The Trinity is a theological idea, developed over centuries to try to explain the mysteries of our perception of God. Essentially, it is a distillation of other people’s ideas and, as such, it is interesting to us all. It does portray a very male view of God; even the Holy Spirit is “He” on occasions. This is, of course, an inadequate and imperfect portrait of a Being that pervades the Universe, and I am sure that our spiritual fathers [sic] who developed the Trinity would acknowledge this. If we want to make the idea of the Trinity useful to us, we each need to identify how we perceive God. I have no idea what your perceptions might be, but here are some suggestions.
Perhaps we perceive Godlike qualities and inspiration in other human beings. As aspiring Jesus-Shaped people, we would clearly start with the human being of Jesus. We might then work backwards to the saints of the Old Testament: the fire and anger of Amos, and Hosea; the loyalty of Ruth; the prophecies of Isaiah. We might work forwards to inspirational figures who stand out for their love and self-sacrifice, some of whom the Roman Catholics formalise in sainthood. We might then think of the people who have shown the love of God to us directly: our parents, our loved ones, friends and role models. It is possible, therefore, that when the Trinity refers to the Son of God, our vision might be wider than just the fragments that have come down to us of the life of Jesus through the Gospels.
When we consider the godliness of other people, I hope that we detect some godliness within ourselves. This is really important. It is something we should be teaching every teenager, that they have godlike capabilities within them. If only we could persuade children of their value in this way, we might make progress in eliminating eating disorders, Facebook bullying, ceaseless shopping for the latest fashions, anger, and hatred. Self-esteem is a precious quality. It is possible, therefore, that our view of the Spirit of God might encompass the inspiration we find when we ask questions of our best self.
Some people will talk about the godliness they find in nature, in flowers, on mountains, great rivers and babbling brooks. Jesus certainly sought God in remoteness. The beauty of nature, fast being destroyed, is, for some, a manifestation of God. If we placed all Earth’s animals on weighing machines, humans would account for a third and domestic animals for about two thirds. All the rest of the animal creation comes in at about four percent. Let’s value nature before we eliminate it, but it is possible that we get our best view of God the Creator by looking around us and appreciating creation.
We need to approach Trinity Sunday as active learners rather than as passive recipients of church theology. What does your Trinity look like?