Dancing with the Trinity
June 16, 2019
Deacon Meg Lovejoy
In the name of the Mother, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
The Feast of the Holy Trinity could very well be called the Feast of Holy Mystery or the Feast of Holy Confusion. Maybe you learned the formula of “Three in One and One in Three”. Perhaps you’ve learned to distinguish the Three Persons from each other, attributing specific functions to each, such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier or Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But this is static and limiting and it reduces God into a reality that can be defined and divided into parts. This is what we try to do as humans; we try to give God a definition, but our words are inadequate to describe and explain God.
The doctrine of the Trinity is much too big for just one sermon. There are much better theologians than I who have difficulty trying to explain it. The truth is, you just can’t really explain the Trinity. A seminary professor stated, “Any attempt to a logically consistent explanation of how God can be three and one at the same time is, from the beginning, more wrong than right; more untrue than true. There is no way to explain it that actually does it justice.”
While we may not be able to explain it, we can explore it. We can dance with it and think about what the Trinity has to say about our personal faith and our life together as people of God. The Trinity helps us keep a balanced view of all the parts of God. That the God who created all is also the God who lived among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and is also the same God whose spirit moves us, touches us, and gives us strength.
As Christians, we believe in the Trinitarian God. We state this in the Apostles’ Creed in Morning and Evening Prayer. We state this belief in the Nicene Creed when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. The concept of the Trinity is three separate but fully equal parts. No one is greater or lesser than the others and the One cannot be without the others. I invite you to look at the cover of today’s bulletin. If you have a pen or pencil write the names you use for each of the three parts of God at the three points of the symbol. Now rotate the symbol so that a new part is at the top, and once again, rotate the symbol so the third part is at the top. This may help you visualize that there is no one part that is greater than any of the other three, they are separate, and equal. Now, visualize the symbol spinning. This dance of the three parts merges all into one entity. The three entities continually dance with and in each other, to form the one we call God.
We all know that God has no gender. Maybe some of you were surprised, shocked perhaps, when I used Mother instead of Father in my opening to this homily. We have been taught, I hope from an early age, that we have been made in God’s image. So, why couldn’t one of the persons of the Trinity be visualized as a female figure? It’s not what most of us are used to, but when you close your eyes and visualize who God is to you, what does that image look like? If it’s that old man with a beard, if it’s a woman with an apron on and her arms outstretched for a hug, if it’s a child with an angelic smile, it doesn’t matter because we each have to find our own vision of God. Whatever image your mind brings to you, it should be a vision of love.
Julian of Norwich wrote God is, “everlasting Being” whose eternal purpose was to crate humankind and unite us to the Divine self. “So when God made us, God Almighty was our kindly Father, and God all-wise our kindly Mother, and the Holy Spirit their love and goodness; all one God, one Lord. ‘I love you and you love me’, God says, ‘and our love will never be broken.’”
The early church didn’t use the doctrine of the Holy Trinity but, as we heard in the Epistle reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans, the concept of the Trinity was there. Paul wrote that through Jesus Christ, we have peace with God because we are justified by faith. He wrote of the Holy Spirit which makes our hearts aware of the love God gives to us. And through God’s grace, no matter what suffering we may endure, we live in the hope of sharing the glory of God. This is the message of our Christianity. We live in hope. And it is through the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity that we are able to catch a glimpse of the one God who created us, who redeemed us, and who is always with us whispering words of love and hope.
Episcopal priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “God is many, which is at least one of the mysteries behind the doctrine of the Trinity. That faith statement is our confession that God comes to us in all kinds of ways, as different from one another as they can be. The other mystery is that God is one. There cannot be a mean God and a nice one, a God of the Old Testament and another of the New. When we experience God in contradictory ways, that is our problem, not God's. We cannot solve it by driving wedges into the divine self. All we can do is decide whether to open ourselves up to a God whose freedom and imagination boggle our minds.”
God is a communion of three persons and our faith leads us into that divine communion. When we are in communion with God we are also in communion with all those others who trust in God through faith. It’s an incredible picture of oneness.
As a community of faith, it’s not necessary that we believe and understand God in the same way. Rather, it is important that we share our understandings with each other so we can learn and benefit from one another. Since we are made in God’s image, we should inspire each other. We can inspire others to goodness, to greatness, to love, to beauty, to kindness, and in turn, we can be inspired by them. That is how the Trinity is supposed to work.