“…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19
This Sunday (June 11th) is Trinity Sunday. Unlike other annual celebrations in the life of the Church, Trinity Sunday is the celebration of a theological reality and a teaching rather than a specific event. On Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the revelation and the mystery that while God is one (perfectly undivided in will and essence) God is also three. God is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully God; each of whom is distinct from the others and yet who together are so perfectly united that there remains only one God.
Everyone gets tripped up in one way or another by what seems like the puzzle of the Trinity. How can God be both one and three at the same time? It seems like a contradiction.
Others get tripped up by resolving this mystery a little too easily. They say things like, “The Trinity is like an egg with a shell, and a yolk and a white.” But that’s nothing like what the doctrine of the Trinity actually says. Each person of the Trinity is fully God. The shell of an egg isn’t ‘fully egg’. It’s only part of the egg. Same with the yolk and white. What the doctrine of the Trinity says is that the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each fully God.
Others say, “Maybe the Trinity is like the three states of water: liquid, vapor, and ice,” but that doesn’t really solve the mystery either. Jesus, the Son, openly prays to the one he calls “the Father”, and he promises his follower that he and Father will send them the Spirit whom he refers to as someone distinct from both himself and the Father. There is clearly a relationship at work between the Father and the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and really that relationship is what the doctrine Trinity is all about. The Trinity isn’t a puzzle for us try and solve. The Trinity is a relationship which we are invited to experience and be a part of.
And here is where the doctrine of the Trinity may really be the most difficult for people to accept. For most of us even our very best relationships are fractured and fragmented. They are strained and often broken by misunderstanding and by plane old fashioned selfishness and selfcenteredness leading to hurtful actions. The idea of three people (or even just two people) being perfectly one and yet perfectly distinct may be even more difficult for people to accept than the apparent mathematical contradiction of the Trinity. No relationship can be that perfect, can it?
Where some might see a contradiction, however, those who treasure the doctrine of the Trinity see hope. They see in God the possibility of the kind of relationship which they long for. They see in God the perfect relationship.
I hope you’re able to join us on Sunday as we continue to celebrate and wrestle with the mystery of the Trinity, and hopefully even experience the mystery of God’s perfect relationship
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