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Trinity Sunday



Have you ever had one of those situations in life that are so confusing? That only become clear months or even years down the line? “If only I’d known”, you might say, “I’d have done things completely differently!”

Well the Trinity is a bit like that.

In Matthew 28, where the disciples are commanded to baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and in ‘The Grace’ - the familiar prayer found at the end of 2 Corinthians 13, are two of the few hints found in the Bible about Trinity.

With over 2000 years of hindsight, I could look at these sentences and hardly even blink. I just take it for granted that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a Trinity. But the early Church, wrestling with these ideas for the first time, took over 300 years to formulate a statement of Trinity is.

That God consists of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and these are equally divine and of equal status. Of one substance yet three.

The divinity of all three persons was agreed, and formally endorsed at the Council of Constantinople in 381. However more explanation was needed in order to understand how this 3 in 1 thing worked.

Of course, any language attempting to describe God will reach its limits. God discloses Godself and enters our world in ways that take into account our very limited perception. As one of the famous early church fathers, Augustine said, if you can understand it, it’s not God

Trinity is a way to express God as personal, as a relationship, encountered in the biblical texts, in prayer and worship, and in our life together as God’s people.

The Western Church, of which we a part, has emphasised Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with the relation between them being this mathematical conundrum of 3 in 1. The Eastern Church, rather than concentrating on the maths, emphasised much more the relationship dynamic, with the Trinity as an Infinite Flow, like a dance that we can join.

The latter attracts me much more than the former, though I think both are true. 

One of my favourite authors, Richard Rohr, says that: The Mystery of God as Trinity invites us into full participation with God, a flow, a relationship, a waterwheel of always outpouring love. Trinity basically says that God is a verb, a doing word, rather than a noun, a static thing.

This is a mystery, something that can’t be understood with either/or, black and white thinking. Instead perhaps it’s more like a glimpse out of the corner of the eye, or a dawning appreciation of how wonderful, how beautiful, is this relationship that we are invited into.

We can probably all think of examples where our understanding has changed and expanded over time and with experience. Old worn out ideas break down, and things that we thought we knew, and were absolutely certain of, no longer make sense. But if we let God teach and guide us, we can change our thinking from black and white into a rainbow.

The spiritual life is a journey of growth, of letting go: Letting go of some of our cherished opinions, perhaps of the need to be always in control. Like the disciples, we should beware of thinking that we know, or are even ready to know, all that God longs to show us. It’s a bumpy learning road, often with many twists and turns. And the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus guides us on this journey, reminding us always of the things Jesus taught, the wisdom of God, our sustenance for the road ahead.

We are created by this wonderful Trinity that is God, The Holy Trinity that we celebrate today, that is all about the relationship of eternal Son to eternal Father, to eternal Spirit, a relationship of loving and adoring self-giving, a pouring out of life towards the Other. 

God is not only stranger than we think, but stranger than we can think. Perhaps the problem here is that we've tried to understand God with a logical or rational mind instead of through love, prayer, and participation itself. God brilliantly remains in charge of this whole process. In the end, only love illuminates what is going on inside of God. Without love, God remains an impossible, distant secret. Rohr

Page last updated: Tuesday 30th May 2023 12:54 PM
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