Thought for the week - Trinity Sunday 2023
Trinity Sunday is one of the easiest days to preach on in the whole Christian year, but unfortunately there is really only one thing to say about it, which we may think that we see evidenced by the apparent scant mention of anything Trinitarian in the readings today. For this reason, incumbents often invite guest preachers on this day, so at least you can blame them for repeating what we already know. Part of the issue is that we have already lived, liturgically, the Trinitarian mystery by this point – we have lived the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, we have witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit last Week at Pentecost and we have heard the Son grappling with the
Father in Gethsemane and bringing our humanity to Him on the mount of the Ascension. Next week we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist on Corpus Christi – in other words, we have covered all the bases by our shared, lived experience.
You will also know the poem by John Donne;
Bring us, o Lord God, at our last awakening
into the house and gate of Heaven,
to enter into that gate and dwell in that house,
where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
no fears or hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends or beginnings, but one equal eternity,
in the habitations of thy glory and dominion,
world without end.
In which the poet tries to enter into the mystery of the triune God through immersing us in the beauty and comfort of eternity, basking in an infinitude of light, sound and the glory of God- and there is comfort in this, and there is truth and beauty and it’s well worth reading every year for those reasons alone, because I don’t think anyone has captured the unknown in language so attainable and empathetic to our human condition ever before.
You will also know about the clover, and Saint Patrick – and it’s not a particularly fine way of reflecting on the Divine for adults anyway – and let’s face it, explaining the unknowable Trinity to children is not going to work anyway, as we don’t truly
grasp it ourselves.
In the Gospel today (Matthew 28, 16-20) we hear the end of the writings of Matthew and within them there is a two-fold explanation of the Trinity, if we are minded to look. It is a partial fulfilment of the vision of Daniel of the Son of Man; “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7, 13-14)
The final fulfilment of the vision is of course in the Book of Revelation, and it concerns the end of time as we understand it to be now. Here in Daniel’s vision we have a past tense, a Father if you like, as we have in the Gospel – ‘all authority has bene given to me’ and we have a future – ‘go therefore, make disciples of all the Nations’ – and this future fulfilment is also echoed in the vision of Daniel and concerns the Spirit. There is also a present dimension as well, implicit in the command to go to all nations, even those, like the Jews, who are not yet believers, and this past, present and future
tense shows the Father’s authority, the inherited authority of the final judgement of the Son and the present authority of the Spirit in the Church, whose unique gift it is to preach, teach and baptise.
Thus it is that Jesus is with us now, not just as Himself, but as the triune Godhead which has complete authority over all things – we live in that central time when we have one task to undertake, and that is the Great Commission, to go, Baptise all nations and preach His word.
The Trinity in creation is the providence of the Father, the liberation brought by the Son and the indwelling of the Spirit, which are ordered to the transfiguration of the Universe, not just the transfiguration on the Mount which is given its seal here at the Great Commission on the same mountain, but of the whole Universe. This is then the age of the Trinity, God shown and lived complete with His people. Starting with the transforming power of the Spirit in the Church, through the liberating acts of the Son, the Universe will at last come to the Father – and we have a part to play in that. Creation will be united forever by our witness to the mystery of life, love and communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Women and Men will find themselves taken up, in the likeness of Jesus of Nazareth, in the likeness of Mary of Nazareth, into the Holy Spirit and will reveal the eternal creative force that we call the Father, who is without form, substance or gender, and be united to the divine three in love and tenderness, with those who have gone before us, and with those yet to come, and the Universe, in the triune God, will be the body of the Trinity and we will finally know and understand what it means to be part of the Body of Christ, and we will finally know what the Church should be.
This day is the festival of the redeemed, the celestial, infinite dance of the free people of God, the banquet of sons and daughters in the homeland of the trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and we will know at last what it is to be loved by them, praised by them, invited to dance and sing and love forever and ever, and we will never be afraid again because, finally, we shall know that God is love and that we live in God. Amen and amen. Let it be so