Homily for Trinity Sunday

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I’m going to ask you to go on a journey.
Back to your earliest memories.
To your parents, or those who cared for you.
And what you called them.

For most of us, that’s something like “Mum” or “Dad”.
Or, if your memory is better than mine, “Mama” or Dada”.

Baby talk.
Words almost universally related, because it’s the sort of sounds babies make:
“Mamama”, “Dadada”.

“Mum” and “Dad”.
Barely words at all, but words that only have meaning for us,
because of the relationships they carry with them.

We don’t, most of us – however liberal the household –
grow up first calling our parents “George” and “Mildred” or whatever,
but we express in our earliest utterances
relationship, and dependence.

So it is with the Trinity.

I am happy to admit
that the Trinity is in some ways unsatisfactory.
In some ways inadequate and indistinct.
It is the baby talk of the Church.
We have no other, better, more refined ways
to talk about what we experience.
God, as Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Our relationship in a sense, with a relationship.
Those three titles are themselves about relating.
Spirit, called elsewhere the Advocate, the Comforter.

Trying to hold the page
for ideas that cannot be committed to paper:
the conception of the Universe, the Creator,
the idea beyond imaging,
the reality beyond realisation,
the being beyond what is, has been and ever will be…
God whom Jesus called, and we do,

Who is also shown to us
in the specific and the incarnate,
flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone,
alongside us, in our form and our fellowship:
Jesus, who shares in our humanity
and in the divinity of God, fully and wholly,
Christ, by whose name we are called,

Who is also experienced by us
in this moment, in this body,
in this place, in this relational point of encounter,
as both that which draws us towards the One we seek
and a sense of connection with God.
The spark within our being that knows of and longs for God,
the deep that calls to our deep,
seeking it out and blowing it to flame:
At the heart of God,
or at least the words we have at our disposal
to try to express something of God,
we have relationship.

And it’s in relationship we encounter everything we know
and ever will
about God.

God calls us to relate.

The Trinity is not about arcane, dispassionate, scientific calculations.
How many angels can dance on the head of this doctrinal pin.
It is and always has been about how people found God.
And how God found them.

The Trinity is about love,
and what with human participants we would call prayer,
and hospitality, and solidarity, and absolute integrity
and a thousand thousand thousand other words
we haven’t yet thought to invent.

Words, our baby talk,
should not limit our touching and being transformed by this relationship
any more than they limit God.

The famous image of the Trinity by the artist and monk Rublev
has the three figures
gazing at each other, fascinated and loving,
and subtly, almost imperceptively, letting that gaze fall on us
beckoning us in.

And in that is an image of the Godhead.
Whatever words we might find useful in giving expression to that,
it is that energy
that loving intensity,
that self-giving and delight
that reaches out to us
and would have us know,
even as we are known.

And those unfashionable, outdated, patriarchal words we use
to try and talk of this – the Father. Son and Spirit –
here have meaning over newer, equally valid triads –
because these terms are in themselves about relating.
Father. Son. Spirit.
Not simply descriptive of what God does,
but trying to grapple with who God is.

For while we know God from experience,
it is our experience, not another’s,
that makes God real for us.

And here is the greater mystery
about a God who is both Three and One.

This is a relationship that opens out
and we ourselves are brought within the loving dialogue
that is God the Trinity.

We are invited to engage with and to experience God
as we relate with God, and with each other.


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