The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Freshly minted from the seminary, I knew a lot more then, than I know now. Theologically certified, I could easily explain the Trinity. Think, “water in different forms:” ice, steam, and snow. Or you’re a woman or man, a child of parents, a friend – one person, different roles – Trinity. See how easy? Now that you understand Trinity, “let us pray.” Just kidding.
With the onset of aging, humility has finally caught up with me. I now say, “I really can’t explain the Trinity.” After all Augustine wrote 15 volumes trying. Is belief in the Trinity necessary? Probably not – maybe the church and bishops felt compelled to explain how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and yet one God. Try explaining that to a skeptic. I doubt few of you awaken in the middle of the night worried about the Trinity.
To me Trinity expresses the fullness of God – a mystery we will never fully understand on this side –a presence we experience drawing us into a larger world. The divine one creates, relates, speaks, engages and reconciles. Life with God is an unfolding and evolving process. If we engage and abide in divine fullness, we will eventually come to see and understand life differently.
Unfolding? “I have more to say, but you can’t bear it now.” As we grow in love and grace, our beliefs change. If they don’t, chances are we are spiritually dying. So don’t fear doubts, or revising your beliefs. The Spirit may be growing you.
Creation – Go beyond outside city lights that block the first sky lights. Look at the stars. Drive by the lake when the moon is full. All this didn’t just happen. Take time and contemplate the world we live in. Be awakened to awe, beauty, wonder and glory. “How did this happen? How did I get here?” You might think “a divine being” – a Creator.
How does the divine reach us? – through prophets and priests, and finally in flesh, like us. Jesus brings the love, heart and will of God to abide in us – to make God accessible. God is unconditional love; forgiveness; grace for all. Jesus erases any notions that God is an angry, unpredictable old uncle who delights in punishing those who offend him. God is love – and love casts out fear. The divine already has done has cast out fear without our help in Jesus, the Son, as St. Paul notes to the Romans.
The Spirit, Wisdom – teaches, guides us into truth – gently encourages and abides with us, quietly prepares our hearts and minds to receive what we need next. The Spirit lights our way.
The church community is a way God’s fullness shapes, grows, and engages us. My Sunday School teachers taught us children the story of baby Jesus, the wise men, shepherds, a star. I didn’t question them. Of course, from a child’s eyes the story is true. In college and seminary I learn it didn’t happen that way. I wasn’t ready to think about that as a child. As a seminary student, I was ready. I met a deeper, more beautiful truth – truth conveyed in a story, greater than history or facts – a story that says the divine so loves us as to come and be with us – one of us.
“Many things to say – when you’re ready.” I was told I am a sinner needing saving. As a 10-year-old, I hadn’t had time to get a lot of sin in, at least not ones I wanted to try. Since I feared God, I accepted Jesus and was baptized. Over years I wanted to know Jesus for myself, not from others. I came to trust God loves us, because that’s who God is, not something we gain by being good or having the right beliefs. God took care of saving me – you, all of us, and the cross is the sign of forgiving love and amazing grace. By starting with God’s love of all people, and for me too, I found a different image of God. Anyone can say they believe, yet not be a loving follower of Jesus. The divine cares more about how we live, treat one another, embrace those different than we are, not what we believe. Our character and love for others will show what we believe. The fullness of God takes us deeper into eternal, everlasting truth.
Long ago I read a book Living As If. Live as if it’s true, and you’ll see it is. I bought that thesis intellectually – just never really tried it. I had been taught to “see it to believe it.” Years later, dad was dying. He asked me, “Is there really a heaven, and will we go there when we die?” I was surprised by his question. “Of course I believe in heaven, dad – you are the one who told me about it.” I thought, “How do I know heaven is real?” I don’t. I have been preaching, teaching and living as if it is. I don’t know for certain. I know by trusting the divine as if –the Creator, Redeemer, and Spirit are the fullness of God’s love for all. God loses nothing God makes and loves. My certainty and knowledge now are deeper than words, logic, or reason. Don’t ask me to paint a picture or describe what Heaven looks like. I can’t explain, but I do trust the God who holds us in divine hands. And it is very good.
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” – It’s a mystery, God reaching and embracing us, into life everlasting now. Sorry – I can’t explain it – Just tell you to relax into the mystery and see what you experience. Cultivate attentiveness, willingness, and responsiveness to the divine presence. Engage your imagination. Live as if you are God’s beloved. Then, go invite someone into this mystery with you. Love, and just keep on loving others. If we can do that, the fullness of God, as Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit, will do the rest.