The Trinity is one of the most fascinating feast days of the church year. However the Trinity is truly beyond and above our human ability to comprehend. The Trinity is a reality that we can must know through worship, symbol, and faith.
Julia Gatta is a professor of pastoral theology at the University of the South, School of Theology. She writes that she was asked by a student what was the most difficult aspect of a parish ministry. She reflected that during her 25 years of pastoral ministry and then answered , “Every week has a Sunday!”
Each Sunday is the highlight of every minister’s week and yet it is the day of each week that requires the minister’s best efforts in preparation and execution. I have heard other priest say by Sunday’s end there is a season of relaxation, and then by Monday morning attention is focused on the next Sunday.
It is almost the same with each year’s feast day of Trinity Sunday. Each year on the Sunday after Pentecost Sunday the next Sunday is Trinity Sunday. Again, The Trinity is one of the most fascinating church doctrine. A doctrine that is truly beyond and above our human comprehension. So what can be said to facilitate understanding and approach some comprehension. What words can be used?
What words can wrap the concept of the Trinity in an envelope of comprehension?
We just don’t have enough words.
When in the year 325, 381 bishops met to develop a doctrinal statement of correct belief or orthodoxy, they didn’t fully complete their task. So 56 years later in 381, 150 bishops met to include a fuller statement of the nature of God. The result of their efforts is the Nicene Creed we voice each Sunday.
While the words used are recited each Sunday the concept or doctrine of the Trinity is not a clear statement or memo-of-understanding that clears up all our inquiry as to the nature of the Three-In-One God.
Two words that the creed attempts to discriminate are Homoousios (Same substance)
Homoiousius (Similar substance)
When introduced to the Navajo language, I learned that it is a tonal language that seemingly slight differences in sound makes a big difference in understanding. Shaw nez and Shaw nez. A tall woman or a mule!
I was reading the newspaper one day at lunch when I saw an article about a class being offered by the University of Tulsa in the Kiowa language. Well that caught my attention. Reading father and learned that the instructor was a childhood friend of mine, Evans Ray Satepauhoodle. (Kills a bear).
I started attending that class and began remembering words that I hadn’t heard or used in years and years. One day Evans Ray addressed me as Tsay Gee. Tsay Gee usually means “uncle”. When I say usually it is because as an example the word “bain- ha.” Bain Ha can mean, Candy, Sugar or Sweet, depending on the context of its usages.
“Why do you call me Tsay Gee?”
Well because your mother was my little aunt. He went on explain that because his grandfather’s sister married my mother’s brother, my mother then became his little aunt, therefore I became Evans Ray’s Uncle. Kiowa kinship becomes very confusing.
One day in class we were learning some Kiowa Christian Hymns. These songs are usually only 4 to 6 lines long, but are repeated at least four times.
I asked, “Why do we repeat these lines four times?”
Evans Ray surprised me with his answer, “Because we don’t have many words, and so we repeat them.”
The dictionary defines word as: a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.
We have words and we use words but there are times the words do not give us meaning and understanding. They point us to concepts we cannot grasp with our minds. There are words which allow us to express a desire and to express our faith and trust.
In a few moments we are going to recite together words that are used throughout Christendom to affirm a truth that defies description. Words that express a truth that lies beyond our comprehension.
The words we say together express a belief in the concept of God who created us and when we sinned provided a way for us to be restored to life and live with His indwelling in our lives so that we can be able to please Him with our lives.
And now standing, together let us use the words of the Nicene Creed to affirm our faith based acceptance of the nature of God and our relation to the Trinity of God’s being.