Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Homily – Trinity Sunday – June 3, 2012 – Three Are Not Enough

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Trinity Sunday B – June 3, 2012 – Three Are Not Enough

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33:4-6, 9, 18-20, 22; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20

Three are not enough. Every year on Trinity Sunday preachers try their best to explain what it means. There is no clear definition of the Trinity in the bible. There are plenty of suggestions but no explicit explanations. [1]

 The passage from the book of Deuteronomy helps us imagine that God cannot be contained; that God is always changing and pervades everything. No word or words can completely grasp who or what God is.

The Jews like Jesus trusted in one God. They did not consider three Gods in One. As theologian Roger Haight says the early Christians were inspired not by the notion of a distant invisible God but by their experience of a real flesh and blood Jesus. The spirit of God was associated with the life and work of the people. [2]

 It took some 350 years after the time of Jesus for the doctrine of a triune God to be written. As we have it today the teaching grew out of many debates carried on within the framework and language of an ancient culture. There were theological and political issues that played into the doctrine.

According to Haight the trinity is a story of a community’s encounter with God, who uses Jesus to communicate with humanity. “God as Spirit and Jesus are intimately and intricately woven together.” [3]

I like to think of the image of a triune God in architectural terms. It offers a contemporary lens to consider the Christian experience of God.

Before the time of Jesus there lived a master builder by the name of Vitruvius once considered the chief authority on ancient classical architecture. He believed that all buildings must possess three qualities: beauty, function and stability. 

This church building, named after Vincent de Paul, is an example of temple architecture. Some believe it was modeled after the St. Madeleine church in Paris, France. When this building was dedicated in 1908 it was unconventional because most Catholic churches in our area copied the Gothic or Romanesque styles. One could say St. Vincent’s has always been a unique Church.

Our buildings tell stories about us: about our origin, our current identity and our visions. They affirm and shape our behavior. So, what story does this building tell of our relationships with God and of our interrelations with one another? In the words of Vitruvius, are we beautiful, purposeful, strong?

If God who is responsible for the beauty of creation cannot be contained then there is no one way to imagine or relate to this God. Rather, as theologian Laurel Schneider suggests, our understanding of God is based on multiplicity — an endless, unlimited, fluid stream of “human experiences and stories.” [4]

If God is revealed to us in the flesh and blood of Jesus then our experiences of God are found also in our bodies, minds and souls, they surface in our successes and failures. They are narratives that are ever changing and growing as the world, you and I change and grow. 

If the spirit of God is a divine force still at work in the world then our relationship with that spirit will prompt us, as disciples, to reconstruct old ideas, customs and traditions and to give them new, fresh and relevant significance.

Buildings according to Vitruvius are beautiful, functional and stable. God is wondrous, purposeful and strong. We who make up the church are beautiful as we mirror the image of God. As a church we function as agents for peace and justice. And, we find our strength and vitality in our local communities.

The way to understand the triune Godhead today is not to turn to catechisms and doctrines only. They can be puzzling. We need only to look more closely at ourselves and our interconnections with all creative beings; to imagine what is possible for us in this world, a world that God so loves. [5]

Three are not enough.

_____

1 Reginald H. Fuller and Daniel Westberg. Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. Third Edition (Collegevile: Liturgical Press) 2006. pp. 283-285, 90-91

2 Roger Haight, S.J. What is the Trinity? A lecture at the Carrs Lane United Reformed Church, Birmingham, UK. October 27, 2011

3 Ibid.

4 Schneider, Laurel. Beyond Monotheism: A Theology of Multiplicity. (NY: Routledge) 2008, 154

5 Ibid., 207

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Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

2 thoughts on “Homily – Trinity Sunday – June 3, 2012 – Three Are Not Enough

  1. This homily opened up a new avenue of thinking for me. I always think of God as our creator but todays homily really enlarged my thinking.

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  2. Dick – again you are succintly provocative – many thanks – vive la difference! jdk

    Like

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