Psalm 8 recounts one of scripture’s most familiar contrasts. Two ideas cannot be separated: When human beings consider our place in the universe, we are nothing. Psalm 78:39 echoes the sentiment that human beings are “a wind that passes and comes not again.” And yet God makes us “a little lower than God” to “have dominion” over the animals that fill the seas, the earth, and the air. Our place in the whole scope of the universe is minuscule, yet we make a huge difference to everything that lives. Humans are the stewards of all God’s creation. And in so honoring humanity, God is glorified.
On Trinity Sunday, we are reminded not only how small we are in the scope of the universe but also how little knowledge we have of God. The early church experienced God as the Father in the prayer Jesus taught, as the Son who was the embodiment of God on earth, and as the Spirit who remained present in their lives. But later theologians explored further.
Augustine’s treatise “On the Trinity” particularly impressed me when I first read it forty years ago, and it remains with me to this day. As summarized by Eugene Webb of the University of Washington, Augustine’s Trinity is “lover, beloved, and love; the mind, the mind's knowledge of itself, and its love of itself; the eye of the mind, its expression as word, and the will that produces that expression; object, vision, and attention; memory, inner vision, and will; memory, understanding, and love.”* On Trinity Sunday, we contemplate the mysteries of life: of humanity, of earth, and of God.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, help us to love ourselves, love the earth, and love the mysteries begun in you. In the name of our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, we pray. Amen.
In our society we often privilege intellect and expertise. However, in Proverbs we read that God values wisdom. Wisdom has been present since the beginning, and some early theologians understand this Wisdom to be none other than the Son of God. Part of wisdom is understanding our place in the universe. The psalmist marvels at the vast display of God’s power in the heavens yet also recognizes that humans are a manifestation of God’s glory. The New Testament readings invoke the Trinity as we approach Trinity Sunday. Paul says that we have peace with God through Christ, and we are given the Holy Spirit. In John’s Gospel, we read that Jesus Christ has received everything from the Father, and the Spirit will guide his followers into all truth.
Read Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31. When have you heard God calling out to you?
Read Psalm 8. The author reminds us that our shortcomings are not because we are only human but because we fall short of our humanity. How do you strive to be more human—a little lower than God?
Read Romans 5:1-5. How do you allow God’s peace to calm you when you feel your life swirling around you?
Read John 16:12-15. To which person of the Trinity do you feel “closest”? How can you develop your relationship with the other two persons?
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