Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-5
Sermon: “Pollyanna, Eeyore, or What?” by Pastor Todd Buurstra
Once upon a time, before all time… there was a fellowship, a heroic intimacy, something called the Trinity. A very intriguing start to a theology of the biblical story! From about 500 AD till about 1970 we started theology with the Fall—Sin. In the Discovery Class we plot the Christian life in three movements: Sin, Salvation, and Service. From about 1970 till now we tend to start the biblical story one step back with God’s good creation, before we get into sin, salvation and service. But Eldredge goes back one step more, like the church fathers/ mothers, pre 500, to start the story once upon a time, before all time with a heroic intimacy, the Trinity. Why is the starting so important? Where you start the story determines how you approach life!
Indeed the gospel of John intimates this trinitarian intimacy with Jesus the Word being one with God the Creator, whom Genesis already taught is one with the Spirit. As Meister Eckhart masterfully put it, we are born out of the laughter of the Trinity. As the perfect couple ends the wedding and starts their family with a passionate kiss, so God loved Jesus and the Spirit, before the world came to be. As the wise old couple can read the other’s thoughts from smiles/frowns, so Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God were a complete oneness before we were.
And this is important for how we approach family life because Counselor Eldredge writes children would much rather know that their parents loved each other than that they loved them. It reminds me of that wall hanging I saw in Chris’ house: The most loving thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. I guess Chris, an elder in my Sussex County church, had longed for that from her husband, Deacon Bill. And their family bore witness to its truth. Born in the Appalachians of NJ, Bill got Chris pregnant at 16. (At retirement they’ll celebrate their 50th!) Their first set of kids, Billy and Becky, were born in their pot-smoking, spouse-swapping era. Billy and Becky have always struggled with their own addictions, multiple marriages, etc. Finally, at 40 they’ve rock-climbed their way to stability. Rachel and Sarah were born in Mom and Dad’s 40s, having left the reefer to become Republicans, meanwhile gaining a loving, Christ-centered relationship. Sarah has her Ph.D. in Physical Therapy, has only been married once, actually had her child after marriage, a success! Rachel is about to get married next year, after thriving in college. What a difference! A direct result from knowing that you’re born out of the laughter of the Trinity is to raise your kids out of deep love.
Yet the Bible students among us know that the Jehovah Witnesses are right! There is no mention of the word trinity in the Bible. But its fingerprints are everywhere. Not only are the three equally God, in theological accounting, they only add up to one. But you’re barking up the wrong tree if you try to wrap your finite mind around this infinite mystery. Better to just believe in your soul that eternal love has existed forever, and will exist forever, and let it waft over you into your thinking so it permeates your approach to life. Eternal love.
But if you focus only on eternal love we might have to call you Pollyanna. For a Pollyanna perspective on life is overly optimistic. You know, the sun will come out tomorrow… Pollyanna’s believe that love is all there is. People will melt into love if you smile enough. The Holocaust was basically an accident; there is no tempter devil. There is only love.
Enter Evil in Act II of the Bible story—the traditional starting point of theology giving a very different life perspective. Why is there a parallel creation story to Genesis in John? Because evil disrupted eternal love with sin. So that John’s story is really a recreation story. Jesus is about to enter to save the world. Eldredge tells the story of Lucifer, the captain of heaven’s armies that led the revolt against the Trinity, not out of love, but out of lust for power. Because of Lucifer and his minions evil entered so people hide explosives in their underwear to blow up planes on Christmas. Inexplicable tragedies like the Port au Prince earthquakes happen.
(Actually Bible students, one more thing, though Eldredge has the basic story of fallen angels right, there is no mention of an evil angel named Lucifer in the Bible. If you study the Isaiah 14:12 passage, the name Lucifer should be translated son of dawn, and refers to the King of Babylon. Why do I say this? Because leaving evil nameless, adds to its mystery, and adding to evil’s mystery keeps us on our toes. As Eldredge pens, Life is very confusing if you do not take into account that there is a Villain.) But don’t view life solely from this starting point.
What happens if you start your Bible theology from sin? Then your name is Eeyore. Good Morning, Eeyore. Good morning, if it is a good morning, which I truly doubt. The 7.0 earthquake in Haiti: How could a loving God put so much on a luckless people? No reason to roll up your sleeves. There’s nothing you can do. It’s impossible. The other shoe will fall.
So, how is a Christian to approach life, like Pollyanna, or Eeyore? Like neither. If you start the Christian story with eternal love, and are realistic to acknowledge the entrance of evil, then you realize that eternal love is deeper than evil, so your name is Hope. So Hope, what do you say about Haiti? It’s a tragedy, but we have the opportunity to build it back better—just like we did with the Indonesian tsunami where former Presidents helped us raise $8 B! Two weeks from today we will take a Mission offering for Haiti on Super Bowl Sunday. This donation is unique because it will be a cup of cold water in Christ’s name. Why is that important? Because when you watch the news reports of Haiti’s resiliency what do you see? Voodoo doctors? No, Christians singing, praying, worshiping. Connecting to eternal love in the face of evil because the Christian’s name is…Hope. You can give hope through our Super Bowl Sunday offering.