In the Orthodox Churches of the East, Pentecost Sunday, which we observed last Sunday, is known as Trinity Sunday. And upon reflection, this seems appropriate, for it was on the day of Pentecost that the last piece of the puzzle of the Trinity fell into place.
From the beginning of the disciples' religious experience, there was God the Father, the one God who created all that is, the God of Israel, the fount of all wisdom, who knows us through and through, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid. This is the God who out of wisdom was able to act so comprehensively as to be called Almighty. This God acted in the creation of the world, life, and us, and continues to act in the events that shape us and our lives. This is our creator, a living God more contemporary to us than any event. This is the God whom our ancestors in the faith, the people of Israel, knew.
That God begot a son, the Word and Wisdom of God, through whom all things were made. This son became known only in human flesh, and in that flesh God became known in a new way. He lived among us as Jesus the Messiah, but an unexpected Messiah, who turned out to be other than as expected, and so was put to death for it. He came acting in a love and compassion so absolute and so free, that in them God's love and compassion were not only known, but became compelling and even subversive of the ordered world we humans had made for ourselves. When we humans killed him, God did not allow him to stay dead, but restored him to life and received him, a living human, into the very presence, glory and majesty of God's own selfhood.
But the Trinity was still unknown until the Spirit came down suddenly on the disciples. Then their eyes were opened and they knew God in a new way. In the light of Pentecostal flame, it all suddenly came clear, and the clouds of their confusion and fear were banished. Suddenly they had the power and courage to speak out about what God had done and was doing. Now, suddenly, they had no fear of the consequences to them, of prison, torture, and death. What had become known to them was the Trinity.
In giving them the Spirit, God put a share of God's own self-knowledge into them, so that they might know--really know--how it is with God, a God of three persons in intimate relationship, and how it is between God and humans. God seeks intimate relationship with humans by including humans into the very Godhead in relationship. In knowing the Spirit of God, they knew in a new way what had been in the heart of Jesus when he walked among them, and they knew what had been in the heart of God for all ages. And knowing the divine heart, they were enabled to speak to the human heart in compelling ways. It was only in that moment, when it all came clear in the Spirit, that they knew the gospel as it is in all its fullness. And they immediately opened their mouths in that moment. Multitudes were converted instantly.
The gospel is only fully known in doing, in acting on it, in communicating to others and drawing them into it. And we only know that we have known it in retrospect. The disciples looked back on moments in their life with Jesus, and they saw the gospel. We look back on moments in our own life in the spirit, and we see God working in us and through us. We see that we have carried and ministered the gospel. This is the ongoing work of the spirit, whom Jesus promised would be with us forever and lead us into all truth.
So now that Spirit is put upon us, if we will but take the ball and run with it. The Spirit will enable us to look into the lives of our brothers and sisters with a divine clarity of discernment and enable us to act on that knowledge. We will all receive various gifts, to teach and preach, counsel and console, to love and heal, direct and rebuke. Further, when we look at others, we will know ourselves known in return in the light of that same Spirit. In knowing and being known, we will come to the fount of healing, correction and comfort.
So we will live the life of the Trinity in our own lives. For so the three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, know each other, and knowing, act in such graceful coordination that the three are eternally and completely one. It is for this that Jesus prayed that we all might be one, with him, with the Father, and with each other, perfectly one as he and the Father are one. Then he died on the cross and rose again to achieve that unity.
In that unity we have our knowledge and power, so that we may accomplish the work before us, the work of Christ, to heal the world, to lead others to God, and to redeem the world.
Does all this talk seem utopian to you? It does to me. But when I look at the utopia it implies, I recognize it. It is not utopia but Paradise. It is that state for which God the Father created us, to which God the Son has restored us, and which God the Holy Spirit shows us and enables us to live in forever.So now:
Think what you have.
Be what you are.
Take your Paradise.