Trinity Sunday is about God and not about us. And yet, because we can know God only in relationship, it has to be about us too. We acknowledge the God we worship and praise, the God to whom we owe everything, but we understand and/or experience God through how God interacts with us individually and collectively. We know God, then through one another, through living in community and worshiping as a gathered body. We cannot know everything about God; our minds cannot comprehend the totality of God. So, everything is a metaphor. Everything we know about God is a description, a shadow of what God really is.
We’ve placed the Gospel text for this Trinity Sunday alongside the text from the Hebrew scriptures. Keeping the focus on God, what we see is a Creator God, the source of everything that is who nonetheless chooses to send us on the mission to share the kin-dom of God with the whole world. A God of immensity and a God of particularity. The classic terms for this are transcendence and immanence. Not an either/or but a both/and. God is both wholly other and intimate friend. God is both out there and in here. Out there referring to all that is beyond us and above us and around us. In here being both the indwelling Spirit within us and the presence that permeates the community of faith in which we worship and experience God’s presence and God’s love and God’s grace.
God-focused worship, then, is about giving praise and offering confession, about spending time in the presence of God. But it is also about the celebration of the gift of the church through which we have come to know God. Worship gives expression to how we have experienced God in our lives. There could be a time or place of naming – how do you describe God? What description, what metaphor reveals how you have come to know God? How God has interacted in your life? There could also be space for giving thanks for those who have shared God with you. What teachers or leaders, what pastors or friends have been instrumental in shaping your understanding of who God is? Can we write their names or offer them up in prayer and thanksgiving? How can we both honor God and honor the community that shares God with us and with the world?
At the same time, we honor the creating God by responding to the sending God. This is a day to speak of the nature of God by living into our mission to make disciples of all peoples. And we cannot make disciples of all people until we see all the people, see them as brothers and sisters, see them as part of God’s plan and purpose for creation, see them as signs of God’s presence. We embrace the fullness of God by embracing God’s creation as a whole and our role in protecting and preserving and stewarding all that God has made in partnership with people of all ages, nations, and races, as our baptismal vows declare.
On this Trinity Sunday, we celebrate a God who is not distant and aloof and apart, but a God who is present in what came to be through a word spoken in the void. We worship a God who came down like fire and burned a mission into our hearts.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.