Marvel at the Mystery of the Holy Trinity
Trinity Sunday Isaiah 6 1-6 John 3 1-21
Mention Advent, Christmas or Easter to most Christians and they will light up – these are well known Festivals – mention Trinity Sunday however and most will glaze over and in churches today it will pass unnoticed.
When it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity we are out of our depth and struggling with concepts that are beyond us – for how can it make sense to talk about three persons who are wholly distinct yet wholly one. It is incomprehensible.
I could give you some examples to try to illustrate Trinity – there is water than can be steam when boiled, ice when frozen and liquid at room temperature – but all water.
Or St Patrick’s illustration of the Shamrock with its three distinct leaves, yet all on one stem and in fact one leaf.
Or my favourite the Jaffa Cake, chocolate, orange and sponge, three very distinct things yet one cake - but if we are honest it doesn’t help does it. The Trinity is still a mystery – still incomprehensible.But that is the very reason why Trinity Sunday is so important. God is beyond our human intellect –mystery, greater than we can begin to conceive.
We encounter God as a sovereign mystery and like Isaiah we run out of words – in trying to describe God he said ‘I saw the Lord’ he was high a lifted up and his train filled the temple.’ There were no other words – and we have no idea what he saw.
We encounter God as a loving Father/Mother protector and guide. We encounter God as a human being in Jesus living and dying among us – who rose from the dead and is exalted at the Father’s right hand – and we encounter God as Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts by faith, filling us with peace, joy, hope and power.
We cannot explain how this all fits together but we know that it does, and if we could unravel the mystery then we would loose God altogether.
You will not find the word Trinity in the Bible but we will find the Trinitarian mystery in evidence from Genesis to Revelation; And here in the gospel of John Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about the mystery that is Trinity.
John tells us that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, it might have been because he was scared of being seen, or perhaps it was because he was dark on the inside. Jesus was very firm with him and said; ‘Very truly I tell you,’ – in other words, listen very carefully, this is not an anecdote that you can add to your list of favourite things to say in the synagogue. This is vital. You must be born from above in other words you must be born again.
Nicodemus, this Jewish leader and teacher who is sure of himself and his theology now opens up and asks Jesus – How? Jesus seems a bit shocked at his question; ‘Are you a teacher in Israel and you do not understand these things?’ How could you Nicodemus forget all the promises of God revealed through the prophets?
What made him cling to his religious ways and his theological certainties, which were devoid of the wind and breath of the Spirit and made him blind to the new ways of God?
More importantly, what makes us blind to the ways of God, and maybe to new ideas as well?
What makes us cling so desperately to our own ideas and plans, to our form of religion which are to often devoid of the wind and breath of the Spirit. What makes us think that we can be overly pally with an almighty God – and refer to him upstairs?
Jesus revealed that that he had come to fulfil the promises of God; and give us this new life in the Spirit. This rebirth into the kingdom of God, at our Baptism or when we come to faith, then we become the people of God, Easter people, the church, the bride. Little by little as we are cleansed from our sinfulness, as we let go of our old ways, our certainties our securities, we gradually die to our self-centred ways of life, we will begin to live by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this conversation with Nicodemus Jesus tells us that if we believe and trust in him we will have eternal life.
Eternal life does not refer to something we will live after death, it is the life of God given to us today.
It is the very life of the Eternal God that is in each of us, flowing through us, given to us as we are born from above through Baptism and through our trust in Jesus. As we increasingly recognise the Holy Spirit within us, we will find ourselves less attracted by the idols of the world. We will begin to see people as Jesus sees them; we will begin to love them as Jesus loves them, and to see and love ourselves as Jesus sees and loves us.
Listen again to the post communion prayer that we say each week; ‘through him we offer you our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice send us out in the power of your spirit to live and work to your praise and glory’ in other words transform us so that we can do things that humanly speaking we cannot do by ourselves:
Love our enemies, forgive, be compassionate reach out to the marginalized.
Trinity Sunday then is the day to accept the limits of our knowledge and simply to glorify the Holy Trinity – Father Son and Holy Spirit
Trinity Sunday, is the day to accept the imperative of the Trinity – and to work for all that heals and unites and reject all that divides and destroys.
Trinity Sunday is the day to marvel at the mystery of the Trinity at work within us, both as individuals and as the people of God. God the one who is high and lifted up, Jesus the Son who gives us life Eternal, and the Holy Spirit empowering us each day.
Trinity Sunday is the day to make sure that each one of us is born again from above.
Blessed be God.
Father Son and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God forever.