Peterson, Corrine. The River of Life, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56247 [retrieved May 13, 2023]. Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/22711505@N05/5818969367.
RCL Year A, Easter 6
Acts 17:22-31, Psalm 66:7-18, I Peter 3:13-22, Saint John 14:15-21
The main idea of this homily is disarmingly, if not embarrassingly, simple. I am going to compare favorably a child’s game, a game I played, with the deepest mystery of all. And then, I am going to suggest to you that the child’s game offers a fine way to enter and to live with that deepest mystery of all.
First, the child’s game. It is a version of skipping or jump rope, a game played decades before the invention of the smart telephone and before the coding of thousands of apps for the smart telephone.
The game is played this way. Two players, holding a rope, stand twelve or fifteen feet apart, and they swing the rope in circles large enough for a third player, standing outside the swings, to time them and to jump into the swings. The successful player will jump into the swings and jump the rope at least a dozen times or be eliminated from that round of the game. All three players take their turns, and one of the three is eventually a winner. My cousins and I called the game “Hots,” because the swings were not slow; they were fast.
Before I get to the deepest mystery of all, I want to make a general comment about the Gospels in late Easter. They prepare us for the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and for Trinity Sunday as Jesus teaches his disciples about the relationships among the Trinity and our place in that divine life. The deepest mystery of all is the complex interrelationship among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You can see it, if you wish, as a complex dance or, as I maintain, as a game of Hots. The dance, the game, the relationship among the Three goes on eternally. We stand somewhat outside of it yet able to see something of it. Made in the image of God, we perceive something of God, but not everything. The deep mystery, in other words, remains through our earthly lives. Jesus teaches us how to perceive more of God and how to live with God and our neighbor. Jesus, the Lord of the Dance, teaches us how to dance or, if you will, how to jump into the swings of the rope.
He tells us today in the Gospel that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. Keeping his commandments is how we dance. I take it that the most important commandment is the one Jesus gave on Maundy Thursday. We are to love one another as he loves us.
Keeping his commandments is how we jump into the swings of the rope. It is how we live in the company of the Holy Trinity for ever. He says that he will ask the Father, and the Father will give us the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because the world neither sees nor knows the dance. We know the Spirit of truth, Jesus says, because He abides with us.
To me, the Christian life is indeed that simple. The Holy Trinity carries on its ministries and operations regardless of whether we pay attention or not. Made in the image of God, we find that the Holy Trinity respects our will in these matters. We can choose to join or we can choose to wait for another dance at another time. But the choice is ours.
Over the accumulating years of my life experience, I have found that this indeed is the true way to see things. It is immeasurably comforting to find that this is how the Psalmist saw them, “I called out to him with my mouth, * and his praise was on my tongue.”
 Saint John 14:15.
 Saint John 14:17.
 Psalm 66:15.