Monday, May 12, 2008

Matthew 28:16-20

Pentecost +1 – Year A

Matthew 28:16-20

The lection passages this week have been chosen to give authority to the idea, concept, reality, hope, relationships that has come to be deemed "Trinity." A key question is whether this metaphor is still constituent for Christians or if it has passed its helpfulness. My sense is that we are moving past this doctrinal formulation, but there are miles to go. What will be helpful is our not taking it more seriously than a vision of the past can bear. If the Trinity can't take being laughed at, it probably needs to be sidestepped in favor of a larger picture. Panentheism would broaden it to Infinity and monotheism would return it to Unity. Are you on one pole or the other or on the continuum between?

Paying attention to context is helpful. Here we have travel-tired disciples worshipping and doubting, at one and the same time. This is key to the on-going debates about Trinity and how difficult it is to teach this concept.

I am presuming that more than Thomas are doubting, that others learned from him that doubt is an acceptable beginning spot for interaction with Jesus.

In this mix of tired, worship, and doubt Jesus draws nearer than his worshiped distance would otherwise allow to say four things, with the Trinity being but a subset of one of them:
   • Be.
   • Baptize.
   • Teach.
   • Re-member.

In these we find some basics.

Go can also be Be. There is a journey and we are on it. Authority that can motivate to journeying is helpful. Authority that constrains to pre-ordained outcomes is not helpful.

Baptism and it's qualities of Repentance, Turning, Belovedness takes precedence over any institutional words that define and limit it. To be baptized by John is as significant as that in one, two, or three names of what we call Trinity. Whatever leads one to a reconsideration of life and recommitment to larger life is holy.

Baptism is an entry into learning; learning even from temptations. Teaching is thus a holy endeavor as significant as journey and baptism. Teaching how to love one another, love enemies, love self and neighbors, and love G*D goes beyond mere obedience, all the way to life itself. What else are we teaching all day long? What else are we learning all day long?

Each of these points finds new and renewed life in the context of an on-going experience of G*D's incarnation – re-membering or rebirth in the mangers of our hearts. This experience vivifies authority and journey, visions new baptisms, challenges teachings and doubts.

= = = = = = =


A census of remaining disciples brought them back to Galilee. Here angelic song and shepherdic doubt came together one more time. In this crucible Christ was heard to say: I'm entrusting the creative authority John sees in me to all of you. Get moving to share what you know. Start with repentance from past and present (use any experience base you find helpful – that of creation, resurrection, or interconnection) and move deeper into a preferred future through the five love images I taught. Most importantly know that Love never ends and my participation in that will help sustain you all along life's journey. We are yoked together – onward – Emmanuel begins again – in you!


  1. Hi Wesley,

    I am interested in your comment on Matthew 28: 16-20 where you say. "Go can also be Be." Does this weaken the 'making' of disciples. I would be interested in your understanding of 'making disciples'.
    My reason for asking is that I keep thinking that those of us (and I am one) who have chosen a more progressive theological position have chosen not to make disciples as a reaction to conservative, evangelical theology and the church is suffering as a consequence. What can we say that is helpful here?

  2. Don -
    You've pointed to an important question. I'll respond a bit more later. Right now I have to go and wonder who it is that will arrive.

  3. Don, here are the further comments. Thanks for the questions. They need more than this, but this is what is available after a day of more going than being.
    For me the "making" of disciples is a part of "going on to wholeness". The mechanistic frame for "making" ends up with product like creeds. I prefer "calling" folks into the light or the light forth from folks. This allows response, movement, a still becoming. It also permits steps backward without having to be remade.
    The 2 Corinthians passage this week speaks to this with the phrase, "Jesus Christ is in you." We are called to reveal that which is already present, not to remake some pig's ear into a silk purse.
    I appreciate the addition of direction for those who do what they can to reveal Jesus – to transform the world.
    My hesitation about "making" disciples is not so much a reaction to an approach that would simply have one repeat the right formula with sufficient emotion, but that the sense of modeling and calling are more powerful and on-going images. This would explain a preference for language of being over that of going. I have a preference to Be Christ, not to Go after Christ somewhere within someone else. I know this runs dangers aplenty, but with good friends attempting the same we can keep the ego from running amok overmuch.

  4. Hi Wesley,

    Sorry I didn't get back earlier.

    Yes I understand the concept of being. To give a practical example. In one of my congregations we set up a cafe and we specifically used the model of 'being a presence' so that the spirit of God could be at work.. and at work God was as we offered ministry to many many people. The opportunities and ministry was endless and the cafe still runs today. However the issue for many of us is that we were and are still running out of people to continue that ministry. It seems that people were really grateful to receive ministry but not willing to make the next step to become disciples with us.
    I guess this is where I am coming from when I think about 'making' disciples. This is particularly relevant for us in the Uniting Church in Australia when we expect, based on current statistics and given that the average age of our congregations is 62 years of age, to lose at least 40% of our membership in the next 15 years.
    I love the being - am i being impatient here.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.