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All for One and One for All 5 27 18

Many of us who come to worship, activities and outreach


programs here at church are single. Whether never married or
partnered, not currently in a relationship, divorced, separated or
widowed, we who are not “with someone” navigate a different kind of space
when it comes to joining in or inviting others to join. Just as there are stereotypes
about the perfect couple, or the nuclear family, there are stereotypes about those
who are single. We hear from way back when that “two is company, three is a
crowd.” We know that being the third wheel is not something you want to be.
Being identified as the odd one out (that is, not in an even pair with another
person) makes one feel odd.
On the flip side, singles are characterized broadly as being free and easy.
No tether to someone waiting at home, you can do what you want. “The singles
scene” is branded as narrowly as “the gay lifestyle” as though one size fits all.
Images of singles bar hopping, surfing online dating sites and National Singles day
(January 11th – 1/11, get it?) dance through our heads. Life as a single person is
idealized, and at the same time depicted as a futile and constant search for “the
one.”
So we come to church in the hopes that the desire for spiritual well being
will override the cultural push to pair up physically. We do things in groups with
the expectation that one’s singleness will not be an issue. Yet in many
congregations, some subtly and some overtly, there is an underlying message that
aligns with culture. We read in Genesis that it is not good for someone to be
alone, and that we leave our families of origin in order to join together with

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another individual. Based on those readings might conclude that the only Biblical
teaching is that it is better to be in a couple than to be alone.
I guess it makes sense. The most commonly taught Biblical story n
children’s Sunday school is about Noah’s ark and the animals coming aboard two
by two. We think in terms of twos - either/or. As kids we line up in two rows, we
learn that our eyes, ears, hands, legs and feet come in twos. We are taught from a
very early age about binary contrasts: Black and white, up and down, right/wrong,
boy/girl, sick/well, high/low, rich/poor, drunk/sober, smart/dumb, hard/soft,
gay/straight, housed/homeless, in/out, at war/at peace. Sesame Street would be
up (or down) a creek if we didn’t think in terms of two opposing poles.
At what point in our lives do we realize that our lives - our spiritual,
physical, mental lives - are not characterized by absolutes? When do we wake up
to situational ethics? When do we begin to see shades of grey and green and
auburn? In what moment do we find ourselves more confused by having only
two choices? Surely there is something more than being a believer or not a
believer. Surely there is at least a third way beyond arming the world, or voiding
the world of weaponry. Surely the gender spectrum is wider than we knew, now
that people are speaking their truth to self-identify as trans-gendered or non-
gendered. When three children are standing in front of a see saw built for two,
surely there is an impulse to create a whole new game.
So we come back to church, seeking a road map that has multiple
destinations. We are seeking a whole new game – a new way of being in
relationship that goes beyond the usual dichotomies of heaven and earth, human
and divine, sin and redemption. In the United Church of Christ, there is an
underlying foundation of uniting beliefs, not discarding them. From its inception,

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four denominations came together to form one. The four denominations didn’t
each give up what they had in order to join with the others, they brought
everything they had to the table.
It is no small matter that one of the ideas that all four denominations held
in common was the doctrine of the Trinity. The triune God. One in three persons,
blessed Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Ghost/ Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer/
Love, Beloved, and Lover/ Creator, Christ and Spirit. The Trinity is no small matter
because it breaks down our preconceptions, and shapes who we are and how we
relate to each other.
The true essence of God is not a spectrum between two poles. The true
essence of God is more like the sculpture pictured in your bulletin. It is one piece,
but it expresses itself differently from diverse angles. You can see three parts
interconnected, but they don’t really overlap. But they are related. And all three
are needed for it to stand. This is the image in which we are made. This image of
interconnected being is not only who God is, it is who we are. We are more than
one or two or three. The divine image we bear does not include the concept of
Odd One Out, or three being a crowd. The image that defines us is the image of
inclusiveness, of fluidity, spirit, instinct, matter, and idea.
The triune image in which we are created determines things like calling our
congregation a church family, it inspires three cups of coffee, it opens the door to
an All Church Retreat and prompts us to roll out a list of names for God so long
that our children start to laugh.
God needs the church to witness to the interdependence of life. David
Lose, professor of Theology in Minneapolis writes:

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God is in relationship in a way that we are not in relationship. Or, better,
God is in relationship in the way we were intended to be in relationship and are
invited to be in relationship even now. The relationship of the three members of
the Trinity is not only a relationship of equals, three persons sharing themselves
fully, but also a relationship of complete and free interdependence… a whole new
game. The three members of the Trinity define themselves in, with, and through
each other...This mutual, free, and shared interdependence is a wholly different
kind of relationship than [the relationships] that govern our world.

The Trinity therefore not only holds out a possibility beyond our limited, binary
relationships, but actually invites us into the sharing and interdependence of the
God who is Three-in-One.
Through the Triune God we will never be known as the odd one out, the
third wheel, or a crowd. In the image of God we are more than the sum of our
parts – we are the joy of our creator who has many names.
Amen.

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Scriptures
Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness;
and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air,
and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every
creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in the
divine image, in the divine image, God created them; male and female God
created them.

Matthew 28:19-20
19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey
everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to
the end of the age.”
**
Revelation 1:8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who
is to come, the Almighty.

John 1:1-4
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God. The Word was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being
through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being. What
has come into being in the Word was life, and the life was the light of all people.