Dec 19 2018 Midweek Advent #3
Living in a rural community I’m sure most of you can finish this little proverb- leaves of three…(let them be; berries white, take flight). It’s a way of teaching young children and forgetful adults not to touch plants that may be poisonous like poison ivy or poison sumac or poison oak. Just the touch can set off a bad reaction and very uncomfortable skin rash.
What’s this have to do with our Chrismon series? Well like last week when I compared the RX symbol for prescriptions to the PX symbol for Christ the healer of the world I’d like to compare the leaves of three let THEM be to the many Chrismon symbols that contain three elements.
The difference being instead of let THEM be, we should think “let it be.” Remember the beatles song “Let It Be.” “When I find myself in times of trouble mother Mary comes to me whispering words of wisdom let it be.” The composer of that hit song Paul McCartney said it came to him after a long day of travel and watching one bad news thing after another. It seemed like every one hated everybody and the world was on fire.
The message in his sleep was his mom, whose name was Mary coming to him and calming him and instead of saying everything will be all right, or everything IS all right she just stroked his head and said “Let it be.” Meaning its not your job to fix it, let go of your responsibility for the world and let it be. Kind of this too shall pass, God’s got this, let go let God. Just in this moment be a child, don’t be the world’s firefighter or earth’s police officer, let it be. Be God’s child for now, rest and we’ll tackle it again in the morning.
How many of us can remember being soothed by our mom or dad, or grandparents during a difficult time as a child? The toy was broken, the knee was scraped, the pet had died. Just the fact that they were there, holding us, comforting us, letting us be sad but not alone, letting us cry but not alone, letting us know its okay to hurt but don’t give up hope. Don’t give up hope because they were going to be there for us.
For me I’ve had some of those “Let it Be” moments in my life. Where the world is on fire around me or worse yet my life seems like a dumpster fire and a loved one let me know I wasn’t alone or going to have to go it alone. I could just let it go, let it be, because I had someone to turn to, lean on, be with, trust in.
Just like this symbol, says God rules, God’s got this. All these various Chrismons who’s designs allude to three, whether it’s a triangle or bumps or circles. The design of three is to make us think of the Triune God. The one in three, the three in one, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. While I can’t go into the concept of the Trinity in all its fullness in a short midweek Wednesday night message I do want a pivotal point of why we worship a triune God to be lifted up.
Leaves of three… Let IT BE. When you see these symbols of three, its not to discourage you from touching the trinity. Its too hard to fathom, it will give you a headache, accept it don’t question it. Too often that’s what we do as Christians- Oh yeah the trinity who Knows what that means?! Don’t ask, so they won’t tell so you won’t be confused.
The God Christians’ worship has revealed himself in three distinct but not separate ways. God created all that exists: Father. God redeemed all humanity: Son. God sustains all the faithful: Spirit. Creator, redeemer, sustainer, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I put it this way. If God was only a creator; a giver of life and did his thing 6 billion years ago and then left us on our own- “thanks for the gift, now what?!!” Wouldn’t be good news! It wouldn’t be helpful, “Great we gave a purpose but we’re abandoned.” Instead God not only created but God loved us enough to become one of us. God loved us enough to redeem us: Son. And he was a life giver also, had the power of life that was greater than death. That’s better news, God the life giver is a lover of us.
Yet if God only loved us a long time ago, what help is that now. That’s where the life giver Holy Spirit comes in. God is revealed in sustaining so many believers even when they couldn’t sustain themselves. God got me through “it.” Our Great life giving, redeeming, sustaining God is here all the time. All the time, God is good, and God is good, all the time.
That’s what the Chrismons remind us with their symbols of Three- a God who gives life, redeems lives (our lives), and sustains life. If the CEO of the universe cares about me, died for me, rose for me, wants to hear my prayers and dry my tears then I’m not alone in the midst of life’s trials. In the midst of my life’s dumpster fires you and I can turn with confidence to a God who tells “My child, Let it be.” I’ve got this, there may be suffering now but God gives a hope that does not disappoint.
These symbols of three are a powerful symbol of the powerful life giving God- who can make something out of nothing, rise out of the ashes of the grave and sustain us when we have nothing left. These symbols of three are a dramatic and strong message of faith to “Let it Be.” Paul McCarthy didn’t think this up first. I think he borrowed it from the psalmist who said; “ Be still and know that I am God”
I still remember a church camp sermon that meant so much to me when I was going through I time that I felt my life was a dumpster fire. Be still and Know that I am God…Be Still and know that I am…Be still and know that I…Be still and know that…Be still and know…Be still and…Be still…Be Amen.
The symbol of Three it should invoke awe and wonder about the mystery of one in three three in one. But it also should convey a comforting message of this mysterious miraculous three in one God loves us enough to give us life, cares for us enough to sacrifice his life, and is active now helping to guide our life. When you see leaves of three on this tree, don’t think let them be, think Let it be. Amen.