Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday which can be a problem. This is a problem because once again we have to wrap our minds around a piece of church doctrine as we imagine how one person can be three persons all at the same time. Believe me, many a scholar with more degrees than I, have written books, conducted lectures and seminars in vain attempts to explain the Trinity. So, without further ado, I too shall explain the Trinity, with a fraction of their education or experience.
The Trinity, quite simply is a mystery. That is all you need to know about the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a mystery in that we are, with the limits of our language, trying to talk about the nature of God. The moment we try and talk about the nature of God, we know from the get go that we do not and cannot fully explain the nature of God. God is and always will be more than doctrine, more than language and more than we can ever understand. As soon as we believe we have an understanding - that means one understanding - of God, God reveals more of God’s self to us in ways we never thought possible.
But we have to talk about our faith. We have to teach ourselves, our children and the generations that follow about our faith. We need language in order to talk about that which is so much bigger than any of us, than the created order itself. So we come up with doctrines such as the Trinity as one way of talking about God, our faith and our relationship to the Divine. But we also know, as soon as we begin the conversation, God is also so much bigger than the Trinity and that this too is limited in its construction.
So as we continue the conversation about the Trinity and how this describes our relationship to the Divine and the nature of God we find that on any given day at any given time we may resonate with one or more members of the Trinity. For some, understanding and forming a relationship with God is hard. God after all is this great cosmic being that can seem so far removed from us and our daily struggles. But a relationship and an understanding with Jesus, the Son, may be far easier. Jesus is a person, someone who lived and breathed in this world, our world, is far easier to identify with. This is someone who intimately knows what it means to be human. This is someone like you and me.
The Holy Spirit can also be a puzzle and a gift. How else do we explain God’s continued presence in all things other than using the image of Wind. We cannot see the Spirit in the same way we cannot see wind. But we can see the effects of wind, we can feel it and we know wind is real and present. The wind blows where it will and to that end God breaths across the earth filling every crevice, nook and cranny. While we cannot see the Spirit, we know its real and can feel the Spirit’s presence in our lives moving us and shaping us to be more fully who God will have us be in the world.
One of Liz’s all time favourite hymns is one we will sing today, I Bind Unto Myself Today, aka St. Patrick’s Breastplate. This is a page turner of a hymn. The language and imagery is good and evocative. We bind unto ourselves the strong name of the Trinity. The Trinity in this hymn serves as a shield, a source of protection. We sing of how Christ is within us, before us beside us. Christ is everywhere, even beneath us in the ground we walk upon, above us in the sky and heavens above. We have a strong shield of protection. A God, a Christ that is in the mouth of friend and stranger. Pay attention to verses 4, it doesn’t get more encompassing than this.
As rich and as dynamic as the imagery is in this hymn. I always find that I get lost. I get lost in the page turning and which verse are we in now. . . I get captured by any one or more of the images that we are singing, which inevitably means I can get lost with the overall thread of the hymn.
But in a way, that is the point isn’t it. The Trinity is where we can get lost in the embrace of God. A God that no matter where go, no matter where we turn we will find God already there, waiting for us. Our God, the God we try and comprehend with the limits of our language is so big, so awesome, so all encompassing that we cannot help ourselves but get lost in God.
Being lost in God means we also allow ourselves to become vulnerable to God. We become vulnerable to God in that we cannot see our way out, nor where we have come from. This can be frightening for sure. We love to know where we are going, where we have come from so that we can get our bearings and plan for the road ahead. But when we are vulnerable before God we are ultimately in God’s hands where God can plot the coordinates and way forward for us. When we let go and let God take control of where we are going in our lives, we find ourselves being caught up in the mystery of God, where God once more reveals God’s self to us in ways we never thought possible.