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God in Community, Holy in One

June 11, 2022
Tonight’s sunset over our neighborhood

Trinity Sunday comes around each year and each year it challenges preachers to consider the riddle that is wrapped in an enigma and surrounded by mystery. The Trinity has challenged theologians and the church since the beginning of the church in the third century, common era. It is one of the more confusing doctrines of the church today as it has been throughout the centuries. 

Traditionally it celebrates the one and equal glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Saint Patrick tried to teach the Irish about the Trinity using a shamrock which had three individual leaves and one stem. Other language has been used to attempt to describe the three-in-one aspect of the Trinity. God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer… Creator, Christ, and Spirit. No matter what terminology is used, there is still the same mystery. Just what is the Trinity?

This last Sunday we observed/celebrated Pentecost Sunday where the promised Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and initiated the ministry Jesus had called them to do. They went out into the world to share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. In the reading for Trinity Sunday from John 16, Jesus tells the disciples that the Spirit of truth will come to guide them as they went out into the world. 

Yet how does this doctrine or this Sunday in the lectionary speak to us today? How does it challenge us to be Christ-followers? How does it help us to share the love, justice, mercy, and peace of God with a world desperately in need of such gifts? Over the years as I have studied and pondered the “development” of doctrine of the Trinity throughout the ages, it eventually has boiled down to a simple concept. God is best described in relationship with God’s self and with all of creation. 

Thomas Merton in his book New Seeds of Contemplation described the Trinity in a very relational and unique way. The One God Who exists only in Three Persons is a circle of relations in which His infinite reality, Love, is ever identical and ever renewed, always perfect and always total, always beginning and never ending, absolute, everlasting and full. Ultimately, God in His Trinity of subsistent relations infinitely transcends every shadow of selfishness.

Love is God’s infinite reality… it is never ending… absolute… everlasting and full. Doesn’t’ that sound like Jesus’ teachings about the Law and the Prophets? Love God with your entire being (heart, mind, soul, and strength) and love your neighbor (every one of them) as you love yourself.

My friend Thom Shuman who is a Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor, writer, and common-sense theologian introduced me to this way of understanding the Trinity. Tom has written many beautiful liturgies and poems ( and has inspired me in my own worship and prayer life. Instead of the traditional trinitarian prayer language (in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) Thom uses this phrase: God in Community, Holy in One. 

Dear reader, perhaps in these words and these thoughts we might find a way to truly build relationships of love, grace, mercy, and peace in this world. Lord knows all of creation and the world needs a new way to relate and create.

  1. I hope you and your Fair Lady are doing well in your new location.

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