Ancient Answers

Guidance for Today from Scripture and Early Christianity


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God of the gaps is no God

I love reading from Bonhoeffer’s writings, especially in the series of the complete works in English translations put out by Fortress Press. Bonhoeffer is perhaps best known for his “Letters and Papers from Prison,” written between April 1943 (when he was arrested for conspiring against Hitler) and January 1945, three months before he was executed by the Nazis. These letters and papers were published after his death and became classics of Christian faith and expression in the 20th century. Today I came across this letter, dated May 29, 1944, and I want to share it here with you, from the translation in the Fortress edition. It was written to Eberhard Bethke, Bonhoeffer’s closest friend and the one who did the most to get these “letters and papers” published after the war. It is the kind of “Christian” writing that is so absent in the superficial Christian “religious” writings of today. Bonhoeffer could stand comparison to any of the giants of Christian history. Note how he speaks of the “fullness of life” from his own perspective of imprisonment and war, and how Christianity puts together the fragments of our lives. I love his calling life “polyphonic” – surely inspired by his great love of music. What he wrote in the concluding paragraph about God as the “stopgap” is extraordinarily important. He rejects any notion of God being the god of the gaps! “God is the center of life and doesn’t just ‘turn up’ when we have unsolved problems to be solved.” Perhaps this is part of what we mean when we declare on Easter night, “Christ is Risen, and life politeuetai!” And I do not translate that Greek word, because I want to write an article on just that word. But please do read this letter of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Read it more than once! It’s the answer you may need for many questions in your life. TRULY THE LORD IS RISEN!

Dear Eberhard,

I hope that despite the air raids you both are enjoying to the full the peace and beauty of these warm, summery days of Pentecost. Inwardly, one learns gradually to put life-threatening things in proportion. Actually, “put in proportion” sounds too negative, too formal or artificial or stoic. One should more correctly say that we just take in these daily threats as part of the totality of our lives. I often notice hereabouts how few people there are who can harbor many different things at the same time. When bombers come, they are nothing but fear itself; when there’s something good to eat, nothing but greed itself; when they fail to get what they want, they become desperate; if something succeeds, that’s all they see. They are missing out on the fullness of life and on the wholeness of their own existence. Everything, whether objective or subjective, disintegrates into fragments. Christianity, on the other hand, puts us into many different dimensions of life at the same time; in a way we accommodate God and the whole world within us. We weep with those who weep at the same time as we rejoice with those who rejoice. We fear—(I’ve just been interrupted again by the siren, so I’m sitting outdoors enjoying the sun)—for our lives, but at the same time we must think thoughts that are much more important to us than our lives. During an air raid, for example, as soon as we are turned in a direction other than worrying about our own safety, for example, by the task of spreading calm around us, the situation becomes completely different. Life isn’t pushed back into a single dimension, but is kept multidimensional, polyphonic. What a liberation it is to be able to think and to hold on to these many dimensions of life in our thoughts. I’ve almost made it a rule here for myself, when people here are trembling during an air raid, always just to talk about how much worse such an attack would be for smaller towns. One has to dislodge people from their one-track thinking—as it were, in “preparation for” or “enabling” faith, though in truth it is only faith itself that makes multidimensional life possible and so allows us to celebrate Pentecost even this year, in spite of air raids.

At first I was a bit disconcerted and perhaps even saddened not to have a letter from anyone for Pentecost this year. Then I said to myself that perhaps it’s a good sign, that no one is worried about me—but it’s simply a strange drive in human beings to want others—at least a little—to worry about them.

