Living into the Trinity
- Sunday, June 11, 2017
- By Father Robin Ruder-Celiz
Today we once again find ourselves with an interesting clash between a doctrine of the Church and what the Gospels say. This is Trinity Sunday where inevitably some of us once again try and wrestle with how three people can be one person all at the same time. No matter how we try and explain it, or rationalize it, The Trinity somehow clashes with the Gospels in a peculiar way. On the one hand Jesus sends the disciples with the authority to baptize people and form disciples, and this is done with the formula of the trinity. On the other hand we a have a Church construct/doctrine of The Trinity and what it possibly could mean.
So where do we go from here and how do we make sense of all this? Now before we decide that the Church has in some spectacular way completely missed the point of Jesus’s teaching and ministry and in particular with our Gospel today, I do believe that there may be room for both – a rather unhelpful doctrine and what the Gospels are trying to tell us.
Today is about baptism and our ministry that is rooted in baptism. We are all called by God in our own way to live out our Faith in the world in the areas where God has called us to serve. In our daily lives, because of whom we are and because we carry out God’s work through our baptism we have the opportunity to share our work and ministry with others. I am not talking about a direct and overt conversation with friends and neighbors about Jesus and how Jesus has touched our lives and can touch their lives too. No, this is about living each day faithfully through our regular daily interactions and relationships with people. Our actions, what we do and how we live in the world inform us and others about our faith and what is important to us.
So far so good. But what about the Trinity? The trinity is really not about doctrine at all. It is a way, limited as it is, to demonstrate the awesomeness of God and how God transcends boundaries, limitations, time and space. Jesus says that he is with the disciples, with us always to the end of the age. God is with us, in the everyday work and slog of life. In the joy and in the pain, God is with us through it all. Implicit in The Trinity is just as each member of The Trinity is in relationship and connected to the other members, God is in relationship and deeply connected to us.
The question is not about how three persons can be one. Rather the question should be, how is God revealing God self to us in 2017? How does God continue to be in relationship with us? And how do we maintain our relationship with God, as hard as that can be at times, or as what is referred to in Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth, “What does it mean to be in communion with the Holy Spirit?”
This can be a hard one; to be in communion with the Holy Spirit, especially when we learn of more and more terror attacks. This is hard when we realize that to be in communion with the Holy Spirit also means being in communion with those who we disagree with and who may have hurt us. Indeed being in communion with the Holy Spirit can be hard when we realize that we have hurt others.
The way of life that Jesus points to is a hard one at the best of times. It is not always easy to be in communion with one another, never mind the Holy Spirit. There is an African proverb and understanding that Desmond Tutu and others have taught us. Ubuntu is the understanding that it takes a village to raise a child. The point being that we cannot do this alone. We cannot be faithful to our Christian life alone. We need a community to help us and support and nurture us in our faith. The same way as no one can raise a child alone. It takes the community, the village to help support and nurture the child. Sometimes as adults we get lost in the concepts and of how things should be done. As Anglicans if we are not careful we can get lost in what is the right way to do something and the correct order. It is easy for us to lose sight of what is really important in life and our faith. So while it takes a village to support and nurture a child, sometimes it takes a child to lead the village and remind the village of what really is important.