There is a verse from today’s Scripture that has captured my imagination and won’t let it go. It is the Psalmist’s question, O Lord “What is man that you should be mindful of him? The son of man that you seek him out?”
I love these questions because they remind me of the value and esteem with which we are held by our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. So today I invite you to reflect on this question as we contemplate the nature of the Holy Trinity.
Speaking of contemplation, are there images of the Trinity that today evokes for you? By images I don’t necessarily mean symbols, analogies or metaphors, but perhaps memories you may have accumulated over the years of listening to Trinity Sunday sermons.
A dear friend of mine served for years as an associate rector in a huge church that had a deep bench of clergy. Yet despite an abundance of preaching colleagues, year after year he found himself preaching on Trinity Sunday and struggling with new ways to explain the Trinity – a concept that he was still grasping for himself.
He once confessed that he felt the experience of preaching on the Trinity year after year was a kind of penance. His experience of Trinity Sunday has infected my own experience of preaching on this topic for the past five years. It has sometimes seemed more like a burden than a gift.
In simply acknowledging this fact – confessing it if you will – I find a sense of tangible relief from the abstract burden of the Trinity. I would like to share this sense of relief with you.
Let’s begin by thinking about the timing or placement of Trinity Sunday – this first Sunday after Pentecost. Sometimes Trinity Sunday can be lost in the light of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the beginning of summer as we transition from the crush of activities at the end of the school year to summer activities. In addition to this reality there is another transition taking place; a liturgical transition from the season of Easter to Ordinary Time – that is the season after Pentecost.
It is telling that this transition is marked by two of the Principal Feasts of the Church: the Day of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. This unique occurrence marks this as no ordinary transition. The coming of the Holy Spirit marks Easter’s conclusion; while the beginning of Ordinary Time – a season of growth – is marked by the reminder and example of the Holy Trinity. There is something to be teased out here!
To draw this ‘something’ out, perhaps we need to begin by letting go of our inclination to struggle with the metaphysical reality of the Trinity today, and open another door to see something else going on at the beginning of this season of growth.
The Holy Trinity may be redirecting our attention not to the wonder of its abstract reality but to a concrete truth about ourselves – a place of growth and opportunity for us individually. In a few minutes, before we exchange the peace in preparation for the Great Thanksgiving, we will collectively confess our sins for the first time in more than 50 days. I suspect that by now there is some pent-up demand for penance among us even as we emerge from the season of resurrection and redemption.
Despite these graces of resurrection and redemption we are after all humans who struggle in our relationships with one another and the Holy Trinity. Yet it is the Trinity that provides the perfect model of relationship. Co-equal, cooperative, founded on mutual and reciprocal love and esteem from the beginning of time as encountered in the first creation narrative of Genesis.
Yes, this particular story doesn’t mention Jesus by name, but John the Evangelist reminds us in his own creation narrative that …
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Here John reminds us that our Redeemer was present and active with the Creator and Sanctifier in perfect harmony of relationship and creativity from the beginning.
All that the Trinity created – including humanity – was perfectly whole in its beginning, which speaks to the Psalmist’s question, “What is man that you should be mindful of him? The son of man that you seek him out?”
If we pause here before rushing on to our fall in the second creation narrative, we can remember that the Holy Trinity made humankind in its image. We can consider that the Trinity’s aspiration for us was and still is for something greater than our present selves; to resemble the Holy Trinity itself in our relationships. This is why the Trinity is so mindful of us.
That ill-defined and vague tug we feel at our core is the Holy Trinity seeking us out, yearning for us to embrace once again our relationship with the Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, and each other. All that stands between us and the Trinity is our inclination to brokenness.
It is no accident that now, after the Easter season of resurrection and redemption, we are again presented with the opportunity to confess our sins and receive absolution. We need the grace and humility this act provides us to recall that the Holy Trinity is mindful of us and that we are worthy of the redemption we have received.
Nonetheless, we are in constant need of confession and absolution if we hope to approach the insight necessary to remain in relationship with the Trinity and one another.
The key to all of this is forgiveness, whose effectiveness is only fully known and appreciated in its giving as Jesus reminds us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
This understanding brings the concluding verse of last week’s Day of Pentecost Gospel into a new light. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
The ability to offer forgiveness opens the door to ones own ability to be forgiven – that is to re-enter into that life-giving relationship with the Holy Trinity. Whereas to hold on to resentment, to fail to forgive is to bind oneself in restraints that keep us out of communion with our neighbor and the Holy Trinity. The power to forgive or retain is the power to choose either life or death for oneself. Which do you choose for yourself in this season of growth and life?
Were this an easy thing to do we would not find ourselves in such a conflicted state, straining against the nature of the Holy Trinity and its desire and expectation for us. We all need guidance in learning to forgive, and the sacrament of reconciliation is both a starting place and a lifelong way of experiencing that inward grace of forgiveness.
The Holy Trinity: the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier is mindful of each and every one of us, and is seeking us out. Answer its yearning; reconcile that eternal relationship by releasing the sins that bind you and others in separation. Forgive, and choose life in the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Amen.
 Psalm 8:5
 John 1:1-5
 Acts 20:35b
 John 20:23