1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
The Commissioning of the Disciples
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
If I’m completely honest, I might have shelved this project if I had realised that Trinity Sunday was coming up. It’s one thing writing every week about the stories of Jesus and the disciples or reflecting on the Epistles through the seasons of the liturgical year … It is quite another to write a post on a point of Christian doctrine that, however crucial, rarely inspires.
Most of the time, discussions about the Trinity are intellectual debates about the nature of God filled with bad analogies. Thank God for St. Patrick who made everything clear …
What I’m learning, however, is that the doctrine of the Trinity should inspire us because it has so much to say about what it means to be human. At the beginning of the Christian story, God creates the world and everything in it — muttering to himself the whole time. When it comes time for him to create humans, we begin to understand that maybe talking to himself makes sense:
‘Let us make humankind in our image.’ (Gen. 1:26)
Eh … what?
Yep. Us. Because there are three persons within the Godhead.
God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit.
God is one but God is not alone. God is love and God is community.
In the creation story, there is only one thing that God says is not good.
‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’ (2:18)
Which makes sense. A God who is community refuses to leave a person made in his image without community. What would be the point in making him? We were made for community, made for love and made to be known. Our very existence is the result of loving community because loving community creates.
Families are a great example of this. Two people come together and the result of their love is more life. Sometimes the result is another person. Sometimes it is the people they invite into their home. Sometimes it is the love that they bring to the world.
(We don’t need to be married or in relationship to experience loving community but it is one powerful example of it.)
Loving community creates. And, as we have seen so often recently, loveless disconnection destroys. Loveless disconnection manifests itself in lust without love, in anger without forgiveness, in greed without compassion. From suicide attempts to big business boardrooms to school shootings and beyond, loveless disconnection from others can often be the catalyst for self-destruction or the destruction of others.
We were not made to be unknown. We were not made to be alone.
As people made in the image of God, the nature of this God is the foundation of our understanding of what it means to be human and more. The Trinity also speaks to the nature of the story that we find ourselves in.
When Paul signs off his second letter to the church in Corinth, he ends it with the words: 'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.’ (2 Corinthians 13:13)
Is he saying that love is only found in the Father? That grace is only found in Jesus? Of course not. Though the persons of the Trinity are distinct, they share the same values and attributes. The beautiful mystery is that we see the persons of the Trinity active (but not exclusively active) in different areas of the story.
The Father creates. The Son redeems. The Spirit is re-creating us and is re-creating the world through us.
When we create, when we redeem, when we re-create, we live out the mystery of what it means to be made in God’s image. In grace, in love, in communion and community, God is present and God is revealed.
The Trinity is a mystery, a riddle we would love to be able to solve … And yet so is the mystery of what it means to be human. It makes sense that there would be no easy answer to either.
But perhaps that is because the beauty is in the asking, rather than the answering.
In the journey, rather than the destination.
In the wondering, rather than the solving.