A Simple Way to Understand the Trinity

In every moment of our lives, God is simultaneously creating new opportunities to love, redeeming and forgiving the wrongs and hurts, and offering guidance and comfort along the way. 3-Bubble-Love. (You can see the Venn diagram above by opening your browser).

That’s it. That’s why we celebrate Trinity Sunday tomorrow.

However, when the Church has sometimes reinforced an understanding of God as a literal person in the sky rather than a forcefield of Love and Light, this is the unhelpful direction we might hear from our elders: “Don’t worry about making sense of the the Trinity…it’s just part of the Mystery of faith…don’t think too much about it.”

Ugh. We need to stop doing that to each other, as if we expect intelligent, thoughtful people to not wish to understand conceptually this powerful force which animates their very Being. Especially if they have chosen to follow Christ as their path to Oneness with God and each other!

In the 4th century, the Church was sadly adopted by Emperor Constantine as the official state religion of the Roman Empire, which later became the Holy Roman Empire, but frankly, there wasn’t much holy about the birth of this institution compared to what it had been at its inception. Here’s how the book of Acts 2: 43-46 describes the early, fledgling church at one point before it became institutionalized:

“Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart…”

Now, of course, in the honeymoon phase of relationship this is what we would expect. And indeed, conflicts about who was “in” and who was “not in” certainly arose in time, as they do in any group that is trying to create an identity for itself. It’s part of the human condition. But sadly, the over-intellectualization and arrogance of trying to articulate the inner workings of the God-head (that word itself just feels wrong to me) became part of Constantine’s efforts to unify “his” church into an object of order and obedience. Sigh.

We still see this immature form of church alive in the world today, filled with many overt (as well as covert) ways of keeping people focused on ordering their behavior and beliefs, rather than doing the deeper work of challenging people to allow themselves to be transformed.

Healthy disagreements and conflicts should arise occasionally in any group of sincere and growing people, whether it’s a church or a family. Sometimes those conflicts can become chronic, unfortunately, and even destructive to the point where a divorce of sorts is probably the most life-giving way forward, but certainly not also with the necessary work of forgiveness attached…though it may take a long time to actually be able to wish the other well, of course. Such is the nature of the healing human heart.

But in the course of being transformed into a better version of yourself by letting go;

by recognizing where you, too, have caused a relationship to sour;

by admitting failure and asking forgiveness;

by intentionally seeking to make amends…

The Trinity of God is carrying you with all of creation every moment, continually creating opportunities for you to practice choices that reflect your own beloved-ness more deeply than the moment before, bringing healing both to you and the planet.

Medieval anchoress, Julian of Norwich, who cared for the people of England through multiple rounds of the Black Death, described it this way: Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and never shall come to birth out of Him.

So, dear friends, how might you describe our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer God to another friend on the Christian journey this Trinity Sunday? Ask someone in your community to describe how they envision the Trinity, and celebrate together this unique aspect of your Christian faith: a three-in-one vision of the divine.

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