This is the 2nd Part of a Sermon Series titled "The C3P2 Church." Last week we discussed Community. This week is Connection. Next week is Compassion. The C3 of Community, Connection, and Compassion will be followed by the P2 of Prayerfulness and Progress.

1. To God

“Breath…Light…Us… (Genesis 1) “God is Breath…” (John 4:24); “God is Love…” (I John 4:8, 16); “God is Light…” (I John 1:5)

God is Breath, scripture originally says.
And Breath breathed, breathes life into us
in the beginning, at the dawn of Creation.
The Life of God enlivens Life in us, through us.
We are alive in God. Our connection
to our Life-Giver more a inter-bond,
unbounding us to do Divine Life’s work.

God is Light, scripture originally says.
And Light enlightened the stars and sun,
sculpting this universe, the source of creativity.
The Light of God undimmed our dark rooms.
We are now alight in God. Our connection
to our Enlightener more an extension
from You to me and out to the world.   

God is Love, scripture originally says.
And Love loves us into becoming and being
in the here and now, and infinitely so.
The Love of God loves us, in us, infusing us.
We are beloved in God. Our interconnection
to the Loving One more an at-one-ment,
atoning us to love one another as One loves us.

Genesis 1 indicates that before the beginning of creation, there was Light, there was Breath, usually translated as Spirit, and there was a loving, harmonious we.

God created light in the universe as one of the opening acts of Creation. “Let there be light,” Genesis 1:3 says. But before Creation, was there light? Well, yes. God was light. Light created light.

God as Breath was moving from the before the beginning, Genesis 1:2 says. And the Breath moved over creation, and more creativity happened. Then later in Genesis 2, verse 7. God breathed into the nostrils of Adam, the first human, the breath of life.

God as Love is a little more implicit. It is not directly obvious in Genesis 1 and 2. That God is Love itself is really a Christian original idea. What we call an innovation gifted to the world. But we can interpret God as Love in the Genesis story. Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make human in our own image…”

Who is the Us and the Our?

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity provides an answer. In the beginning and before was the Trinity. And what is foundation of the Trinity? Love. An intra-love between Creator, Christ, and Sacred Spirit. That’s why we say, God is Love.

So, light, breath, love, these three define God.

How does God connect to us? How do we connect to God?

We breathe and do it mindfully. Mindfully and gratefully breathing connects us to God.

We notice light from the sun rising in the morning, gracing us with vision and warmth. We notice how there’s a light that guides our path. We remember Jesus telling us, “you are lights unto the world,” and we seek to be the light, as Amanda Gorman so powerfully reminded us Wednesday. Noticing light, seeing that we are light, and being it – these practices connect us to God.


2. To Each Other
“So God created humankind in God’s image, in the likeness of God he created them” (Genesis 1:27)

You like me carry a little of God within
You like me walk like God. Do you know?
You like me speak like God. Do you know?
You appear like God from dawn to dusk. Do you?
Will you? Can you? Will I? Can I?
Can we, can we see one another anew?
Can we see one another in the manner
we enter Sunday morning, worshipful,
reverential, sanctuary-filled and feeling?

Buddhists with palms together
bow arriving to one another.
To the Awoke One in you I bow.
To the Awoke One in you I bow, too.

The Christ-christened, let us do the same.
Let us with our hellos if merely inwardly
bow to the Anointed One in you and me,
bow to the Anointed One in you and me.

That of God in us, as the Quakers say,
encompasses us and connects us,
creating in us compasses of compassion,
compasses carrying a little piece of the Cross,
a little touch of Christ who empties self to save.

A central doctrine of the Christian tradition is known as Imago Dei. We are each created in God’s image. The Hebrew word for image here tselem. It can also mean likeness, image, or form. When Gen. 1:27 says we are created in God’s tselem, it points to a powerful, unbelievable reality. We carry God’s likeness, God’s form in the human things we do such as walk, talk, and live our life. Realizing this and acting according is the point. Forgetting this means we fall into the scenario that Adam and Eve experienced.

Some Christian teachings argue that that Image of God status we were created in was degraded by the Fall to such a degree as to have disappeared. But how can anything resembling God die? God doesn’t die. Neither can the divine image. It merely got covered, hidden, forgotten in such a way that it seemed lost to us.

Imagine the moon covered with thick clouds. The moon is imago dei. The cloud sin. God’s image, the moon, though hidden by the cloud of sin, remains. Christ, Christ’s work, and our internalization of Christ’s transformative life, is what moves those clouds away.

Anyway, that we each carry God’s image as human beings means God connects us, unites us, creates a common ground that we all share. Realizing our connection to each other via God’s connection to us is everything, changes everything, and can heal us and our divides.


3. To Our Communities
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

God is in Community;
Community is in God.
Creator, Christ and Sacred Spirit,
the primordial community
giving way to the diverse glory of Creation.
Two or more gathered,
an earthly society mirroring the heavenly one,
called to unfold the loving bond that enfolds
more and more into belonging as it goes.  

I am in my community;
My community is in me.
This is true,
This is truth
Like it; like it not.

I choose to love,
to love the Truth,
making it present and future together.

