On Servants' Wings
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Resources and Reflections by Ari Leigh


Trinity Beyond Words


Trinity Sunday Sermon at All Saints' Episcopal Church in South Hadley, MA on May 31, 2015

Print Version

Text: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-17


May God grant us the courage, the wisdom and the strength to seek always after the truth, come whence it may and cost what it will.


Welcome to Trinity Sunday.

Today is unique in that of all the holidays on our church calendar

this is the only one that commemorates a doctrine rather than an event or a person.

Usually we gather to reflect on a piece of the Gospel story,

Today we are invited take a step back to imagine, wonder and marvel

at the incomprehensible fullness of it's author.


What makes Trinity Sunday so interesting for a preacher,

is that while there is no one right way to enter into the Trinity,

there are a ton of ways to create more confusion.


In fact, the more I've read about the doctrine of the Trinity, the more lost I feel.

For words, metaphors, and stories all fall short of this Magnificent Mystery.

Yet God's word as spoken to Isaiah echoes through the ages

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us"


To which we are challenged to respond "Hear I am, send me".

But before a messenger is sent, they must have the message to carry.

And a wise messenger will know the urgency of what they bear.


Some of you may be asking: what is the urgency here?

The Trinity may sometimes feel like the realm of scholars and dry debates,

A relic of church councils that is far removed from our daily experience.

Yet the importance of the Trinity is found in this simple truth,

We, every single one of us, have been made in God's image.

By stepping into the dynamic dance of the Trinity we are reminded that

We do not worship a God who is a monolithic, static entity

But a God of relationship, of connection, of Love.

And it is into this swirling web of mutuality and difference,

That we have been called to thrive.


So how can we step into this complex and urgent message of life

When all words fall far short?


It was in my time with the All Saints' youth group that I found inspiration.

In our conversations we often discuss social media,

the different ways of connecting online

And one thing that resonates with me from those gatherings

is that words are not the only things that can be shared.

One of their favorite apps is Instagram, a way to instantly share pictures among friends.

I've heard it said that "A picture is worth a thousand words"

So instead of trying to summarize two thousand years' worth of active debates,

I'd like to invite you to enter the Trinity as the youth group did a few weeks ago

With pictures, questions and open hearts.


What do you feel looking at this image?

How does this image reflect your experience of the Trinity in unity?

How does this image reflect your experience with the persons of the Trinity.




In 2013, while serving as a chaplain at summer camp,

an eight year old camper asked me "how is Jesus both God and not God at the same time."

Initially I stumbled for words.

I knew I believed in the Triune God,

but was at a loss as to how to explain the separation of the persons,

and the unity of the whole in a way that would make sense to him.

Finally I answered "welcome"

Welcome to a mystery that we have been discussing for over 2000 years

Welcome to a life-time of questions and

Welcome to a body that will share them with you.

I then started the Nicene Creed and was quickly joined by camper and counselor alike

"God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made"

Words designed not to give an answer but to preserve a question.

And that is the great gift we celebrate today

as we honor those who have taught church school for the past year,

For church school isn't about giving simple answers,

But preparing the next generation to join us in a lifetime of questions.

And this is work we are all called to,

By praying for those who teach and learn,

By nurturing the connections which bind us together,

And by creating a space where it's ok to not have all the answers.


As the service continues and we repeat the ancient words of the Nicene Creed

I challenge you to imagine the conversations, arguments and debates

that went into the shaping of that part of our service.

And then consider the Glorious Spirit of God that led that gathered body

not into a detailed picture, or a definitive document,

but a series of phrases that safe-guard the Mystery, the Questions,

and the Hope of our faith for all the generations to come.


Copyright © Ari Leigh 2019