It seems to me that once a year the Church does one of those things that is both humbling and healthy. We pause one Sunday a year, take a look at something, and say, “well, here’s something we can’t explain.”
Such behavior is unusual for a post-modern people so conditioned by a scientific mindset that we try to explain away everything. “The sunset? Oh that’s merely the ray’s path of light being distorted by particular atmospheric conditions. Yes, it’s attractive but completely explainable.” Poets everywhere weep.
So, for the Church, well versed by now in explaining everything away in an attempt to be relevant, to stand once a year and say that we believe in something we cannot explain is odd behavior at best. Yet, it is what we do on Trinity Sunday – a Sunday entirely devoted to the inexplicable.
How do we explain (not to mention justify) our belief that one God is revealed and experienced in three persons? At our weakest moments, we try. We will talk about shamrocks with one stem but three leaves. Or two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen that can be water or steam or ice (three properties of the same molecule). Or how I am a son to my father, a husband to my wife, and a father to my children while still being one “me.”
All the explanations are marginally helpful, yet they all fall short. The H2O model, for example. Yes, the same molecule can be water, ice, or steam but not all at the same time – as God is all at once Father, Son, and Spirit.
So, we resort to other descriptions. Squeamish (and still post-modern) that we are about language we will refer to the Trinity as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Yet, that also leaves something to be desired, substituting the functional for the relational and implying that those three “works” of God are somehow distinct as though the second and third persons of the Trinity were absent in Creation. And so on.
You see how hard this becomes. So, we come together once a year, simply shrug our shoulders, and say we believe. Which, in the end, may be the best posture we can assume before the mystery of God: simply to believe, worship, and adore.
And that’s what we plan to do this Sunday – Trinity Sunday – as we gather to welcome new members, to baptize a new sister and brother in the triune name, and to consider “The Dismissal with Blessings” (2 Corinthians 13:11-13). We plan to believe, worship, and adore. I hope you’ll join us in admitting what we don’t know and worshipping the Three in One whom we do.
Grace and peace.