Reflection 060720 (Trinity Sunday)
Matthew 28:16-20/ Genesis 1:1-2:4a
God In Three Persons
In my theological school, we had to take a class on world religions as a requirement to the Master of Divinity program, which is the training program for future ministers. As we learned about Hinduism, the concept of avatar captured me. In our culture today, the word avatar is used as an online character that represents us; it is a representation of us online instead of an actual photo of us. However, the original concept of an avatar in Hinduism refers to someone who is believed to be the incarnation of a god. There are a lot of gods and avatars in Hinduism. Some names we know as Hindu gods are, in fact, avatars. The avatars were believed to be the incarnation of different gods because their lives and thoughts most resembled those gods. Avatars are needed because gods cannot be seen, heard, or touched and thus cannot be understood. Sound familiar? It should because we have one too in Christianity.
When Jesus came along, he was believed to be the Chosen One of God, the messiah, by his followers. There were a lot of prophets at the time who prophesied and performed miracles and were called sons of God; but their followers died out while the followers of Jesus did not. In fact, his followers expanded worldwide and here we are far way from Palestine two thousand years later. The gospel of Jesus of Nazareth stood the test of time, and his followers believe that he was the incarnation of God. Like the Hindu avatars, Jesus is believed to have represented God the best in history. Since today is Trinity Sunday, we reflect on the Holy Trinity, God in three persons which Christians believe. What does it mean to believe in God who comes to us in three different persons?
The Creator God created everything. God came to us in a human form in Jesus of Nazareth because we cannot understand the invisible, inaudible, and intangible God. The Holy Spirit came to us to be our Helper since the human Jesus couldn’t stay forever. Therefore, we believe in the Trinity God. According to the salvation history (the story of the Christian faith), God created the heavens and the earth, everything in them, and called them “good”. God also put humans in charge of all of God’s creation. God created humans for an intimate relationship and for them to praise God, but these humans failed to be faithful and sinned against God’s law to the point of exile, which the Israelites believed to be a punishment. During the exile, God’s prophets prophesied that God would restore their nation by sending them the Chosen One, the messiah. This messiah was expected to be a powerful king from King David’s blood line (because David was thought to be the ideal king) and will deliver them from the foreign oppression they had been going through for several hundred years. The followers of Jesus believed that he was the messiah, but became disappointed when he did not turn out to be the powerful political leader they had expected him to be. But after his death, resurrection, and ascension, they received the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised them, and they continued the ministry of God’s kingdom that Jesus had started.
We believe in the Creator God, his incarnation Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that came to be with us because the human Jesus could not be with us forever. The function of the Holy Spirit is to teach us, guide us, comfort us, encourage us, and nudge us in the right direction, as Jesus did when he was on earth. As we can see in Voices United 320 (Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth), verse 3, the Holy Spirit is the nurturing one. The Trinity God is the same God in three different positions and functions. We did not have the chance to meet and experience Jesus of Nazareth, but unlike the human Jesus, the Holy Spirit is with us all the time! Just like Santa Clause, the Holy Spirit “knows when we are sleeping or awake, whether we are naughty or nice.”
The Spirit of God that was at the beginning of creation and hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2) came to live with us after Jesus, the incarnated God, left this mortal world. The Spirit turned the miserable bunch of clueless followers of Jesus into apostles and gave them the courage and wisdom to spread the gospel of God’s kingdom, among the Israelites and to the Gentiles. Just like Jesus did, the Holy Spirit teaches us about God’s kingdom and tells us to spread the Good News. The Holy Spirit helps us to be more like Christ, whom we follow. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the last commandment that Jesus left to his disciples is to go out and make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach them to live by the teachings that he gave them. This commandment ends with the promise, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is the function of the Holy Spirit; to be with us always, to the end of ages, to guide us and help us. How comforting is this promise! This is the God in whom we believe.
This God in three persons daily guides us to be more like our teacher Jesus; to live by the principles of God’s kingdom, which are compassion and justice. Someone said justice is what love looks like in public. God’s love includes justice for all, which is based on compassion. This is the principle of God’s kingdom. Think about the pain of many people that systemic racism has caused. Those of us who live with the Holy Spirit feel the pain for others and are gripped with compassion for the oppressed and righteous anger toward the perpetrators of evil. This week, as we reflect on our God in three persons, let us ask the Spirit to fill us with compassion and zeal for justice. Let us not be silent at injustice. Let us not be silent at the suffering of others. In this troubled time of pandemic and suffering of the marginalized, let us not be silent both in our words and actions. May the Helper God, the Holy Spirit, turn us into prophets who speak out God’s truth, and the doers of God’s love and justice.
Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth
Mothering God, you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of ev’ry breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.
Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of new life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.
Mothering Spirit, nurt’ring one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flow’r, until I know.