Weizsäcker’s book on the Weltbild der Physik continues to preoccupy me a great deal. It has again brought home to me quite clearly that we shouldn’t think of God as the stopgap [Lückenbüßer] for the incompleteness of our knowledge, because then—as is objectively inevitable—when the boundaries of knowledge are pushed ever further, God too is pushed further away and thus is ever on the retreat. We should find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants to be grasped by us not in unsolved questions but in those that have been solved. This is true of the relation between God and scientific knowledge, but it is also true of the universal human questions about death, suffering, and guilt. Today, even for these questions, there are human answers that can completely disregard God. Human beings cope with these questions practically without God and have done so throughout the ages, and it is simply not true that only Christianity would have a solution to them. As for the idea of a “solution,” we would have to say that the Christian answers are just as uncompelling (or just as compelling) as other possible solutions. Here too, God is not a stopgap. We must recognize God not only where we reach the limits of our possibilities. God wants to be recognized in the midst of our lives, in life and not only in dying, in health and strength and not only in suffering, in action and not only in sin. The ground for this lies in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. God is the center of life and doesn’t just “turn up” when we have unsolved problems to be solved. Seen from the center of life, certain questions fall away completely and likewise the answers to such questions (I’m thinking of the judgment pronounced on Job’s friends!). In Christ there are no “Christian problems.” Enough on this; I’ve just been interrupted again.


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The Cross Reveals the World as Gift

parintele-dumitru-staniloae-de-dinu-lazar-via-roncea-roDumitru Stăniloae (1903-1993) was a remarkable Romanian Orthodox priest and theologian, who led a renaissance of Orthodoxy in his country with his multi-volume Dogmatic Theology, his translation into Romanian of the Philokalia, and his scholarly work on St. Maximus the Theologian. His Dogmatic Theology has been translated into several languages, including English, and his commentaries on St. Maximus have been translated into Greek. I had the immense spiritual benefit of sharing some time with him when he visited St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Dec. 1982, when I was a student there. Every year the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14th) reveals new dimensions of God’s love. Here are some short excerpts from the conclusion of a talk Fr. Stăniloae gave to a group of nuns in England in 1970. He speaks of the Cross in a unique way worthy of this great feast of the Church.

Persons reveal their love for one another by their gifts, and this is also true in God’s relationship with men. In this sense we cannot think of the cross without the world as God’s gift. But on the other side we cannot think of the world without the cross. The cross makes this world transparent for God….

Without the cross man would be in danger of considering this world as the ultimate reality. Without the cross he would no longer see the world as God’s gift. Without the cross the Son of God incarnate would have simply confirmed the image of the world as it is now as the final reality, and strictly speaking he could have been neither God nor God incarnate. The cross completes the fragmentary meaning of this world which has meaning when it is seen as a gift which has its value, but only a relative and not an absolute value. The cross reveals the destiny of the world as it is drawn towards its transfiguration in God by Christ. For this reason at the end of this stage of the world this sign, ‘the sign of the Son of Man’, will be revealed in the heavens above all the world, as a light, as a meaning, as a destiny which illumines the whole history of man (cf. Matthew 24:30).

parintele-dumitru-staniloaeThus the cross is the sign and the means of the salvation of the world… One cannot conceive of a world which is not saved, a world which would always remain in suffering, enclosed in itself, a world in which the cross would not fully fulfil the destiny of the world. Suffering would have no meaning at all unless it was leading the world towards its salvation in God… In the kingdom of God the world has been transfigured by the cross through which God himself is finally revealed and glorified.


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Deep theology = Deep ecology

In Norman MacLean’s A River Runs Through It we read this fascinating bit of dialogue between a father and a son:

Then [my father] told me, “In the part I was reading it says the Word was in the beginning, and that’s right. I used to think water was first, but if you listen carefully you will hear that the words are underneath the water.”

“That’s because you are a preacher first and then a fisherman,” I told him. “If you ask Paul, he will tell you that the words are formed out of the water.”

“No,” my father said, “you are not listening carefully. The water runs over the words. Paul will tell you the same thing.”

I’ve seen the movie, but never read the actual book. The quote comes from a book which I’m currently reading, The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology, by Douglas E. Christie (Oxford University Press, 2013, page 223). After quoting the above passage, Christie goes on to ask:

Are we listening carefully enough? Can we discern this Word, older than the silence, deeper than the water, woven into both?

