Today is Trinity Sunday. It always follows the Sunday of Pentecost, and it launches the long Season after Pentecost, also known as “Ordinary Time” which continues through November, until Advent begins. To help us understand a bit about the complex nature of trying to explain the Trinity, one God in three persons, I’m starting with a few riddles:
You will always find me in the past. I can be created in the present, but the future can never taint me. What am I? (History)
You can see me in water, but I never get wet. What am I? (A reflection)
I am a ship that can be made to ride the greatest waves. I am not built by tool, but built by hearts and minds. What am I? (Friendship)
What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? (Human beings)
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Okay. The last one, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is a spiritual question. Unlike a riddle, a spiritual question, known as a “Koan,”in Buddhism, has no specific answer. The intent of giving a spiritual seeker a koan is to aide that person in deepening their spiritual awareness and insight. A koan is a question which has no absolute answer, although sometimes the meaning is very simple. The meaning of, “What is the sound of one hand clapping,” is silence. It’s a koan inviting the spiritual seeker into silence.
All religions have wisdom questions or phrases like koans. In the Hebrew tradition we find these in the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiasticus. In Christianity it may be the Trinity, that is the most perplexing concept of our faith, the notion of one God, three persons.
The early church held council meetings over the course of about four hundred years debating the nature of God, the nature of Jesus, and the nature of the Holy Spirit and how these three natures were related and expressed in one being. The debates were often fierce and brutal. But in the end the debates left us with the Nicene Creed as the historical statement of faith that attempts to articulate what the church means by one God, three persons.
The nature of the Trinity is like a koan – not something one can ever fully understand in concrete terms – but a concept that is intended stretch one’s imagination about God. The Trinity is like a Koan because we never have the complete picture of who God is. Christianity understands God as a Being who is both mysterious and present. In particular God is a Being in relationship with God’s self – God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; with each aspect having a specific kind of relationship with creation and all human beings. God the creator invites into creativity, God in Jesus invites us into relationships of love; and God the Holy Spirit actives that love within us and gives us our gifts and purpose in life. God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
God is a Divine Being who desires to be in relationship with us. We know God most fully in and through our relationships with others: family and friends, work relationships, neighbors and acquaintances. Jesus reminds us that we are to seek and serve others outside of our immediate context and strive to create a beloved community. The Holy Spirit is God’s energy, activating God’s love in us and in the world.
In caring for the hungers of this world, nourishing people in mind, body, and spirit, we at Christ Church are seeking to participate in God’s loving action in the world. God is a being of love. We were made by God through love and we were made by God to love. Love is our purpose in life. Love is a verb, the active energy of being in relationship with God, self, and others.
Here at Christ Church God has revealed God’s self in and through us and in and through our many ministries. God is very present in this building, this property, the many ministries that take place here, from the food pantry to the quilting group, from martial arts and dance to the civic and international groups that offices and meetings here, from the labyrinth to the plaza, to our worship and our community, and in and through each one of us. Our reading from Genesis reminds us that God created all the world, all of life. God is the source of all creation, and in creating all the world, God also blesses the world and us.
Soon we will go outside and bless our beautiful community garden. Then we’ll conclude this morning on the plaza with a celebration of good food, music, dancing, fun and games. God calls us to delight in the life God has given us, and to celebrate all our blessings.
So, I’ll conclude with one more riddle. If you know what it means, tell me at the picnic. (or in the comment section below).
There are 5 people at a picnic, five apples in a basket, each person takes an apple, there’s 1 apple left in the basket. How is that is possible?
(correct answer: one person took the basket with the apple in it)…