“Perichoresis” is a Trinitarian term describing the the interplay in the Godhead of mutual love and honor. It means “around” (peri-) and “move toward”(-chorein). It is oftentimes described in terms of a dance.
Dr. Timothy Keller in his book, Jesus the King, writes about perichoresis as it manifest at Jesus’ baptism in this way,
Mark is giving us a glimpse into the very heart of reality, the meaning of life, the essence of the universe. According to the Bible, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit glorify one another. Jesus says in his prayer recorded in John’s Gospel: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world began” (John 17:4-5). Each person of the Trinity glorifies the other.
In the words of my favorite author, C. S. Lewis, “In Christianity God is not a static thing … but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.”
I make use of several images of the Trinity in this sonnet. The first is of the Godhead at the beginning, in creation. The second is at Jesus’ baptism, when again, the Spirit hovered over the waters, to alight on Christ (who is the Word made flesh), and the Father decrees. The third is the joy of our inclusion in that dance of love and honor reflected in sign by our own baptism.
You may read about Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:9-11 which reads,
In those days Jesus scame from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
If it is helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.
Before time and light there IS, Three in One;
When darkness was not yet as darkness is;
Before stars took their place, before moon and sun,
Three danced as One in perichoresis.
From the top midst the wild world’s ruin
Chaos threatens to overcome the light
The Allemande-Three at Jordan breaks in,
“You’re my beloved in whom I delight!”
The Three’s contra dance, the world’s hall shakes;
The Father calling, pours praise from the skies.
The Spirit alights, enfolds with embrace;
As the Word steps to, with fire, baptize.
Let the Caller of Dawn in baptism call me
Gathered in the swing of the dancing Trinity.
© Randy Edwards 2017.
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
artwork: Baptism of Christ; Fécamp Psalter; c. 1180; Manuscript (76 F 13), Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague.