The three lessons for today speak of God’s creative power, the love and peace of Jesus Christ, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to go forth and spread good news. You and I who are living in the midst of time trust that God is at the beginning and at the end of the age – and Paul’s admonition to us is to live in community… we are not alone in this age and the next. That is good news indeed.
Let us pray: Creator God thank you for sharing your very being with us for in Jesus we have come to know you and in the Spirit we experience your power, creativity and closeness. Be with us now. Let the word go forth and may it not return empty. AMEN.
God the Creator, Jesus the Savior, and the Holy Spirit the “Inspirer.” These three are the foundation of the Trinity.
Today is Trinity Sunday. I love the trinity. Three in One and One in Three – I think this is one of Christianity’s best theological concepts.
Thomas Jefferson didn’t love the Trinity. He once wrote:
The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God … with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs…. In fact, the [trinity] Athanasian paradox…is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it… He who thinks he does, only deceives himself.
Unitarians – who sometimes think too much—dismissed it as well.
Jews and Muslims, particularly Islam, believe that the doctrine of the “trinity” diminishes God. In the Koran, in Surah Al-Ikhlas it reads:
Say, Allah is ahad (unique/one). Allah is He on Whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like unto Him.
I suspect that many Christians are more in tune with Islam then with classical Christianity on this one. Be we believe that God begets and begats and becomes human – lives and dies ….
Or maybe you resonate with the words of Anne Lamott, who wrote in her book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith: “I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.” I like Anne Lamott a lot.
But the Trinity is important for us to consider. Particularly now in this day and age when it seems as if community is breaking apart, and America is going it alone, and we only want to be with those who agree with us and a kind of transactional, rugged, individualism seems to be the model of success; we are alone in a dangerous world and so we hunker down in fear.
The Trinity challenges all of this and calls to me, and I believe it calls to us, to get a new mind for a new age–to repent from narrow thinking and turn on a broader avenue of faith for today.
The Trinity is the sexiest theological expression of Christianity – because it is all about relationship and unity and expression and love. It is trying to describe how God is related to Jesus and to the Spirit; how they maintain the dance; it is trying to give poetry to how we encounter God: as the one who creates, as the one who saves, as the one who inspires.
Actually, it makes sense to me using these analogies (which always fall short, but nevertheless, can help.)
The white, the yolk or the shell – which is more or less the egg?
An ice cube, water, or steam – which one is more H2O?
Who is the “real” John Lentz – father of Jack, Meg and Sarah, husband of Deanne, pastor of Forest Hill Church?
Who is the real you?
All the same – but different expressions in different contexts.
We know this to be true. You have many facets to your being – expressions of your personality – and the deeper one dwells in a relationship the more varied the expressions. And one is not more you than any other – IFf you are seeking to be true to yourself (the authentic you) – the you God made you to be.
I have seen people in deep prayer and then scream obscenities at a blown umpire call–Oops that might be me!
We are multi-faceted beings, which is so wonderful.
Vera Nazarian in The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration writes: Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure: acceptance, understanding and appreciation.”
For older football fans there is even a triple-option!
The concept of the trinity is everywhere!
In our culture today we tend to label people with singular tags: criminal, terrorist, thug, fat, white, immigrant, anti-intellectual, deplorable, one of the liberal elite. But it is a sin to label people; to limit one’s capacity to have different form and shape.
So we must be open to complexity and ambiguity. Because that is where holiness dwells.
We tend to define ourselves by limiting labels as well – usually in negative terms, or we limit our “feminine side, or are artistic instincts, or our own power.”
But I have known criminals who would give me their last dollar. I know of drug addicts who are sweet and smart and loveable. I know curmudgeons who cry at Disney movies!
A Syrian family is not a terrorist entity.
Foreigners are mothers too, and scared to be living among us!
So really, the Trinity is actually an attempt not to limit God, and so it demands that we not limit others or ourselves.
In our society, in churches and business, we like hierarchy. We want to know who is in charge, who is the “face” of the organization – usually with a white male in charge…. After all, how has God traditionally been perceived? As an old but very masculine, strong, full of testosterone, white man with a beard. He is in charge. He has the power.
But with the Trinity, you see, there is no hierarchy. God is not the CEO of heaven. As Christian theology developed you see Jesus is fully God, the Spirit is fully God, Jesus is fully the Spirit. It isn’t a top down institution; rather it is a community of kindred being, likeness, fullness. And the spirit is a feminine concept so we even have this wonderful transsexual, bi-gender, female-male dwelling spectrum. Power is fully shared.
What if our churches were more Trinitarian than corporate? We would be celebrating all the gifts – we would be building churches of boundless cooperation and collaboration and we would be growing!
Christianity is not about dualism, not either/or but both/and – it is about reconciliation and all in! God the father is a mother hen and a baby in a manger; a wind, a breath, a spirit.
Christianity is not about who has the power – but how the power of love is expressed to all and liberates all and includes all!
The Trinity is all about community – God, Jesus, Spirit dwelling together as one; not separate but unified and whole.
And you and I are living at a time when a very dangerous heresy is being lived out: that one people, or one nation is better than anyone else. That one people or one nation can go it alone.
Cut off from the communion of saints, or the community of the church, or the community of nations – we become lost and lonely and dangerous; un-hinged.
Who knew that the Trinity was so radical, and so political, and so communitarian?! And it is so ironic that this theological concept was being formed, as Christianity became the Imperial power religion.
The Trinity is all about God dwelling in our space and time – human, divine, spirit – totally other, totally one, totally inside/outside/throughout.
Theology matters – all theology matters!
Life is too rich and deep and full of wonder to limit anything. You and I have to take this outside these walls; live the mystery, be the theology.
At least this week, celebrate the Trinity! Think of your own life and how you live it; the different ways you encounter people, the various ways you express yourself; the ways you encounter the divine: with laughter, tears and silence?
It is a well known saying that bad things come in threes. Well, that may or may not be the case, but this I do know – everything gracious and good and lively comes in threes too – like the trinity. Easy as 1,2,3.
Love it, Be it, Live it!