There probably is no Christian teaching more confusing to us than the Trinity. I have heard people ask a thousand times, “Why can’t we just add a fourth member to the Trinity if we want to talk about the feminine aspect of God?” The basic reason, of course, is that we are describing the God who is real, and whom we know, not the God we are constructing.
Julian of Norwich (born in 1342), in her book Showings, talks wonderfully and helpfully about the Trinity. She speaks familiarly of the God who creates us, the God who redeems us, and the God who preserves us; but they are not her primary names nor are they self-explanatory. She first describes God most fundamentally as Love, and she makes it entirely clear that everything else we say about God must be descriptive of that love.
She names the three persons Power, Wisdom, and the Love uniting them. “Power” and “Wisdom” are not abstract names or even separate names for these persons: the supreme power of God, the first person, whom we frequently call the Father, is not Naked Power to do anything but rather the Power of Love. The second person, incarnate in Jesus, the Son, is the Wisdom of God, which is not the brains of a huge computer but rather the Wisdom of Love. These two are not opposites. The third person is the Love between them—they are all one God, all one love.
Her other truly significant way of naming the Trinity is “God the Father,” “God the Mother,” and “God the Holy Spirit,” who are “all one love.” How easily we fall into hierarchical ways of thinking—with father on top, mother subordinate to father, and the Holy Spirit below them. But Julian emphatically says something different: The three persons of God are equal in all things. They do not operate separately. They are only one God, and they are all one love.
God, you make us in the image of your Trinity, which is love. Help us to grow into it. Amen.
Our first reading is arguably one of the most controversial passages in the Bible. Even among those who believe that God created the world, there is controversy. For example, should the days be understood as literal or symbolic? Much time and trouble have been spent in arguing about these things. A different approach is found in Psalm 8, where the author simply praises God for the majestic work of creation without needing to work out all the details. Perhaps this approach would lead to more love and peace among the people of God, as Paul hopes for in Second Corinthians. Matthew describes the ascension, where Jesus tells his followers to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, an appropriate passage in preparation for Trinity Sunday.
Read Genesis 1:1–2:4a. When has reading the Bible in a new way or with new knowledge changed your experience of the text?
Read Psalm 8. How do you feel called to care for the earth God has given us?
Read 2 Corinthians 13:11-13. How does your faith community heed Paul’s advice to the Corinthians? How does it fall short?
Read Matthew 28:16-20. Recall a time of doubt. How has that experience made your faith stronger?
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