Trinity Sunday, this week, highlights perhaps the greatest mystery of our Faith: the nature of the Godhead. As part of the foundation of our Faith, we hold that God is three Persons in One Being. There is an old joke among the clergy that it only takes 30 seconds to err into heresy in a Trinity Sunday sermon amidst our feeble attempts to unpack this profound Truth. Thankfully, we will have the Bishop with us!
As we prepare for this celebration, one of the best explanations of the Trinity it as found in the Athanasian Creed. It was originally written to refute that there are three Gods, different hierarchies within Godhead, that any member of the Godhead was created, among many others errors. You may find it in its entirety on page 769 of the 2019 Book of Common prayer.
Elsewhere Athanasius, the Church Fathers to whom this Creed is attributed, wrote why this is so important:
"[The Trinity] is a Trinity not merely in name or in a figurative manner of speaking; rather, it is a Trinity in truth and in actual existence. Just as the Father is he that is, so also his Word is one that is and is God over all. And neither is the Holy Spirit nonexistent but actually exists and has true being. Less than these the Catholic Church does not hold…” (Letters to Serapion 1:28 [A.D. 359]).
This is the heart of our Faith, because it reveals the nature of God. God dwells not only in relationship with us, but also in perfect relationship to Himself. The love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit show us what perfect, selfless, pure love truly looks like. It is from that perfect love, which is poured out to us in the person and work of the Holy Spirit that we see and receive the love and relationship we have with God the Father through Jesus Christ (and His sacrificial love for us).
This week we are called to pause, celebrate, and take in that reality the Faith. Embrace the depth of the Truth of it in your own life and to give thanks for the model of love that exists in the Godhead. A love which gives us hope. A love by which we are perfected and that we are called to freely give to others. Certainly the Trinity is a mystery, for we cannot fully comprehend the depths of God through our finite understanding. Yet, what is revealed to us forms the bedrock of the Christian Faith, and sets our Faith apart from the other religions of the world. A Faith that is unique in its invitation for us to have relationship with God and to participate in His work in the world.