In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today in the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his followers, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
He’s saying goodbye on the eve of his Passion, aware his disciples aren’t ready to bear the truth of his life. Nor has the Spirit come to help them.
This tells you something true about Christian theology, too: we can only approach it through what we know and who we are. And in our effort to understand anything, we must rely on the Spirit of truth to guide us.
Today is Trinity Sunday, a day when churches often invite seminarians to enter their pulpits. It’s a standard practice: asking the lesser experienced to explain the inexplicable and bear the unbearable so that everyone else can sit back and watch them flail their way toward heresy. The implication is no one really knows what they’re talking about on Trinity Sunday.
In our tradition, Trinity is another name for God. It’s why we began our service today, saying Blessed be God, and followed it up with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The doctrine of the Trinity has always been caught up in quarrels, hammered out in arguments. The danger is mistaking the wordy doctrine for the lived mystery. The Trinity, you see, expresses the actual life of God, a mystery we confess to believe in every Sunday when we recite the Creed.
And yet we know only a little of this mystery. And what little we know, we know by and through the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, inspiring us to return again and again to God our maker, calling us into the communion of Christ – calling not only you and me into its fellowship but the whole of creation.
The point of the Creed isn’t memorization, though. It’s to draw our lives into the triune life of God. It’s not meant to explain everything, as if all you need are definitions to live by. No, it’s meant to draw the whole of your experience into the loving care of God.
In reciting the Creed – in approaching any subject, really – it’s a good practice to remember how little you know. Think here of your own life, how sometimes you’re a mystery even to yourself – and then go ahead and admit how often you’re also a mystery to other people, and they to you.
Thomas Merton once asked, Who am I? and answered, My deepest realization of who I am is that I am one loved by Christ.
Whenever you start wondering who other people are and what they’re about, you’d well to remember how much God loves them. That’s a start. Read more