Genesis 1:1-2:3; Ps. 150; II Corinth. 13:5-14; Matthew 28:16-20
In the Name of Our Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today is Trinity Sunday - one of the seven principle feasts of the Church year: A day when we honor the essential Christian belief of God as three in one, and one in three. How are we to understand the challenging doctrine of the Trinity? I know many clergy who dread having to preach today. It is the daunting yearly task of the preacher to dare to try and "solve" the mystery of this core belief Yet how does one teach and preach the inscrutable, the ineffable? Most every effort by theologians through the millennia has resulted in less, not more clarity.
I read a revised version of the Gospel story know as the Confession of Peter, that offers a fitting and humorous commentary, on the very topic of the difficulty in understanding the Trinity. In the biblical text Jesus asks the disciples who they believe he is? It is Peter who correctly identifies Jesus. Peter replies, "You are the Messiah." Here is a slightly different version.
"Jesus said, ‘Who do men say that I am?'
And the disciples answered and said, ‘Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elijah, or another of the old prophets.'
And Jesus answered and said, ‘But who do you say that I am?'
Peter answered and said. ‘Thou are the Logos, existing in the Father as His rationality and then, by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to His creation, but only on the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being coequal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple.'
And Jesus answering, said, ‘What?'
Here is a model I use in the Adult Inquirer's Class that may offer a bit more clarity.
Triangle graphic of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Triangle graphic of H20: Liquid, Solid, Vapor.
Refer back to graphic of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It's important to remember that more that anything else the Trinity is relational - a communion of persons - Trinity is the model of community and of love.
The Trinity are the perfect community working together to manifest the core essence of all that God is, which is LOVE.
Show graphic of Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier as Community of Love.
The great German Protestant theologian, Jurgen Moltmann puts it this way. "The triune God is a social God, rich in internal and external relationships." Our triune God is a God of relationship. Not an insulated, remote, distant God who is disconnected from his creation, but a God who desires, to be in relationship, in communion, in active and vibrant love with all things.
So then how does the doctrine of the Trinity impact Christians . . . the world?
Well, since the life of God is rooted in three communing persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - rich in external and internal relationships, by extension the fullest life available to those made in God's image - US, humanity - is also found in our being in relationship . . . in community, as well. (Example)
Last year's CDS Silent Auction - aerial photograph of downtown Sanbornville. Struck me!!! The triangle!
Turn to new graphic of Rt. 153, Meadow St. And High St.
• Church - part of the relationship that provides spiritual life, education and moral and ethical standards.
• Town Hall - part of the relationship that provides civic structure, funding, and law and order to our common life.
• Poor People's Pub - part of the relationship that provides a place of fellowship, relaxation and conviviality - recreation..
Now, the Church is not the Pub. The Pub is not the town government. The town government is not the Church. Like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each are separate, maintaining their own distinct identities.
BUT together in their interrelationships with one another, they become the community of Sanbornville. Just as Father, Son and Holy Spirit form the community of God, we, the entities of faith, civil government and of social interaction, become a community - a community of care and mutual interdependence. And on our good days, we even become a community of love: Love originating in and reflective of the Trinity of God. And that's a pretty holy thing to be.