created (and creating) invites us to a very different sense of dominion that honors relationship.  At any rate, I know that it is out of what seemed chaos that my life’s greatest learnings have emerged.

Value, Clarity, and Freedom in the Trinity
2008-05-13 by David von Schlichten

The above traits all strike me as important to the best relationships. Such relationships are ones in which we feel valued, have a clear identity, and have freedom to be ourselves.

Are these traits we see in the Trinity? Each "person" is indispensible, has a clear identity, but also has freedom, I suppose (God, by God's very nature, must be free, yes?). 

I am probably doing my theology backwards by starting with anthropology and then moving to the Trinity, but perhaps there is benefit in my doing so. What do you think?

Thank you to our guest blogger Joretta for inviting us to submit reflections on the relationality of the Trinity. I pray others will step into the tub. I am glad Rosemary and Steve have.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

Journey in relationship
2008-05-12 by Rosemary Beales

All preaching is contextual, and the context in my congregation this week is the "graduation" of our first group of youth to complete the Journey to Adulthood. These young people have journeyed together for six years in the company of faithful leaders and a congregation that has supported them. The end of this journey is, of course, the beginning of another, as they move into the world of college and beyond.   The relationships they've formed -- and that have formed them -- will sustain them as much as, or more than, any specific doctrine, prayers or practices they've learned. Our hope for them, and for each member of the congregation, is to be sustained by relationships that help us reach our potential as co-creators with God -- continuing to form the world that we were given "in the beginning."  I appreciate your insight that "human beings cannot be anything other than relational." Godly relationships with other human beings, other creatures, and our precious earth, help move us closer to the Trinity.

Our guest preaching blogger this week is
2008-05-12 by David Howell

Joretta Marshall, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. She is an ordained United Methodist Elder from the Rocky Mountain Conference. Currently Joretta is the President of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

Joretta invites you to participate in this experience with her. Click on Submit a Question or Submit an Article above.

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