“The Trinity is a mystery which can not be comprehended through human reason, but is understood only through faith.”
-A very frustrated Saint Patrick
You may think it odd that I’m beginning my sabbatical on a Thursday, but if you’ve already looked at Sunday’s lectionary, you’ll understand completely. This Sunday is the first after the Day of Pentecost, a day set aside [for the curate to preach, and] to celebrate the mystery of the Trinity since the early 14th century. There will be any number of heresy’s espoused from pulpits around the globe come Sunday, but thanks to a well-timed high school graduation for my niece, none of them will come from me. [TKT gets a break this Sunday as well thanks to a baptism scheduled at 10am.]
Every year, as I ponder the lessons for Trinity Sunday, I wonder why so many well worn and long anathematized metaphors get trotted out on Trinity Sunday, and this year, I think I’ve figured it out. Clergy are afraid to say “I don’t know,” but the truth of the matter is that on Trinity Sunday “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. In fact, “I don’t know” is the ONLY acceptable answer on Trinity Sunday.
As Saint Patrick tells us in the video above, the closest we can get to understanding Trinitarian doctrine comes in the Athanasian Creed which is found in your Prayer Book on page 864, but even as it begins with some pretty strong language about orthodox belief, ultimately leaves us lacking when it comes to a full explanation of how the Trinity can be three-in-one and one-in-three. It isn’t a bad place too begin, but the astute reader will quickly begin asking follow-up questions which cannot be covered in 657 words.
So, dear reader, especially the preachers among us, as we begin a short week with the fullness of the Trinitiarian mystery looming, I encourage you to stir up all your courage and bold proclaim “I honestly don’t know.” You and your people will be better off, I can assure you.