We are in the midsts of a busy time in the church calendar. We have had Ascension Day, which a cartoon recently joked was Jesus working from home, and Pentecost, the harvest festival 50 days after Passover. Jerusalem was more crowded than at Passover, and thousands of people witnessed the disciples receiving what seemed to be flames of fire and preaching in tongues or many languages. As a result, 5000 people converted to following Christ. As I write this (May 2021), Trinity Sunday looms.
Trinity Sunday is quite a difficult Sunday to navigate. Generations ago, preachers were fined or killed for heresy as they endeavour to understand and write down a description of God. The word Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible. The concept was created by a theologian in the 3rd century called Tertullianus (c. 155 - 220). Trinity means three in one, and Tertullianus’s quest was to describe this experience of God.
The idea of the Trinity was written in Paul’s final greeting in 2 Corinthians 13:14: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Paul, in his letter written around 55AD, had the ingredients of the Trinity, but trying to sum up the nature of God has proven impossible. This is because God is a mystery. Whilst we have been given intelligence, consciousness and a sense of morality, we cannot conceive of a God that exceeds time, space and matter.
The Trinity is one God, but at the same time, three distinct persons. The Father is God but is not Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Jesus the Son is God but is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is God but is not the Father or the Son. Please remember that because God is a mystery, we cannot pin God down. If we could truly identify God, I do not think God would be God. God is majesty and mystery.
Attempts at trying to describe the Trinity might not be as helpful as we once thought. For example, the analogy of water having the ability to be three things: liquid, ice and steam; does not quite cover the Trinity. Whereas God can be three things combined, water cannot be ice and steam at the same time. God is outside anything we could possibly imagine, so we have to hold our experience of God as a treasure, something precious, but not try to describe God because God is by nature indescribable.
Welcome back to church. Welcome to the new world as shops and life start to reopen. As we come out of lockdown, we have a chance to create a new normal. Take this opportunity to establish new habits and routines that bring us closer to God rather than return to our old methods. May this letter find you fit, vaccinated, and ready to seek God anew, through Jesus Christ, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May we be blessed as we come closer to a God of justice, a God of peace and a God of love, who is creator, redeemer and sustainer.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon