Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Mothering Mystery of the Trinity


Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

I imagine that a fair number of you know this hymn and you may be of a vintage (I am) that you recall singing it every single week at the commencement of Sunday worship. The Christian notion of the Trinity was reinforced several times each week, from start to finish, including the Gloria Patri (Glory be to the Father, and to the Son...) and the Benediction. Did we comprehend what this Christian doctrine meant for our lives? I doubt it, especially as kids, yet it was central to our public worship even though the term Trinity isn't used in scripture. 

Through the years I've become aware of and appreciative of the divine feminine principle of Wisdom in my understanding of the Trinity. Here is a blog post from ten years ago, and beneath it the lyrics for a hymn in Voices United which speaks to me more powerfully about the Trinity than the oldie-goldie of my days of yore, The questions I asked back then still apply, it seems to me.  

June 3, 2012

On Wednesday our bible study addressed the scripture readings for this Sunday which is Trinity Sunday. We discussed the hymn above, which many congregations sang at the beginning of worship every week for decades. Despite the repetition back then, as well as all the exclamation marks, I think we were in agreement that it didn't help to make this central Christian any less perplexing.

What did help was the brief but thoughtful exploration of the subject in Marcus Borg's book Speaking Christian. He notes that Jews and Muslims, our closest relatives, see the Christian Trinity as an abandonment of monotheism, while we affirm the mystery of three aspects of one God.

Borg suggests that the word "person" trips us up and instead uses the Greek word persona which means "to speak through." He mentions that in the theatre of ancient times actors wore masks to assume different roles rather than to conceal identity. So God is revealed or speaks in the role of Creator, Christ, and Spirit, interrelated and unique.

Does the trinity baffle you? Have you made your peace with trinitarian theology or just lie down until the feeling goes away? Can we be Christian without it?

1 Mothering God, you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of every breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.

2 Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of my life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.

3 Mothering Spirit, nurturing one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flower, until I know.

                                  Voices United 320

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