Lectionary blog on Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17, John 2:1-17
Lectionary text for Holy Trinity Sunday, June 3, 2012
Holy Trinity Sunday. Brief attempts to explain the Trinity remind me of my Daddy’s sister, Aunt Mildred. She talked on the phone with her friends a lot; a whole lot. The family joke was that she ended every conversation with the line, “I would tell you more, but I already told you more than I heard myself.”
Our Scripture lessons all make some sort of reference to this doctrinal understanding of the nature of God. Isaiah contains the line, “holy, holy, holy,” which can be stretched into a reference to the Trinity if one is so inclined.
Romans makes reference to crying “Abba, Father,” and being a “joint heir with Christ,” and the “Spirit of God” letting us know that we are children of God.
John’s Gospel contains Jesus’ famous conversation with Nicodemus about being “born from above” and “born of water and the Spirit,” and most memorable of all, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”
Nowhere do we find the word Trinity or an explanation of how God is both three and one at the same time. Like I said, we have to be careful not to say more than we heard ourselves.
Me, I’m lazy. I use golf theology. I used to play golf with a minister friend of mine and we came up with the term.
We got to thinking about all the people we knew who spent a lot of time on the golf course complaining about where their ball landed — the lie of the ball — or trying to improve that lie, legally or, most often, illegally and sneakily, moving the ball out of sand traps and from behind trees when they thought no one was looking.
Or they were obsessing about their score, or they were trying to improve their score, or they were lying about their score, etc.
And we realized that neither of us worried too much about all that. We were just glad to be out of the office and out on the golf course, whacking away at the ball in the general direction of the hole.
Then, being preachers, we started thinking of all those pastor friends we knew who were always trying to improve their theological lie, trying to make things make better sense, etc. And we decided that we were golf theologians; we preferred to take things as they came, to play it as it lay, to whack away in the general direction of heaven.
So, rather than spend a lot of time on the philosophical understanding of the Trinity, I prefer to think a lot about the Trinity’s implications for the Christian life.
I like to meditate on the fact that God exists in community, in a family, a family of equals who share one calling and goal and life, but exist within that community and family as unique individuals who are stronger together than they could ever be apart.
That helps me understand the notion of the church better, because if we’re made in the image of God and God needs community, then it makes sense that we need community too — a community that is called together to move in the same general direction, loving each other and serving the world.
And sometimes when I think about the Trinity, I think about how each of us has different spiritual personalities and how some of us respond to Abba, the Father, the Creator, and how others of us really relate to God in Christ, the Son. There are many others who are touched deeply by the Spirit.
It just fascinates me how the idea of the Trinity manages to touch all those spiritual bases and keep them all in balance.
Our calling on Holy Trinity Sunday is neither figuring out the Trinity nor explaining it.
Our calling is living out the Trinity in our lives and in the holy and loving community we call the church.
Our calling is to join with one another in caring for creation.
Our calling is to take up our cross and follow Christ in the work of spreading God’s love in the world.
- Which person of the Trinity do you identify more readily with?
- How do you see your calling of living out the Trinity in your life?
Delmer Chilton is an assistant to the bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA, with responsibility for eastern and central Tennessee, northern Alabama and northern Georgia. Ordained in 1977, he has served parishes in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.