Isaiah 40:12-17, 27-31
Today we are marking Trinity Sunday. It is always the first Sunday after Pentecost where we are meant to celebrate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. The three-person Godhead. Celebrating foundational Christian doctrine might not sound all that exciting, but it is!
It is good, I think, to remind ourselves about the essence of our Christian faith after the events and activities of Lent, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. Phew. The church year now opens up and rolls along until Advent as the big festivals are now complete. The Church has marked Trinity Sunday since the mid 800’s. So it is not new. It was instituted to speak against the heresies of the early church as they worked out how to understand the concept of one God in three elements. Three does in fact equal one!
Reference to the Trinity is woven through our services; each time I or we say ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The entire Christian story is retold in the Eucharistic prayer before Communion, we repeat it each week in the Creeds.
It is difficult to understand and at some point needs to be believed as part of the mystery of God. But don’t simply jump to that conclusion as tempting as it is!
From Debbie Thomas, an American essayist: If you’re like me, you’ve been at the receiving end (or the giving end) of many well-meaning but inadequate attempts to explain the Triune God: “Oh, well, the Trinity is sort of like water! You know, liquid, vapour, and ice? Three phases, one entity? The Trinity is like that!” Or, “Think of a tree! The roots, the trunk, and the branches. Three parts, one tree. Or an egg. The shell, the egg white, and the yolk. Or a triangle. Or St. Patrick’s shamrock: three petals, one clover. Or (courtesy of John Wesley), three candles in a room, one light by which to read.
All of these analogies — beautiful though they are — fall short, and none of them address the deeper question: Why should we care? What difference does the three-in-one make? Fine, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So what? Given the state our world is in right now, why should the Christian doctrine of the Trinity matter?
Trying to deepen our understanding of the Trinity, should help us to deepen our faith and expand our ideas of what it is to be a Christian.
Firstly, it should challenge us with the truth about God. Being a Christian is not solely about turning up to church or simply being a good person. The truth of God will always be more than our minds can cope with. The truth of God will always convict and remake us. We are created in God’s image – everyone is. We cannot remake the image to suit ourselves. It is an image we are to grow and mature into.
Secondly, the Trinity shows us that God is dynamic. God is on the move. He flows, he dances. This is a challenge for people who do not particularly care for change. The Church is notorious for its slowness to adapt and change. We like to start sentences with ‘well it has always been done like…’ Yes and let’s look at where we are!
Jesus’ final commandment to his disciples is to Go! Make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They were not to stay still in Jerusalem and never change. Thank God they did go! God is always waiting and watching over us. He wants us to move and change; to become the people He created us to be. We do that by following the example of Jesus and being open to the work of the Spirit in our lives. What might that look like for you?
Thirdly, we see that God is communal. It’s one thing to say that God values community. Or that God thinks community is good for us. One of the great things about the Hambleden Valley is the sense of community. We see that in our village activities that have re-emerged since Covid. Church Teas is Hambleden & Fingest, the Open Gardens in Medmenham today, an upcoming fete in Turville. Friday Prayers in Fawley. Our afternoon services in Frieth and recent services in the village hall. We are willing to try new things. We value relationships and connection.
It’s altogether another to say that God is communal. That God is relationship, intimacy, connection, and communion. All of the things I mentioned above hang together because God is relationship.
It is easy to forget though. Isaiah is addressing a group of people who are totally worn out. They do not even have the energy to reject God and go somewhere else for comfort. All they can do is sit around and complain. They have come to believe that they are worth nothing and forgotten by God. He does not care about them at all. Isaiah counters their downbeat state by insisting that God did not advise when making the world, He does not need to be told what to do. This is not a swipe at the lament of the people; it is to be a comfort, a source of joy.
God is not forgetful or careless. No one who measured the water in the hollow of his hand or weighed the mountains on a scale is careless. When they and we are too tired and bewildered to find our way out of the situation we are in, remember that God is inexhaustible. God is unending energy. Jesus is unending energy. The Holy Spirit is unending energy.
In these upcoming months of change, can I suggest that we need to lean into God. Maybe again, maybe for the first time in a long time or ever. Lean into God for comfort and encouragement. Lean into Jesus and follow his example. Lean into the Holy Spirit and ask for energy and imagination. Lean into each other as we continue to learn and grow together. May we be transformed by the Trinity.