Reflections on the Trinity

Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament’s exposition of what it means for us to be holy is the great groundwork that the self-existent, thrice holy, triune God has — in Himself, by Himself and for Himself — committed Himself and all three Persons of His being to bringing about the holiness of His own people. This is the Father’s purpose, the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s ministry. – Sinclair B. Ferguson

Paradoxically, the One moves from itself into the Three and yet remains One, while the Three return to the One and yet remain Three. The single divinity of the Trinity is undivided and the three Persons of the one divinity are unconfused. We confess Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, divided yet without division and united yet with distinctions.
-St.Thalassius the Libyan

The greatest minds of Christendom have applied reason, philosophical rigor, depth and breadth to understanding and interpreting the the church’s experience of “Father” “Son” and “Holy Spirit”. But in the end, knowing God is as illusive as predicting a firefly’s trajectory over a field of hay after dusk, as futile as keeping track of a drop of rain fallen into the ocean in a storm, as blinding as gazing directly at the sun.
Suzanne Guthrie, At the Edge of the Enclosure

For God to be truth, God had to be one
For God to be love, God had to be two
For God to be joy, God had to be three!
– Richard of St. Victor

Perhaps it would be easier for everyone if God were a bit easier to peg down, but that’s not what is revealed in scripture. Here we have a hard to peg down God from the Beginning. Literally. The Genesis account does not say “Let me make humankind in my own image, but let us make humankind in our own image according to our likeness” This is not a “me” God, but a “we” God. God from the beginning is, not God as bad math, but God as community. The triune nature of God assures that God is in fellowship with God’s self. In the Beginning is Creator, Word and Spirit all co-mingling to bring forth creation. Here God creates communally. – Nadia Bolz Weber, Some Thoughts on the Holy Trinity

What is sometimes called the first philosophic problem of “the one and the many” is overcome in God’s very nature. God is a mystery of relationship, and this relationship is foundationally and essentially love. The three persons of the Trinity are not uniform—but quite distinct—and yet completely oned in total outpouring and perfect receiving. – Richard Rohr

For more than a millennium, the Celtic experience of the Trinity has appeared in a vivid variety of forms, including artwork, poetry, hymns, and prayers. The Three-in-One God is also called upon in blessings such as this one that Alexander Carmichael collected in Scotland in the 19th century and included in the Carmina Gadelica:

The guarding of the God of life be on you,
The guarding of loving Christ be on you,
The guarding of Holy Spirit be on you
Every night of your lives,
To aid you and enfold you
Each day and night of your lives.

Celtic wellsprings of spirituality remind us that the Trinity is not merely an idea to be grasped but a mystery to be experienced and a relationship to be entered into.
– Jan Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook
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For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

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