It was only a day or two after our son Micah was born that I realized how different life was going to be with three children. After years with the two girls, our family had gotten into a routine. We knew when to leave the house to get Charlotte to one school in the morning and Amelia to another in the afternoon. Bed times and meals times were set, play dates and after school activities were easy to handle. It’s been helpful that my hours aren’t exactly 9 to 5 and I’m able to be flexible in helping out with the girls if needed. Even at the busiest times, with both girls having to head to two different events at the same time, we were pretty lucky. It was easily solved, divide and conquer, one parent takes one child.
And then we had a third.
Now, all of the sudden, there aren’t enough hands. Actually, there aren’t enough parents. We’re outnumbered. Of course, even with the confusion and chaos, our three children are a blessing. But sometimes it feels like there’s not enough time to give to each child, we have to keep three schedules in mind, three sets of preferences, three personalities.
Life changes with three.
Today is Trinity Sunday. A day when we celebrate the three “persons of the godhead,” the three aspects of the Divine, three ways to look at God.
Even though it is considered to be a core tenant of our faith, the word “Trinity” never appears in the Bible. Each part – Creator, Christ and Spirit – is mentioned at some point but they are never directly placed together as some super team of holiness. So why is the idea so central to our traditions?
Sometimes the Trinity seems like more of a burden than a blessing. Sometimes it seems like the whole idea is more confusing than helpful, bringing up more questions than answers.
Are we talking about three different gods? How can three be one and one be three? Is one part of the Trinity above the other two?
It’s confusing. And not only to us today. The concept of the Trinity has been discussed and debated for almost two thousand years. Churches have split, new denominations formed, and heresies declared because of the disputes. In an intellectual society searching for reason, it sometimes feels like a cop out to just say that God is a mystery. But in our ever evolving understanding of God, we have not yet found a straight forward description; an easy way to put God in human terms.
The Trinity gives us the tools to piece together the puzzle. We have three wonderful images of the Divine: God the Creator, the parent of us all; Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, fully human and fully divine; the Holy Spirit, the wind of Creation that still blows within us. Each aspect gives us a glimpse of the God, even though none shows us the whole picture.
If we only had one picture, perhaps it would be easier to understand. A great, omnipotent Spirit in the sky who created everything and controls it all may answer the riddle of how we came to be. We could simply turn our attention to the Creator, worshipping with thanks and praise all that has been given to us. But we would find that it’s not enough. That is only a small part of life.
We’ve been given the gift of the Trinity to help us understand. And with the blessings come more questions.
One picture of God may be easier but life changes with three.
It’s not just about how we were created, it’s also about why we were created. In Jesus Christ, a fully human being lived a fully human life and spoke to us in human terms about our purpose. We were created to care for one another, to watch out for everything that has been created with us, to take the gifts that we were given and to do great things to make the world a better place.
The next question we ask is “how.” How are we supposed to take a world created by God and make it better by modeling our life on the one lived by God in human form? How can we ever be expected to do what Jesus did if we do not have the same gifts? That’s where the Holy Spirit enters the picture. God’s spirit, the same spirit that breathed at the moment of creation, the same spirit that inspired Jesus, dwells within us. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we can follow in Christ’s footsteps in bringing God’s kingdom to Earth.
Each face of the Trinity is a reflection of God. Each piece helps us to wrap our minds around the immensely incomprehensible idea that is God.
The Trinity may help us to understand and it may cause us to ask more questions. Just like having three children, it sometimes feels like we can’t focus everywhere we need to.
But the blessing of the Trinity, is that we don’t have to only focus on only one. Just like having three children provides my wife and I with three unique individuals, three directions to multiply – not divide –our love, so the Trinity gives us all numerous ways to experience God.
When we focus on our Creator, we can be thankful for the gift of our own life and we can acknowledge that there is life outside of our own skin. In times of trouble and stress, we can give our lives up to God, knowing that not everything is in our hands.
Our brother, our teacher, Jesus helps us to focus on the ways in which we are called to serve others. Jesus lived our life to show us that it is always possible to do more, to go out of our way to heal the sick, provide for the poor, to go so far as to lay down our lives for others. Jesus’ story is an example of how anyone can make a difference, even the son of a poor carpenter.
And when we look at Jesus in awe, not believing that we could ever live up to his example, we focus on the Holy Spirit, the spirit that empowers and inspires us to push a little farther, try a little more to be like Jesus, to recognize the piece of God that lives within all of us, to see that we can do it.
Life changes with three. Three children have given my family many blessings and many challenges. The Three faces of the Trinity give us all many opportunities to know God’s ways, even as we find ourselves asking more questions. God remains a mystery but, through the blessing of the Trinity and through our community coming together in conversation, prayer and service, we’ll continue to discover pieces of the puzzle.
Life changes with three. May we be blessed by the God who has created us, may we follow the example of Jesus Christ who has redeemed us and may we always be aware of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us.