5/26/02, Trinity Sunday, A
y Dad's favorite all purpose remedy for getting rusted bolts unscrewed was "3-in-One" oil. I still have one of the tiny cans and use it occasionally. It was advertised as "Three oils in one," which meant that it was useful for so many household chores. One of my Dad's church members was rumored to use it to keep his curly hair slicked down. Mother was never convinced that it was permissible to use "3-inOne" in her beloved Singer sewing machine, and would not let us guys use her special Singer can of oil ever. In today's world all of these products have been supplanted by the popular synthetic spray lubricant, "WD-40." Modern males really do use this stuff on their "cow licks." It is also a general purpose lubricant advertised for: "Stopping squeaks, protecting metal parts, and freeing sticky mechanisms." It is a miracle fix for locks and keys.
I have belabored this multi purpose idea in order to help us get a hold on the unexplainable biblical concept of the Trinity. God is presented as three persons, yet one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus just tells us that this is the way it is without any explanation. Other New Testament passages attempt an explanation, but we are ultimately left scratching our heads for a logical, provable answer. For me, all of these little unanswerable quirks of Christian Theology are just peculiar enough to make it seem more real, just as life in general offers more questions than answers.
God is presented in all orthodox denominational books of doctrine as being one, yet three distinct persons. If out faith was simply made up by humans it would probably have not presented such a complicated paradox; yet, since it is based on inspired Scripture we believe in the doctrine of the Trinity because this is just how it is with our omnipotent God. We admit that is unexplainable, but this is the best way that we can present it with our limited intelligence and vocabulary.
In our Book of Discipline, Paragraph 103, Article I, entitled, "Of Faith in the Holy Trinity," we read:
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in the unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power and eternity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
In no less an important occasion than The Great Commission, Jesus commands us to, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28: 19, NRSV). Saint Paul's benediction to the Corinthian Church offers this restatement of Trinitarian language: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." (II Cor. 13:13).
On the experiential level we can come closer to grasping the doctrine of the Trinity. In our quietness we all have a hunch that God is real. We also kind of feel his Spirit in our bones. When we read the stories of Jesus and we have good vibes. It all seems as real to us as does anything else. Perhaps this is what we call believing: Plunging into the unknown, the unexplainable. Then, once we have given God a chance, and we grow in his love, we feel that the Triune God is as real as rocks and rain, and sunrises and tears.
Any boy or girl in love can tell you that often the highest in life can't be understood, but can sure fire be experienced. Most of our favorite songs are love songs and none of them try to explain the joyful, yet somewhat crazy experience of being in love. There is no denying that love is real, yet unexplainable. Lots of things are not provable or explainable.
The prestigious weekly news magazine, "U.S. News and World Report," has a "Special Collectors Edition" currently on the news stands entitled, "Mysteries of Science." It deals with everyday unexplainable experiences such as: "The Musical Mind: If song has no purpose, why is it deep-wired in the brain?" "Why do we age?" "What is memory made of?" "What came before creation?" "New insights into the big bang point to other universes." Then the age old unexplainable medical question, "Why do we hiccup?" We do but why?
Any boy or girl can tell you that we do sometimes hiccup, but we try to not do so in public, but after we fall in love we giggle about it together. The best times we have in life are experienced on an emotional level and we never question why. So, why do we want to analyze God? Can't we simply submit and experience His multi-persons without an explanation?
To tell the truth, I can't even understand Marilyn after 35 years of love and marriage and two baby carriages. So, why should I expect to analyze God?
Our Great Commission is to act as God's hands, feet and voices on earth. We are called to, go preach, teach and baptize, not to go nail every difficult question down into a simple to understand answer. It is in the doing of the gospel that we find the experiences that surpass knowledge. It is in doing the work of fulfilling our commission that we give new life to the world. Ours is a message of faith, hope and love made visible in actions. Ours is not a complicated set of mathematical formulas that prove our point.
Yet we are a thoughtful, thirsty for knowledge, kind of people. We uncover some answers along the way, but our greatest joy is experienced in the fulfillment of Jesus' Great Commission to: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (v.19&20).
synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor