Trinity Sunday

The Very Reverend Steve Lipscomb, Dean

Today is Trinity Sunday. One of the great days for preachers –because most preachers make sure they are on vacation this week. Or they at least make sure their assistants are assigned the preaching duties for the day, especially if the assistant is a Lutheran. Because those guys think they know everything. Maybe not the Trinity, though. In either case, I failed to consult my calendar and here I am, not on vacation, with George sitting comfortably in a pew, while I try to speak on and explain the unexplainable.

Athanasius tried it in the form of a written creed in the 4th century (and if you really want to be confused about God as Trinity, take a look at that little nugget sometime. It’s on page 864 of the Prayer Book). And every Christian theologian since, worth his salt, has made an attempt to describe and explain the indescribable and unexplainable Godhead—and has fallen miserably short of the goal. I have no illusions of doing better.

For in the end, who can even talk about the Trinity, much less explain it. In the end, God knows, and only God knows, the truth of this mystery, how to speak of this doctrine. We only know our experience of God. That is what we celebrate today even as it defies our understanding and our language.

Oh, we can rattle off definitions, quote famous writers on the meaning of the Trinity. We can discuss the separate and distinct persons of the Godhead, and perhaps even detail the missions proper to each of the 3 Persons. But the bottom line is no matter how intelligent or theologically sophisticated we are, whatever we have to say about the Trinity—about God—will fall incredibly short. The mystery of God’s being is so far beyond human understanding, that any attempt to “capture” God in being is futile.

But still we try, because, even though we can’t know God fully, we seek him. We want to know God. We are drawn toward a relationship with God that requires intimacy and connection and knowing the one we worship and love.

It’s hard to envision that kind of relationship if we don’t have some way of identifying and communicating who this God is and how we interact with him (or her) and how God interacts with us. And so we do the best we can with what we have to work with. We use terms and language like Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, knowing they don’t really do justice to who God is and what God is for us.

But at its basic core, the Trinity – God – is life generating life, so filled with the energy of being-at-its-fullest that everything burst forth from it. All things, all matter, all life, all love, all being. Nothing is without God. Everything is from God.

Our understanding of God as Trinity comes from centuries of seeking to know this awesome energy, this Being, in an intimate and personal way. We understand ourselves as creatures of a benevolent Creator. One who loved us even before he made us. One who claimed us as children before we could even fathom or acknowledge him as God. This God we have come to know, in our limited human understanding, as a parent (or Father).

When God came to earth to be among us as one of us, to be born, to live, to die, and then to rise from the dead, solely to gift us with eternal life, we saw what God was like, what God wanted us to be like, how to love God and one another. This person-al God we call our brother, God’s Son.

And when Jesus returned to heaven, we were not left alone without a guide to teach, and empower, and help show us the way to our seeking of God. We were given an advocate, a comforter and strength, a connection to help us be God’s people. We call this God, “ Holy Spirit.”

Our understanding of God as Three AND One is obviously not a perfect understanding. It raises as many questions as it answers. It makes God clear as mud, and yet, it does seem to offer some glimpse of the invisible. Some knowledge of the inestimable.

Even knowing that the revelation of God is so much more, for now, we have to be content with what we have. We have to be okay with the language we have. We have to be okay with the fact that God is light, God is truth, God is love; God is Father, God is Son, God is Holy Spirit, God is MYSTERY. So much more than we can know. So much more than we can imagine.

And if we can be okay with that—that we as mere mortals canNOT completely grasp or fully understand the reality of the immortal, almighty God, then we can celebrate, as we do each year on Trinity Sunday, this amazing gift.
The gift of life.
The gift of God in our life.
The gift that God is life, –for us, –for now, –as best we can know, –in the Godhead of the Trinity.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

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