The trinity

Happily, we have some knowledge of what we mean by the Trinity, the celebration we have this Sunday. Jesus told us about his Father and his great desire to fulfil the mission given him by the Father. He also said, he and the Father are one and that they would send the Holy Spirit so that people everywhere might have ‘life to the full.’ 

That is about as far as the Scriptures go in revealing the Trinity to us, though mighty volumes have been written to expand on this basic knowledge. Schoolchildren of my generation were told it is a mystery, which, of course, it is. But our teachers seemed unwilling to allow any further questions. 

If you travel by air from Harare to Nairobi you may see the peak of Kilimanjaro jutting through the clouds. It is a landmark and you know that it is the summit of a huge mountain at the foot of which are forests and farms, settlements and towns – all full of people with their hopes and anxieties, joys and sorrows. 

The glimpse you have of the mountain peak is a peek (excuse the pun) at the richness of life among the multitude of people at its base. You know nothing about them in detail but you know they are there in their abundant variety. St Paul has a far deeper perception of this when he writes, ‘What no eye has seen and no ear heard, what the mind of man cannot conceive; all that God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Cor 2:9).   

This glimpse is enough for us for now. It is enough to know there is a whole mystery awaiting us: the mystery of God and of our place in him. There is no way we can describe or understand these things. Ours is to approach the unknown on bended knees but with excitement and trust. ‘You will understand when you are bigger.’ How often have parents said this to their children?

We have to grow bigger in the Spirit. We have to get to the point, like Job, where we say, ‘You have told me of great works that I cannot understand … having seen you with my own eyes, I retract what I have said and repent.’  His questions have not been answered but he has come to grasp that he cannot approach God with the normal human intellectual tools we have. God is beyond. His is to bow his head in humble submission.

So we come to the Trinity with great joy, great trust, great anticipation and there is one little clue – if that is what it is. The Trinity is a community: three in one. Each distinct and yet all one. We are made in the image of God and are to reflect this distinctiveness in each of us while recognising our full identity is to be one with one another.

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