I choose in the now ever-coming
to push myself outward and out there,
to compel my self to expel self-enclosure,
to love neighbor as neighbor alongside neighbor.

We are in our Community;
that Community is in us.
A community like ours cannot be cloistered,
enclosed within walls
and within the claims of personal heaven.
A community like ours cannot be quiescent
at least without dying a slow collective death.

Shall we choose to breathe the church where we live,
crying good news to the people, news of connection,
Shall we embody communion amid the lost, the left-out, the lonely,
baptizing our neighbors in the name of active love?

As mentioned, the Trinity is the primordial Community. When two or three are gathered in Christ’s name is a Christian community. Three gathered in one divinity, that is a Triune Community.

The task of the Christian community is to mirror the Triune Community in heaven.

It doesn’t stop there, as the Triune Community reached into human history and the created world via Christ’s works of compassion, we are tasked as a church with reaching into our wider communities and creation found there to do the Christ-like work of compassion. Christ’s act of self-emptying talked about in Philippians 2, where he let go of godly form to selflessly provide us refuge – this is what we are to mirror as a church.

How we do this and in what form, that is the key question.

4. To All Things
“God saw every created thing, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

The Ultimate Good
unspooled the Blue Marble,
the planet we recall seeing
through the eyes of space’s photographer.

That Blue Marble
and All things within it,
the Ultimate Good
declared Good.

Each day of the week
upon each workday’s end,
the Good Word declared:
“It is so and it is good.”

Good begets Good,
Good into the Good,
Good infused in the Good,
Good upon Good upon Good.
The interconnection of Good.
The harmony of Good.
And Good is Harmony with Three Parts.

The ungood? The ungodly?
The absence of harmony,
the beginning of harm,
the resorting to a sole self singing out of tune.
to no one, for no one.

Let all things join the Holy Trio.
Let all things sing their song,
finding their voice and a melody
in harmony with the whole.
Let all things find belonging in community,
Community akin to a choir
Singing a holy song, an infinite song,
a song that unites heaven and earth,
a song that takes up residence
in each and every heart
that in turn touches the heart of the universe.

God with each day of creation declared all that was created good. From the heavens and the earth to the smallest animal, God declared it good. In the same way, God declared human beings, God’s closest creation, good. If creation is still, human as the pinnacle of creation contain the good still.

This is understandable. God is the Ultimate Good. God is good itself. And if God includes God’s self in God’s masterpiece, like any magisterial artist does, then good is part and parcel of what God creates.

God’s goodness, like God’s love, comes from within the Trinity, shared among Creator, Christ, and Sacred Spirit, and overflowing out in creativity to paint creation. Good is akin to harmony innate in the Trinity.

Where does the non-good, the ungodly come from?

The absence of harmony within us. Or our refusing to hear that harmony that is God. Or our forgetting of the song of God. These lead to cacophony, even chaos in our souls. And they may lead to a harming of our own psyche and then a harming of those around us.

Returning to God’s harmonious way that is our hope and our salvation. All things Joining the Holy Trinity and singing in a kind of worldwide Community Choir of God – that is the sacred duty of Christians, of the Christian church, and all Compassionate beings of Good Will.

King & Courtship

Thumbing through the library’s card catalog (yes, card catalog!), I came upon a new card with a new book that looked very intriguing – Testament of Hope: The Essential Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King. Coincidentally, I was in the throes of a self-study of the Civil Rights Movement at the time, and this was surely an essential new addition to that study.

In a more lasting way, it is this book that in many ways is responsible for my marriage and that marriage's child. Let me tell you the story now that is now part of family lore.

I excitedly went to locate that book that day. But the book wasn’t in the new arrivals section as it should have been. I wrote down the call number, went downstairs to the stacks, and where the book was supposed to be there was just empty space. I went to the checkout desk and asked about it. They informed me it had just been checked out, but that I could place a reserve on the book so that no renewals could be placed on it after the short borrowing time for new books. I did just that.

A couple weeks later I got a notice via inter-campus mail (no email yet either) that the book was ready to be picked up. I went straight to the library and checked the book.

I carried that book everywhere. I read it as often as I could. In chapel. In classes big enough to hide it. At meals. It became my Bible for those days I first had it.

A couple days after, I brought it into a student organizational meeting. I was early and so I began reading the book. I planned on doing so until others began arriving. 

The first to arrive was the chairperson of the organization called Social for Social Justice. She was a petite young woman with dark brown hair and almond shaped eyes. She easily distracted me. I placed the large book on my desk as she sat down. Immediately, she frowned.

“So you’re the one!” she spouted

Surprised by her remark, I answered with a one-word question, “what?”

Continuing in her faux-frustration, she responded, “I was enjoying that book just a week ago, but wasn’t able to finish it. I was kind of disappointed with the unknown person who took it away from me. That unknown person is now known! I am glad someone is enjoying it.”

Of course, I offered to let her finish it. But she was herself - gracious and patient enough to wait. She then introduced herself – Holly Glenzer. 

This introduction began our love story, one that resulted in our son and one that continues to this day. We still share our own copy of the book. It sits prominent on our bookshelf as a reminder of not just the greatness of a man and of the movement he led but as a testament of our own shared hope as well.