Notes from Steve:
June 4, 2023 (Trinity Sunday)
“Show and Tell: Trinity Sunday”
(Genesis 1:26-31, John 16:12-15)
Today is Trinity Sunday, the only “special” day set aside that celebrates a doctrine rather than an event or person. By way of background, the doctrine of the Trinity was created in 325 when Emperor Constantine called together church leaders in order to address and settle some theological differences that were dividing the church. This gathering became known as the Council at Nicaea; one of the teachings stirring-up controversy was generated by an elder in the Alexandrian church named Arius. Arius proposed that while Jesus was higher than humans, he was inferior to God, and was a creation of God (and therefore not divine.) Led by bishop Athanasius, the gathered council established the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; not three Gods, but three-in-one (this doctrine is included in what we know as the “Nicene Creed” which is on page 880 of our hymnals.)
Why do we embrace the idea of a “Triune God?” Because of what we find in scripture. Our reading from Genesis includes: “Then God said, let us make humanity in our image…” (vs. 26.) Note the plural nature of “us” and “our,” something accompanying Father God in this creation. Our reading from John today includes Jesus referring to both Father and Spirit. We find other references to the Triune nature of God in Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and Galatians 4:6. This has inspired us over the years to capture the essence of our Triune God, but typically our words fall short in describing something that is indescribable.
I am a visual learner, as are many. Perhaps it would be helpful to visualize how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are at work. Even though it’s not a perfect way to do so, let’s assign these words to the Trinity: for Father, let’s go with “source,” or “sender.” For the Son, let’s use “revealer of God,” or “God in flesh.” For Holy Spirit, we’ll assign “advocate,” “helper,” and “one who guides.” If we use these descriptions, I am happy to report that I witness all three of these expressions in the life of our church. Today, communion Sunday, we open our hearts to receive God made known to us as “Three-in-One.”
On this Trinity Sunday, let us be thankful for the ways God’s nature and love are revealed to us: through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!
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