Trinity Sunday

10th June 2022

by Revd Paul Bradish

It’s Trinity Sunday – we remember again that what we are concentrating on this weekend is beyond our understanding, comprehension and maybe even, our expression. That’s why, over the course of Christian history so many objects or illustrations have been used in an attempt to convey this doctrine. 

I suppose the most famous is St Patrick and the three-leafed shamrock.  Another is three forms of H2O (ice, water and steam), then again I’ve seen stripy Aquafresh toothpaste (red, blue and white running together) used, even Castrol Magnetec motor oil and most recently someone who is father, husband and son all at the same time. All very entertaining, but in their different ways all very unsatisfactory and all containing errors. Christian history shows us that long theological tomes have been written on it; church councils have been convened to discuss it and saddest of all, Christians have been martyred because of it. And yet, the confusion still remains. We reach the ultimate conclusion that human language is inadequate to explain or even articulate the fullness of the mystery of God.

So what do we do, do we leave it for another 12 months, giving thanks that we have made it through another Trinity Sunday? To some extent we often do that and of course if we say we understand the doctrine of the Trinity, we patently don’t – it is, as I have said, beyond us. But two thoughts by way of illustrating what it might mean and touch us might take us a bit further.

Firstly, have you ever tried explain to your spouse or partner why you love him or her?  Why do I love my wife, Helen…..?  I might say to her that she is pretty, smart, funny; we have a lot in common; we enjoy the same things; she’s fun to be with; she’s a great cook; an amazing mother;  she keeps me honest, she tells me the truth; she makes me happy…, hair……blah, blah, blah…. But before long, my list can begin to sound shallow, hollow, perhaps even superficial. Maybe I discover that at a deeper level a list doesn’t even begin to accurately reflect her love.  How can words ever describe or capture the beauty and mystery of two lives shared, given, and received? How do you talk about giving yourself to another so completely that you live within the other, not losing yourself but finding your true and complete self? Some things, like love, cannot really be talked about. They can only ever be experienced which is perhaps what the Trinity is all about.

Which leads me to my second thought: Jesus is more interested in our Trinitarian participation than in our Trinitarian understanding. We will hear readings this coming Sunday where Jesus speaks of the Father and the Spirit and the relationship the three of them share. It is not a lecture about the Trinity. He does not describe what they are but rather, how they are. And according to Jesus they are in complete relationship.

All they have is given, received, and shared. Nothing is withheld. Nothing is secret. All that the Father has is Jesus’. All that Jesus has is taken by the Spirit and declared to us. We are included in the life and love the Holy Trinity. All that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have is being given and made available to us. Nothing is withheld. Nothing is secret. The Trinitarian life begins the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but it is not limited to the three. It is the ongoing dance of God’s being and existence of love.

One of the great words to learn on this Sunday is PERICHORSIS – a Greek word that means rotation or better still the dance of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Not like John Sergeant or Anne Widecombe – stomping around, all over the place, wrestling and fighting……but an integrated movement where there rotating ebb and flow. And the wonderful thing is simply this: All of us are invited to join the dance.  No one is denied an invitation and in God’s world everyone knows how to dance……even ‘Dad Dancing’ is included!

Jesus extends his hand to us and says…’Do you want to join in….…it’s fun…’s life and love like you’ve never known before……’. I hope you will accept his invitation even if you can’t or don’t fully understand it all.