The Trinity, the glorious dance of love
Mary Copping, 30 May 2021
Isaiah 6: 1–8; Romans 8: 12–17; John 3: 1–17
Today is Trinity Sunday when we mark God’s Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are many ways that people try to explain the Trinity, for example, water – liquid, gas and solid. This is what’s used for children usually, or an egg – the shell, the white and the yolk. However, the Trinity is a holy mystery which we can never, and need never, try and understand. What we know is that the Trinity is made up of God the Father, our creator and loving Father; God the Son, who died for us to bring us back into loving relationship with God; and God the Holy Spirit, God’s presence with us and with the world, comforting us, showing us God’s love. This is where we come when we don’t understand, when we have pain or when we are rejoicing. The Trinity is sometimes described as ‘the glorious dance of love’ – here is where we can find love and peace. The Trinity, at work for us and in the world.
At another church many years ago I did an evangelism course. On this course, we were encouraged to think of different ways we could tell people about Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit. Part of this was that in pairs we had to knock on people’s doors in the local area, to talk to them about the church and about the Christian faith, having a questionnaire to help us. This was very nerve-wracking for us to do. We’d knock on the door and hear people shouting to each other inside, ‘Are you going to open the door? No I’m busy, you open it.’ And then the worst thing is that we heard the beginning of the EastEnders music and we knew we were not going to be popular. There were some good conversations with some very polite and kind people; we also had people slamming doors on us, not happy at being disturbed. Who could blame them? I’m don’t think they do this any more!
The church I was at, at the time, had a very strong message that if people did not give their lives to Jesus and have a belief in him, then they would go to Hell when they died; thus a real urgency to tell people about him and get them to believe in him, understandably. This is what I believed as a new Christian, but as I got to know God the Father and his love for me I wondered if this could be true. If God the Father loves me, loves everyone, loves his creation, how could he condemn anyone to Hell? So I began to realise that those beliefs I held might be fine for others, but weren’t based on the God of love that I knew. And if God loves us so much, and loves the world so much, then our mission is in sharing that wonderful love with all people – which happens in both our churches and beyond. And if people happen to ask about our faith, or why we go to church, we can share a bit of our Christian journey with them.
Today we hear of Nicodemus, who wanted to know more. He wanted to ask questions. We imagine him going through the streets in the dark, a lantern in his hand, desperate to see this person he was so fascinated about. He arrives at the house where he thinks Jesus is and knocks on the door. His world seems to have been turned upside down because of this Galilean, this rabbi, this unique person who claimed to be the Son of God.
He must have been nervous but excited to speak to this great man. He had realised that this was someone very special, as when he met Jesus he said to him, ‘No-one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God’. However, when Jesus began to talk about being born again, he became very puzzled, and I think for many of us we’re puzzled as well. How can this be? There are different understandings of the phrase ‘being born again’. To some, it means having a powerful experience of God and remembering that always. For many, it’s a very gradual increase of awareness of God’s love, a life lived with the Trinity, with the love of God. Jesus describes it also as ‘You must be born from above’ – an awareness somehow of heavenly things, of a new dimension.
All of us are at different stages of our faith journey – maybe we’re like Nicodemus, not understanding and wanting to know more, or at other stages. As we come through this pandemic many of us have suffered much through illness, loss, loneliness. Or been wondering where God is in all of it, perhaps. Many of us also may be fearful of what lies ahead, what this new future might have for each one of us, and in terms for us, what lies ahead as Peter Seal retires? What’s going to happen? A real sadness. And yet, what Peter and others have been to us, and because of what they’ve been, we are a strong church community, rooted in the love of God, able to go forward together into that new future in the strength of that love.
Or course we all have our doubts and fears, but we can come to God with them – with all our doubts, uncertainties, brokenness, perhaps feelings of being abandoned by God. We see this so often in the Psalms, David crying out to God: ‘How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? For ever? How long wilt thou hid thy face from me?’ (Psalm 21) And Jesus’ cry from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’
But our faith is in one who can take it all and loves us unconditionally. We come to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit where we can say, ‘Lord, I don’t understand, I can’t see a way forward, but you are the way – help me to trust you to lead me and all of us forward.
The Trinity, the glorious dance of love – here is where we find love and peace, in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. So I won’t be knocking on people’s doors again, but I will be trying to show God’s love wherever I go.
I’m going to finish by singing two verses from an old hymn. Let us pray:
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one, lay down
thy head upon my breast’.
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn and sad;
I found in him a resting-place,
and he has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Behold, I freely give
the living water, thirsty one;
stoop down and drink and live’.
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.