Moving “Trinity” from Concept to Relationship
by the Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler
Assigned Texts: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31, Psalm 8, Romans 5:1-15, John 16:12-15
Trinity Sunday is not a Sunday to look back but a Sunday to look at who God is and how God touches our lives
Going through confirmation classes as a young teen, I can’t say that I remember much about what I learned, but I do remember well the lesson on the Trinity. My father (who was the pastor of the congregation) was teaching the class and stood at a blackboard and drew triangles, circles, and arrows. He put labels on the corners and proceeded to say things about God as creator, redeemer, and spirit. I can’t say that I was entirely captivated by the lesson but instead came away pretty confused. And as we come to this Trinity Sunday, I don’t think many folks are genuinely excited about it. I have yet to see a Happy Trinity Sunday greeting card from Hallmark!
While the word “Trinity” never appears in the Bible, there is certainly evidence for it. The Trinity is more like a method of trying to understand the great mystery of who God is. It is a theological concept that our early church fathers and mothers put together as they poured over the scriptures and saw how God had been encountered. For instance, they looked at Jesus’ bold commission to his disciples in Matthew chapter 28 to go into all the world in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, the concept of the Trinity is there, but it is impossible to have a relationship with a concept.
I have come to believe that we waste too much time on Trinity Sunday trying to explain how this whole Trinity thing works when all we need to do is examine how we experience God in our daily lives.
The bottom line is that the Trinity shows how God’s love and intention are found in all stages of human and cosmological history, each part of our lives, and eternity. God’s grace and love are woven into creation, daily living, and the heavenly kingdom!
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and God saw that it was GOOD! Right now, my greatest joy in life is playing with my six grandchildren. Each of them is a special and unique creation of God. The miracle of God’s creative power did not end with the heavens and the earth but unfolds here and now.
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. I memorized John 3:16 as a child in Sunday School and always knew that it was an important verse to have on hand. But on October 14, 2014, both my sister and my wife’s father died from cancer within hours of each other. Knowing Christ as redeemer never felt so comforting.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” John 16:13. This past week I encountered God as Holy Spirit as I was privileged to serve as the Chaplain for the Synod of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in North America. This is a gathering of representatives of the 54 congregations of the Province to elect leadership, set priorities, and establish shared programs and budgets. It can often be a very contentious time as people from diverse theological backgrounds what the church to make definitive statements that they support. This particular year there was great fear of animosity as the divisive issues we see in the broader society are certainly a part of our Moravian Church. For weeks before the event, I wondered what I would say if called upon to calm tense debate between delegates. But I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit move through our diverse community, and while I know that some folks went away disappointed, it was an extraordinary meeting that accomplished a lot; and offered many opportunities for prayer, worship, dialog, debate, and good fellowship. The Holy Spirit was working overtime for us during these days.
I have encountered God as Creator, God as Redeemer, and God as Holy Spirit. And so have you. Trinity Sunday gives us a chance to reflect on these encounters of all of who God is. God has lovingly created each of us. God gave us the means of salvation; new life here, eternal life there. God comes to each of us every day in the Holy Spirit’s power to teach, guide, encourage, or even stir deep in your gut. Claim it! Claim all of whom God is and allow life to be transformed, renewed, and refreshed.