That is always the question, isn’t it? Are we listening carefully enough? Can we discern the Word, the Logos? “Logos, the Song of the World” is indeed the title of chapter 6 of Christie’s book. And my thoughts today are inspired by Christie’s chapter 6. He writes of faith in the following evocative and provocative way:

faith in the presence of a voice beckoning to us in and through the living world, and faith in power of “our own responses”— that is, our own poetic evocations of the living world— to bring this voice to clear and vivid expression. In its honest exploration of this rich and troubling ambiguity and in its careful attention to the intricate relationship between word and world, the contemporary literature and poetry of nature can help us recover a sense of the Word as incarnate in every living being— as creative, renewing presence in the world, as the source of all language, all storytelling, community, the cosmos itself.

This is incarnational theology at its best and deepest. This is where deep ecology meets deep theology. The connection between theology and ecology runs very deep, deep into common linguistic origins. Theology is theologia (θεολογία), the combination of two ancient Greek words: theos (god) and logos (word). So theology is logos about god. Likewise, ecology comes from two Greek words: oikos (dwelling, house, home) and logos (word). So ecology is logos about home, our home, our planet Earth. But oikos meant more than dwelling. The New Testament gave the Greek word many special meanings. For example:

1 Peter 2:5 “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house” – οἶκος πνευματικός – the Christian community as the spiritual temple of God.

1 Timothy 3:15 “if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God”.

οἶκος Ἰσραήλ (house of Israel), οἶκος Ἰούδα (house of Judah), οἶκος Ἰακώβ (house of Jacob), etc. – a whole clan or tribe of people descended from a common ancestor – thus, nation.

And from the word οἶκος derived many other words which played crucial roles in how the message of Jesus Christ was communicated in the New Testament and in the early church. For example:

οἰκουμένη – from which we get ecumenical, etc. – the inhabited earth.

οἰκονομία – economy, management (of a household), and, most importantly, God’s plan of redemption = dispensation.

The early Christians interacted very easily with their surrounding culture and used all the tools of the Greek language to express their new message of salvation. Most Christian churches of our own time have lost the ability to do deep theology, and have thus lost the ability to interact with the best ecological and political thinking. So we retreat into the safety of sloganeering, traditionalism and tribalism. And there lies the problem with so much of modern Christianity. We no longer hear the Word; we sustain our place in society with marmoreal repetitions of formulaic worship and simplistic slogans of feel-good, superficial religion. Different churches have worked out different strategies to keep people in the pews, but even the most exuberant pentecostal churches and the most business-savvy mega-churches are only prolonging the dying process.

Christie quotes from another book, House Made of Dawn, by N. Scott Momaday – a passage which reimagines the Christian creation story in light of ancient Kiowa myth:

In the beginning was the Word … there was nothing. There was nothing! Darkness. There was no end to it … there was only the dark infinity in which nothing was. And something happened, and everything began. The Word did not come into being, but it was. It did not break upon the silence, but it was older than the silence and the silence was made of it.… And from that day the Word has belonged to us, who have heard it for what it is, who have lived in fear and awe of it. In the Word was the beginning; In the beginning was the Word.

This is an example of the theopoetic act. This word also comes from two Greek words: theos and poiema. Theos is the word for god; poiema is the Greek word that gave us the English word poem. But poiema goes deeper than poem or poetry: it means the act of creation, the product of creation. So I take theopoetic to mean creating the divine in words or art, or in life! We are all meant to be theopoetic beings! We are meant to give expression to the divine in our lives, since we are images, or icons, of the living God. Then and only then we might be able to hear the Word that lies underneath the water; underneath the soil; and underneath the concrete with which we cover the life-giving soil.

Christie had began chapter 6 of his book by mentally connecting an unknown artist painting figures on the stone of a canyon in Utah to John, thousands of miles away on Patmos, looking at the words drying on the parchment on which he wrote them – momentous words, “In the beginning was the Word…” He returns to those two images at the end of chapter 6 with a paragraph that touches deep ecological and theological truth.DSC_3563

I think of that unknown artist at the bottom of Barrier Canyon and of that old man on the island of Patmos. Did they know that deep, archaic silence woven into the very fabric of the world? Did they stand, trembling, in that silence, listening to the world, before finally giving voice, in word, in song, to what they had heard? Can we recover a sense of world so pregnant with Word, a sense of Word so intimately bound up with the very life of the world? Such attentive listening promises a deeper sense of relationship with the places we inhabit. It may also be necessary to the long-term survival of those places.

It seems to me this is the language that is missing in today’s churches: the “sense of world pregnant with Word.” If only we could hear the Word. It sounds mystical, and it is, but it would save us from the disasters we daily inflict on each other and on our planet. But I’m afraid I’m not making much sense. Probably because I also am too much a product of today’s church. I close with this beautiful picture of two friends at Cathedral Canyon in Arizona. Perhaps in a place like this it might be easier to sense the “world pregnant with Word.” (Click to enlarge it.)


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After a Billion Years…

The anticipation has been building the last few days that a big announcement would be made today, and sure enough it came this morning. Gravitational waves have been detected for the first time, the result of two black holes colliding and merging a billion years ago. Einstein predicted their existence a hundred years ago when he published his General Theory of Relativity (1915), and now we know they exist.

Numerical simulations of the gravitational waves emitted by the inspiral and merger of two black holes. The colored contours around each black hole represent the amplitude of the gravitational radiation; the blue lines represent the orbits of the black holes and the green arrows represent their spins.

Numerical simulations of the gravitational waves emitted by the inspiral and merger of two black holes. From Physics (Feb 11, 2016).

It’s big news, one of the biggest that the scientific community could possibly make! You can read about it in any news website, for example:

The New York Times (with an excellent 4-minute video),

The Guardian (with more excellent videos and diagrams)

The Washington Post,

BBC News (maybe best coverage of all).

The detection of gravitational waves allows us to witness the effects of the biggest ‘monsters’ in the universe, black holes. And indeed, the gravitational waves announced today were the result of the collision of two black holes a billion years ago! Future experiments, described in some of the coverage above, will allow us to peer into the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang itself! I hope I live long enough to witness some of these exciting developments.

Many things in science can be observed directly or reproduced in a laboratory. But the most extreme phenomena in science can only be observed indirectly. By extreme I mean the most minute, as in the realm of fundamental particles; and the most remote in the big scale of the universe. Gravitational waves are almost unique, because they are extreme in both senses: they relate to the biggest events in the cosmic scale of the universe, and yet they, like particles, can only be detected by their minute influence on the most sensitive measurements possible! I find the whole thing simply astonishing. This is a red-letter day for science – physics and cosmology specifically.

Why am I so excited about this? First, because I do care about science. I worked in science for several years before switching to theology, which is a science of a different sort than what I was pursuing previously. But more important, I see in today’s announcement a methodology that is not very different from the way theology works.

The Big Bang happened 14 billion years ago, so we can never observe it directly, no matter how far into the cosmos our telescopes take us (and remember, the farthest out into space we look the furthest back in time we are actually seeing, since what we see depends on how long light takes to reach us). But we can see the results of the Big Bang in the expansion of the universe and in something called the Microwave Background which permeates the entire universe and is the fingerprint of that initial explosion. So also gravitational waves: they are the fingerprint of the most violent events and objects in the universe, black holes especially. Black-hole-modelAnd of course, we probably will never directly see a black hole – contrary to science fiction movies like Interstellar (2014), which had a fascinating, but highly speculative, story line involving a black hole. But we can see the effects of black holes on space-time and gravitational waves.

In an analogous way, we cannot see God, but we can see evidence of God and of God’s actions. In last Sunday’s sermon on the Sixth Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart”, I referred briefly to the distinction that St. Gregory of Nyssa and Orthodox theology as a whole make between the ‘essence’ and ‘energies’ of God. We cannot see God in his inner core of his being, in his absolute essence; but we can see the energies of God, meaning God’s activities and the results of God’s existence.

Quite frankly, one could almost say without exaggeration that the empirical evidence for God’s existence is stronger than the empirical evidence scientists have for black holes and the Higgs boson and other important pieces of the cosmic puzzle that is continuously falling into place. I don’t doubt for one minute the existence of black holes or the Higgs boson, and I have no doubt that Darwin’s theory of evolution is the best explanation for the variety of life that we see on earth. But most of the important scientific theories and discoveries rely on highly specialized research facilities and sophisticated experiments that often take years to produce results – as was the case with gravitational waves and the Higgs boson. But the evidence for God is almost universal across the entire range of human civilization. One or two scientists can be wrong, but can billions of human beings across 100,000 years all be wrong?

