Matthew 28:16-20 Isaiah 40:12-17; 27-end
I wonder what you think would be the best metaphor for the Holy Trinity: a Jaffa cake or a football? Of course, you may think of something completely different, but some years ago, I was present at a dispute between two colleagues, about what makes the best metaphor for the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three in one. One said that a Jaffa cake would be the best metaphor, while the other insisted that a football was the best picture of what the Trinity looked like. I have always liked the idea of H2O, which, depending on the temperature, can be in the form of steam, water, or ice. Of course, a metaphor is only a lopsided picture of what we’re trying to describe; you can only take it so far. And describing the indescribable, giving a picture of a material object to describe the divine will never be accurate. But, today being Trinity Sunday, we do look at the God whom we know and worship as one, who is yet three persons, while acknowledging also that our human understanding may be limited at grasping fully the scope of the divine.
The reading from Isaiah 40 already shows the incomparability of the Lord as creator deity. Nobody has been able to measure, direct, consult or teach God in the matter of creation, and all that we are or think we have achieved, is of no consequence compared to him. At the same time, though, he is evident in all of creation; the universe declares him, simply by existing as it has been shaped.
The reading from Matthew 28, sometimes called ‘the great commission’, records the words of Jesus just before he ascended into heaven, and, although it’s only a short passage – just 5 verses – it is rich with meaning. Each verse on its own could be a topic for intensive studying, but I shan’t do that now. The one thing I would like to draw out today is ‘relationship’.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not just dry theology and word-twisting. It’s all about relationship, and our Christian calling is also about relationship. The three persons of the Trinity are joined together in loving relationship, and we are made in God’s image, so it would go from there that we should not remain as individuals who are completely isolated. If we refuse to speak to anyone else, for example, we are missing out on living our vocation of being God’s people to the full, failing our potential. God made us to live together with other human beings, as families, fellowships and communities. Even those who are living on their own, in a one person household, have a calling to be in communication with others. How else are people encouraged and listened to? Who knows, your communication with someone else on a given day may be the only ‘human’ contact they are having. ‘A threefold cord is not quickly broken’, says the book of Ecclesiastes. One strand of wool may break fairly easily when pulled; but three strands is much harder. Also as believers we are stronger together than each on our own.
Ahh, I can hear you say, but what about the present situation with Covid-19? The pandemic has closed the church buildings, so how about meeting and fellowship in community? Well, that has been a challenge, as we’re all well aware. But then we are called to be creative: separated in space, but close in community is still possible when we are looking for ways to communicate and share. A football and a Jaffa cake each consist of different components, but only together do they work as intended. Which do you prefer? And how do you tell others? Amen.