- Genesis 1:1-2:4a
- Psalm 8
- 1 Corinthians 13:11-13
- Matthew 28:16-20
You can find the readings, in the CEB and NRSV translation, by clicking this link.
“Today we celebrate the festival of the Holy Trinity, to which we must briefly allude, so that we may not celebrate it in vain. It is indeed true that the name ‘Trinity’ is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man. For this reason it sounds somewhat cold and we had better speak of ‘God’ than of the ‘Trinity.’ This word signifies that there are three persons in God. It is a heavenly mystery which the world cannot understand. I have often told you that this, as well as every other article of faith, must not be based upon reason or comparisons, but must be understood and established by means of passages from the Scriptures, for God has the only perfect knowledge and knows how to speak concerning himself.”
This is how Martin Luther began his sermon on Trinity Sunday in 1522. It’s pretty obvious that none of today’s readings lays out in clear terms the Trinitarian divine structure, because the word, as Martin Luther pointed out, is nowhere in the scriptures. But the idea of Trinity gets inferred, a lot. And, I think it’s pretty cool that when we look for evidence of the Trinity together in scripture, we find it.
“When God began to create the heavens and the earth —
2 the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea,
and God’s wind swept over the waters—
3 God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared.”
[Genesis 1:1-3, CEB]
A familiar story for many of us.
A line in the Bible that I think I have read more than any other.
I think that there is something really interesting about this first story of Creation appearing on this Holy Trinity Sunday – it tells me that there are many who have discovered the entirety of the Trinity in this story, much as I have.
Even Luther makes the following observation about those first two verses in his commentary on Genesis:
“But it is more to my liking that we understand Spirit to mean the Holy Spirit. Wind is a creature which at that time did not yet exist, since so far those masses of heaven and earth lay mixed together. Indeed, it is the great consensus of the church that the mystery of the Trinity is set forth here.”
When I was just out of high school, I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. Back then, my ‘gap year’ between high school and university was as much about procrastination and being in denial about my graduation as it was about trying to nail down a particular direction to travel.
One way I dealt with all the changes was in making art.
I think my pastor at the time knew how much I was struggling with and decided to help direct some of my attention by asking me to do an art project for him.
He had been at some conference where artists had been invited to create the Creation story. They could either do seven, one-day works of art, or one, seven-day work of art. Intrigued, he put the challenge to me.
Over the next while I spent a lot of time with this first story in Genesis.
I’d like to be able to tell you that planning out and making seven little paintings was an enlightening experience, or that I’d had some sort of epiphany-level of understanding come from the concentration needed in blending colours and precision brush-strokes.
The project turned out to be a good learning experience for me – the challenges and compromises that come from being in relationship and living and working in community.
Hindsight has proven that it was also a good opportunity for me to discover one of the ways I connect with the Holy Trinity. With God. Despite all the stresses of trying to remain artistically independent, trying to achieve total approval of someone I respect, and trying to share a vision of biblical interpretation through a collaborative project, my pastor helped me find a way to ground myself, to create devotional time, and to make sacred space around me where I can be in relationship with God.
One of my go-to bible verses is Genesis 1, verse 3: Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
This sentence is the essence of the creation story to me. In this simple sentence at the beginning of creation I find the totality of my God: Creator, Word, and Life. God speaks the Word, and it abides. A truly Trinitarian image.
Luther expands on this idea in this way in his commentary:
“The Father creates heaven and earth out of nothing through the Son, whom Moses calls the Word. Over these the Holy Spirit broods. As a hen broods her eggs, keeping them warm in order to hatch her chicks, and, as it were, to bring them to life through heat, so Scripture says that the Holy Spirit brooded, as it were, on the waters to bring to life those substances which were to be quickened and adorned. For it is the office of the Holy Spirit to make alive.”
This simple verse carries weight and complicated ideas. The Holy Trinity is a beautiful reminder that God holds the diversity of all creation together, in relationship – just as God is together in relationship.
It is in that diversity that we get one of the best pictures of God. It is in sharing our stories of how God moves and breathes into each of our lives that we grow this collective vision that helps us to better understand God in the midst of us.
Our desire to know better has resulted in the development of multiple ways to describe the Trinity, and each of them is useful to understanding how our fellow sisters and brothers relate to God and to the people around them.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
Birther, Nurser, and Companion.
God, beyond us, Christ, beside us, and Holy Spirit, within us.
All images that share and grow faith within each of us as we come together to worship and listen for the word of God among us.
My hope is that you have your own way to listen for God’s voice, to think about what it is that God is calling you to, and to respond. And know that God is always sending. God is always one step ahead of us, enabling us to think and live outside of the walls of a comfortable understanding because the Triune God is already there ahead of us. The God who sent Jesus to die for us, the Jesus who sent the Holy Spirit to enliven us, and the Holy Spirit through whom we are able to proclaim that we believe.
The Trinity is a mystery: entirely above human comprehension, but that is ultimately known through worship, symbol, faith, and relationship. I fall again to Luther’s words: “I know very well that in God there are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; but how they can be one I do not know, neither should I know it.”
Mysterious, appealing, and compelling.
Let us pray:
you have created all that is around us;
you sent your Word to bring us truth;
and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship you, one God in three Persons,
by proclaiming and living our faith in you. Amen.
- Walter C. Bouzard. “June 11, 2017: Commentary on Genesis 1:1-2:4a” Preach This Week: 1st Working Preacher.
- Martin Luther. “Lectures on Genesis” Vol. 1 of Luther’s Works, American Edition. 55 vols. Edited by Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehman. Philadelphia: Muehlenberg and Fortress, and St. Louis: Concordia, 1955-86.
- Martin Luther. “Sermon for Trinity Sunday, John 3:1-15: A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil, 1522,” Lectionary Central.
- Roger Nam. “June 15, 2014: Commentary on Genesis 1:1-2:4a” Preach This Week: 1st Working Preacher.
- Kathryn M. Schifferdecker. “January 11, 2015: Commentary on Genesis 1:1-5” Preach This Week: 1st Working Preacher.
This week’s images a part of a commissioned work entitled, “In the Beginning God Created,” created by Zsófi Balogh (that’s me), in 1999.
The images are owned by Clay and Kathy Kuhn, and used with their permission. The images has been modified for the purposes of this blog.
 Martin Luther. “Sermon for Trinity Sunday, John 3:1-15: A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil, 1522,” Lectionary Central.
 Martin Luther. “Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1” in Luther’s Works, American Edition (55 vols.; ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann; Philadelphia: Muehlenberg and Fortress, and St. Louis: Concordia, 1955-86), 1:2.
 Martin Luther. “Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1” in Luther’s Works.
 Martin Luther. “Sermon for Trinity Sunday…”