Today in addition to being father’s day it is Trinity Sunday. It is one of those hard days for preachers because the doctrine of the Trinity is perhaps one of the most complex ways of talking about God. This doctrine has both confused and blessed the church from its beginnings. Over the centuries there have been countless ways to explain the Trinity.
The early Celtic Christians imagined it as three inter connected rings – different yet inseparable. The shamrock is another way of imagining the Trinity – three distinct parts one leaf. The Trinity can be compared to a three legged stool. The three legs give it stability. Two legs could lead to disaster and adding a fourth would not add to its stability - our God has three persons in community with one another giving a divine balance.
Yet three in one, one in three is a difficult concept for our brains to digest. We sang it earlier, “Threeness of Persons, Oneness of Godhead, Trinity Blest.” (VU 410) Some have compared the Trinity with water – one substance three forms water, vapour and ice. The beauty of the Trinity is that it gives us different ways of knowing God.
None of the descriptions of the Trinity has ever really connected to my day to day lived faith. This week I read an article by Dr. David Loose that helped put the Trinity in perspective. He writes: “I’ve said for years that a) I don’t fully understand the Trinity, b) I don’t expect to this side of the eschaton, and c) I tend not to trust those who say they do. :) (And, in case we feel bad that we don’t really understand the Trinity, let’s keep in mind that the church fought over it for a century or more and that even folks like Augustine at times got tangled up trying to explain it!)” (http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=3254) I am thankful to be in good company.
What matters most is how we live out that faith out. Lose suggests that instead of trying to understand the complex doctrine of the Trinity that we should “instead talk about what Trinitarian congregations look like. And my short definition of a Trinitarian congregation is one that sees itself as called and sent by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed for the sake of the world God created and loves so much.” (http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=3254)
That is the heart of what is asked of the disciples at the end of Matthew’s gospel. The disciples hear the news that Jesus has risen from the dead and that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. So the disciples travel to Galilee to the place that Jesus directed them. It says in Matthew, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, of the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:17 – 18)
For such a short passage it describes so clearly what we are about as a people of faith. Like the first disciples we come together to worship. It is in gathering together in worship like the disciples – some of us with faith and some of us with doubt that we gain strength for what following Jesus commands. Then Jesus sends the disciples out into the world to make disciples, to baptize and to follow in Jesus’ way of compassion and love.
That is our calling today. Sometimes it can seem like a difficult and complex job. But the disciples were just like us people of faith and doubt. People who knew the stories of Jesus and did their best to follow in his way. One commentator writes: “Matthew reports that even now, at the close of his story, and just as the disciples are about to be commissioned as Jesus’ witnesses, they still have a hard time believing in Jesus even as they worship him. That’s who we are -- people made up of a mixture of faith and doubt, hope and fear, successes and failures.” (http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=3254)
As the disciples spread the word of Jesus, they do their best to live out their faith guided by the Holy Spirit to proclaim to good news Jesus, to care for all of God’s creation. The Trinity might be complicated but the hymn writer Brian Wren sums how we live it out “Three things I promise, Holy God, in age and youth, in life and death: to bless your Name, and cling to Christ, and listen for the Spirit’s breath.” (More Voices 176)
As each of us finds our own way to live out this calling, caring for the world and for God’s people, we are blessed by the “threeness of person and oneness of God head.” (VU 410) We are blessed with the gift of the Spirit’s guiding power. We are blessed by new life in Christ. We are blessed by our God who is ever creating. Paul said it best: “Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. ... The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 – 13) Amen.