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Trinity

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker. Posted in Light and Life

Despite the fact that each clause of the creed begins with “I,” it has very little to do with the one who is saying it.  Instead, the focus is on God, who God is, what God does, how God moves in the world.

This makes the creed rather unique amongst the various prayers and formulae that we use in the church.  Think, for a moment, of the way we tend to pray most often.  Whether in the worshipping assembly on a Sunday morning, or in our own private moments, we speak of ourselves--our concerns, our needs, our hopes and dreams, our joys and thanksgivings.  We talk to God about what is most certainly our favorite topic:  Ourselves.

And then we pray the creed.  And in this prayer, our relevance is secondary at best.  Aside from asserting our faith, the God we speak of is not just our personal God.  God’s greatness is infinitely more than us.  God’s work takes place on a cosmic, or at least a whole humanity-wide, scale.  Scripture is fulfilled and kingdoms span eternities; prophets speak and the dead are raised.  This prayer, ultimately, is not about us.

In fact, what this prayer does, more than any other, is draw us out of ourselves.  It forces our focus outward, when we are so accustomed to focusing inward.  We are normally hopelessly transfixed on the wonder that is our own selves, hard-wired to ensure our own safety and well-being, self-centered and sometimes even self-ish.  Luther defined sin as being “incurvatus in se”--curved inward toward ourselves.  If so, then the creed is the opposite of sin; it curves us back out toward--

Toward what?  Toward God, certainly.  But the shape of this God to whom we are directed in the creed is Trinity.  A God who, in His own self, can only be understood in relationship with God’s self.

Because if God truly is love--a definition we tend to give to our youngest learners, but which loses none of its truth for the audience--then that love needs an object.  To talk of God as three means to reflect on God’s existence as the One who loves and who is loved, and who loves Himself not as us in our narcissistic moments, but who loves God’s own self in another.

How else can we understand the Trinity?  Not by what each Person of the Trinity does; this is modalism.  God the Father is Creator, but so too were all things created through the Son, as the Spirit moved over the waters of creation...

We only apprehend that the one is three because of His own love and movement toward Himself.  The Father speaks the Word, the Son, and the Son brings light to the Father.  The Spirit proceeds from but also witness to them both.  They are three, and yet in their giving themselves to one another, they are one.

And through the prayer of the creed, we not only witness to but are invited to enter into this oneness.  We subsume ourselves, and presume to speak of God instead, and through doing so, enter into the love that is in and of itself.  We speak of God, we direct ourselves wholly toward God, we love God, and in that moment, even if just for the moment, we too are One--wholly other than God yet unequivocally caught up in the Love that is.

Which is why it should come as no surprise to us that God chose to become one like us, as we turn in our meditations on the creed from the Father to the Son, the person of the godhead which became flesh, and lived among us, full of grace and truth.

Pastor Aaron

O Love that will not let me go, draw me forever into Your one love.  Amen.