Jesus’ ongoing presence with the disciples will be made known through the coming Spirit who will guide them and communicate to them Jesus’ will and glory.
[Jesus said,] 12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
Once a year, preachers everywhere start to get real desperate. It’s the beginning of summer, crowds are low, energy levels are plummeting in anticipation of much needed vacation. And then you’re hit between the eyes with Holy Trinity Sunday, and suddenly you can’t see straight or think straight
Suddenly you are convinced that it is your job and your obligation to explain the mysteries of faith to your congregation in a simple, easy to follow, manner which is both relevant and captivating to both the greatest generation and the millennial generation, as well as toddlers. The challenge of the Trinitarian doctrine and history is laid out before you in ancient texts and writing of long-dead theologians – and today, this Sunday morning, the mysteries of the ages, the philosophical and theological challenges which have plagued Christians and thrilled Christians for centuries, today they will be revealed and made plain as day!
Today I will enlighten and intrigue the congregation and they will at last understand the mysteries of the universe! They’ll write books about me! I’ll write books about the Trinity! And somewhere along the line, when you realize that you can’t find the words to preach that sermon explaining the mysteries of faith – you realize that God is probably laughing at you…
So let’s begin with this line from Meister Eckhart, a 13th century German mystic who is way more equipped to start explaining to the mysteries of the universe: His take on the Trinity is this: “When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs back at God, the persons of the Trinity are begotten. When the Father laughs at the Son and the Son laughs back at the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and that love is the Holy Spirit”. Sorta. Ok. Here’s how….
The God we worship is personal and relational. God is not a distant being, removed from Creation, but God is personally involved in creation. Indeed, God is so personal and so relationally involved that God even fully participated in our humanity through Jesus Christ. God is love, as scripture tells us, and that love is shared in the relationships between Father and Son and Holy Spirit. And that love is shared with us, as God reaches out to us, in love, through the death and resurrection of Christ.
But perhaps Trinity Sunday feels a bit to you like an answer to a question you never asked. What does the Trinity have to do with my daily life? Well, let’s go back to love and relationships something we all deal with in our daily lives….. St. Augustin, another theologian who could talk about these kind of mysteries way better than most talked a great deal about love.
He’s known for his prayer as he discerned a vocation to the priesthood, He is said to have prayed, “Lord, Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” When Augustine, many years later, wrote about the trinity, and what “three persons, one god” meant for our lives and how we could understand it, he talked about love. “When I love something, then three things are found: I, what I love, and the love itself. For I do not love love, unless I love a lover, for there is no love where nothing is loved. There are therefore three things: the beloved, the lover and love. But what if I love only myself? In that case will there would be two.”
Using human language to describe the divine is only partly possible, but it’s our best shot at communicating truth. So we look for analogies from our human language and our human experience to give us pictures and images and descriptions of the indescribable. For Augustine, love best illustrated the nature of the Trinity. There are three things and those things are said to be one : the lover, the loved and the love.” From this analogy, Augustine argues that God’s nature is indeed relational and personal as it is expressed in a divine community of love. It cannot be said that God is love if God is alone. Instead, love resides both in God’s nature as a personal being and in relationship to the beloved (Jesus Christ) by love (Holy Spirit).
While this analogy isn’t intended to answer all of our logical reasoning concerning the nature of God as Trinity, it does lead us to a vital application for our Christian lives. We too, as we were made in the image of God, reflect that love. But we do not reflect that image alone. Instead, to bear the image of God as personal, relational, Trinity is to be in loving community with one another. Relationships, as they reflect God, are intended to reflect the divine community of love, redemptive and reflective of the very love of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, we might ask, am i reflecting that same self-giving love in my relationships? How am making space for and deferring to the other?
Our Greek theological ancestors used the term perichoresis to describe the Trinity and the mutual indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The word perichoresis comes from two Greek words, peri, which means “around,” and chorein, which means “to give way” or “to make room” or. “hold space for” It could be translated “rotation” or “a going around.” A dynamic orbit. A Venn diagram showing three circles intersecting in the center with each circle intersecting the others perfectly and multi-dimensionally, as they rotate about a common center of divine love.
Imagine a folk dance with three partners. The music starts up and the partners holding hands begin moving in a circle. They release hands, change partners, and weave in and out, swinging first one and then another. The tempo increases, the partners move more swiftly with and between and among one another, swinging and twirling, embracing and releasing, holding on and letting go.
There is no confusion, every movement is cleanly coordinated in precise rhythms, as each person maintains his or her own identity. To the onlooker, the movements are so swift it is impossible at times to distinguish one person from another. The steps are so intricate that it is difficult to anticipate the actual configurations as they appear.
In your baptism you were invited you join in that dance because you were baptized in the name of the Trinity. Our Christian lives are an immersion in the triune God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We participate in the dance, as we were made in the image of God, and the most we could hope for the most we could aim for is reflecting that love in our life together, as our relationships move and dance.
We understand the Trinity most when we are reflecting self-giving love in our relationships, we are dancing together in time with God’s holy rhythm for our lives, moving with bonds of love and the Holy Spirit passing between us. Amen.
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