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Trinity, Immigration and Domestic Violence

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This is the text of a brief reflection from Pastor Phil on the concept of the Trinity and then what our understanding of God might mean in a world of immigrants and refugees and those among them who find them selves trapped in violent relationships.

Megan Sprecher, an attorney for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, joined Phil in a conversation after his brief reflection. Resources that she provided for those who would like to know how to help are posted after the reflection. Thanks to Megan for her presentation.

Today’s texts – 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13 and Matthew 28: 16-20

Pastor Phil

I’d like to set up the conversation Megan and I are about to have around the tough issues of immigration and domestic violence with a few words about the Trinity.

I know, this may seem like an odd mix – a theological concept that seems far removed from our daily lives and the very gritty realities of so many people in our community today. But I think that whole notion of who God is has something to say how we live out God’s hopes for our world.

The idea of Trinity – a God composed of three distinct entities yet all united in one being – has always been contentious in Christianity, yet it is one of the defining characteristics of Christian belief. The concept goes back to the earliest days of Christianity, as you heard in our scripture readings for today. No other major religion has that notion for describing divinity. It wraps itself around our interpretation of who Jesus was and his impact on our lives.

I don’t want to go into all the twists and turns of Trinitarian theology. I simply want to grab an idea from a contemporary spiritual leader named Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and author who lives in New Mexico. He has a new book called Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation.

Rohr has gotten some nice support for this book, including from as unlikely a source as Bono, the lead singer of the global rock group U2. Bono said Rohr’s approach finds “the sweet spot where contemporary science meets ancient mysticism, and theology meets poetry” as it “sketches a beautiful choreography for a life well–lived.”

At the heart of Rohr’s understanding of the Trinity is that everything in the universe is relational – remember that word as we begin our discussion – and that God is at least as big as the shape of the universe and is dynamic, in movement, in relationship.

He draws on an old Greek term used to describe the Trinity which translates as “circle dance.” And he contrasts so much of the dualistic thinking in our lives – good and bad, insider and outsider – with what he calls the law of three . He puts that this way: “a mind that does not read reality dualistically but is able to hold contradictions until there’s a reconciling third…You can’t choose sides but you have to stay in the flow.”

Think about what that understanding of God might mean to us. This is not a far-away God casting judgments on people, deciding who is in and who is out. This is not a God on a power trip. This is a God containing the swirling dance of a creator and a redeemer and a spirit that spins out a love that embraces all and brings them into the dance.

If we think about God that way, what does that mean as we encounter those who come from elsewhere? If we think about God that way, what does that mean as we work to make relationships safe places rather than a kind of emotional prison bound by violent power and control?

That’s what I’d like to talk about with today with Megan. She works all over the state with issues of people affected by domestic violence, particularly with those who are immigrants for refugees among us.

From Megan Sprecher:
Here are a few links your congregants may find useful.

  • American Immigration Council:
  • Jewish Social Services:
  • UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence:
    • link to donate or volunteer
  • National Immigrant Justice Center:
    • link to donate or volunteer
  • End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: