This Sunday is Trinity Sunday in the Church calendar. I have always found it a little strange that we have a single Sunday identified in the year to remember what is, after all, the central, distinctive tenet of the Christian faith: we believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We affirm this common faith in the One God who is our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, week by week, as we proclaim the Creed in our services, come together in prayers of preparation and intercession, and praise God in the Gloria. This is our faith, every day and minute – not just on one particular Sunday.
But perhaps it is indeed right to take time at this point in the year for special focus on the Trinity. This week we see the drawing-together of all our calendar of readings and festivals so far through the year, as we have been learning again of God’s awesome plans for the world, from creation and covenant, through the gift of God’s love and grace revealed in Christ from Christmas to Easter, to God’s intimate welcome and enabling of all into his fellowship through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this last week. As we discover again the enduring love of God-our-source, providing for us; God-with-us, transforming us; God-still-with-us, guiding and uniting us, we are sent out by the Trinity and through the Trinity to share and communicate this love and grace. We reconfirm it every time we welcome a new member into this fellowship through baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It is also good to be made to stop periodically and wrestle again with just how we understand this seeming paradox of God who is Three in One. This time last year I was reflecting on the nature of God as a single, never-ending dynamic relationship of three persons, as a dance or a symphony calling each of us in different ways into relationship with God through his three persons and by whom we are then called into relationship with one another. This particular reflection works for me, but there are so many potential ways of reflecting on the Trinity.
Maybe it is also good, this Sunday, not to get bogged down in trying to pin down the paradox of the Trinity, but instead to welcome the mystery of God who is both ineffable and immediate as a never-ending invitation to get to know him better. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recognises that our understanding can only be limited:
For now, we see in a mirror, enigmatically, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
(I Cor 13:12-13)
As Kandiah says, we cannot ourselves ever resolve the paradoxes of our faith because God is so far beyond our human understanding, but we can keep striving to learn more of God and of his love. If we could grasp the paradoxes, perhaps the danger would be that we would box God away and stop seeking. “Christianity was never meant to be simple – after all, it is about relationship, and what true relationship is ever simple?” (Kandiah, p308)
Kandiah, Krish Paradoxology: why Christianity was never meant to be simple. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2014
Image – LG