Tag Archives: holyspirit

Mom Doc

Thinking of you.

Smart.  Kind.  Compassionate.

Loving your patients through their pregnancies.

Welcoming every newborn with tears of your own.

Wanting what is best for mom and baby.

Willing to work – and always working – to sharpen your skills.

Praying for you.

Courage.  Wisdom.  Strength.

May your answers bring healing.

Trinity: God Dancing


Dance.  Photo:  TLClark

There were many, many things I could have purchased at the annual Plowsharing Fair Trade pop-up store hosted by Peter’s UCC, Washington, Missouri, more than a decade ago.  But a soapstone carving of three figures dancing was the only one to capture my theological imagination:  it made me think of God.

With Jews, Christians, and Muslims around the world, I believe there is one and only one God.  (We make gods of many things – but that is a thought for another day.)

As a Christian pastor and teacher I wrestle with the historic doctrine of the Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  One of my favorite teachings about the Trinity has to do with ideas of fellowship, community, and dance.  Theologian Shirley C. Guthrie introduces it this way:

John of Damascus, a Greek theologian who lived in the seventh century, developed this understanding of the Trinity with a concept called perichoresis (perry-ko-ray’-sis).  This Greek word is worth learning because it gives us a lovely picture of God.  Peri (as in perimeter) means “around.”  Choresis means literally “dancing” (as in the choreography of a ballet).  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are like three dancers holding hands, dancing around together in harmonious, joyful freedom.

(Shirley C. Guthrie, Christian Doctrine, Revised Edition (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), 91)

Guthrie goes on to say that the “oneness of God is not the oneness of a distinct, self-contained individual; it is the unity of a community of persons who love each other and live together in harmony.” (p. 92)

“The unity of a community.”

Isn’t that a lovely image?  One is not whole without the others.  The others are not whole without every single one.  One might dance alone.  But whether we are speaking of God or of a fellowship of believers, only in community is the dance made whole.

May you dance with God today.

-Pastor T.


“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to …” Acts 2:4a (NRSV)

Of the Christian high holy days, Pentecost is my favorite.

I like lighting candles and singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve just as much as the next person.  Easter isn’t Easter without singing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” in a sanctuary adorned with flowers (lilies, but also tulips and hyacinths and more).  But Pentecost with its fiery red and without an expected favorite hymn makes my heart sing.

Christmas celebrates what was:  Jesus was born.  An universal human experience.  Christmas is not just past tense.  It also celebrates God with us, then and now.  But we tend to dwell on the baby in a manger.

Easter celebrates what is:  Jesus is alive!  The tomb is empty.  Death is defeated.  God says ‘yes’ to Jesus’ word and deeds.  But the good news of Easter is not enough for Jesus’ disciples.  The first followers of Jesus gathered behind locked doors afraid of what might happen next.  And Christians still struggle to venture beyond what is safe and familiar.

Pentecost celebrates what was, what is and what will be.  We don’t have a catchy phrase;  things of the Spirit are not easily summed up.  Pentecost – as celebrated by Christians – marked the beginning of the church.  Fear melted away.  Without quite realizing what happened, the first disciples became bold in speaking up, speaking out.  When they were accused of being drunk, Peter began to preach from the prophet Joel:

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see vision, and and your old men shall dream dreams.  Even upon my slaves both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”   – Acts 2:17-18 (cf Joel 2:28-29) (NRSV)

New words!  New visions!  New dreams!  God raised Jesus up and has poured out the Holy Spirit, who know what might happen next!

The church’s annual Pentecost celebration reminds us that the Holy Spirit – God’s Spirit, the same Spirit that was in Jesus – is among women and men from youngest to the eldest.  She (the Spirit) continues to reside with Jesus’ disciples.  And She is eager to do a new thing:  burning away the old and worn out, blowing away the dried up and no longer needed, offering renewed hope and fresh courage to the weary and the fearful, pushing the faithful to speak up and to speak out wherever they are in the world.

May we heed the Spirit’s lead.

Vine and Branches

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”  – Jesus in John 15:5 (NRSV)


Tulips, Reiman Gardens, 5/4/18

My husband and I went to Reiman Gardens last week.  Besides wanting to see thousands of tulips in bloom, I was hoping to take pictures of vines.  The tulips were beautiful.  The vines were not.

I tend to think of a vine as an indoor plant growing in a pot in a corner with vines looped across the top of a window sill or curled across a shelf.  Outdoors vines are added to flowerpots to add background greenery to brightly colored blossoms.  Vines wind up and around trees along the bike path.  Gardeners grow vines that bear cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and more.  None of these have branches as I think of branches.


Reiman Gardens, 5/4/18  (It sort of looks like vine and branches!)

The vine Jesus mentions is more substantial.  Something, perhaps, like a grape vine.  The thicker trunk (is it called a trunk?) is rooted in place, staying put in all seasons.  Branches also remain throughout the year, drawing sustenance from the vine.  Leaves appear at the appointed time.  In good soil and with the right mix of sunshine and rain, pollination and pruning, the vine and its branches produce fruit.

Jesus, the vine, is rooted in God and nourished in God’s ways.  He offers us the nutrients needed for growing and bearing fruit:  welcome and acceptance, healing and wholeness,  loving-kindness and justice, encouragement and challenge.  But in order to receive all Jesus has to offer, we have to stay connected!  Remaining in relationship with Jesus requires prayer, study, reflection and gathering with others to worship.

Jesus doesn’t describe the fruit.  But letter to the Galatians does:  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience; kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  (Galatians 5:22-23, NRSV)