Trinity Sunday – June 4, 2023
Matthew 28:16-20 and Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday on our church calendar. Trinity Sunday invites us to celebrate an idea. A theological abstraction that’s beyond our understanding. The one in three and three in one. And you may ask, “Why should I care about the concept of the Trinity?”
Well, let’s explore the concept a bit. It tells us that God is communal; that God is relationship. When God the Son is baptized, God the Spirit descends in the form of a dove, and God the Father parts the heavens to speak delight and affirmation. Throughout the Gospel story, the Three exist interdependently, leaning into each other.
God is Relationship, and it is in relationship — with God, ourselves, each other, and the world — that we experience and embody God’s nature.
Which is perhaps the heart of our Vestry retreat yesterday. We adopted the theme of “Rejuvenation” or being open to a spirit of rejuvenation, for our vision and strategic planning for Trinity. We spent a good morning discussing and being open to new possibilities, refreshing ideas. Wondering about developing relationships, how we more fully become a faith community that connects the dots in our larger Coatesville community.
Debi Thomas shares: The Trinity at its heart is an expression of deep, unfaltering, and life-giving love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The relationship between the persons of the Godhead is not a relationship of domination, power-mongering, manipulation, or jealousy. It is a relationship of unselfish, sacrificial love. Which begs the question: if God’s very being is grounded in love, and we are created in God’s image, then who are we? What are we? Are we, like the Triune God whose imprint we bear, creatures motivated first and foremost by love? Is love what we are known for? If not, then what are we doing with our lives? What does our piety amount to?
We come from a God who makes new things. According to Genesis, God created something new each day for six days. He was an innovator at the world’s beginning, calling forth beautiful things that didn’t exist until he called them. Frederick Buechner writes, “Using the same old materials of earth, air, fire, and water, every twenty-four hours God creates something new out of them. If you think you’re seeing the same show all over again seven times a week, you’re crazy. Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before and never will be again. And the you that wakes up was never the same before and will never be the same again, either.”
A spirit of rejuvenation. We are made in the image of God. We’re not sure exactly what that means, but we are reminded today that Genesis, chapter one, is brimming with goodness and blessing. We come from a world that is good. Before there was evil, there was goodness. Before there was Original Sin, there was Original Blessing. God pronounces blessing on the created order three times. He calls creation “good” and “very good” seven times.
We come from a God who makes things new. And we are made in God’s image. So, the questions are, “Am I like God in my spiritual traits? In my physical form? In my consciousness or creativity? We don’t know, but the possibilities are breathtaking to imagine. If nothing else, the creation story insists that God’s mark is imprinted on our very being. We might ignore or distort it, but the mark is always there. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we reflect something of God’s joy, God’s intentions, God’s love, and God’s beauty just by virtue of existing on the earth. Genesis 1 assures us that we come from the best of beginnings. We come from a glorious Creator. We come from the loving heart of God. The Triune God.
In the 15th century, Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev created “The Hospitality of Abraham,” also known as “The Trinity,” one of the most well-known and beloved icons in Christendom. In it, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (depicted as the three angels who appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre), sit around a table, sharing food and drink. Their faces are nearly identical, but they’re dressed in different colors. The Father wears gold, the Son blue, and the Spirit green. The Father gazes at the Son. The Son gazes back at the Father, but gestures towards the Spirit. The Spirit gazes at the Father, but points toward the Son with one hand, and opens up the circle with the other, making room for others to join the sacred meal. As a whole, the icon exudes adoration and intimacy — clearly, the three persons around the table respect and enjoy each other. But it also exudes openness. There is space at the table for the viewer of the icon. For me. For us. As if to say, the point of the great Three-in-One is not exclusivity — God is not a middle school clique — but rather, radical hospitality. The point of the Three is always to add one more, to extend the invitation, to make the holy table more expansive and more welcoming. In fact, the deeper the intimacy between the Three grows, the roomier the table becomes. Likewise, the closer we draw to the adoration of the Three, the wider and more hospitable our hearts must grow towards the world.
So back to the question…why should we care about the three-in-one? As Debi writes: “We should care because we are children of the Trinity at a time when the world is reeling and desperate. We are the children of a mysterious, fluid, diverse, communal, hospitable, and loving God who wants to guide us into the whole truth of who God is and who we are. We should care because the mystery of the Trinity has the power to transform our hearts, leading us towards coherence and dynamism, unity and diversity, hospitality and self-giving love. This week and always, may our lives reflect the transformative beauty of the Triune God”. Rejuvenation.