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Trinity Sunday May 13, 2008

Posted by Andy in lectionary, theology.
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Ok, it’s been a while since I did one of these, so here come next week’s readings. I’ve really got little to say as yet, except to note that the New Testament readings interestingly give trinitarians formulations in liturgical, or at least stock linguistic expressions. I guess this is a good argument for the idea that we instinctively get to doctrines before we do so explicitly. Hence the messy outworking of doctrine.

I think there’s something very very profound in the Isaiah text, but haven’t got my finger on it yet. But I think that’s where I’ll be concentrating my efforts over the next couple days.

This weekend, I’ll be going to a Nick Cave concert and celebrating Norway’s national day. Hopefully that will give some interesting spin to this week’s readings!

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1. augustinian - May 17, 2008

OK, busy week (Cave and Constiution) so I’ve not been able to write in thoughts as I get them. Here’s 3 though:

I actually came up with a brilliantly orthodox sermon illustration for the trinity. Coconut. All the drama and specificity in the shape of a visual aid. I’ll leave you to work out the details, but I think what really struck me about this idea is how little we actually achieved by getting our heads around the three roles and processions. Hence Augustine (in his book on the Trinity) tries to quickly dispense with the processions and heresies before getting into the practice of trinitarian thought, prayer, and life.

As I pointed out, the NT texts have trinitarian formulae in liturgical contexts. But I would say more than that: these are contexts that define a community. How do you live together? How do you enter the community? How do you greet? Today’s national day in Norway has demonstrated this for me: Norwegianness is marked by (eating sausages and ice cream and) greeting everybody with “congratulations” and “Hurrah!”. There’s lots to be said about the political significance of these practices, but let’s leave it there: the trinity is the sign over the new Christian nation.

The OT texts assert the mystery of God in all its contexts. It’s not just who God is that is unknowable: it’s Her creation, His understanding, and God’s relation to us. In the same way, it is not just the Hidden Father that is incomprehensible: it is the entire Trinity. I like the fact that the Trinity is actually one thing we still can’t get our heads around (not even with coconuts). This is as it should be. But neither can we get our heads around the persons of the Trinity: not around the source of the processions in heaven, not around the incarnate Son of God (and not even with historical criticism!), and certainly not around the Spirit of God in the church and world. We continually fail to identify God, to locate Her, and to describe Him. Yet we encounter God in transcendent experience, in history, and in the church.

We are the people that are defined as a nation (with an identity but no common language, significantly) by this mysterious and unknown God. So how should our experience be shaped? By the empty, generous, and open religious experience: waiting on God. It is Theology’s task and the mark of its failure. It constitutes the habit of generosity and scepticism (dare I say nihilism?) that makes us Godlike. Like the Spirit of God, we are unidentifiable too: the wind blows where it will, you don’t know where it is, just like anyone born of the Spirit.


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