Trinity Sunday

June 11th, Trinity Sunday.

There are times when I wonder why the ebb and flow of the Church’s liturgical year goes the way it goes. This Sunday is one of those “I wonder why now?" Sundays. Pentecost was celebrated last Sunday and now this Sunday is Trinity Sunday. Why does the emphasis and the readings go from the gift of the Holy Spirit one week to the emphasis and readings centered on the doctrine of the Trinity the very next week?

Russian icon by Andrei Rublev (1360-1430) depicting the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18).

Here is an explanation from a Presbyterian source:

"On Trinity Sunday we proclaim the mystery of our faith in the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One-in-Three and Three-in-One.

"The celebration of Trinity Sunday began among Western Christians in the 10th century and developed slowly until it was formally established on the Sunday after Pentecost by Pope John XXII (1316-1334)."

And this excerpt from a resource I use:

Unfathomable mystery

"Unlike other festivals in the church’s liturgical calendar, Trinity Sunday centers on a doctrine of the church, rather than an event. It celebrates the unfathomable mystery of God’s being as Holy Trinity. It is a day of adoration and praise of the one, eternal, incomprehensible God.

"Trinity Sunday, in a sense, synthesizes all we have celebrated over the past months which have centered on God’s mighty acts: Christmas-Epiphany celebrating God’s taking flesh and dwelling among us in Jesus Christ; Easter celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection for us; Pentecost celebrating God the Holy Spirit becoming our Sanctifier, Guide, and Teacher. It is, therefore, a fitting transition to that part of the year when Sunday by Sunday the work of God among us is unfolded in a more general way.

"The triune God is the basis of all we are and do as Christians. In the name of this triune God we are baptized. As the baptized ones we bear the name of the triune God in our being. We are of the family of the triune God. We affirm this parentage when, in reciting the creeds, we say what we believe. Our discipleship is rooted in the mighty acts of this triune God who is active in redeeming the world. The triune God is the basis of all our prayers — we pray to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit. The Trinity holds central place in our faith. …

"In celebrating Trinity Sunday, remember that every Lord’s Day is consecrated to the triune God. On the first day of the week, God began creation. On the first day of the week, God raised Jesus from the grave. On the first day of the week, the Holy Spirit descended on the newly born church. Every Sunday is special. Every Sunday is a day of the Holy Trinity."

An excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 149-150)

There you have it. In theological language. Why Trinity Sunday and why now.

What I will take away from this is "unfathomable mystery." The Trinity is just that. Even though it is a doctrine of the Church expounded on over the centuries in councils, creeds theological tomes and hundreds of thousands of words written down, it defies a definitive definition. Understandings that arose from the Reformation debates among, between and against the Anabaptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Orthodox expressions of the faith are no longer enough. Our anthropology and physics have radically changed in the last 500 years.

In a quantum world the Trinity is now experienced as a dynamic and living relationship between God and us – the whole creation, not just humans. We don’t look at it from the outside as we do when we read it or recite it. We "know" it from the inside as a feeling, a sensation of heart, mind and physical body. The Trinity metaphor is that of the "Divine Dance."

This Trinity Sunday I’m going to seek the comfort of the mystery with you in worship.


Ed K

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