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  • Rev. Annie McMillan

“Trinity Matters”

Today is Trinity Sunday, the day many churches like to lift up the Trinity,

that confusing three-in-one concept about God as Father-Mother, Son, and Holy

Spirit. That time of year when we talk about how God is like a three-leaf-clover, or

an egg, or three dimensions. Or I just learned about describing the Trinity as love:

“The Father is one who loves, the Son the beloved, and the Spirit the love shared

between them.” Metaphors can help us start to understand the Trinity, but

ultimately the Trinity is a mystery.

To be honest, it’s not that important for us to wrap our heads around the

Trinity as a concept. What’s more important is what the Trinity tells us about God

and how it impacts our faith. The Trinity means that God has always been in

relationship: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- with Godself. “In the beginning God

created the heavens and the earth. ... and the Spirit of God was hovering over the

waters.” “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the

Word was God.” From the beginning, God has been Parent-Creator, Son/Word,

and Spirit. Relationship is an inherent part of who God is.

But God didn’t decide to have only that relationship- instead, God then

extended that relationship to all of us. Genesis tells about God’s relationship with

Adam and Eve, Seth and Abel as well as Cain, Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob,

then Joseph and the rest of Jacob’s children, a relationship that continued

throughout the entire Old Testament. And then, Our Creator did more than love us

from afar; God came down to us as Jesus, and the Spirit came to remain with us

and guide us as God with us. God loves us! This morning’s gospel lesson included

John 3:16 & 17: God loves the world so much that Jesus came, not to condemn the

world but to save the world.

This is big. See, “‘world’ across John’s Gospel denotes an entity that is at

complete enmity with God.” As Holly Hearon noted in her Working Preacher

commentary for this week, “The ‘world’ is the all-encompassing object of God’s

concern in the Gospel of John. Despite having been created through the Word, it

has come under the sway of a ruler (12:31) who is described as the devil (8:44):

one devoid of truth and thus the antithesis of Jesus, who embodies truth. The world

is a place where evil thrives.” And yet, “God did not send his Son into the world to

condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Or as Lose says, “God

loves this God-hating world enough to send God’s only Son.”

As David Lose noted one year, “the whole point of the Trinity is that God’s

love is too big, too immense, even, to be described as the love of a single person,

but is more like the loved shared among a community, a love shared so deeply that

it can’t be contained but spills out from the Trinity into the whole world and into

our lives.”

The amazing love that we have from the Triune God means that our lives

should be affected, should change because of this amazing grace and love. The

gospel lesson talks about being born anew: transformed so much that it’s like

we’ve been born a second time. We get to respond to this amazing love we

experience through our Heavenly Parent, Christ, and the Spirit who is always with


Considering the amazing relationship we have been invited into, we get to

respond by being in relationship with others. Is there someone in your life or

maybe even on the periphery you could get to know? Maybe it’s someone you see

at church, or maybe they’re elsewhere in your life. Listen to their story, say “that

sucks” when things are hard and they need an ear. Help them out when you can,

and share your own story. Sometimes that relationship starts with serving. It can

mean being open to questions without having the answers, and really being friends

with those we might not consider friendships with otherwise.

It means paying attention and helping people around you. Being open to

sharing your story and listening to someone else’s. And sharing how God has

impacted your life, while listening to the other person’s experiences, whatever they

might be, without judgment.

Like Jesus in the gospel lesson- he doesn’t judge Nicodemus, or call his

questions silly. He engages with him as Nicodemus is ready: meeting with him at

night, engaging in conversation. The story of Nicodemus offers a picture of a man

who is curious about Jesus, who maybe even wants to believe, but struggles. He

actually appears two more times in the Gospel of John. Near the end of chapter 7,

he “reminds his colleagues that, according to the law, they should not judge Jesus

before giving him a trial. And for offering that reminder he is rebuked. Then he

makes a third appearance… after Jesus’ crucifixion, when Nicodemus

accompanies Joseph of Arimathea to collect, anoint, and bury the body of Jesus….

“[Throughout John’s gospel, we see Nicodemus grow] in his faith. At first

he brings questions and is confused. He later invites others to slow in their

judgment. He finally risks publically honoring the one just executed. Faith… in

Nicodemus’ case, takes time. Indeed, his journey with Jesus continues across most

of the Gospel of John and, we might assume, beyond.”

Faith takes time. And it often takes relationship as well. We’ve been invited

into relationship with God. And we get to then have real relationships with each

other: real friendships where we support and love each other, and remain open to

conversations about faith and doubt. We are immeasurably loved and get to share

that love through our relationships.

Thanks be to God.


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