Readings for Sunday 7 June: Isaiah 40:12-17, 27-31; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20.
Trinity Sunday is in many ways the scariest Sunday of the year for a preacher. God as Trinity, three persons but yet one – this is mysterious stuff. So how to preach about it? If I try to make it understandable, then I fail to speak truth about God. If I don’t try to make it understandable, then none of us is any the wiser.
As St Augustine memorably put it: “We are talking about God. Little wonder that you don’t understand. And if you do understand, then it’s not God.”
Our readings today give us some helpful insight – the reading from 2 Corinthians gives us the prayer we know as the grace, but look at it again and you can see how St Paul captures something of the way in which the three persons of God the Trinity act in the world:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”.
Grace, love and fellowship – three persons, three characteristics. It’s not a complete picture, because no human imagining of God is ever going to be complete, but it’s a start. And then the Gospel reading gives us a reminder that God is one, a Trinity in which Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united and indivisible, and that we are each of us baptised in their name, all three, one God.
What does this mean for us as Christians? How do we relate to a God who is as confusing as this?
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, starts with Jesus. Most of us do – Jesus, the human, is relatable. “It is right to think of Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour,” says Bishop Rowan, but adds a caution; “but we need to be careful that we do not stop there.” Loving Jesus means entering into something more complicated.
Bishop Rowan reminds us that the Trinity is not distant or remote. Instead it is an invitation – an invitation to be part of the relationship of God the Holy Trinity. Through Jesus, he says, we are drawn into the life of the Trinity; “drawn by the Son towards the Father, drawn into the Father’s breathing out of the Spirit so that the Son’s life may be again made real in the world”.
I rather like that image. We are drawn by Jesus to the Father then breathed out by the Spirit so that we can make Jesus real in the world. That seems about right to me. Because if there’s one thing I know about being a Christian it is that it is both about being called, drawn towards God, and also about living a Christian life in the here and now.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus commissions his disciples – tells them to go out and make disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And so my prayer today is that all of us might be part of the life of the Trinity – and in doing that, make Christ’s presence real in the world.