The image represents three divine persons at a table. Reflecting our beliefs about the Trinity, the three divine creatures are equal. They are the same shape and size, they carry the same sticks in their hands, and they sit on the same type of throne. However, the three divine beings are distinct from each other. Their clothes are different from each other and their positioning at the table is distinct, reflecting their uniqueness from one another. That is, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are fully one, indivisible and equal. Yet at the same time, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are also completely three separate persons.
Many church traditions, including Lutherans, celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday this coming week. Frankly, Trinity Sunday tends to be low-key and quite underwhelming. It is not as surprising as Pentecost and not as well known as Easter. It tends to fall off at the end of the school year, early summer, and around Memorial Day weekend. Thus, it is often “lost in the shuffle”.
But Holy Trinity Sunday has an important message for us. God valued community so much that he did not remain isolated. The Trinity was a community of equals, fully connected and undivided. Each being is distinct and yet completely unified in a way that is incomprehensible to us. This community did not exist and does not only exist for itself, but it exists for all of us. Through the Trinity we have everything we need. We have a Father who created us and who continues to restore and renew the world and who loves us more deeply than any parent could. In Jesus, we have a Son who is our brother and friend, teacher, savior as well as our guide. Through the Holy Spirit, we have an intercessor, a helper and a comforter who accompanies us in all things throughout our lives.
In Jesus’ last words to his disciples before the crucifixion, he promises: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak of himself, but whatever he hears he will speak, and will tell you things to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and tell it to you. Everything the Father has is mine. For this reason, I said he will take what is mine and tell you. . . . “(John 16: 13-15).
Jesus continues by praying: “… that they may be one, as we are one …”. (John 17:23). Holy Trinity Sunday reminds us that we can trust the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to provide us with everything we need. We also see, in their unity, the power of the community. If the Divine lives in community, we too are called to be and to live in community. Over the past year, many of our community practices have been disrupted. However, we have been resilient and found new ways to form community. As things “open”, my prayer is that we reorient our lives to place the love of community at the center of our daily life. May we create communities where we are all equally loved and valued. May this time of disruption and disorientation position us to create better communities that more fully reflect that, through the Divine, we are one. Unlike Divine Community, we will not always agree, but we can always reflect the unity that Christ desires for us. May we be like Rublev’s “Trinity” and be in perfect communion and harmony with one another while simultaneously celebrating and affirming each other’s uniqueness and differences. May we experience Jesus’ deep desire that we be one as the Trinity is one.
Jeanette McCormick is pastor of the First Lutheran Church in Worthington.