Three in one

Daily Reading for May 18 • Trinity Sunday

The feast of the Holy Trinity is unique to the Anglican communion. Originating in Spain in the early Middle Ages, spreading through the Gallican church in France, it survived only in England. This festival of the triune God is dedicated not to the commemoration of an event such as Christmas and Easter, nor to a person such as a saint, but to a theological doctrine. Following the festival of the Holy Spirit, Trinity Sunday is logically dedicated to the task of pulling together the total experience of the Christian with the God whom he worships and adores.

There are many difficulties involved in the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. The arguments of the Church fathers of Nicea as to how one almighty God could be divided into three separate and distinct persons and yet retain his oneness seems sadly irrelevant to the unphilosophical mind. It is inconceivable to us that fellow Christians could have fought so bitterly over the precise meanings of the word, and then come up with the seeming contradictions of three in one and one in three. . . .

Whether this Holy Spirit, this God within, proceeds from the Father or the Son is relatively unimportant. For me this God who, at times, moves me to deep awe and wonder at the power and beauty of creation, speaks to my human need through Jesus Christ, or brings me suddenly to life, seemingly from within my own mind and soul or in a worshiping group of which I am a part, is one God, known in various ways, experienced in differing situations. For purposes of clarification of my thinking or description of my experience, it is useful to call him Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But he is the same no matter how I try to describe him. He is a great God—too great for any human mind to explain or classify completely. But he is not too great to worship and adore as Lord and giver of life. This is the heart of Christian faith, the cause of our devotion, and the goal of all our striving.

From “Three In One—One In Three” in Go Into the City: Sermons for a Strenuous Age by John Compton Leffler (Madrona Publishers, 1986).

Past Posts