Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Trinity Sunday Final Exam

Trinity Sunday is here. Many lectionary preachers will take on the creation story. I'm going with Paul's "fifth" letter; 2 Corinthians 10-13, specifically 13:5 ff. Do I like contentious dialogue? No, not at all. But I find Paul's letters fascinating and full of insight for living.

We can find all kinds of list in Paul's letters; things to do, not do, avoid, etc. Here in 2 Corinthians, at a time when Paul is trying to reestablish good relations with their community, he also offers a few lists. There are "boast lists" in chapter 11 and into 12; a "weakness list" in 12:10; and a "wish and no wish list" in 12:20-21 all before the "farewell list" in v. 11-12. Yet when it comes to Paul's final exam, he reminds the Corinthian Christians of only one thing, "Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?" No multiple points needed here, no long list of test questions, just "is Christ in you, in me, in us?"

The Church of the Brethren is 300 years old this year. In 1708 five men and three women went in to the Eder River in Schwarzenau, Germany and were baptized. Our anniversary theme is, "surrendered to God, transformed in Christ, empowered by the Spirit." What better way to examine oneself to see if 'Christ is in me?' than to ask,
"Am I surrendered to God?"
"Am I transformed in Christ?"
"Am I empowered by the Spirit?"
It seems the ultimate trinitarian formula that details the spiritual life. Each line is a giving over of self in order to be filled with the Creator's presence as found in one of humanity's experiences of God. Paul's single question is the perfect examination. And if this is our test, it is a final exam with promise!

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