my miscellany

The First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday, 2023 — 4 Jun 23

The First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday, 2023

Sun and Moon, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57384 [retrieved June 5, 2023]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sun_and_Moon,_Nagy_Imre_Community_Centre,_2016_Csepel-Csillagtelep.jpg.

RCL Year A, Trinity Sunday
Genesis 1:1–2:4a, Psalm 8, II Corinthians 13:11-13, Saint Matthew 28:16-20

Trinity Sunday puts every preacher in a difficult position. If we preachers attempt to describe or to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, we fail. If we do not attempt to describe or to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, we likewise fail for not making the attempt.

The reason for inevitable failure is quite simple. The central doctrine of the Christian faith is a mystery in the strict sense: the Holy Trinity itself revealed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to the church who regarded it as beyond human understanding. No human being fully comprehends God, and so no human being can describe or illustrate what no human being understands.

The mystery remains even though Christians have agreed to express the mystery in certain ways. God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is one, yet self-differentiated. God is one God equally in three distinct modes of existence, yet remains one through all eternity. These few examples just about exhaust the acceptable and orthodox descriptions.

At the Councils of Nicæa, in 325, and Constantinople, in 371, the doctrine was defined in its simplest outlines. These Councils occurred at about the same time as the 27 books were being associated as the New Testament. By far, the most influential text upon the doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament is the Gospel today, where the three Persons of the Trinity are mentioned in the baptismal formula at the very end of Saint Matthew.

Some remarkable themes are woven in the five verses of today’s Gospel. The Father has given Jesus supreme and universal authority. The disciples are to share their discipleship not only with their fellow Jews but with the Gentiles also. The spirit of the risen Jesus will guide and protect the church until God’s kingdom comes in its fullness.

If we can find it within ourselves to trust the Holy Trinity to be God, and if we can trust the Holy Trinity to carry out these themes, there really is very little that we need to put upon ourselves. It is enough if we earnestly declare, with the Psalmist, “O Lord our Governor * how exalted is your Name in all the world!”[1]

[1] Psalm 8:10.

%d bloggers like this: