Posts Tagged 'Trinity'

For June 15, 2014: Trinity, Year A

The Reading            Genesis 1:1-2:4a

For Trinity Sunday, we read about the beginning of the universe as we know it. The word “wind” in verse 2 (the Hebrew word is ru’ach) could as well be “breath” or “Spirit”. Creator and Spirit therefore exist from before the beginning—and everything that comes from the Breath, including you and me, is very, very good.

The Response            Psalm 8

Psalm 8 responds to God’s activity in Creation with wonder and praise. The God whose mere fingers can create (as one of our Eucharistic prayers puts it) “galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile Earth” is also the God who can bother to pay attention to you and me.

The Epistle            2 Corinthians 13:11-13

The first reading constitutes a grand hello to and by God’s universe. The epistle reading is a goodbye, the end of the second letter to the congregation at Corinth. Paul reminds the contentious Corinthians to live in peace. The final verse is one of the earliest Trinitarian formulas—invoking Son, Father, and Spirit—in the Bible.

The Gospel            Matthew 28:16-20

The gospel takes place shortly after the Resurrection: in verse 10, Jesus had instructed the women at the tomb to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee. The eleven disciples do so, and Jesus gives them marching orders: make disciples of all nations—that is, everyone—in the name of the three Persons of the one God.

 

Ponderables

The readings for Easter season, all from the New Testament, reviewed Jesus’ incredible resurrection and the early days of the Church. In the season of Pentecost we return to taking the first reading from the Old Testament; the first reading for Trinity Sunday goes all the way back to the book that tells the beginning of everything. Whether the Genesis account is factual can be disputed, and is, though the order in which God calls all things into being turns out to accord remarkably well with the geological record and the theory of evolution. In any case, it is, all of it, the work of the one God, and all of it is good.

Psalm 8 continues the theme of the goodness of God’s work as it raptly recounts the wonders of creation, though verse 5—“What is man that you should be mindful of him?”—reflects not only awe at the vast grandeur of the universe but also resigned realism in the face of our persistent, insistent fallennesses and hardnesses of heart. 2 Corinthians similarly concedes our failings: before praying God’s grace, Paul begs the brothers and sisters (again!) to heal the divisions among them. And the gospels show as plain fact the inability even of those walking with Jesus to keep on keeping faith with him and with each other.

And yet Jesus, knowing how humans betrayed him and continue to betray him, bids us and continues to bid us in the name of Father, Son, and Spirit to partner with them in bringing to all people the great good news: fallen though each of us is and feels, none of us is useless to God, if we will only turn and listen and live.

What can I do today to show an estranged child of God how much he or she matters?

For June 3, 2012: Trinity Sunday, Year B

The Reading            Isaiah 6:1-8

Trinity Sunday readings give us several pictures of God—and of ourselves. In today’s reading from the book of Isaiah, merely the hem of the Lord’s robe overwhelms the grand temple that Solomon built; the air is full of the smoke of holiness; the magnificent seraphim praise the Lord in voices that rock the temple. Yet even a puny human has a vital mission.

The Response            Canticle 13

The Epistle            Romans 8:12-17

In today’s epistle, Paul reminds us that we cannot save ourselves: we are saved through the Spirit. Here are two more pictures of God: the Spirit of God impels us to recognize in the Sovereign of the Universe, Isaiah’s transcendent Lord, our Abba—the approachable and loving Daddy of All Daddies.

The Gospel            John 3:1-17

 

Further thoughts

On the Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate the Trinity. The word comes from the Latin trinitas, which can be translated roughly as ‘the state of being three-fold’.

The doctrine developed in the early centuries of the first millennium, resulting (after a great deal of controversy) in the Nicene Creed that we recite almost every Sunday:

• We believe that God has and is one being: God is indivisible
• We believe that God has and is three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
• We believe that each of the persons is truly and fully God: uncreated,  coeternal, and coequal

It’s a complicated and subtle doctrine that has sprouted its share of controversy over the centuries.

St Patrick is said to have explained the Trinity by analogy to a shamrock. Just as a shamrock is made up of three leaves each of which is equal in size to the others, so also God is One in essence but made up of three distinct Persons each of which is equal to the other. The shamrock analogy breaks down rather quickly: a shamrock’s leaves really and truly are separate, so the shamrock doesn’t lose its essential “shamrockiness” if one of its leaves is removed, and the three leaves together aren’t the whole of the plant. Furthermore, each leaf would somehow need to be both containing and contained by the other three leaves, in the botanical and theological equivalent of an M.C. Escher drawing—and that’s almost as big challenge to visualize as is the doctrine of Trinity itself.

What may be more important is what the doctrine of the Trinity means for us. God is one God, but because the persons are distinct, each has a personality and a will. Because each has a personality and a will, each can love. Each can and does love the others, as only God can love—indeed, each is love for the other, as God is love. Thus the persons of God are in the perfect relationship: fully known and fully knowing, fully been with and fully being with, fully loved and fully loving. God is a relational God, and so we are also made to be relational: to love God as fully as we can and to love each other as fully as we can, for where true love is, God is.


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