The Divine Dance


It’s a Greek word that was used by theologians centuries ago to describe the Trinity. A Conference leader used the term at a recent training session, and it took us all a moment to figure out what he was talking about. Perichoresis carries the implication of moving around together. Theologians used it to describe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as locked arm-in-arm in something like a circular dance. (If a scene from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” comes to mind, you’re pretty close.)

At the close of the session, the presenter had us all stand arm in arm, looking each other in eye, as we tried to understand the Trinity, our community with God, and our community with one another. We didn’t dance, because we were all too uncoordinated. My arms ached as I kept them up on the shoulders of the two tall colleagues standing on either side of me. However, I got the picture. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are linked in an inseparable community. They act together. They work together. Always.

The Trinity is a model for our community. Made in the image of a Triune God, we love one another like members of the Trinity. Yes. We are linked in an inseparable community. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, part of a family. We don’t get a choice in it. We can’t leave it. That’s one way the theology of the Trinity works itself out in our lives. I’m glad that theologically speaking we are a community, because we desperately need that community. I am a pastor, and I need other pastors in my life. I serve church planters, and I see church planters in need of community with one another.

I think about Brian Bethke, ministering (in some ways) all alone to a group of people in southern California left largely untouched by the Church. I think about the way he drives a long distance each way to his congregation, because he has a week-day job elsewhere. I think about the fact that there are few pastors close by who can connect with him and encourage him. But Brian and other church planters just like him are created in the image of the Triune God. They were made for perichoresis, the dance and co-operation of a community. We all were.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, may we provide community to one another somehow. May we minister out of community. May we show the world around us hope that followers of Jesus have something unique and wonderful.

(Thank you, Dan Peterson, for reminding me how God’s nature shows us how to behave!)