Three Person Partnership

In my college dorm, there were three types of rooms: singles, doubles where you shared with a roommate,

and quads, where four people shared two bedrooms with a common room between.

Because the campus had some historic old buildings, there were also odd sized rooms

in which they housed three students at a time.

These ‘triples’ as they were called, were great from an architectural standpoint-

refurbished old Victorian mansions had a lot of character and beauty—

but from an interpersonal standpoint, they were not very successful.

In fact, the staff knew that of all the living arrangements on campus, the triples were the most unstable.

Within months of arriving on campus, even the best of friends were often at each other’s throats.

The question was ‘why’?

The answer: the triad configuration always pitted two against three.

The alliances might change, but no matter what, there was always an odd man out.

It can be a rare thing to see a grouping of three work really well as a unit.

So often egos, power, and jealousy get in the way.

It’s hard enough for two people to work those things out and truly be effective partners

whether it is in business, art, marriage or friendship.

But I saw a three person partnership work very well at Koinonia of NY, a Lutheran camp in the Catskill Mts.

Carol, Paul, and Tom had been friends for years.

Tom and Paul had been classmates in seminary (though neither became pastors);

Carol and Paul were married.

The three owned a restaurant on the Mississippi River in Pepin, Wisconsin,

and then served as directors at the famous retreat center Washington State, Holden Village

before coming to Koinonia.

No matter they were, Carol, Paul, and Tom, considered their work to be that of building community.

The three of them had community in themselves—each making a place for the others’ contributions

and communicating openly about problems and concerns.

You could sense the give and take between them, and it made you feel comfortable joining in.

And people did join in.

They welcomed individuals and families and groups to their retreat center all year long.

They especially had a reputation for encouraging young people in their journeys.

Their interest and warmth supported hundreds of 20 somethings who worked a gap year in the kitchens,

laundry, and maintenance yard.

And they were famous for their deliciously simple cuisine and home baked bread.

It was as if their work in making and serving food had prepared them for leading Christian community.

Tom took his cue from Jesus, saying,

“Our Lord began his ministry making too much wine and ended up with brunch on the beach.

So, he was really in food service too, in a way.”

I think of Carol, Tom, and Paul as an earthly example of what the Trinity must be like.

The Trinity is a partnership of three, where each member shares in the life of the community.

Like the best of human community, each person of the Godhead has a contribution to make,

each is appreciated and supported.

Jesus uses familial language to paint a picture of these interrelationship--Father and Son.

He also speaks of the persons as sharing all they have-- power, authority, glory.

No part of the Trinity operates on its own, but all are mutually and lovingly interdependent.

The Trinity is a difficult concept to understand—

it took the Church over three centuries to agree on the language that they would use

to speak of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We will say those hard won words today in the Nicene Creed.

Seeing examples like Paul, Carol, and Tom as a way to understand the Trinity is an old Christian practice.

A centuries old icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev portrays the Trinity as three visitors,

based on a story in Genesis where Abraham entertains three mysterious guests.

The artwork on the cover of the bulletin is based on this icon.

Notice on the visitors are all the same size.

This is a unique feature in portraying the Trinity—

other portrayals depict the Spirit as a dove, much smaller than Jesus—

and often times God is simply a hand pointing from the corner of the canvas.

This image is specifically composed to emphasize the equality, mutuality,

and interplay between the three persons of the Trinity.

But that is not all.

Notice that there is a space at the table.

Three visitors, one space left.

The message is clear—there is a place for you at the table.

A place for you to join in the life of the Trinity, into the work of God.

For as with the trio of camp directors, the partnership does not stop with the three in the Godhead,

but radiates outward, drawing all into the life of the divine community.

It is fitting today, therefore, to welcome both Pastor Persida and Dick Lusso to our community.

They each in their own way have ministries where there is always one more place at the table.

Ministries where they invite others into the life of divine community

where everyone is fed and everyone contributes.

We have the privilege of learning over the summer from Pastor Persida

about her ministry with Neuva Creacion, New Creation—

her bilingual bible study on Thursday evenings here,

and the worship service at Concordia Lutheran in Manchester on Sunday afternoons.

But right now I would like to introduce Dick Lusso, from South Park Inn,

to tell us more about the work of his community,

and how they are participating in the loving work of the Trinity to help people recover and find a home.

And of course, about how there is a place at the table for each of you to participate as well.

Children’s Sermon (courtesy of Pr Dick Burgess)

Anyone know how to braid?

Let’s braid this twine.

What happens when you braid? (three strands woven into one.)

Today is Trinity Sunday, a day when we remember that we talk about God as

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We can talk about God as Source, Word, and Spirit.

Or Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

But it’s always three names, and one God. That’s what Trinity means.

I think this rope we made is a little like the Trinity.

Can you make a connection?

(three parts, one rope)

All strands work together to make it stronger, to do the job of being a rope.

It reminds me of a scripture from the OT book of Ecclesiastes:

“A three strand cord is not easily broken.”

It could describe the Trinity!

It could also describe you and me and God, all woven together into a community.

Alone we are not a strong, but together, we cannot be easily broken.

Now whenever you braid, you can think about God, the Trinity, and how we are part of it.

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