Experiencing God the Trinity (a sermon for June 15th, Trinity Sunday)

Today in the church year is Trinity Sunday, and preachers all around the world – those who follow the lectionary, that is – will be scrambling to try to explain the unexplainable to their congregations. Some people will bring out St. Patrick’s shamrock with its three leaves; some people will point out that H2O can be ice, water, and steam, all of which are still H2O. Some people will refer to the ancient Christian creed called the ‘Creed of St. Athanasius’, which tries to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. At one point it uses the phrase ‘The Father incomprehensible; the Son incomprehensible; the Holy Spirit incomprehensible’. Many Christians have been tempted to add ‘The whole thing incomprehensible!’

I believe in the Trinity, and it’s part of the official doctrine of the Anglican Church. To me, it’s an attempt to make sense of what the Bible teaches us about God, about Jesus, and about the Holy Spirit. But I also believe that when we’re talking about God, we need a large dose of humility. We’re tiny human beings living on a tiny planet in God’s enormous creation; it’s not surprising if the Creator of the universe sometimes seems a little hard to understand! The Bible talks about the glory of God, and glory is often illustrated by light. To me, contemplating the glory of God is a little like trying to look at the sun with the naked eye. And that’s why I think we should be wary of attempts to define the Trinity too precisely; after all, we’re screwing up our eyes to avoid being blinded by the light of God’s glory, so it’s not surprising if we can’t always see too well.

With that in mind, let’s turn to the last verse of our epistle for today, from 2 Corinthians. This is the closing greeting of the letter. Listen to what Paul says:

‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Corinthians 13:13).

Paul is describing the Trinity here in terms of our experience of God. He’s not giving us an intellectual exercise; he’s inviting us into a deeper daily walk with God. For each of the three persons of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – he’s identifying what you might call a defining characteristic of the way we experience them. The three characteristics are ‘grace’, ‘love’, and ‘koinonia’, a Greek word that’s hard to put into English; we might try ‘communion’ or ‘fellowship’ or ‘participation’ or ‘sharing together’. Let’s think of these three defining characteristics, and our experience of them.

Read the rest here.


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