Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Throne of God with Elders and Four Evangelists
from the Bamberger Apocalypse, Germany c. 1000 AD

Trinity Sunday is in some ways the culmination of the Church’s year – not because it generally coincides with the start of summer (which it only does in the Northern hemisphere of course) – but because it draws together the different emphases of the liturgical seasons that lead up to it. In Advent attention is focused on the sovereign majesty of the God who made the world and will judge it . From Christmas to Easter attention is focused on the incarnation of that God in Jesus – his birth, ministry, sufferings, death and Resurrection. As the Easter season segues through Ascension into Pentecost, the Jesus of history becomes the eternal Christ as the Holy Spirit calls forth the Church to be his Body in the world.

The lessons appointed for Trinity Sunday in Year B of the Lectionary are especially easy to connect along these lines. They begin with Isaiah’s dramatic vision “in the year the king Uzziah died” and the seraphim’s hymn that has become so closely identified with Trinity Sunday  -- “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

In the Epistle to the Romans, St Paul points to the extraordinary way in which the Holy Spirit creates a mysterious unity between our innermost being and the being of Almighty God, "that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God’.

Nicodemus and Jesus on a roof top Henry Ossawa Tanner
John’s Gospel, meantime, recounts an intriguing nighttime conversation. “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes”. “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”, Jesus tells Nicodemus. This seems to make the work of the Holy Spirit a rather chancy thing. We might encounter it, or we might not. But anxiety on this score only serves to bring to the fore once again the centrality of Christ. We are not dependent for our spiritual salvation on the vagaries of religious experience. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”.

No comments:

Post a Comment