Trinity Sunday- Fr. Chris- June 11, 2017

Trinity Sunday

June 11, 2017

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. The first Sunday after Pentecost is the day the Church sets aside to celebrate that truth that is at the core of what we believe: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the great mystery of three persons united in one being. As the Athanasian Creed, one of our three creeds along with the Apostles and Nicene, states:

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.[i]

***Sigh*** I don’t know about you, but now my brain hurts… What we just heard was only about a quarter of the creed and it is the most comprehensive of the creeds on both the Trinity and the duel nature of Christ, fully human and fully divine. In case you want to check it out later in its entirety, the Athanasian Creed is on page 864 in the prayer book. Just be prepared for some deep theological reading…

Anyway, the Trinity is a mysterious truth indeed. A camper once grilled me when I was volunteering at Camp Allen as a summer camp director about five years ago. Trying to explain the Trinity in terms a fifth grader could understand, I finally sighed and said, “well, some things you just have to chalk up to mystery.” “Mystery!” she declared, “the problem with mystery is that it’s just so… mysterious!” I could not have said that better myself. Yes, truly, the problem with mystery is that it’s just so mysterious.

What is the Trinity? Where does it come from? How can this “three in one” be possible? We wrestle with the Trinity because for every statement we make there is some sort of other qualifier that we have to throw into the sentence. For instance:

  • The Trinity is like water where the three states are the three parts of the Trinity: solid, liquid, gas or Father, Son, Holy Spirit. But that is a bad analogy because no one molecule of H2O can exist simultaneously in all three states: solid, liquid, and gas. If you are talking about a single water molecule, then it is called modalism which states there is one God that simply changes character or modes depending on the circumstance. However, if you are not talking about a single water molecule then it is Tritheism that states there are three separate gods in completely different forms. Both are heresies.
  • Or what about the Trinity is like a three-leaf clover. There are three different cloves that represent the three different persons of the Trinity connected to the same stem or substance. Although they are connected by a stem, the three cloves are overly distinct and cannot fully represent the unity of God and so… We are back to Tritheism in which there are three different gods which might share some like substance, but are distantly three… And once again we find ourselves deep into a heresy.

And this is how it goes with every single statement or analogy on the Trinity. They might offer some sort of insight that is good, but in the end, they fall short when left on their own and we find ourselves going in circles having to qualify the statement we just made with another statement that still leaves the nature of the Holy Trinity, as the Athanasian Creed described God: incomprehensible. Even the most thorough of the creeds finds itself in this circle and we are left feeling that the problem with mystery is that it’s just so mysterious. The Trinity is the great and glorious mystery of our faith. And yet despite the mystery, there is a truth made visible before us… It is a great and glorious dance.

The Holy Trinity is perfect relationship. It is a dance between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is collaboration in the communication of reveling God’s self to us, his creation. “The Trinity is about the mutuality of God within the God-head, about our invitation into the God-head by Jesus in the power of the [Holy Spirit]. And it is about our mutuality with each other, guiding, speaking, and declaring to one another the glory of God: Father/Creator, Jesus/Son, and Holy Spirit[/Advocate]. The Trinity is our way of life made possible by God.”[ii] We are invited into the dance: with God and with each other. We are invited to live in the fullness of community just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in perfect community.

Jesus said in our Gospel lesson, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Great Commission, as this section has come to be known, is most definitely a call to evangelism, leaving us asking “What does it have to do with Trinity Sunday?” Sure, it mentions all three persons of the Trinity when talking about baptism, but there is more than just a brief mentioning. To answer that question, we start with the more basic question of “why evangelize in the first place?” The obvious answer is Jesus commands us to go forth and in that process, shares his authority with us. Yet deeper still is a desire to bring people into relationship, into the dance. We seek to bring people into the household of God, the Church, not to simply increase pledge revenue or fill empty pews. That is just using people as a means to an end rather than seeing them in the light of the great truth… Each person is created in the image of God and therefore created to be in relationship… relationship with God and relationship with others in the light of God’s grace. Yes, community is why we seek to grow the Church because we have a message that is so good that it can’t be kept a secret… it is so good that it must be shared with family, friends, and neighbors, both near and far.

This is why here at St. Paul’s we seek to be more than just a church of friends, but we seek to be a friendly church. But, we also seek to be more than a friendly church by being a church of hospitality, one that seeks deeper community with each and every person that comes through our doors. Finally, the ultimate act of hospitality is not just waiting for people to come to us, but inviting them into the community. Yes, we seek to be a church of friends, a friendly church, a church of hospitality, and an inviting church all at the same time. In other words, we seek to be a church of the Great Commission.

And so, what does the Great Commission have to do with Trinity Sunday? It is about inviting people into the great and glorious dance of the Holy Trinity by seeking community with God and with each other. Though we may not be able to fully grasp the theological concept of the Holy Trinity, we can experience the Trinity in this great and glorious dance. Yes, we are created in the image of God and therefore meant to be in community, but not just with those already here. Therefore, we reach out further and deeper to those that need to hear the good news that, as Jesus shared at the end of the Great Commission, God is with us always, even to the end of the age. Amen.

[i] Book of Common Prayer 1979, page 864.

[ii] Ibid

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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