Monday, June 8, 2009

Brookings, SD gets a wise priest - Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls stuck with me

South Dakota gained a theologically and traditionally grounded priest a few months ago. Fr. Ryan Hall is the Rector at St. Paul's in Brookings, about an hour north of Sioux Falls. His blog is Costly Grace and he comments around the cyber world as Archer of the Forest. Oh, and he just became a dad.

Check out his Trinity Sermon as he opens the challenging mystery for his people:

Contemporary, mainstream Christianity loves to portray God as akin to a teddy bear of your childhood or the mellow family hound dog or even in some contemporary Christian artwork especially in those cheesy e-mail forwards that people feel they must unleash upon unsuspecting clergy, the picture of the cute, peaceable-looking lion with a lamb cuddled neatly in his mane.

But is God really nothing more than a big, domesticated cat that sits in your lap and purrs on occasion when you want to lavish some attention upon him? Is that really the God of the Bible, that unexplainable mystery which we call and understand as the Trinity?

We also have readings this morning from the Psalm and more poignantly from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah that show us a different element about the nature of God. In the Isaiah reading, Isaiah has a vision of the Holy of Holies, the very throne upon which sits the almighty God with winged angels flying around and crying out the words that we hear in some form every Sunday in the Eucharistic prayers, ""Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory."

Paradoxically, this is also the image of God that a lot of people in the West want to over exaggerate, as if God is some almighty being with lightning bolts in his fists like Zeus on Mt. Olympus; a being the Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers liked to refer to as the "infinite other." A being so completely unlike humans, emotionless, all knowing, unchangeable, the Ages of Ages."

How can both of these images of God that we are presented from the scripture readings today be accurate? Can God be both personal and transcendent? That is the conundrum we are faced with this Trinity Sunday.


The Underground Pewster said...

Thanks for the link.

The Oblate said...

Your headline says "Good Shepherd--stuck with me". Not such a bad thing! You've shown us how to take our dusty Bibles out of the rack and open them. O.k., o.k., so we still need you to tell us what page the book of the Bible you're referring to is on...but someday we'll be able to throw off our "training wheels" and know just where to turn. We as a congregation are no longer sleeping through past priests sermons and, oh.. my.. gosh (!) we're actually now known to take a note or two during the service. All of this is because we're "stuck" with you. Not bad at all.

TLF+ said...

Awwww... thanks for the affirmation. But "taking notes"? Don't you guys know that those will be evidence against me when TEC order my herersy trial (uh, I mean, "reconciliation process")?

Mary said...
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The Archer of the Forest said...

Well, I don't know about the wise part, but I try to be a good priest, often despite my best efforts.