Perhaps it feels like the Feast of the Holy Trinity celebrates one of those cold, impersonal, esoteric doctrines that has very little to do with what’s going in the world. We might think it’s part of the ‘ivory tower’ or elitist or ‘head in the clouds’ concepts that we love to deride. Or we might believe that faith in the Holy Trinity is good but impractical; that it’s a fine conviction that we must hold, but that holding it doesn’t really make a real and useful difference right now.
Right now, we should be focused on more down to earth things. Right now, we should be doing deeds more than creeds. Right now, our care for humanity and the problems of society doesn’t give us the room or the luxury of fine theology. That’s what we feel. And it frustrates us.
My frustration, and perhaps yours, can lead to that conclusion because, deep down, we believe in God. That’s all. Just ‘God.’ The idea. The comfort. The hope.
But God is not an idea. God is not even a name. The word God is nothing more than a title; a word that describes. Like the word ‘farmer’ or ‘mayor’ or ‘chairperson.’
If we see God only as God, then we are right to think that doctrines about Him are impractical, because we see Him as impersonal.
But our heavenly Father, with His Son, in the Holy Spirit are not impersonal, uninvolved, detached; or cold and uncaring about what’s going on with us now.
Our heavenly Father, with His Son, in the Holy Spirit are persons. Persons who truly care for us, especially in ways we cannot see, and in ways we cannot always understand. But in our arrogance, we not only want to understand, we insist that we must understand, we must see, we must grasp what God is doing, and why, and how it will all work out. And when we can’t, then we take matters into our own hands, because we feel not that God has failed us, but that the creed doesn’t fit the deed we are sure needs to happen.
But there we go again. Seeing only God. Talking only about God. But if we can wave aside the idea of God, we will see more clearly our heavenly Father, with His Son, in the Holy Spirit. Persons. Persons we can talk to. Persons who present themselves to us. Persons whose presence warms our hearts and soothes our spirit and calms our nerves. And, above all else, Persons who love us by giving themselves entirely for us and into us.
Love as a person. Not a feeling. Not a concept. Not even an action. But Love as a person. For the Father is love. The Son is love. The Holy Spirit is love. Not three different kinds of love. Not three different loves. But Love. The Love that creates, that sacrifices, that reaches out, that embraces—not for itself, but for you; for me; for us.
I’m sure you noticed what I just did. You noticed that love is not an idea, but action. Love never sits still. Love is never inactive. And Love Himself—the love that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—that Love always works for our benefit.
The Three Persons are constantly on the move—not to be busy within doing something, or to put themselves out there, or to be involved. The Three Persons are constantly on the move in order to draw us closer to them. But they act in ways we might not always comprehend.
- The Father is Love on the move by standing at the window waiting for us to see the wisdom of returning to His warm embrace.
- The Son is Love on the move by seeking us diligently, offering to carry us and heal us and feed us.
- And the Holy Spirit is Love on the move by renewing willing hearts, by reviving our person, and by transforming our lives from the core outward.
To transform hearts—to convert them from fear-filled abuse, self-serving control, impersonal indifference, and frantic busy-ness—to transform takes time. And effort. And, in the end, only love. Not the word love or the demand to love, or the hope of love. But the Persons who are Love. And most especially, the Holy Spirit who pours the Father’s Love generously and abundantly into cold or dehydrated hearts in order to warm, bend, moisten, and enliven them.
It is this Love in action, this Love that is administered by the Father’s Spirit, this Love that only the Holy Trinity is and can truly give—it is this Love, and none other, that changes meanness into mercy; that moves fear toward trust; and that transforms self-serving individuals into a healthy, caring community.
This Love which is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—this is the only love that truly exists; the only love that is truly loving; and so the only love which can be offered through us to another. All other loves fail. But the love that God is, is the love that He gives to heal us—us, as in you and me; and us, as in the world.
When we are exasperated and impatient, we hurry love, forcing our needs on love, trying to make love do what we want. But we are warned: “do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” For the Love who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—He knows when best to act, and how best to warm indifference, and where best to shape our fervor. The Love who is Three Persons—they are most willing to place their left hand under your head and embrace you with their right hand. (Song of Songs 8)
Such loving embrace, a high-minded theology and an impersonal God cannot give. But a Person welcomes, accepts, supports, and holds with care those who seek Him, those who are drawn to Him, those who truly wish to rest in Him. And in that Love of the Father given by His Spirit—in that Love we truly are enabled to transform others even as we attract them by our holy lives, just as we have been attracted in love to the Holy Blessed Trinity; to whom belongs all glory, honor, and worship: now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
14 June 2020