As I look ahead to next Sunday when we celebrate The Holy Trinity, I have been reflecting on how one “person” is not enough to contain God – that we have been given the gift of the Trinity to more fully embrace God, or rather be embraced by God.
The Trinity is not an easy idea to get our heads around. There are entire semester-long seminary classes dealing with the theology of the Trinity where for me the outcome is that I still don’t understand it! Over the years, I have heard (and have sometimes taught!) that the Trinity is like an apple – skin, flesh and seeds are all separate, but part of the same fruit. I have heard that water vapor, ice, and water describe the Trinity in that it is water in 3 different, distinct forms. I have heard that the Trinity is like Neopolitan ice cream – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry all rolled into one. They all seem plausible. Until you start thinking too deeply about it. The problem about all of these explanations is that they can all be separated from one another. You can hold in your hand apple skin, seeds, and flesh – separately. The same with water, ice and steam. The ice cream idea works a little bit better because the flavors literally melt into each other. But then again, if I want all chocolate and not strawberry or vanilla, I can scoop out of only that part of the container and never come in contact with the other flavors.
So you see, my struggles with understanding the Trinity continue. And maybe that’s okay.
The Trinity, above all else, is a mystery. It is something that we really can’t wrap our heads around. It is something we wrestle with because it doesn’t make sense. It is a paradox! One God in three persons. Three in one, one in three. Three separate but together.
But I have come to love that mystery! To embrace it! And celebrate it! And treasure it! Because it shows so clearly who our God truly is!
God is the Lord of all creation! Whatever we look at, we see God’s fingerprints staring back at us. The tree outside my window – God shaped it, sculpted it, and colored it beautiful shades of brown and green. My dogs sitting across the room on the couch – God’s warmth and love and grace are rolled into their furry, wonderful bodies that somehow know just when I need them to cuddle up close to me to share their warmth and love. My hands – capable of giving and sharing and creating, are an extension of God’s giving and sharing and creating. Anyway, you get the idea. If we can see it, touch it, feel it, experience it, God created it. And that probably would have been enough! What wonder God shares in creation! But God didn’t stop there…
Open your bible to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and in the grace-filled, boundary-breaking, all encompassing, giving ministry of Jesus, we see God’s very heart. When God’s people struggled to know who God is, God showed them the Son. In feeding 5000 hungry people, we see God’s compassion. In stilling storms we see God’s courage. In Jesus’ words of hope and comfort we see God’s love. In Jesus healing we see God’s gift of wholeness for all people. And on the cross and then at the empty tomb we see God’s promise of life in abundance, life beyond anything we can fathom! Creation and Jesus – what more could we imagine! That would have been enough! But God didn’t stop there…
God breathed life into us. God’s breath swirls around us and in us, forever telling us we are not alone. We are not without comfort. We are not without guidance. We are not without, well, God – no matter where we go! The Holy Spirit sustains us even when we feel we can’t go on, reminding us who and whose we are!
And when I look at the 3 persons of God, I am reminded that God is a God of relationship. God doesn’t remain far away in some distant heaven, calling us to look for God’s presence. God comes to us, embraces us, and makes Godself known to us. God isn’t content to just leave us to go off on our own. God finds ways to come to us intimately – through the gift of creation, through Jesus’ healing touch and words of promise, and through the wild and swirling Holy Spirit that surrounds us wherever we go.
Can I explain all of this stuff? No. Not at all! I have no idea how it all works, how God can be 3 things while at the same time one. But I think that’s okay. Because I know that the gift of Trinity is a wonderful, amazing, honest to goodness mystery of love and hope and life and joy and wonder and majesty and quietness and peace and promise.
May you know the wonder and joy of God’s life-giving mystery! May you feel that presence in so many ways, in so many places! And may you know that love that comes at us from 3 places.
Peace and joy,