Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eggs, Water, and God

Well, we celebrated another Pentecost Sunday this past weekend and it was a wonderful day.  Church attendance was a bit more than the past two weeks so that made me feel good.  People wore red clothing to represent the fire of the Spirit.  Our choir sang a special anthem especially for the special day.  My sermon was all about the wind of the Spirit and how it has blown throughout all time and still blows today.  It was a very satisfying day and worship experience.

Now, this Sunday is called Trinity Sunday and it is the day when the Church considers what it means to believe in the Holy Trinity...God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  There are strains of Christianity who have chosen not to believe in the Trinity, the Unitarians, for instance, but the vast majority of Christians do hold a belief in the Holy Trinity.  The Church came to that understanding long ago, in the 4th century, when the Council of Nicea hashed out all the ideas concerning what Jesus' human body was made of, what he did while he was on earth, and what happened to him once he left to go back to heaven.  When we say the Nicene Creed in worship, we use those historic words which are more like a formula than inspirational material..."God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father."  One wonders why they thought they had to say it in so many ways but the ancient mind seemed to need such elaboration in order for it to be perfectly clear.  Perhaps our minds need it said more than one way too.

People have tried to explain the doctrine of the Trinity so that others can understand it.  We casually say, "Three in One" to help explain what it means.  Others have compared it to an egg having a shell, a yoke, and a white but being of one substance.  Still other have compared it to the states in which you can find water--liquid, steam, ice--but all three being water.  Some have tried to compare it to humans such as a woman being a daughter, a mother, a grandmother but still being the same person.  Regardless of the comparisons we make, it still remains a mystery, a holy mystery.  We cannot adequately describe it because it is indescribable.

When the Council of Nicea met back in the 300s, they wanted to know exactly what kind of being Jesus was.  Some said he was all flesh and totally human and they denied the miracles of the Bible.  Others said he was totally spirit, only giving the appearance of having a human body but not really human so that all the miracles he did were true and his resurrection was explainable.  The Council hashed it out for a long time and finally came up with the formula that Jesus was "totally human and totally God."  So there....he can be both totally and at the same time.

Belief in the Holy Trinity is historic and doctrinal but not easily understood.  We sing "Holy, Holy, Holy" on this Sunday with the phrase, "God in three persons, blessed trinity" included.   It is easily sung but not easily explained.  Our friend John Wesley used to tell his preachers to "preach it until you believe it" when they encountered doctrinal issues that were hard to explain.  Perhaps that may work for us too.  Don't worry about it, just trust God that it will all work out in the end.  Until then, live life and be happy.

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