You must be careful when you talk about the Trinity. It is so hard to explain and so easy to wander into the swamps of bad teaching.
Our ways of trying to articulate it can be problematic, for example. We talk about ice, water, and vapor all being the same chemical compound and we say the Trinity is like that. Except that it isn’t – ice, water, and vapor are all forms (or modes) of the same compound but can’t exist simultaneously. So, that’s no good. Or we say that someone like me is, simultaneously, a son, husband, and father. And while that’s true, it’s not an analogy for the Trinity since I am also more than all of those things and am not fully defined as a person by any of them. Or, the famous example of Saint Patrick of the shamrock – one stalk, three leaves. Which is fine to a point, but the leaves are each a part of the shamrock and not the shamrock itself. So…
We resort to other things as well. In an effort to avoid language that offends, we will often speak of the Trinity as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. The problem with that is those are functions of what God does. They don’t describe who God is as does the language of Father, Son, Spirit.
You should be careful when you talk about the Trinity.
Which causes me to wonder annually, why we designate a Sunday a year to do exactly that – to reflect on, think about, and ponder the Trinity. It poses no small challenge for a preacher, especially since there is little direct biblical evidence for the doctrine. I suspect it poses no small challenge for those in the pews, trying to keep up with the preacher’s gymnastics trying to explain it.
Perhaps the best thing to do is acknowledge that the Trinity is a mystery to be worshiped and adored rather than explained and understood. Maybe our need to explain everything is the problem. Maybe the best thing to do is simply pray the prayer that is in our hymnal:
Holy God, you have given us grace, by the confession of the faith
of your holy church, to acknowledge the mystery of the Holy Trinity
and, in the power of your divine majesty, to worship the Unity. Keep
us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see in your
eternal glory One God, now and forever. Amen.
This Sunday, that’s what we’ll try to do. We’ll worship the mystery, ponder aloud what it might say about God and about us as God’s people, baptize in the triune name, and continue worshiping the mystery. We’ll focus our praise and worship around a Trinitarian blessing that is familiar (2 Corinthians 13:11-13).
I hope to see you. Until then, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.
Grace and peace.
PS. As you travel this summer, remember that you can continue to worship with us through the live stream (http://firstcary.com/streaming/). The stream remains on line until the next Sunday goes live. Also, you can continue to support the church with your gifts online (go to http://firstcary.com/give/ and click the “Give Online” tab).