5-18-16 - The Gift of Three

Trinity Sunday often inspires questions like, “Why is God three persons? Why not four or two or eight?” To which we might answer, “It’s a holy mystery!” But there are other responses we can come up with: There are three because Jesus referred to a Father, a Son and a Holy Spirit. No one else is mentioned.

And there are three because there are two persons in a father/son (or parent/child) relationship, and the connection - the spirit - which flows between, through, around and from them. The reason we cannot “divide” the Trinity too sharply, the reason we insist on One God in Three, is that the Spirit is the spirit of the Father and the Son. We can’t take the Spirit out of the picture any more than we can lose our shadow.

Does it matter that God is triune? What does it get us, besides a headache from trying to figure it out? For me, it’s precious because it tells us from the get-go that God is about relationship and relatedness. God is not a concept – God is a being with capacity for giving and receiving, loving and being loved. So when we say we are made in God’s image, that’s where we begin.

In some sense, all our relationships have a triune quality – ourselves, the Other, and the spirit of connection that flows between us, which we might also call a third entity created by our connection. We see this with couples – we know each partner as his or her own person, say, “Mary” and “Joseph,” but we also know them as “Mary and Joseph,” whom we think of in a slightly different way than we do Mary or Joseph individually.

So there is you, and there is God, and there is “you and God,” a product of being united with Christ. All God wants from us is to help grow that relationship. That is one thing God cannot do without us. And we do not have to do it without God. Come, Holy Spirit!

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