Somewhere in all of us is to be found an inner geek.
I suspect that most of us have a subject, or range of subjects, we know an awful lot about, whilst having to admit that our area of specialised interest may not be particularly riveting to the population at large. There are of course television programmes set up entirely to celebrate the 'inner geek:' Mastermind and University Challenge being obvious examples. If I were to appear on Mastermind my chosen specialised subject would be Bill Beaumont's 1980 Grand Slam Season! I know all about it, even the oddest of facts.
The concept of the Trinity is one that has exercised some of the geekiest theologians. Tomes and tomes have been written of the Trinity. In recent times theories of the social and economic trinity have come to the fore. The Trinity is the concept par excellence for theologically minded geeks. And yet, I like the simplicity of the model which stresses creator, redeemer and sustainer. For me the implications of believing in a trinitarian God are just as interesting as trying to understand the specific nature of the Trinity. What are the consequences of believing in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Of course there are many and so this morning I want to suggest just two: unity and progression.
Christians hold the Trinity to be three persons in one each with their own distinct role. Confusing; perhaps? But, maybe not so confusing when we think that we all as an individual person perform different roles. I am a husband, son and father. I am a priest and, a neighbour. I am a friend and colleague. I would want to suggest that unity is found in the way that all these different roles relate to each other. So unity must incorporate difference. But unity doesn't just incorporate difference it also esteems each and every good and virtuous relationship and attribute. The Trinity only makes sense through its internal relationships, with each party to the Trinity respecting the role of the other. Jesus blatantly and explicitly reveres both his Father and the Holy Spirit. Unity is concerned with respecting and revering the different roles and skills that others bring and then integrating them with due reverence into the whole.
Do we as churches do this? Or do we sometimes compete and insist there is only one way of doing things which, of course, is always our way? Turning to progression:
Jesus in promising the gift of the Holy Spirit makes it very clear that part of his role is to 'lead us into all truth.' Earlier in St. John's gospel Jesus has made it very clear that the apostles are not yet ready to receive all truth. Nor, I suggest are we. We need to regard ourselves as people on a journey, pilgrims. Yes in time we will know even more fully, but not yet. For the present, as St. Paul reminds us, we know only in part. And, if we want to progress as individuals and the Church we need to allow ourselves to be led. We need to focus less on leadership and more on being simple followers of the way, trusting that we are being led by the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who teaches, sustains and leads us. The Holy Spirit I would want to suggest is alive and active both inside and outside the Church.
One final thought: I suspect that progression, for Christians and the life of the Church, in some ways means throwing off all unnecessary certainties and coming back to the rule of love: love of God, love of each other with our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus. St. Paul makes this point in the epistle: 'Since we have been justified by faith we have made peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' Jesus is the 'way, the truth and the life,' the one through whom we 'come to the father,' and, if you remember from last weeks gospel reading Jesus did in fact set a condition for the receipt of the Holy Spirit: 'if you love me and keep my commandments I will send you another advocate.'
So let us as people of faith, this Trinity Sunday, focus on Jesus, on loving Him and keeping His commandments, so that we too can enter fully, progressively and, eternally into the life of the Trinity. Amen.