’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the nature of God and what it means to us in our view of life.  Who is God and what kind of existence does he have?  What is God’s character and how does that impact our conceptions/misconceptions of others, ourselves and God?   Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for Trinity Sunday to find out what this all means. Please read John 3:16-18.   #GreatPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #ThreeInOne #Trinity, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   6/15/2014 Trinity Sunday

Please pause this audio and read John 3:16-18 .

          “Koinonia” is a Greek word that means, “fellowship/community”. It is also the name of the retreat that I have had the pleasure of being the Spiritual Director for over the last three years plus. After the students have gone on the retreat, they are part of what we call the “Koinonia Community”. It is a true community. It is nothing for me to see posts on facebook that one of them is going to a movie, out to eat, or into Chicago for the day and they invite others. Quickly, the post will show up with people responding that they would like to go.

          Because we are a community of love, trust and that very much protects each other, it is not uncommon to see someone in the community post that they are having a hard time or a bad day. My favorite post was when a student posted that they had lost their job and it was particularly painful. Another student posted almost immediately, “I am in my room all day. Get over here, girl!” The Koinonia Community at Benedictine University has been an amazing group to experience. They exude a peaceful, protective, salvific love that seeks to build up, not tear down.

          It may surprise you that the Koinonia Community has to continually fight a bad rap with certain sectors of the larger University student body. This kind, loving community is often spoken of as a “cult.” It is said that it is a “judgmental” group because members encourage each other to do things that foster a deep sincere and practiced spirituality in their everyday lives. In other words, they are called “judgmental” because they are not hypocrites. The irony is too thick. Sometimes, the students will try to protect the members of the community from themselves by challenging a person who might be making a bad decision. Additionally, the Koinonia Community is said to be “weird religious people who are in a cliquish group.”

          It is interesting to note that we have students in the Koinonia Community that could not find acceptance anywhere else on campus but with us. They had “issues” that would cause others to treat them negatively.

          It struck me in my study for this reflection that the Koinonia Community is a lot like their life source: God. On Trinity Sunday, we are supposed to talk about how God is one essence and three persons. We are supposed to remind you that one person of the Trinity does not work without the other two persons playing a role. Thus, in two years, we will hear the reading from the Gospel of John that says that the Father sends the Son, who sends the Spirit, who then intercedes for us to the Son who prays for us to the Father.

          This is all true, but our readings for today focus on the nature of God being like the Koinonia Community: “merciful, gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity,” says Exodus; “a God of love and peace,” says Corinthians; a self-sacrificing God who “gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that he world might be saved through him,” says the Gospel of John. He is a God who sends commandments to keep us from lying to each other, stealing from each other, lusting after each other and using each other. He is a God who creates communities of love that founded universities, hospitals, schools, orphanages, mental hospitals, all those institutions that no one wanted to touch until they found out they could make money at them.

          He is the God who calls Mother Teresa from wealth to poverty so that the poorest can be served. He is the God who calls the Rev. Michael Mather, a United Methodist Minister in Indianapolis, IN to create micro-economies to get the poor out of poverty. He is a God who calls the sisters of the Poor Hand Maids of Jesus Christ to create shelters in Gary, IN and serve those who have no one.

          Yet, when I look at who God is in the culture, it is God gets a bad rap: God is depicted as mean, judgmental, a person who suffocates us when we just want to have sex, make a lot of money and just “have fun.” It is interesting to me that actress and singer Toni Braxton is the latest of a string of holywood stars that have come out about the pain, anguish, depression and suffering that a woman goes through AFTER she has had an abortion.

Just like Koinonia, God gets a bad rap because he has a love that seeks not only to save us, but protect us. I have all kinds of nay-sayers who try to tell me that there is nothings special about the God of the Christians. Really? Really? Who else has a God that remains in the heavens, but is able to come and be one of us, walk our walk, live our life, die our death and lift us up to eternal life. He is a God who comes to save us by sacrificing himself. There is no ‘just bow down to me’. There is no ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ There is no ‘give me obeisance and serve me while I may or may not serve you.’

We serve a God who died on the cross for us. The Father sent the Son to become one of us and serve us. The Son sends the Holy Spirit who hears what we need and sends aid. The Father knows our needs and he not only gives to those who follow him, but Matthew 7:44 says, “ Love your enemies…so that you may be sons of your Father…[who] makes his Sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” A God who loves even those who hate him!

There was a New York Times article that studied the religiosity of the poor and homeless in New York. I was struck by how the homeless reported in the story depended upon God for their daily existence. There was a prostitute who was quoted as saying, “God protects me. As I get into a car, I say a prayer I won’t be killed. He protects me.” I am so convinced about the unconditional radical nature of God’s love that I believe that God is with that woman. God is in the places that we don’t dare to go. God loves people that we don’t dare to love.

We are such a society and culture of the Enlightenment. Even our modern and post-modern philosophies flow out of this misguided notion that the human senses are the arbiters of reality. How can God be “three in one!” “That is not possible,” humans say. “God does not let me do what I want, so he is mean!” we say. I say, St. Paul Says, Jesus Says, “There is nothing that is impossible with God.” If the Trinity created the heavens and the earth, the universe, then God is outside of the rules of physics that govern the universe. God is beyond our definitions and rules of what can and cannot be. He is the arbiter of how things are and He is Three Persons in One Substance. He is far away and with us at the same time. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and One God at the same time. God is a community of persons who is active in the world to love us, protect us, and save us, even from ourselves.

I admit that it may be easier for us to reduce God to believe in him. I admit that it is probably easier to say that God couldn’t love the people that WE don’t like. I admit that it is easy to have a God we can pout about and say is unfair, unkind and cliquish when we want to do what is not good for us. I admit that it may be easier for us to try to tame God and make God only into our servant, but all these things are just that, too easy.  

Is that what you want for a god? You want easy? You want neat and tidy? You want simple? Is it beyond our musing that there is a God who does not approve of what we are doing, but loves us so much that he died for us, walks with us, and still blesses us even when we rebel? Well, thank God that God is beyond what we want and think! Thank God that He is merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and graciousness, loving beyond measure, even to those who hate him. Thank God that God is beyond our comprehension because that is the only kind of God we should trust in the first place: a God who is more than we are. Amen? Amen.

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