Print Version June 7th, 1998
Why on earth do we celebrate this awkward feast right here, right now, when we are still reeling from Pentecost, still wondering how to put our feet down into ordinary time and get on with the brisk business of living? Why distract our attention from the here and now with this feast of the where and nowhere?
I for one never remember it’s coming. All the focus has been on Easter and Pentecost and every year I’m surprised and say to myself “Oh yes, Trinity!”
But there is a reason it’s here and a good one at that. Our faith in the Trinity is not a faith in a theorem of mathematics, not a problem in logic, not even a puzzle in theology. Instead it’s a shorthand for all that has gone on before: for Advent’s waiting; for the Christmas joy of Incarnation; for Lent’s remembrance of bruised innocence; for the Holy-Week horror of loss; the surprise of Easter; and the Church’s reckless gift of Pentecost fire.
When we testify to Trinity we sum up the triple testimony of our lives, and the lives of our forefather and foremothers: the testimony of the living world to its creator; the testimony of Jesus to his God; and the testimony of the Christian community to the Spirit of Jesus still with us.
These are the roots of trinity in us. The sense we have that this world is no accident; that despite it’s sorrows and ugliness it is a place of life and for life with a creative heart at its centre and a care ready to be made visible through our own.
The experience of Jesus which we remember every day. God’s way to be human, revealing the lines of God face, and a love that would hold nothing back in its daring generosity and its challenge to our notions of goodness and beauty.
Then the experience of the church from its earliest days that Jesus, once dead, is now beyond death, and with us always in the Spirit. God still with us, still delighting in life, still finding beauty in love, surprise in creativity.
If the Doctrine of the Trinity says anything it says this: God has risked even giving up God’s very self to be God for us. The song we’ll sing in a little while says it accurately: “you have shaken with our laughter; you have trembled with our tears.”
So no shamrock or triangle opens the heart of the Trinity to us … just the experience of love. If you know what it is to have loved someone enough to have shaken with their laughter and trembled with their tears then you can begin to understand God’s Trinity.
We’ve all been raised to believe that God loves us but somehow we tend to believe that all the risk and all the feeling are on our side … that God is so big and self-sufficient that nothing we do can really make a difference to God—really hurt or really delight. But today’s feast says the opposite and invites us into its mystery. Have you ever loved someone so much that you feel you’ve lost your self to them? That all your future depends on them? That your heart wakes or breaks with theirs? If you’ve known that pain, that daring, that delight then know now that God looks upon you with just that kind of love.