An old catechism

I can’t remember where this came from, probably Credenda/Agenda. Maybe Doug Jones wrote it? Anyway, I found it in my files.

Opening

A. Why do the heathen rage?

The Lord has called them to a feast, quite fat

with milk and honey, rich with meat and bread,

but they would rather die than take a bite.

B. Why do they love the dark and not the party?

The dark helps them pretend they are alone,

where they can play the king of all,

where no one pushes back against their face.

C. And why does God offer a feast?

God is a feast: come taste and see; sweeter

than honey. He is a party, a dance

named Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

D. But what sort of dance is the Lord?

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dance

like heroes after triumph, King David,

and those women whirling at God’s wedding.

E. Wait, why does God have a wedding?

His joy bursts out, spilling; He wants to share

the pleasure of this dance. The Spirit woos;

the Father calls; the Son seeks out His bride.

Community

F. Why do Father, Son, and Spirit enjoy each other so much?

They have never been alone. Forever

side-by-side and through-and-through; they

have no secrets, and know each other inside out.

G. But some people who live long together despise one another.

But Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

give up life for one another, a sacrifice,

a gift received by each with greater thanks.

H. Why do they sacrifice for one another?

Each counts the other better, like friends who

brave a burning house to free a failing

friend; he cannot live without their breath.

I. But does that mean that God can die?

God cannot die; His sacrifice gives life,

more and more, a miracle of glory,

a light upholding light for evermore.

J. What do we call this mysterious connection of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
This sacrifice, this freedom, this excess
of joy that shapes all things, this dance of God,
this bond, this heart divine, we call: love.

Unity

K. So the three Gods love each other very much?

No, nein, nyet. Only one God lives and moves

and holds his own. Father, Son, and Spirit

are one, not three. Simple math is too loose.

L. Does this three-is-one not hurt your head?

No, we love the thrill. I am no judge

of God; no human mind would make this up.

We’re too bland and flat to match His art.

M. But still, can you make any sense of God’s oneness?

“The Lord our God is One” because the Son

indwells the Father, Father indwells Son,

Spirit in the Father, Spirit in the Son.

N. Is God also one from some other angle?

The Father brings forth the Son, begotten,

not made; the Son sends out the Spirit,

almighty, advancing from the Father.

O. Why is the oneness of God important?
We need not fear a thousand gods at war;
no petty squabbles with Zeus and Hera;
our One a handshake, a bond of harmony.

Particularity

P. So this one God must have three parts or wear three masks, a mask for Father, one for Son, one for Spirit?

No, nein, nyet. He wears no masks; God’s truly

three, each unique. The Father’s not the Son,

nor Spirit, Son, nor Father, Spirit.

Q. How is the Father unique?

The Father’s known for origins, beginnings,

and the past. He gets the story started,

then betrayed, and speaks the Son, begotten.

R. How is the Son unique?

The Son is known for body, fully God

in flesh, the present, faithful Word, the king

and priest who comes to win his bride.

S. How is the Spirit unique?

The Spirit’s known for power, giving life

to bones, the future. He brings relief and fire,

perfects with beauty, completes the story.

T. So some divine persons are better and some submit?
No, all are equal, wholly God on par,
none better, stronger, but the Son submits,
Spirit proceeds, none grasping for equality.

History

U. How, then, does God begin to draw us to His wedding?

At first, He pressed His face through matter,

His grin seen in whales, lions, ostriches,

that style shown in horses, locusts, marriage.

V. What marriage in creation is this?

Adam and Eve were married in the Garden,

a king and queen, enjoying peaches, hawks,

each other, sent to build bridges, phones, toys.

W. Why did they never accomplish these things?

They grew impatient, ungrateful, fussy;

they pictured God as simple, stingy, a rule.

God closed His dance and sent them off to grow.

X. Where did they go? What did they do?

Their numbers grew, and some loved Oneness,

as tyrants, others loved the Many, as

fragments; they could not dance the One-in-Three.

Y. How would they ever return to God’s wedding?
God gave them wedding gifts: sweet law, good land,
and death; he gave big piles of promises,
free desert trips—but no groom, no Son or Spirit.


Z. Who could overcome such thirst? such darkness? such death?
The Trinity unveiled in flesh, in Jesus Christ,
the long awaited groom, the Son of God,
who came to free His dirtied bride, weeping
and torn, now longing for the dance. He
slayed her dragon, poured her water, fed her
bread and wine. He brought her new white clothes
and a new white name, Church. He pulled her close
and whispered: Rage no more, just kiss the Son.

History

Y. How could the dirtied bride enter the Son’s wedding?

Christ killed her sin upon His bloody cross;

Like Father and the Spirit, triune life

is death and gift, a dance of sacrifice.

X. Where did the Son take her? What does she do?

United to His wife, He raised her from

the dead, ascended into heaven, and joined

the dance, the fellowship of Trinity.

W. How can the bride not fall again, like in the Garden or the desert?

Unlike Mosaic saints, who strained without

a will, God poured the Spirit in His Church,

empowering us for loyalty and love.

V. What is the purpose of this marriage of Son and Church?

This new Adam and Eve pick up the work

abandoned by the first—to raise a godly

seed, expand the feast, and build a garden city.

U. How does God send us from the wedding?

He loads our arms with water, wine, and bread

and sends us cheering down the highway,

to fill the wedding hall with guests

Particularity

T. How do connections in the Church somewhat reflect the Trinity?

The Church is one, a body joined by bone,

skin, and blood; some of us knees, some eyes, all

dependent, no toes surging to be lips.

S. How does the Spirit shape the Church?

The Holy Spirit changes us, step-by-step,

matures us for divine surprises now

and evermore, expectations unimagined.

R. How does the Son shape the Church?

The Son gives His body, His righteousness,

so we can share His throne beside the Father,

and join the song against His enemies.

Q. How does the Father shape the Church?

The Father calls the Church to love the past,

learn its story, overcome, hear the Son,

and boldly walk through earth and heaven.

P. How do the real differences between Father, Son, and Spirit reflect life?

God sends us death, disease, and war to help

us love the burning chasms bright within

His glory, depths beyond compare.

Unity

O. Why is God’s oneness important for the Church?

The Son prayed for union within His bride,

as Father dwelt in Him, and He in Father,

and so one day our splinters will connect.

N. How do we indwell one another?

We indwell by giving up our life and strength

for others, making them more free and full,

and they, in love, return the gift to us.

M. What does giving up life and strength look like?

The laws of God express the love of God,

they show us sacrifice and loyalty,

tenderness and jealousy, faith, hope, and gift.

L. How do we learn these mysteries of love?

We do not learn them in a lab or draw

them in a proof. The Lord reveals these things

in Scripture and leads the Church to truth.

K. How does Scripture go about showing Father, Son, and Spirit are one?

Scripture calls each one God and marks their work:

creating, saving, judging, all divine,

while saying none beside or like Him lives.

Community

J. Why can’t hermit-like gods of other religions love like the Trinity?

They “lived” alone from all eternity,

not sharing, giving, speaking to an equal;

they had no social skills, just solitude.

I. Should we think of three first then one, or one first then three?

God’s mystery declares for both, as one

ancient said, I cannot think one without

the three, nor three without the one.

H. Is the will of God arbitrary, able to change any which way?

Loner gods live like that, with no one else

to press against, but Father, Son, and Spirit

submit their wills in love, creating one.

G. Why is it often so hard for humans to get along together?

The modern world believes we’re little gods,

each alone, each supreme, each full, each a bead,

disconnected, rolling for no goal.

F. How can we imitate how the Father, Son, and Spirit enjoy each other?

For us, love must cover many little sins,

consider others as better than ourselves,

and keep our eyes on what’s important.

Closing

E. Why do Father, Son, and Spirit wish to share their life?

They find each other most intriguing—artists,

after all, of eagles in air, serpents on rock,

ships across sea, and men and women kissing.

D. Why does God laugh at those who reject His gifts?

Loyalty: the Son turns tables for the Father,

the Spirit defends the Christ, the Father

mocks those who seek the Son’s inheritance.

C. Why does God give us a banquet in front of our enemies?

To show the smallness of their hearts; they so

hate their bodies and its hunger, they cannot

dance or bear the triumph of His grace.

B. How do we come to love the wedding and not the dark?

By nothing in ourselves; God’s foolishness

undoes ours; He gives new eyes; some He drags,

some He pushes, many come born inside.

A. What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?
And why has He crowned us with such glory?
Praise God’s excellent name—Father all-gracious,
victor, Son our mansion, Spirit our breath.

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