Weekly Meditation: 22nd May 2016, Trinity
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
It happens every year. The preaching plan for May and June is issued, and someone is heard to complain about being lumbered with Trinity Sunday. “I preached at the same church last year on Trinity Sunday; there is only so much you can say about the Trinity” and they resort to visual aids and illustrations, trivial analogies and comparisons.
Talking to some fellow-preachers, I told them how someone had suggested using a tube of three-coloured toothpaste as an illustration of the Trinity. They shared my amusement, but then one said, “I always use an ice-cube” (heat it and it becomes water; heat it a bit more and you have steam – three in one); another said she demonstrated the Trinity with a three-stranded rope. “You have to explain it in some way”, they said.
No we don’t! Why should we explain how God operates? Why should we try to understand his vastness? Why should we try to encompass the infinite with our finite minds? In the past, people worshipped things they could not understand, like the sun. No one worships the sun now, though, because we understand it; it is nothing but a ball of gas. We worship our God because he is unfathomable, infinite in power, transcending all that we know and understand, far beyond our reach.
In Psalm 8, David marvels at the majesty of God. Observing the creation, he feels of no significance, lost in the immensity of it all yet acknowledging that, nevertheless, this God is concerned with mankind, putting the creation into his hands. The psalmist does not ask how God created the universe; he does not impose his own limitations on God’s works. He just worships.
In Proverbs 8, we see the Son, personified as Wisdom, who worked alongside the Father in creating all things. We are given a glimpse of his future redeeming work, for it is he who especially delights in mankind (v 31). How can the Father and Son be One, if the Son is working with the Father? We do not know; if we had an answer we would not understand it. Can we not just marvel, and be glad that we have such a God? In this passage, Wisdom seems to have a beginning – “the Lord brought me forth as the first of his works” (v 22). How can that be if the Son is eternal? The language is figurative, though. Could God ever have been without wisdom; was there a time when he was not wise? Of course not; and in the same way there could never have been a time when the Father did not have his Son. There is even a hint of a feminine quality (v 1-3). How can God the Son be female? How can he not be all he chooses to be?
Even further beyond our comprehension is the Spirit, who is God and who also dwells within us. The Spirit was in the beginning with God, with him in the creation (Genesis 1:1-2), with Christ in his ministry (John 1:32-34). He was the promised gift to the disciples, to guide them “into all truth” and to reveal Christ’s glory to them. (John 16:13-14). The Spirit is the means whereby God pours out his love into his children’s hearts (Romans 5:5). How can Almighty God, the creator and king of the universe, indwell sinful humans? We do not know. But his presence in our lives and hearts is a reality.
Our God is limitless. We should never feel that we have nothing more to say about him. The entire Bible testifies to his triune nature, his complexity and his majesty. Yet – unlike earthly kings and potentates – he is intimate, approachable, loving, merciful and gracious. He is not bound by time or space or any other limitation, so that he is always there for us, always has time for us and always has power to save us.
By Susan Thorne