Trinity Sunday as imagined by Rublev & Babette's Feast

Trinity  (icon) by Andrei Rublev, 1410  (Source )

Trinity (icon) by Andrei Rublev, 1410 (Source)

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend...
— John Donne, Holy Sonnets XIV

An excerpt from my reflection on Trinity Sunday 2012:

My whole life I've been taught the image of God as three-in-one, one-in-three.  I learned the Trinity as one egg with three parts: white, shell and yolk.  Water as ice, liquid and steam. Also,  I think there was a metaphor using an apple?

I'm grateful for that sort of teaching and the layers of understanding that were added as I grew up in the Church. But it wasn't until I served as a shepherd over a worship ministry that I began to ask questions.  Questions like, "So what?"  and "What difference does it make?"   

Turns out it makes a world of difference.  In the three-person'd God we are invited, commended even, into  mystery.  Egg yolks and apple seeds aside, our most intellectual theologians can only barely imagine the wonder of "let us make man in our image".  For myself, the invitation toward mystery looks a bit like the Ghost of Christmas Present lifting  his robe and bellowing, "Come in and know me better man!"    

Beautiful mystery, yes.  Also, beautiful community.  The Psalmist tells us that God puts the lonely into families.  He should know, he lives and moves and has his transcendent Being as one-in-community.  He is a We.  

This matters more than we imagine.  If He is a We than how possibly can we think ourselves solely as a me? We must submit everything we do to mark ourselves a Christian to the power and beauty of this spiritual reality.  Distinct as persons, yes.  Made in the image of God as a man or a woman, in particular, and then as a unique person. Mysteriously and gloriously, this designed particularity never finds itself as an identity apart from the created Whole.

The great part and whole paradox transforms everything.  The answer to the question, "What difference does it make?":  all the difference in the world.  We submit every part of our lives -- individually and corporately--to the Three-in-One God.  How we gather, how we pray, how we sing, how we make, how we intercede, how we eat and play together and alone. How we hear music, read books, return emails, browse Facebook, shop at the market and weed our gardens.  All of it comes under submission to the Three-person'd God. 

Donne gives another poetic description for our three-person'd God as the "knotty Trinity".  The poet-theologian seems to be saying this reality is beyond our intellectual grasping no matter how many metaphors we dream up but we are drawn to keep on trying.  He reminds us that the work of communicating mystery is no banal task.  Every day we have the opportunity to try again.  The great Three-in-One captures our imagination, making the Trinitarian Presence irresistible to the working out over millenia.  We are caught up as one part of the Whole.  Paradoxically, we find true solace surrounded by an ancient and future communion.  

As a newly-minted Anglican, I've relished the practice of marking myself with the sign of the cross.  This physical discipline trains my ears toward the Trinity, crossing head to heart, left to right at the mere mention of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  It is an act of submission, an antidote to spiritual amnesia. Even that self-sealing motion is done as one in a whole.  I know this because each week I've learned my cues while I, hopefully subtly, study my worshiping community.  Trying to sync my rhythm with theirs, with the Church in time before me and time to come.

Corporate worship that is not Trinitarian in both word and deed, leaves us as juveniles seeking our own versions of fantasy worship.  Seeking to heal ourselves, please ourselves, know ourselves all by ourselves.  Practically speaking, this a rejection of the very nature of God.  Yes it matters very much.  It matters when we are gathered together and when we are scattered, sent out to reflect the image of our Three-In-One God to a world broken off from the Whole.

I read once that the film Babette's Feast  presents within its storyline a beautiful representation of the Trinity. Writing this post,  I watched again an excerpt, and all I can say is YES!  Imagine for a moment, the absent father for whom the feast is called as our own God the Father.  And Babette, giving up all her fortune to serve the feast as our own God, Jesus.  And the exuberant General, instructing the people in the joy of the feast, as our own God, the Holy Spirit.  

Watch these two scenes (or the whole movie) as a meditation today.  What do you see?

Babette's Feast on YouTube

Babette's Feast on Amazon (affiliate link)

Pentecost daybook, 8: Trinity Sunday

My Pentecost daybook for these 8 days of receiving.

Join me, won't you? (see all Pentecost Daybook 2016 posts here)


look

The Trinity in Glory - Titian

The Trinity in Glory - Titian


read

John 16:12-15:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

all readings for the day: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15


pray

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us
your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to
acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the
power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep
us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to
see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with
the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen. (source)


listen

All Creatures of our God and King - John Rutter, The Cambridge Singers ( lyrics here )

My Pentecost playlist on Spotify.


do

Find a labryinth to walk and pray today.  Consider the mystery and community of the Three Person'd God we worship.  Read the truth that dazzles gradually in Little Gidding by T. S. Eliot. 

Here are the last two stanzas: 

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning; 
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always-- 
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.


See Pentecost posts from the past few years here.

Trinity Sunday: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory

.....

look

Book of Kells - Gospel of John, In the beginning was the Word, and in the Word [was with God] -  source

Book of Kells - Gospel of John, In the beginning was the Word, and in the Word [was with God] - source

.....

read

Isaiah 6:3:

And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory."

all readings for the day: Isaiah 6:1-8 and Psalm 29  • Romans 8:12-17  • John 3:1-17

.....

pray

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (source)

.....

listen