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Three Cheers for the Blessed Trinity

June 2, 2009

trinity_1When I hear my fellow clergy moaning or panicking that Trinity Sunday is coming soon and they have to preach that day, I am always a little astonished – and then very sad. I have the opposite problem: I find it hard not to preach about the Trinity every time I get into the pulpit.

For example, in this last weekend’s two weddings, I said in my (slightly different) homily at both that when the couple process out of the church, they will be more like God than when they came in. Then I explained that Christians do not believe that God is one solitary person, but the he is three Persons so much in love that we can call them One God.

So a couple taking vows to live together in love are showing publicly the longing we all have to give ourselves fully in love to  another, the kind of divine, trinitarian love the Greek Fathers of the Church daringly described as perichoresis, or intercourse. With a couple of references to Barbra Streisand’s “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world” and the Beatles’ “All you need is love”, I mention that St John got there earlier when he said baldly “God is love”. Then, if there is to be a Nuptial Mass, I may throw in the lovers’ exaggeration: “I could just eat you!” and remind them that that is exactly what we do in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

I usually end up by saying that God’s love is so great that he wants to share it with all his created beings, and that the couple’s love must also be shared – with children, with family and friends, and with the poor and needy of Africa and Asia and even the street people of Philadelphia. 

So the Trinity is an endless source of joy to me as a preacher, whether it be at Christmas (the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, the Holy Thing she bore being the Son of God); or the Baptism of Jesus (the Spirit descending from the opened heavens like a dove, the voice of the Father identifying the man standing in the Jordan as his beloved Son); or Pentecost (the rushing wind like the ruach Adonai, the breath or Spirit of God in Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, the breathing of Jesus on the apostles, conferring that same Spirit of power to forgive sins). It all ends up in heaven, in the mystery of the Triune God.

No doubt, if you dared me, I could get back to the Blessed Trinity even when preaching at some of the odder things priests are asked to do, such as the St Francis-tide Blessing of Animals, or the Churching of Women, or the opening of the Church Fete. But don’t tempt me – my poor flock get enough of it as it is.

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