So today is always an amusing day for those who like tap-dancing. There are some people who only come to church on this particular weekend – just so they can watch whomever the poor soul is who is preaching on the Trinity.
You see, there is a very fine line drawn in between what is acceptable to say about the Trinity and what is unacceptable, a heresy. The metaphors always fall short. There are no specific Biblical references for the Trinity. It is difficult at best and dangerous at worst. It is one of the main doctrines that set us apart from our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters.
Yet the Three-In-One is a mystery that explains how we mere humans understand God. It is as simple as that. Since sometime in the 4th century, we have struggled to say exactly how this notion is…yet we know it to be so. ANY attempt to explain further than that gets mired down in the functions of the Three, the faces of the Three, and loses the unity of the One. We know God as the Holy One revealed to Israel. We know Jesus Christ as the Holy One by his ministry, death and resurrection. We know the Holy Spirit as the Holy One who creates and renews the church and the world continually throughout time. We refer to them in tradition as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A Trinity that is a Holy Reality that embraces us all – gives each of us an entrance into thinking about the One God in different ways. Each of the Three gives us an entrance into the One.
There are many other Trinitarian phrases used:
· In 2 Corinthians 13:13: Grace of Jesus Christ/Love of God/Communion of the Holy Spirit
o In the same passage: Source/Christ/Spirit
· In hymnody we get many: Almighty/Christ/Spirit
· From academia: Lover/Beloved/Love
o Life giver/Pain bearer/Love maker
One of the discussions this year at General Convention will be the Expansive Language model, which does not replace or reduce, but instead expands the traditional model to: Father/Son/Holy Spirit, One God, Mother of us all. There are others that reject any parental language at all – too problematic.
The difficulty at the core of the idea of Trinity is that it is a Holy Mystery. We cannot define it because it is impossible to define. We cannot say more because we cannot say more. We must use our imaginations and listen to our hearts/minds/and souls. We know the Trinity to be true, but we cannot say exactly how. We know the Trinity to be a Holy Community of the Creator, Jesus the Christ and the Advocate promised. Beyond that, we are left tongue-tied and tap-dancing.
I will finish by offering up this prayer:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we ponder the mystery that makes you Three in One, may we be distracted by your love, displayed as you parent your children.
May we be diverted by the sight of you as you subdue your own will to do your Father’s bidding, giving your life for all God’s people.
May we be stopped in our tracks by the playful whisper of your Spirit rippling through lives, touching and caressing, healing and restoring.
And in view of all this, may we be compelled to mirror the Trinity at work in the world around us: A world that needs to experience good models of parenthood; A world that needs to see that offering service is not submissive but powerful; A world that needs to see wholeness as possible if we will only act in the triune name of God to parent, serve, and heal your people. Amen. (found by Pearl Down Under at http://spillbeans.org.uk/)