Scientists who deny the existence of God come up with sophisticated and sometimes profound explanations for why there is religion; and although their explanations are meant to destroy the validity of religion and the belief in God, they do contribute important sociological insights into the variety of human beliefs and actually end up reinforcing the validity of this universal aspect of human existence.

So next time someone asks you whether you have any evidence for God, ask that person if he or she knows anything about gravitational waves. It might be a good conversation opener that might bring you and the other person into better mutual understanding.

Something almost theological about this quote from the movie Interstellar.

Something almost theological about this quote from the movie Interstellar.


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Trinitarian Community

We are living in treacherous and confusing times. In a recent book, I read the following: “the growth in Muslim populations across Europe since the mid-twentieth century runs parallel to secularization or, perhaps more aptly, de-Christianization. As Muslim populations grow and assert their religious identities in the public sphere, Christianity’s public role and influence fade. In other words, the increasing presence and vitality of Islam is accompanied by the decreasing influence and presence of traditional Christianity.” (Todd H. Green, The Fear of Islam: An introduction to Islamophobia in the West, Fortress Press, 2015, p. 157)

Please do not mistake the above quote; it’s not coming from a racist Islamophobe. The book is actually an attempt to understand and confront Islamophobia. But my purpose here is not to write about Islam, though the recent terror attacks in Paris have once again brought to the fore the worst forms of racist fear-mongering. No, what struck me in this quote is the term ‘de-Christianization’ that the author prefers to ‘secularization’.

It is all too easy to toss terms like ‘secular’ around whenever it suits us. It’s an easy way to complain about fake issues like the “war on Christmas”. There is no “war on Christmas”! Christmas was destroyed by Christians and our complete surrender to commercialism! Christians are the ones who have de-Christianized the European and North American societies in which we live. It is Christians, and not atheists, or secularists, or Jews or Muslims, who have trivialized Chistmas and have turned Christianity into a political slogan and a religious whitewash of ego.

Many Christians have forgotten the deep truths of our identiy and existence in the world. Christians have turned their God and their Lord into convenient labels that have no ontological depth. Quite simply, Christians have forgotten that we are meant to be trinitarian beings, living as reflections of our trinitarian God! And having lost our identity and the truth of our existence, we point fingers at others and we blame anyone other than ourselves for the fact that the ultimate truths of Christianity have been turned into mockery and cheap excuses for rampant commercialism. Go on complaining about a so-called “war on Christmas” if it makes it easy for you to ignore your responsibility for de-Christianization.

One of the first books of New Testament theology I bought (about 35 years ago) was by James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament. It wasn’t required for a seminary course; its title simply caught my eye. The phrase “unity and diversity” perfectly summarizes my own way of looking at the New Testament. I see a message that unites all the various writings of the New Testament, and yet there is a diversity of how that central message, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is communicated, explored, and applied by the various writers whose writings make up the New Testament.

When I look at the church community I see a similar dynamic – except that I prefer to call it “unity in diversity.” We come from so many different backgrounds; we have so many different viewpoints among us; we often experience God and worship in our own unique ways in addition to the ways of Orthodox faith and tradition. We are a diverse community, very much a reflection of the world around us.

But with all this diversity we share a unity. And I am happy to say that the more diverse we become the more united we seem to be. There is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:5-6). We are united in the one faith that we call the Orthodox faith; we have one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. We share one baptism; and our church does not distinguish between baptism in the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, or most Protestant churches – we are all one with other Christians in our baptism! And finally, we have one God, whom we call Father, just as our Lord Jesus taught us to call our God.

Most people think of God as the supreme power, far remote from human experience. And so God is. But God the Father is not just the remote supreme being; our Father is “above all and through all and in all.” Our Father is indeed ‘above’ everything, but don’t miss the other two prepositions that Paul uses in this sentence: ‘through’ (δια) and ‘in’ (εν). God the Father is not only the supreme power in the universe, above everything; God the Father is also present in our lives and fills all things.

This should be the primary vision of our church community: to see God the Father in everything we are and everything we do. But God has chosen to be revealed not only as Father, but as Trinity. What a blessing that our church is the Church of the Holy Trinity. Let’s take the name of our church to heart and live the trinitarian life! The Father is the source of our unity. The Lord Jesus is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14), who brings us into the unity that is ours through faith and baptism. And the Holy Spirit is the celebration of our diversity!

At a time of growing suspicion and divisions in the world, as violence and hatred, often in the name of ‘god’, spread everywhere, the trinitarian vision of community life is the only answer, the only way that unity and diversity can be perfected as unity in diversity. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” This is spoken by the priest at the Liturgy immediately after the Creed. The Creed is the Symbol of Faith, Σύμβολον της Πίστεως; it is a concise summary, sometimes using technical language, of the central dogmas of the Christian faith. It is a Σύμβολον because it brings together our fundamental dogmas. But the priest’s words after the Creed relate the doctrines of the Trinity to us: the love of God the Father, the grace of God’s Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion (shared life) of the Holy Spirit.

The Father is the source, from whom everything flows and has its being. The Father is God in the purest definition. Worship in our Orthodox Church is primarily addressed to God the Father. It is to God the Father that we are accountable. The Father is the origin of life and the ultimate destination to whom we return. Our destiny is to be ‘one’ with the Father, just as Jesus was/is one with the Father: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,” Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest (John 17:21), “so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26).

“God is love,” John wrote in his first letter, “and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:8 & 16). God is love, the purest and simplest name for God. But this is love in action: God’s love acts through the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. Everything Jesus did and spoke was a revelation of God’s love. Even when Jesus passed judgment and condemned certain individuals and their actions, it was still out of love – love for those who were abused and misused, or ignored, by those being judged by Jesus. This revelation of God’s love in action is what we call ‘grace’ – hence the prayer in the Liturgy, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father…”

But it doesn’t end there. The Holy Spirit completes the trinitarian picture: “… and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Communion, κοινωνία, is the shared life that is the gift of the Holy Spirit – shared with each other and shared with God. The unity with God that Jesus promised in chapter 17 of John’s Gospel is made real by the Holy Spirit; But it’s a unity in diversity, because the Holy Spirit is the giver and distributer of gifts and talents and abilities. Saint Paul in his letters repeatedly pointed to the role of the Holy Spirit in building the church as the body of Christ – a body made up of many members, with each member contributing to the well being of the whole. And the way we each contribute to the well being of the whole is by using the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to each of us.

We are different, every one of us is unique and uniquely gifted. Even if two of us have the gift of singing, we are different in how we sing the same music; it’s called interpretation. If two of us have the gift of teaching, even if we teach the same subject matter, we teach it differently. This is the miracle of giftedness. No two musicians are alike; no two teachers are copies of each other; no two cooks will create the identical result from the same recipe. This is what makes us unique human beings; we put our own personal stamp on everything we do. And this is the work of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the wellbeing of the body of Christ. Note how the apostle Paul states this truth while placing it in trinitarian language: “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

Here in this extraordinary, brilliant passage we see the trinitarian community in all its pageantry. Note the three consecutive statements phrased the same way: “there are varieties of…, but the same…” But these are not just statements about the three ‘persons’ of the Holy Trinity – Spirit, Lord (Jesus, the Son), and God (the Father) – and you can’t help but notice the ascending order from Spirit to God the Father. They are not just statements about the Trinity, because Paul connects each ‘person’ of the Trinity to a distinct aspect of our lives: gifts (χάρισμα) are connected with the Spirit; service (διακονία) with the Lord Jesus; activities (ενέργημα) with God the Father! The life we live in a trinitarian community reflects the trinitarian life of God: Our activities are reflections of God’s loving energy that makes everything possible; our activities are works of service and grace, just as the Lord Jesus served the purposes of God the Father; and we do everything with the gifts that we receive when we are in communion with the Holy Spirit and with each other!

Diversity in unity; unity in diversity. 

The miracle of trinitarian life!

P.S. I used an expanded version of this in our church newsletter.