From the Pastor June 2024

“Blessed Trinity”

“Holy, holy, holy!
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity!”

As the month of June arrives, we are coming off of a very busy stretch within the Christian calendar which began on Ash Wednesday and last Sunday culminated with Trinity Sunday. In between, we celebrated Lent, Holy Week, Resurrection Sunday, Ascension Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday. Now we move into the longest portion of the Church Year with what is deemed as “Ordinary Time” and marked by the number of Sundays after Pentecost. The color from now until Advent, with the exception of a few special occasions, will be green which symbolizes new life and growth in Christ. Although there is nothing “ordinary” to the Christian faith, the terminology refers to the living out of the faith in everyday life situations. It can also refer to the fact that there is not a significant “feast” during this period such as Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, etc.

As I mentioned earlier, last Sunday was designated as “Trinity Sunday” within Christian tradition and each year it celebrates the triune nature of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although the word “Trinity” does not appear within Scripture explicitly and, as a doctrine of the faith, was not adopted until 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea, Scripture is filled with references to God as “three in one” and “one in three.” I know it is difficult to comprehend and, to be honest with you, is something that I personally have to approach with humility. Saint Augustine once remarked, “Deny the Trinity and you will lose your soul. Try to understand it and you will lose your mind.” I am not so sure about the “losing your soul” part of his statement, but I do agree with the latter portion concerning the mind.

For years, biblical scholars and laity alike have tried to get their hearts and minds around the doctrine of the Trinity by using a variety of images to represent that which is impossible to “tie down.” For example, water can take on three forms: ice, liquid, and stream. An egg has a shell, yolk, and white. I am a father, son, and husband. While these illustrations are somewhat helpful to a discussion of the Trinity, they still fall short. Some have attempted to explain God as being experienced in three “modes” and even gone as far as to suggest each person of the Trinity has succeeded the one before. This logic goes: God began as Creator, but then came to earth as Jesus, and today exists in the form of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this way of thinking allows for the cessation of two of the three persons of the Trinity and denies the ongoing relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit.

The hymn which I quoted from at the beginning is one of the best known within Christendom. It is based upon the words of Isaiah 6 which describe the calling of Isaiah while he was in the temple. The soon-to-be prophet became undone over the divine presence in his midst and acknowledged himself as good as dead. The seraphs (angelic-like beings with wings) chanted the holiness of God and ascribed God praise in a threefold manner which is captured within the hymn. While much attention is given to Isaiah’s call in lessons, sermons, etc., perhaps we should rediscover his experience of having been overwhelmed. Things about the Christian life should overwhelm our hearts and minds, otherwise, we might be able to say we have God figured out like learning a musical instrument or refining one’s golf game. I believe that is why the Trinity exists within Christian theology. It is as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “we see through a dark glass…” That is, we understand just enough through the lens of faith, but not everything so as to keep our spiritual pride in check.

The graphic at the top is one of the symbols you will find upon most Chrismon Trees during the Advent season. It is known as a “triquetra” or “Trinity Knot” and represents the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit as they form one God now and forever.

Together in the Father, Son, and Spirit,

The Reverend Kelley Smart