Column: Holy Trinity Sunday has an important message

Through the Trinity, we have all that we need


One of my favorite religious images is Andrei Rublev’s “Trinity.” Rubley did this painting in the 15th century, but it can speak powerfully to us today.

The picture depicts three divine persons at a table. Reflecting our beliefs about the Trinity, all three divine creatures are equal. They are the same in form and size, they carry the same staves in their hands and they sit on the same type of throne. However, all three divine beings are distinct from each other. Their clothes are different from each other and their positioning at the table is distinct, reflecting their uniqueness from each other. That is, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are fully one, indivisible and equal. Yet, at the same time, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are also completely three distinct persons.

Many church traditions, including Lutherans, celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday this coming week. Frankly, Trinity Sunday tends to be low-key and pretty anticlimactic. It’s not as amazing as Pentecost and not as well-known as Easter. It tends to fall at the end of the school year, the start of summer and around Memorial Day weekend. So, it often gets “lost in the shuffle.”

But Holy Trinity Sunday has an important message for us. God valued community so much that God did not remain in isolation. The Trinity formed a community of equals, completely connected and undivided. Each being is distinct and yet completely unified in a way that, for us, is incomprehensible. This community didn’t and doesn’t just exist for itself, but it exists for all of us. Through the Trinity, we have all that we need. We have a Father who created us and continues to restore and renew the world as well as who loves us more deeply than any parent could. In Jesus, we have a Son who is our brother and friend, teacher, savior as well as our guide. Through the Holy Spirit, we have an Intercessor, helper and comforter who comes alongside us in all things throughout our lives.

In Jesus’ final words to his disciples before the crucifixion, he promises, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. . . .” (John 16:13-15).


Jesus goes on to pray, “…that they may be one, as we are one…”. (John 17:23). Holy Trinity Sunday reminds us that we can trust in the power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to provide whatever we need. We also see, in their unity, the power of community. If the Divine lives in community, we, too, are called to be and live in community. This past year, many of our practices of community have been disrupted. However, we have been resilient and found new ways to form community. As things “open up” my prayer is that we re-orient our lives to place the love of community as a focal point in our daily lives. May we create communities where we are all equally loved and valued. May this time of disruption and disorientation position us to create better communities that more fully reflect that, through the Divine, we are one. Unlike the Divine Community, we will not always be in agreement, but we can still reflect the unity that Christ desires for us. May we be like Rublev’s, “Trinity” and be in perfect communion and harmony with one another while we simultaneously celebrate and affirm everyone’s uniqueness and differences. May we live out Jesus’ deep desire that we are one as the Trinity is one.

Jeanette McCormick is pastor at Worthington's First Lutheran Church.

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