Early Thoughts on Trinity Sunday

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This coming Sunday is TRINITY SUNDAY — the supposed bane of preachers and object of mystification (or outright rejection) to everyone else.  It’s not  spelled out explicitly in either the Hebrew Scriptures or the Gospels and no one can really explain it.  The peculiarly Christian doctrine that the Divine Being we call God is three persons –conventionally described as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is, to put it mildly, perplexing.  To get students over the notion that Christians worship three Gods, one professor suggested only that it helped to think of the Trinity as “one What and three Who’s.”  Unfortunately, for many people, that leaves the doctrine firmly with Alice in Wonderland’s ability to  “believe in six impossible things before breakfast.”

We’re going to celebrate it anyway — because, without the doctrine of the Trinity, we have absolutely no way of understanding our own spirituality and ethics and theology.  Without the Trinity, we lack a grammar* for even speaking of the God of  our own experience.   St. John’s claim that “God is love,”  expresses exactly what Christians mean when we call God Trinity.   But an even better expression, I suspect, is the ancient image of Trinity as a dance — a continuous weaving and outpouring of creativity and expression and self-giving among the members — and it is in that image that we believe human beings are made.  We live and we work out our salvation in the relationships of love we have with our spouses and families, with all the other communities of which we are a part, with the rest of creation, and most assuredly, with God.*

For wherever you arperichoresis trinity:razorplanete worshipping this Sunday, I offer the words of this contemporary Trinity hymn by Richard Leach:

“Come, join the dance of Trinity, before all worlds begun — the interweaving of the Three, the Father, Spirit, Son.  The universe of space and time did not arise by chance, but as the Three, in love and hope, made room within their dance.”*

Blessings to you.

*Thomas F. Torrance, Trinitarian Perspectives (T&T Clark, 1994)

* E.g., Catherine LaCugna, God for Us: The Community and Christian Life (HarperCollins, 1991) or, my actual favorite: John Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 1997)

* Richard Leach, “Come Join the Dance of Trinity,”  (Selah Publishing Co., Inc., 2001)

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