This year Trinity Sunday and Father's Day occur on the same day. That doesn't seem so strange if your image of God as Father is a positive one. Father's Day, like Mother's Day, can be a joyous celebration for some, but for those who have had a negative or even abusive experience of father, it can be a rough day when not only do we honor fathers, but we recognize the third person of the Trinity as God the Father.
Many preachers cower from preaching or teaching on the Trinity. It is a hard concept to explain. Often we try to use an analogy - three parts of the egg (yolk, white, shell); or water (steam, liquid, ice) but those get us in trouble, as they express either "tritheism" or "modalism." Tritheism is the denial of God as one - the unity of the three Persons of the Trinity. Modalism is the idea that God is one person who has revealed himself in three forms or modes. This is different than Trinitarian doctrine where God is one being eternally existing in three persons. Modalism would mean that Jesus, when on earth, was just God acting in a role - as Jesus. That at Pentecost, God was acting as a role - the Holy Spirit. Trinitarianism means that God exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit at the same time. There is a distinctiveness and coexistence of the three persons of the Trinity. (And Dr. Toom didn't think I was listening in class!)
So, it is not an easy concept. The church fought over these definitions for over 100 years or more. And different denominations and faiths continue to disagree on the big questions "Who is God?" and "What is the Trinity?"
My question would be - is it so important that we have a distinct definition? Does it make the analytical among us more comfortable to be able to put God in a definition box? Or, could we discover that the importance of the trinity isn't the definition, but the experience?
What does it mean to EXPERIENCE the Trinity? To experience God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. No matter what name you call them? God the Creator, God the Christ, God the Spirit/Ruach. The Holy Spirit is sent to us - to be in us - to enable us and move us to act (remember the sermon last week?). We act on what Jesus, God the Son, taught and commanded (Matthew 28). And we see and know God the Father through Jesus.
Isn't this the true message of Trinity? Isn't this the true experience of the Trinity? Knowing the love of the Father through the Son? Showing the love through the power of the Holy Spirit?
Last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, I challenged each of you in worship to go out and share our story - for we have a story to tell - not only of our church - but of our God. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
I hope that those of you reading this will take this challenge as well and spread the good news of Christ and the hope to be found here at TBC.