RCL B Trinity Sunday
Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17, Saint John 3:1-17

Today is Trinity Sunday, the Day we acknowledge and celebrate the central doctrine of Christianity, namely, that there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[1]

For preachers, Trinity Sunday yields little more than failure. The preacher fails by attempting to explain the Trinity, how one God exists in three Persons. The explanation inevitably rises no higher than inadequacy. Or, a preacher fails by deciding not to attempt the explanation. Preachers fail whether or not they attempt to explain the Trinity. Nicodemus shows us—whether we are preachers or not—a better way.

Like most of us, Nicodemus cannot imagine what he doesn’t know. He cannot feature a realm, a world, beyond his five senses. The rebuke Jesus gives him rests exactly on this point, “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.”[2] Jesus comes from the realm, the world, beyond Nicodemus’ five senses, and Nicodemus cannot find a way to imagine that world.

So, Nicodemus is like you and like me. We cannot feature what we haven’t experienced, not any more than all that is can be fitted into the boundaries of Rhode Island. But, in time, Nicodemus grows. He begins to understand, and he begins to act on his understanding. Reading ahead to the end of the Gospel of Saint John, you will find that he joins Joseph of Arimathea in the removal of Jesus’ body from the Cross and its burial in the tomb nearby. Nicodemus will mature from the level of understanding he presents in the Gospel today. But will we?

Did we notice that the Gospel today is shot through with references to God: God as Father, God as Son, and God as Spirit? We cannot hear it or read it without bumping into all three Persons of the Trinity several times. And that page of the Scriptures is like any hour of our lives. The three Persons of the Trinity are everywhere we turn. They are inescapable. We run across them over and over again. The key that unlocks their presence and discloses it to us is very simple. That key is nothing more than our perception of our limits. Beyond our ken lies everything and everyone Jesus speaks of. To the extent that we receive his testimony, we see. And to the extent that we see, we understand.

There is no better approach to life than the one Nicodemus takes. A lurker, an inquiring stranger, he comes to Jesus by night, and he begins to perceive what he doesn’t know. Encounters with Jesus, alone, can have this effect. Nicodemus comes to allow himself to be instructed by what he discovers. In this way God reveals himself to all of us. Bumping into God over and over again all of our lives, we have yet another opportunity this Trinity Sunday to connect more of the dots shared by our senses and God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

[1] The Book of Common Prayer, page 852.

[2] Saint John 3:11.