The Prayer for today
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity: keep us steadfast in this faith, that we may evermore be defended from all adversities; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
There are some things which we sense, but which start slithering out of our grasp as we try to pin them down in words. Some deep relationships are like this, and some intense experiences. It is also true of the nature of God. Whenever we attempt to explain what we mean by the trinity we are bound to end up falling short of the truth, and inadequately picturing what is simply so deep and vast that it is beyond the power of human understanding.
Isaiah tries to give some idea of the huge scale of God in relation to familiar countries, resources and natural cycles, and the psalmist marvels at God who is the maker of the stars. What both Isaiah and the psalmist stress is what that vastness doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that the God we fail to understand is therefore somehow remote and aloof from us; so transcendent that he can have no grasp of us or our situation. His very omniscience, or all-knowingness, means that both the smallest details and the widest sweeps of space are intimately known by the loving God; he not only knows about our smallness, he cares and is interested in everything we do and think and dream.
If we take the image of a young baby being suckled, we can see that here the baby has a wonderful sense of what being loved, cared for and nurtured is all about. Yet all it can do is gurgle its understanding and is probably more likely to express that knowledge by falling asleep, trusting and satisfied.
That is rather how it is with us. To understand the nature of God, and what the Trinity really means, is in one sense always beyond our scope as humans. God is never going to be quantifiable in human terms because he far surpasses what it means to be human. But in another sense we are able to understand his nature as we experience relationship with him and feel his love, nurturing and committed care. All our attempts to express that are rather like a baby’s gurglings, or a contented and trusting tranquillity which shows in our lives.
The great commission, which Matthew records, sends the disciples out into the whole world to baptise people in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – the one God is all his completeness and community. It is the relationship with this God which transforms his people, rather than an impossible definitive explanation of it. That is expressed in the other part of the great commission: ‘I will be with you always, to the end of time.’
Some things to think about:
1. If the God we worship has been revealed to us as community in unity, and we pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth ‘in the way it happens in heaven’, what does that suggest about the way the Church should be operating?
2. Why do you think the apostles are told to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rather than the one true God?
God bless Rev’d Fiona Robinson