We began our church year back in December with Advent. Since then, we’ve been on-the-go: from Advent to Christmas, from Christmas to Epiphany, from Epiphany to Lent, and from Lent to Easter. Then there’s Pentecost on May 20th, followed by that looooooong (green) season that we call the “Season after Pentecost.” This season starts with Trinity Sunday.
This year we celebrate Trinity Sunday on May 27th. And because this also happens to be Memorial Day weekend, many of us might miss a pastor’s attempts to describe that which is indescribable: the Holy Trinity. I am one of those pastors and I will make such an attempt. Not that we need to understand howor whythe Trinity is the way it is, but because actually taking the time to think about God and the various ways in which we knowGod will bring us into deeper relationship with our Creator, Redeemer, and Inspiration.
The previous sentence was my flawless transition into Trinitarian Theology… pretty great, right? We believe in oneGod. So where does the Trinity come into this? I shall quote the Athanasian Creed: “We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.” Being good Lutherans, we then ask ourselves: what does this mean?
It’s confusing, to say the least. And pastors, lay leaders, and youth workers have tried using a variety of images to explain the Trinity:
- Trinity as an Apple— The fruit’s skin, flesh, and seeds all make up a single apple, just as the Father, Son, and Spirit make up our single God.
- Trinity as an Egg— An egg consists of a shell, a yolk, and an egg white, and yet is altogether one egg. The three parts create the whole, like God.
- Trinity as a Shamrock— The shamrock has three leaves, but are still one plant, just as the Father, Son, and Spirit are three and one.
- Or we use images, like the one to the right >>>
And yet, none of these analogies or images can bring us to a complete understanding of our Triune God. And that’s okay. If God’s thoughts are higher than ours and God’s ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9), then how can we claim to have the capacity to understand the Triune God? We can’t and won’t be able to wrap our minds around all that is the Trinity… not while we’re on Earth.
What’s important is not whether or not we understand the Trinity. What’s important is that we recognize that God has always been, and will always be, in relationship with each one of us. God (the Father) created us in God’s image; God (the Son) redeemed and saved us through his death on the cross; and God (the Holy Spirit) makes us holy, calls us to be the Church, and is our inspiration in all that we do.
Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen.