Today we celebrate the revelation of God as an eternal fellowship of love, three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendour, yet one God.
The doctrine of the most holy and undivided Trinity is challenging, relevant, intriguing and essential – four headings to steer our delving this morning into foundational truth and life.
Firstly it’s a challenge. Reason takes you so far in Christianity. We could never have invented God in three persons, it’s revealed truth. Then you have the question of weighing other revelations – Islam and Hinduism besides the Judaism from which the Trinitarian revelation came.
Preachers go on leave this Sunday for fear of a seemingly cold, calculated, mathematical doctrine. Three in one and one in three. Why three? Why not one, says Islam, why not more says Hinduism, why not none says the atheist mocking our feeble attempts to get our mind round God three in one.
There’s the challenge set before us in Trinitarian faith but that challenge is based upon historical events. These clearly reveal the nature of God in the coming of Jesus, whose death and resurrection we’ve been following up to Ascension Day, and the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost day. It’s a challenge that might lead you to the church library or the internet so you can better answer for your faith to those who believe in one God, no God or many gods as opposed to one God in three persons.
Secondly the doctrine of the Trinity is utterly relevant. How good it was to see the countercultural coverage on marriage last weekend since marriage as a union of life-giving love points us, because human beings are in the image of God, to God who is himself a union of life-giving love. Keeping true to ourselves as human beings, and true to the life-giving nature of marriage is keeping true to God no less, God as he has revealed himself to us. God as love within himself. How could God be so without the distinction of persons within him?
Challenging, relevant – thirdly the doctrine of God should be intriguing. The eternal fellowship of love that is God draws us in to himself. What after all is the Church for other than to serve God’s purpose to bring as many souls on earth as possible into fellowship with him?
The doctrine of the Trinity is revealed first of all in Our Lord’s coming into a human family with Mary and Joseph, into village life in Nazareth, then into the missionary partnership of the disciples. That divine society continues after his resurrection and the gift of the Spirit as one, holy catholic and apostolic church which is God’s never-ending family!
How intriguing God is, and we are. If you want evidence for God look in the mirror and read Psalm 8 You have made (us) little lower than the angels and crown (us) with glory and honour. More than that, a human being in isolation isn’t a true human for, in John Donne’s words, no man is an island. What’s intriguing about God as divine society mirrors what we find intriguing about ourselves, namely our desire for society and friendship. This desire will be fully satisfied only in the communion of saints who can be thought of as standing near God as a corona or crown around the sun.
Challenging, relevant, intriguing – lastly the Trinitarian doctrine of God is essential.
It is essential because Christianity is a religion of salvation and that salvation stands or falls on the divinity of Jesus Christ. We read Jesus words in the Gospel all that belongs to the Father is mine…the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you (John 16:15) Does my eternal destiny depend on my own good works, lacking as they are, or on a relationship freely offered me by God in his Son?
In Jesus do we really meet with God himself? That, as they say, is the twenty four thousand dollar question hidden behind keeping a feast day for the Blessed Trinity.This doctrine might sound cold and mathematical but it follows a logic of love, love beyond all measure, extravagant, unconditional love for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ so that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
To believe this is to believe God isn’t One but One God in three persons.
It’s challenging to so believe – God is God and has revealed himself this way and not another way.
It’s relevant - the way we see God affects the way we see ourselves and steers us from unworthy pursuits.
It’s intriguing because the loving fellowship of God in three persons chimes in with our sociable nature and draws it to joyful completion in the communion of saints
It’s essential doctrine because without it the divinity of Christ falls, the word of God is emptied of power and the sacraments become empty ritual as God’s coming to us in Jesus and the Spirit is denied.
May all I have shared enrich the eucharist we now offer through, with and in Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all might, majesty, dominion and power now and for evermore. Amen.