The Most Holy Trinity

As we approach the week following Trinity Sunday many people might ask, “Why bother with the Trinity? Doesn’t saying ‘God is Three and God is One’ just complicate everything?” The answer is that our belief in the Trinity is central because it says so much about the sort of God we believe in and the way that God works within us and in the world. It’s not easy to unpack so you may need to revisit some of the thoughts this week. However, we shouldn’t approach the Trinity just as an abstract theological concept or a puzzle to be solved but as a truth which affects the way we live out our faith. The Trinity needs to be thought of as a dynamic action which is far more important than we may have imagined.

Sunday / Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday

Trinity Sunday
Let’s begin with something we all know and have missed so much during lockdown — our relationships with other people. We are social beings. Being in relationships with other people is where we thrive, which is why this present time is so hard. We are not built to be in isolation. It is no wonder our mental health can suffer as a result. If, as we believe, we are made in the image of God then this hard-wired need to be in relationship must be a reflection of God himself. So, to say the Trinity is a relationship of three persons makes sense. We’ll unpack that a little tomorrow but for today think about how central the relationships you have with other people are. 

Ponder and pray: What has lockdown taught you about the centrality of your relationships? Thank God for your loved ones. If it helps have a photo (or more than one) of those you love and pray with it before your eyes.

Pray: for those who are weighed down by isolation. For those with mental health issues as a result.

Prayer for the week:
You might like to say this prayer every day this week:

I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in Three,
of whom all nature has creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
salvation is of Christ the Lord!

(St Patrick’s Breastplate)

Monday
Yesterday we thought about the centrality of our relationships and that this is a reflection of God who is three persons in relationship with each other. Now, our experience tells us that all good human interactions are places of discovery and growth. By giving myself to another I find that, amazingly, I become more who I really am. Giving myself away to the other does not diminish me. Rather, I find I become more myself the more I am open to give myself away. In God, this giving away of one person to the other two is perfect. In other words, in giving himself to the Son the Father doesn’t lose anything and the same for the Son and the Spirit. All are totally open to the others. This is unity in diversity and it is a mirror for what all our relationships should be like: open and loving, in which we both give ourselves away and find we are more fully ourselves.

Ponder and pray: reflect on times when you have discovered that in giving yourself away you have become more whole, more real to yourself. Pray that you may always be open to others.

Pray: for those who find it hard to trust and love others or who are fearful of accepting love.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Tuesday
How can God be three and one at the same time? Lots of people have tried to give illustrations of this, like a shamrock, or two bicycle wheels and a chain! We don’t believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three “forms” of God — like, steam, water and ice — that’s the heresy called Modalism. But the problem with all these attempts to explain the Trinity is that they miss the point. God is not a puzzle to be solved and God is not an idea. Our God is active and always has been. If then we look at what God does we see into God’s nature. And what does God do? God loves. (How often have you heard “God is love”?) Now bear with me as we unpack this. If God is love and always has been, what or who did God love before time and before anything was made? You can’t love in the abstract. Love requires someone to love. That is how love works. So, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in love with each other and always have been. From all eternity the Son has loved the Father, the Father the Son and likewise the Spirit. Three persons but one because they are love and that love unites and moves between the three. It has been called the divine dance. Why is this important for us? It’s important for two reasons. First, because it says what unites all things is love and, secondly, because, as we saw yesterday, love does not diminish but enhances the uniqueness of all things.
Ponder and pray: How might thinking of God as a “divine dance”, a dynamic, active force in your life, change the way you relate to God? Pray for God to be fully active and dynamic in your own life.
Pray: for those who feel life has lost its sparkle and that they are existing rather than living.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Wednesday

The love that is God is not a closed shop. It’s not as if the dynamic love between and within Father, Son and Holy Spirit stays there. What use would that be? Many of us grew up with the idea that God is a sort of critical spectator. God (up there) watches, criticises and ultimately says you’re in or you’re out! This is a total misrepresentation of God, certainly not the Trinitarian God of the dynamic, moving and active divine dance of love. Theologian Richard Rohr calls God “not the ultimate spectator but the ultimate participant.” What does this mean for us? It means that God’s love is everywhere and that the love of the Trinity is in each of us; that we have, as it were the DNA of the creator within us. (Remember what Genesis says about God making human beings “in the image of himself”). It means that the active God of love can be seen in all creation; that creation itself reflects the creator. This is not worshipping creation (that’s pantheism), it’s seeing the dynamic action of the Trinity reflected in the dynamic life all created things. The Trinity, therefore, shows us that everything is connected and everything belongs.

Ponder and pray: Has lockdown enabled you to reconnect in any way with nature? What have you discovered during your life about how everything belongs?

Pray: for all conservationists and those who work to protect and enhance the natural world.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Thursday
How do we know what God is like? St Paul says it is possible to know something of God through the natural world. (Romans 1:20) But he is also certain that God makes himself known most fully in Jesus. Jesus, he says, is the image — the Greek word is εἰκών (icon) — of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) Now, Jesus isn’t a lesser form of God. It’s not the Father at the top and Jesus slightly less and the Spirit hovering somewhere underneath! All three are equal. This is crucial because it means that by looking at Jesus we see the Father and experience the reality of the Spirit. As Jesus himself says, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”. (John 14:11) Jesus goes on to extend this to us. “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”. To say that you and I are in Christ is staggering enough. It is even more amazing to know that being in Christ means, de facto, that we are caught up into the reality of the Trinity. We share in that divine dance of love which is God. We have God’s DNA within us and that means one fabulous thing: it is impossible for God not to love us.

Ponder and Pray: Use Jesus words “You are in me and I am in you” as your prayer. You might just like to quietly sit and repeat these words several times.

Pray: For those who find it hard to believe that God cares for them and loves them.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Friday

There is another aspect to the Trinity which can help us with living out our faith. The Trinity gives us a picture of community. Father, Son and Spirit are distinct but in unity with each other. They know one another intimately but they are not the same as each other. There is a message here about human communities. Good communities value the distinctiveness of each of their members. They value difference and, rather than try and make everyone the same, they realise how difference adds to the richness of the whole. Good communities reflect the Trinitarian idea of diversity in unity.

Ponder and Pray: What does being in community (church, societies, groups) mean to you? How does it help you flourish?

Pray: for the members of the communities you belong to.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Saturday
Many icons show Jesus with his hand raised in blessing. 
Look at this icon:

In an icon every colour, every gesture has a meaning. Jesus’s hand has two fingers raised. It represents two worlds, the human and the divine held together. The colours red and blue are also used to represent Jesus humanity and divinity. We are used to talking about Jesus Christ. Two words; Jesus, the name by which he was known when on earth and which reminds us of his humanity and Christ (which is not his surname but means “the anointed one”) and reminds us about his divinity. Jesus is the one who came to dwell amongst us as a human being, and this same Jesus was with God in the beginning. He is the cosmic, eternal Christ to whom all things point. For us this means that Jesus isn’t just a good man, or God dressed up as a man, but the means by which the eternal divine dance of love between the Father, Son and Spirit broke into our world and, through the work of the Spirit, continues to break upon us.

Ponder and Pray: If it helps, use the icon to reflect on your own understanding of Jesus and what he means to you.

Pray: that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will heal the sick, give wisdom to scientist and comfort those who are afraid or grieving during this pandemic.

You may like to say the prayer for the week
 
The Most Holy Trinity
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