3 Visitors - The Holy Trinity - By Rublev (14th C.)
Beginning with worship this weekend I will be focusing on a series of lessons taken from the book of Genesis which tells the story of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Israel: Abraham & Sarah; Isaac & Rebekah; Jacob & Rachel (and Leah and Laban and Esau); and Joseph and his brothers. These are terrific stories and have much to say to us today, but there is one verse in particular which lay at the foundation of each and every one of those stories – in fact, it might be argued that this verse really lay at the foundation of both the Old and New Testament – here is the verse:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:1-2
Today is the Feast of the Holy Trinity; the one church festival that is given over entirely to celebrate a church doctrine. And as central and important as this doctrine is, it is at the same time a particularly difficult doctrine to understand and one over which there has been a lot of conflict over the years. I am not going to try to explain it, because it is as much a mystery to me as it is to anyone else. And, I do not have all the right answers here. But I can share a few illustrations and thoughts. All of which are not the whole story and have their limitations, but perhaps they might help us to think about the Trinity in a new way.
First, a story from St. Augustine: One day St. Augustine was walking on the beach when he encountered a little boy trying to pour the whole ocean into a hole he had dug. When Augustine told him what he was trying to do was impossible the little boy said "neither can you fit the Holy Trinity into your tiny mind." From there St. Augustine offers this illustration of the Holy Trinity (and it is one of my favorite images): When you think of the Trinity, think of love – God the Father is the lover, the Son is the beloved and the love shared between the two is the Holy Spirit.
Here’s another, from the Desert Fathers: Think of the Holy Trinity as Light – The source of Light is the Father, the light itself which provides the illumination is the Son and the warmth one feels from the light is the Holy Spirit. And one more, from Meister Eckhardt: