The Trinity as a Reminder of Interconnection to our Creation and One Another
June 16th, 2019 Sermon - Rev Kate Byrd
The Spirit of Truth and the Power of Connection
I love the poetic imagination that our passage from Proverbs sparks. As we are invited to inhabit the heavens, to experience our tiny blue marble as it was set in space, carefully placed in the vast darkness of the cosmos. Seeing the earth’s atmosphere, a thin veil of light, carefully draped over our island home. Watching the clouds as they first swirled around the vast stillness of the deep blue oceans. Separating the jagged terrain of the forested mountains from the rolling dunes of the desserts. And as my mind wanders at the majesty and beauty of it all my imagination begs the question, what was it like, how unimaginably awesome would it be to watch the earth spin around on its axis as it was first formed. Floating above our planet seeing it being brought into existence as one magnificent organism.
On, December 24th, 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 not only got a taste of this miraculous event Proverbs so poetically describes, but captured it to share with the world. In the infamous NASA photograph Earthrise. And, while the mission of Apollo 8 was focused on changing the world by looking at the moon, looking back at the earth in that moment changed our whole world’s view. As the astronauts turned their camera to gaze back at our planet, they gave birth to what is known as the Overview Effect. Looking down on our tiny blue marble, from the vast darkness of space, the astronauts were able to experience a cognitive shift. Seeing our earth from this view and perspective, for the first time, gave the astronauts a unique perspective and ability to see our planet as a fragile, living, breathing organism.
Many who have traveled to space explain the Overview Effect as an existential and even spiritual experience. One that allowed them to fully grasp our interconnected dependency upon this planet and upon one another. Bringing a realization that the self and the world are not separate but completely dependent one upon the other. Because from space, looking down at the swarms of city lights, the barren land of forests long forgotten, and the melting ice caps it becomes clear that how I live, affects how you live. Everything that happens on one side of our ecosystem affects what happens on the other side.
Ron Garan, a NASA astronaut whose space mission took him to the International Space Station, described it this way:
“When I was above the space station, looking down at the space station, and looking
down at the earth. Seeing this amazing accomplishment. I was thinking, wow there are 15 nations that worked together to build this amazing orbital complex in space. If we can take these 15 nations and do this amazing accomplishment, imagine what we could do by working together, by setting aside our differences, for a common goal to overcome some of the challenges facing our planet.”
William Anders, of the Apollo 8 mission, and the astronaut accredited for the Earthrise photograph, stated this: "We came to explore the moon and what we discovered was the Earth.” As Anders infamous Earthrise photograph, sparked the environmental movement, and continues to be a reminder of this fundamental question, that Ander’s photograph and personal experience imparted on him: "This is not a very big place, why can't we get along?"
As we mark Trinity Sunday, we make space for the mystery that is our God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. While the unity of our God as three in one, may seem unfathomable it doesn’t make it impossible. I believe this is true, not only for our Trinity, but also for many of the unfathomable issues we face today, political division, global warming, inequitable distribution of resources, and the list goes on. In our Gospel from John, Jesus reminds us that we will be guided into all truth, through the Spirit of truth. The same spirit of wisdom working together with God the creator, in our Proverbs reading from today. As we look to the Spirit of Truth for guidance, we can look to her unity within the Trinity. As the Divine continues to be the three in one working together, continually becoming and remaining one interconnected being, of truth and love, her spirit can become a guide and example for how we order our lives and our world as well. Our connection to our interconnected God, I believe, is a reminder of not only our interconnection to God’s creation and to one another, but our dependency upon that connection for survival.
The Episcopal Church, has made a call and commitment to (what Presiding Bishop Curry has coined as) the Way of Love, which is our commitment to being a loving, liberating, and life giving Church. In line with this commitment the Episcopal Church came out with a Pledge to Care for Creation. This pledge calls us to action in three ways. By loving, which means sharing our stories of love and concern for the Earth with others and connecting with them in action. By liberating, and standing with those most vulnerable to the harmful effects of environmental degradation and climate change. And, by becoming life giving, changing our habits and choices in order to live more simply, humbly, and gently on this earth.
Approaching the unfathomable problem of global warming and the insurmountable tasks of creation care, by connecting with our Church in this pledge, and committing to love, liberty, and life giving work makes it all seem a little more possible. I believe as we find our connection to one another, to our earth, and to our Triune God the Spirit of Truth will lead us to discover the power that lies at the root of love, liberty, and life giving connection. I hope you will join me in taking time to consider what it might mean to join the Episcopal Church’s Pledge to Care for Creation. I know I will be looking at how I can make this pledge part of my daily life and ministry, by finding ways to love and be in conversation about creation care, by looking at what it means to be liberating, not only remembering but standing with those most affected by unequal distribution of resources. And, by working to be life giving as my family and I cut down on our meat consumption and plastic use in our own daily living. This Trinity Sunday as we honor Creation Care, may we find the hope, love and power of the Spirit of Truth as we remember our connection to our Triune God, to our earth, and to one another.