“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses, what is man that you should be mindful of him? The son of man that you should seek him out?”
I speak with you today in the name of the Triune God. Amen!
Good (Evening) Morning! Thank you for joining us on this Trinity Sunday. It is traditional, like Low Sunday the Sunday after Easter, for this day to be another one of those international the Associate gets to preach occasions. I checked around and indeed most of my friends that are associates and/or curates are indeed preaching this morning. It seems there is a bit of a rite of passage for associates to have to stand up—literally in front of God and everybody—and try and explain the Trinity. Now far be it for me to ever back down from a challenge. So let’s give it a go, shall we?
Basically, without getting too technical, the doctrine of the Trinity is the teaching that we know God in three distinct persons, but yet they are one. Now, my middle school English teacher is somewhere in the southern United States cringing right at this moment because I just mixed plural and singular in a sentence. They is plural and can not be One. Luckily God is beyond the rules of grammar; so this is indeed possible. Though possible, I do believe it is still confusing for the very reasons my grammar teacher is cringing. How can three distinct things indeed three distinct persons, be One?
Indeed, the church has been trying to describe our experience of the triune God, the three in One, since our inception. Athanaius, one early articulators of the Christian faith from the fourth century put it this way:
That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
Got it? Good, because I don’t. Now that is about as clear as the federal tax code don’t you think? That makes about as much sense as yelling touchdown at basketball game.
Now truly the Triune God is incomprehensible, but not because of God, rather because of our tendencies. See, there is more going on about God than we could ask or imagine. Too often we are clouded by our limited perceptions of things. We have particular categories, boxes in which we place every thing and every person. As long as these people and things function within our conceptions of whom and what they should be we are able to blithely mosey along without paying much attention, without giving ourselves to the moment or each other.
These perceptions often lead to a rather mechanical worldview on our part. It can lead to a checklist type existence with a series of do’s and don’ts. It produces an extreme desire for control, because if we understand the cause then we can manipulate the effect. It manifests itself in a compulsion to have an ordered proscribed path leading to a predetermined destination. Furthermore, the daily grind, the rat race, or whatever you want to call it is a manifestation of our tendency to mechanize our lives. Wake up at the right time, drink the right coffee, drive the right car, have the right job. Complete the checklist, and purge the task list from the blackberry then all is well. The Bishop and Scholar N.T. Wright, describes this as the concrete we have used to cap the wells of spirituality, covers over the life giving waters of God.
This is all fine and dandy until God breaks in gives us a swift kick of Christian love. I think that is what happened to our psalmist today. He or She writes, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses, what is man that you should be mindful of him? the son of man that you should seek him out?” I think the Psalmist was on auto-pilot and then suddenly it dawned on him or her, “wait a second, this creation is too elegantly fashioned too particularly ordered for it to be an accident. Furthermore, the being that created all this, the one that nurtures everything from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the paths of galaxies in the universe, cares about little old me.”
“What is man that you should be mindful of him?” Why in the entire universe, of all that is seen and unseen, would God, the Supreme Being, care about us? Furthermore, when there is so much going on in this existence, from the paths of planets and the emissions of stars, to the reproduction of cells and the motions of atoms, why would God seek us out? Why would God call us?
This wonderment, this overwhelming sense of awe is, I believe, the beginnings of enlightenment, the beginnings of wisdom. It is when God breaks in to our well managed routines to say to us there is more than what we are noticing that we begin the path to wholeness. This call of God’s is towards relationship and away from mechanization.
Indeed that is what the doctrine of the trinity is: a teaching about relationship. Our existence is meaningless without relationship and incomplete and broken without a relationship with God. Indeed whether say Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, or Speaker, Word, Breath we are attempting to describe a relational existence much more akin to a divine dance then a machine.
Now this is frightening to us, because a mechanical worldview is clean, comprehendible, and predictable. A relational worldview is messy, confounding, and unpredictable. In a relationship one may be asked to do or go where one least expects. This is okay. We can overcome the fear because we are not alone on the journey. Jesus says to his disciples today, “I know you are not ready for it all. That’s okay. The spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit that is me and is God will be with you and will guide you to all.”
My brothers and sisters, the call for us today is to be open to the cosmic divine dance that is the triune God; to be open to the relationship that is beyond our comprehension and regulation. We are called to be open to the spirit of Truth to lead us deeper into relationship. For as incomprehensible as the trinity is, as incomprehensible that the God that creates all that is seen and unseen cares about you and me, as incomprehensible as it might be God, loves us even more. God loves us so much that God became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ and remains with us in the presence of the Holy Spirit. God loves us so much; God invites us to this table to receive the grace of God in the bread and wine that is the body and blood of Christ so we can then go be the body and blood of Christ in the world. Amen!