Life is funny: there can be times when we feel so connected to one another, we are in sync and almost finishing one another’s sentences, and there other times that we could be sitting beside one another right now but there is a gap miles wide between us. Sometimes we can be engaged with one another and other times that no matter what we say, no one can understand exactly what is going on inside. There’s a quote that has been attributed to many people over the years, but it’s in a movie that I really like called Playing by Heart, and the line goes like this: “Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.”
The Trinity is much like this quote: we can talk and talk, and while the discussion would be amazing, our understanding would still leave us wanting more. We could still be sitting right next to each other but feel a tangible separation between us. We have the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, even the Athanasian Creed in the prayer book to help shape our doctrine of what the Trinity is. And, to a certain extent, knowledge helps to shape awareness and feeling. Knowing the “what”of a thing can help to shape the “why,” the “how.” I would like to take a moment and talk about what we know about the Trinity, about each person of the Trinity. And then I want to try and fill in some of the spaces.
On the front of your bulletin this morning, you have a poem by George Herbert called “Trinitie Sunday,” and this piece is taken from his larger work, The Temple.
Lord, who hast form’d me out of mud,
And hast redeem’d me through thy bloud,
And sanctifi’d me to do good;
Purge all my sinnes done heretofore:
For I confesse my heavie score,
And I will strive to sinne no more.
Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
With faith, with hope, with charitie;
That I may runne, rise, rest with thee.
This piece is so perfectly and beautifully crafted, and it speaks to each of the aspects of our Trinity. It speaks to who God is, and what Jesus does, and how the Holy Spirit manifests in us.
God, our Creator, out of love, has formed us and made us. Jesus has come to us to teach us and die for us because of love. The Holy Spirit has descended upon us, as we know from Pentecost last Sunday, to give us life, and this life He gives is out of love for us. This poem speaks to what God has done in our creation and what Jesus has done in sanctifying us and what the Spirit does through us by the work of our hands.
This poem is an echo of our readings from this morning. While the poem offers us, in beautiful language, an image of the Trinity and Their movement towards us and within us, our readings offer the tangible reality of the Trinity in the world. Our reading from Genesis this morning tells of creation, of God’s movement upon the earth. We are told how He spoke and land and water and birds and trees all came into being. We also are told of His satisfaction when He said, “It is good.” From the reading in 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the church how to act in their lives, how to behave with one another, how to maintain order and structure. Paul also tells them to agree with one another and live in peace. He concludes his address to them by blessing them with the grace of the Godhead. And, in our gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples, both those who believed and those who doubted, to go out and make new disciples and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We see what God does and who Jesus is and how the Holy Spirit moves. And, our poem from George Herbert offers a voice, a prayer, from us back to the Trinity: Herbert prays that we seek forgiveness from sin and that we will try to sin no more. Furthermore, we will, with God’s help, “runne, rise, and rest” with God.
But there is another element that has not been brought out strongly enough from these readings this morning, and that element is us. God made man, and He said this was good. God created each of us in His image. We all have a purpose and a part to play. Paul instructed the church to agree with one another and live in peace. Jesus told the disciples to go and speak and make disciples and baptize. We are the element of God’s design that must do. We are to live in peace. We are to love.
But how do we live in peace? How do we love? How do we do what Jesus tells us to do? How do we act how Paul instructs? How do we listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice and movement in us? How do we explain the Trinity?
The modern non-fiction writer Anne Lamott says this: “I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.”
It is in faith that we trust that God created the universe. It is in faith that we enjoy His creation, those beautiful images of God’s design that Fr. John and James Neal capture and post on Instagram. It is in faith that we believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, and on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. It is in faith that we believe that the Holy Spirit descended to the disciples on Pentecost and gave them tongues of fire and gives us life even today. It is in faith that, while we may not always agree with one another and will have our own struggles, that we continue to live in community. It is in faith that we partake of the blessed Body and Blood of our Savior at the Eucharist. This faith is our link, our gift back to God. This faith is what we have when words fail. This faith is what we know when I am inadequate in telling about the Holy Trinity.
And yet, I wish for one moment to return to our Gospel reading. Matthew says, “When they saw Jesus, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” Some doubted. And yet, even despite the fact that some doubted, Jesus declared that all authority in Heaven and earth had been given to Him. He then charged them, all of them, to go and make disciples and baptize. Jesus didn’t separate out those who believed from those who doubted and speak only to the strong ones. No, he included them all. He knew some would doubt, and yet He gave all of them the vocation to do His work, those with faith and those with doubt.
So, I would hope that we all are encouraged by the plans God has, whether we know them or not. I would hope that we are empowered by the salvation and transformation that Jesus offers us, whether we feel it or not. I would hope that we are inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit and His movement in our lives, whether we hear it and see it or not. The Trinity gives us all we need because of love. Our response is to accept in faith. And whether we can explain everything or not, I pray that we continue to dance about architecture.
Let us pray:
Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
Set up your kingdom in our midst.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:
Renew me and all the world.