Trinity Sunday – so what?

When your see interlocking circles, triangles and clover leaves in church… you know it must be Trinity Sunday. That inscrutable Sunday dedicated to a doctrine…
Now, if you arrived at this blog hoping to cut your teeth on a well-researched academic treatise on the nature of the three persons of God – and how we can have three in one and one in three — you will be disappointed…

As I look at the readings for Trinity Sunday, today is a celebration of creation, community, and of creating and living in community.
The first reading is that oh so familiar first chapter of Genesis. Here the ancient people are, in my mind, seated round the fire and an elder is telling them how all things began…
There is a formless void, and chaos, then the earth, sky, stars, sun and moon come into being. Then came the creatures of the earth swimming and swarming. At that point God says let us make humankind “in our image” and in the image of God we are created…

But what does that mean? There are numbers of commentaries and theories about that… but I believe that it means we are social beings…not meant to live in isolation. If you look at child development one of the first things a baby does is to mimic the expressions of the people around them – you smile the baby smiles. But that is two way street the baby smiles and we smile. This very young child who is still a vast bundle of potential is already a social being. Even the most shy of us has need for human interaction. We human beings need others. We are created for community.

One of our favorite icons is the Rubilev Trinity icon. What it shows are the persons of the Trinity: Creator, Christ and Spirit, at a table. This depiction is a visual reminder that even in God we have community. In Genesis God says let US make humankind in OUR image. One can debate, as scholars have for centuries, what that plural indicates… But it seems to say that God is not a rugged individualist…

God creates community through creation; God creates human beings as social beings to live in community. In Jesus time society was built on exclusive clans and tribes to which one belonged, In his life and ministry Jesus formed formed a community of friends and followers to which any could choose to belong and Jesus told them to continue the work of reconciling all people – of creating and maintaining open communities.

We find our parish, St Paul’s Jeffersonville to be a special place. As we hear and tell stories of people’s experience of that specialness what keeps coming to the fore is that we are living, as best we can, as an open community that knows and cares about one another. Community is a core value.

In the second reading today Paul is telling the community at Corinth how to be a better community. And it will sound so familiar:
Seek agreement (No backbiting, no murmurings, no private gripe sessions)
Live in peace with one another. (For us peace means to be the absence of strife.
But for Jesus Shalom was more the well-being of all – seeking the common good.
Look for God’s peace and presence amidst one another. (if we don’t look for it we may be too busy to notice when is there before us.)
Be affectionate and caring (and don’t just talk about it – demonstrate it in how we act and interact with one another.)

In the Gospel from John we see Jesus commending to friends and followers the task of sharing with others what they have found.
They are to go forth and invite others into the open community (make disciples – tell the story; baptize – invite into community; and use the description of God, Father /Son /Holy Spirit, which is a model of how to live in community of equals.

The Gospel reading ends with a promise of continuing community. Jesus tells us “I am with you always” We are not cut off from Jesus, going it alone to fulfill the divine vision.. Our sense of community is lived out in the knowledge of Jesus’ presence and in the company of Jesus that we find expressed in communion received and community shared.

So let the theologians dance on the head of a pin and argue about the nature of the persons of God. Let their discussions drone on about one God or three. But let us rejoice in God who creates us to be in community, and who has called us to be part of THIS community where we value cooperation, community and acceptance and are called to share God’s radical openness – Let us invite others to join us at the table of the Lord, a table which shapes our lives our decisions, our reactions, and through our lives helps shape the lives of others.

DonTrinity symbols 3

About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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