There is probably no other theological topic that will send people running for the doors like talk of the Trinity. Perhaps part of the problem is that we have turned it into a doctrine, a dogma, and not helped people see the practical implications of this most puzzling idea or tackle the difficult question: what does any of this have to do with me and my life?
Well here are some brief thoughts that may get the juices flowing. I’ll admit though that this is a topic best reserved for your favourite coffee shop or pub while sipping on your favourite dark brew (By the way, I’m always open to an invitation to imbibe in both conversation and beverages).
1. Unity in Diversity – The essence of the Trinity is that God is one, God is three. While that may boggle the mind, it does tell us that God is not uniformity or sameness, God is diverse, expressed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We too, made in God’s image are diverse and also the church. We are all different but our differentness expresses the mystery on the Trinity.
2. Relationship and Community – You could even go so far as to say that God is relationship or community. The Trinity attempts to express the interrelation of God and Son, which overflows into creation and through us. Atomic physicists tell us that the power of the atom is not in the three particles but in the relationship between them. Franciscan writer Richard Rohr says this relationship is the pattern for the universe and for us. We are not isolated or independent from each other but are a complex network of relationships and connections. Whether we know it or like it, we are living in community.
3. Participation – It is significant that we commemorate Trinity Sunday a week after Pentecost because it is in the coming of the Holy Spirit that we are drawn into the Trinity and its unity and community. The trinity by its very nature is participatory. God the creator and saviour of the universe now resides and works through you and me. That is both terrifying and thrilling at the same time.
4. Mystery – In the end the last word goes to mystery. This is not a cop out because I think we must always struggle with understanding, articulating and living out the nature of God. Honestly, I don’t claim to understand the Trinity and I am wary, even distrustful of those who claim they do. Perhaps the best approach to the unsearchable, inexplicable, Triune God is a little humility and the ability to not take ourselves too seriously. So I look forward to many invitations and conversations on such paradoxical topics at refreshment establishments near you.