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Trinity - Falling into God

The Trinity is in many ways at the heart of our Christian beliefs. But trying to understand the Trinity as a science or engineering project is frustrating and in many ways non-sensical! However if the Trinity is approached as more like art – visual and verbal depictions of truths mysterious and invisible then we may come to appreciate how important and life giving the Trinity is. Our readings this week all point to the powerful, exciting, life giving nature of the Triune expression of God and how vital this is to our relationship with the Divine. (Trinity. Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; and John 3:1-17.)

You may like to consider a reflection on these specific reading I wrote three years ago.


Or you may like to read a reflection focusing on Trinity as Community.


Or more radically (apparently?) an exploration of Sally McFague’s trinitarian Models of God (with a focus on God as Mother, Lover and Friend).


As I reflected on this week’s readings I was reminded of Maria Boulding’s observation that it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of God. But it is worse to fall out of the hands of God. The triune nature of God may point to the loving relationship at the heart of the God and the inherent invitation for us to join this community of love. However encounter with the living God is at times disturbing if not terrifying. And we are not the same after our encounter – we are changed to such an extent that Jesus described it as being born again!

 

Isaiah finds himself in the presence of the Lord in the temple and is struck with fear and self loathing as he is convicted of his impoverished nature. Rather than be dismissed his lips are scorched and cleansed by the burning coal and he is thus made pure and empowered to speak. The psalmist describes the voice of the Lord as so powerful that things skip, shake and tremble. And the gospel of John has Jesus challenging Nicodemus to be born of the Spirit as well as of water thus warning him, and us, that spiritual encounter is so transforming that only a metaphor as significant as rebirth can convey what is likely to befall us if we truly enter into intimate relationship with God.

 

Often we focus on the invitation of love and the generosity of God. I confess that I am one of those who preach the love of God at every opportunity. And the love of God is beyond question. But that should not suggest that the love of God is a small and domestic fire that does not burn and consume, or a torrent of water that dislodges and cleanses the most stubborn of impediments, or a wind that sweeps through and rearranges everything! The inclusivity and generosity of God is not a sign of tameness. And in the afterglow of Pentecost it is good to continue to reflect on what living by the Spirit might mean.

 

While the life of faith is at times experienced in tender moments of such healing subtlety, or in wonder and awe, the Spirit is not tamed or controlled, and is sometimes experienced in ways that disturb and radically change how we see things, move in the world, and what we feel called to do and be. No less than rebirth.

 

Without the encouragement of Paul’s words we might despair of our capacity to survive the encounter. But the language of family and the promise that the Spirit is working from within us in our encounter with God (working from both sides) gives us courage that the Divine desires to support and enable us in the relationship. Relationship with the divine is not a test but an initiation into the very relationship that is at the centre of the universe! While desire, intention, awe, gratitude and trust are all responses called for at various times it is a relationship in which we are taken as we come - be that timid or courageous, certain or full of doubt, just setting out or grown old on the journey – and the encounter itself will grow us into the fullness that is promised.

 

Indeed rebirth is the perfect description of the process of encounter and transformation for it is as much about letting go and becoming undone as it is about being made new and whole. It is a process  that starts with our desire or consent but once began has a momentum to it not unlike the birth process. Some of the process is gentle and tender, some of it is just hard work, and some times are exhilarating or frightening as one looses a sense of control and we are in the grip of mighty change.

 

It is, as Maria Boulding said, a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God and even more so to imagine falling out of those hands. But many of us have paused, have turned around for a time, and those of us who have gone back have found tenderness and welcome. It would seem to be the nature of the love that holds God and the universe together that beginning over is part of the process and surprises God much less than it surprises us! And so we turn toward God, our very home, knowing that at the heart of everything is a community of love waiting for us.

 

Even so, come Lord Jesus Christ, come birth in us your Spirit.

 

 

 

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