by Jake Hall
published in Family Matters enewsletter June 14, 2019
On Sunday, we celebrate, "Trinity Sunday," a day set aside to contemplate the mysteries of the inner life of God. You know, a light, breezy, summer topic.
Trinity is the word we use to describe the inner nature of God. It never appears in scripture. It is the result of the early church trying their best to calculate the nature of God given the found formulas in scripture and values of their experiences with Jesus and the persistent presence of Jesus they felt after his death.
On the whole, southern preaching bears the heat of the wrath of God more than the mysteries inherent to the life of God. A wrathful God evokes fearful if familiar, tropes of fire and brimstone. A wrathful God's authoritarianism acts as a form of fear filled social control. Lookout! A wrathful God might zap you or damn you. Revivalistic tellings of the story of Jesus place Jesus as a sacrifice to abate the bloodthirst of a God who demands a sacrifice as payment.
On Trinity Sunday, we are invited to wonder about the inner life of God? Maybe we should ask ourselves, "why is it that we are so comfortable accepting a wrathful telling of the presence of God? What if we frame the inner life of God by love and not wrath? Does that change the way we tell the story of God from beginning to end? Could it change the ways we shape our communities of practice formed and forged to honor God?
Most of the time, when we think of the Trinity, we get stuck on the metaphors of composition. Just how is it that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons, add up to only one God? How does 1+1+1=1? Is God like the three states of water: ice, liquid, and steam? While they attempt to name the constitutive elements of the divine, these fall short of revealing how God acts and by what motivation.
Instead, this Sunday, let us wonder about how the expressions of God that we find in scripture and history operate? Moving from constitutive metaphors to lived operations invites us into the movements of God as Father, Son, and Spirit. Instead of thinking of God as an angry judge and Jesus a willing sacrifice, we might instead imagine a trinity of persons who have always been working together in concert to create, redeem, and sustain creation itself, as an act of love. By examining the rhythms of the inner life of God, we might even move from a wrathful stance to a divine dance.