In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
That’s it really – it’s as simple as that – we worship, we live, we act in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
Yet our human understanding and experience of God – as Creator, Liberator as Father, as Jesus – the Messiah – the Son and as the Wisdom of God, the Life-giver, the Holy Spirit is so limited based on our limited understanding that it has caused divisions in the family of God.
The church has been divided on how we understand the Trinity – on the hierarchy, on the operationality and every other aspect of the Trinity – for 1700 years.
We have churches today who focus only on the Sovereign “Father God as King over everything, or focus only on the name of Jesus, or focus only on the power of the Holy Spirit.
One way of understanding the Trinity comes from the Greek word Perichoresis, being-in-one another, referring to the fact that we exist in relation to one another.
The relationship within the Trinity is divine equality, mutuality and reciprocity – which we as the image of God are to express in our own relationships with each other.
Why is it important we have a Trinitarian understanding of God anyway?
If we only focus on God the Father, a supreme judge and absolute Lord, we are in danger of maintaining a patriarchal thinking that legitimises that might is right, maintains vertical, dominant power relationships.
If we only focus on God the Son, it is easy to reduce Jesus to a charismatic, wonder-working heroic, humanitarian, leader figure or only on sacrificial aspect of the Atonement.
If we only focus on God the Holy Spirit, we can develop an inward looking spirituality – our main relationship is with our inner self – this leads to anarchy and fanaticism (the Spirit blows where and however it wants).
When we lack a trinitarian understanding of God – when we don’t experience God as in communion – in relationship that is based on equality, mutuality and reciprocity –in other words – love – we end up with an oppressive image of God, dominating leaders and pastors, and the danger of chaos – which, because we live in a society – becomes the way our society operates.
But if we place an equal emphasis on the relationship that binds the Trinity together, that flows between them, if we understand God as expressing unity in diversity and equality within the Trinity – we find liberator Father God who hears the cry of the suffering and oppressed today as he did to the Israelites in Egypt. We can follow the expression of love and healing to the weak and outcast by the Son, Jesus who also entered in to solidarity with them, joining us with their suffering. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, empowers us with the gifts that enable us, on behalf of the community, to boldly undertake a truly prophetic and liberating action.
Ultimately what we celebrate on Trinity Sunday is relationship:
We celebrate God who is relationship.
We celebrate God who is in relationship with us.
We celebrate God who expresses this relationship in love – by being love – by loving.
We celebrate that, as created in the image of God – we are created in relationship.
We are created in and to love.
To be a human being is to be in relationship.
To be a human being is to love.
To be Church/ to be Christian is to be in relationship – to be Church/ to be Christian is to love.
Of course we often struggle with relationships – we often struggle with community also. It’s difficult to express that divine equality, mutuality and reciprocity – in our lives.
In our Gospel reading today (John 16:12-15), we are reminded by Jesus of this relationship within the Trinity. We are also reminded that our faith in a Triune God calls us to orient our life to the practice of love, reorient our relationships to be based on equality, mutuality and reciprocity.
Paul puts it another way (Romans 5:1-5). Jesus as the pathway to enter into a loving relationship with the Triune God and that love is poured into us by the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us that divine grace is ultimately how we experience the relationship with God. Love is the manifestation of the Triune God.
The reading from Proverbs (Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31) reminds us of the existence of the Spirit before the world was created – God Creator, God Word that called forth Creation and God Spirit that hovered over the face of the deep and participated in the act of Creation.
Today’s psalm (Psalm 8) beautifully reminds us of our relationship with both God and the rest of God’s creation.
Let us remember that to be the body of Christ is to be in relationship with the Father and the Spirit.
Let us remember that to be the body of Christ is to be in relationships guided by love, and defined by equality, mutuality and reciprocity.
Let us remember that to be the body of Christ is to be in relationship with all people, and with all creation.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: Amen.
(Adapted from a sermon by Rev James Bhagwan, General Secretary, Pacific Council of Churches, on Trinity Sunday 12th June 2022)
“Only a Christian community that is whole, united and unifying, free of dominion and oppression, and only humanity that is whole, united and unifying, free of class domination and dictatorial oppression, can claim to respect the Trinitarian God. This is a world in which human beings are characterised by their social relationships and not by their power or possessions. This is a world in which human beings hold everything in common and share everything except their personal characteristics.” (Jurgen Moltmann)