Faces on Faith: The Holy Trinity models what real life together means
I left Captiva on May 9 and the rains came! When I arrived home so did the most beautiful part of the year in western New York. After six months of being on one side of the pulpit, I’m now back in the pews. Today, May 27, is Trinity Sunday. It’s the only feast day in the Christian year devoted to a doctrine – and what a doctrine indeed! One’s brain can be worn out thinking about it and trying to make it all fit together: “God in three persons blessed trinity.” The historic creeds and confessions hardly make it any easier. Some would get rid of it; others ignore it while some keep trying to explain it.
Let me suggest that certainty is not the answer here. Awe and mystery are the order of the day. In church today, the first lesson was from the prophet Isaiah – the prophet’s call “in the year that King Uzziah died.” There is smoke and burning coals in the temple and flying creatures who cry to each other: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Talk about an “awe filled experience.” This is the proper way to approach the doctrine of the trinity rather than trying to explain something that is not open to rational explanation.
In the reading from John’s gospel on this day, the Pharisee Nicodemus comes to Jesus, who tells him that he must be born from above, and Nicodemus doesn’t think of mystery but of biology and has a problem. Who wouldn’t? “How can anyone be born after having grown old?” Good question, Nicodemus. Jesus reminds him that like the wind this is a mystery. “The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes”
So much of life is awe and mystery and when considering the doctrine of the trinity that just might be the proper response. Yet, there is something that it teaches us, that says just who God is and that word is community! Father, Son and Holy Spirit are together in community – the community of the Holy Trinity; intertwined, living and nourished by one another, existing together and emanating life and love to the world. As the love of the community of the trinity reaches out, it draws together diverse people into a community of love – the church – the beloved community, which then seeks in its own life to replicate this Trinitarian living.
We may argue over doctrines like the trinity. We may not understand what the words of the creeds say; words like “eternally begotten begotten not made of one being,” but we do know that the love of God the Holy Trinity models what real life together means.
The Rev. John Cedarleaf is the pastor at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea.