May 27, 2010

Trinity Sunday

by Ragan Sutterfield
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

I must admit, I am not very comfortable with spirits. God the Father, God the Son—these are concrete realities that show up on mountaintops, write on stone tablets, and die on wooden crosses. But the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Wisdom? I have a hard time understanding.

Thankfully I don’t have to understand—the Spirit itself brings that. As Jesus says in the Gospel reading, the Spirit “will guide you in all truth.” But as he goes on to say, this truth is not a truth that the Spirit has on its own—it is a truth that comes from the Father and the Son—it is a truth held in the consensus and community of the Trinity that we worship.

I find it striking that in all three of our readings for this Sunday—Proverbs, Romans, John—the Spirit comes to a community. In Proverbs the Spirit of Wisdom cries out “To you, o people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.” In Romans, Paul speaks of faith by which “we are justified” and speaks of the love of God having been “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

In the same way Jesus speaks to the disciples about the coming of the spirit using the plural you.

The Spirit is then something that we don’t know on our own—the Spirit is a member of the Trinitarian community that joins with us as the community of the church.

In this way the spirit is saved from the abstraction that can come with that word. I am not lost in a “spirituality,” a choose-your-own-adventure religion that speaks to the personality of my individual heart. With a Holy Spirit—a spirit that is set apart and sets us apart—I am required to under go the baptism of the Church before anything else. Only then can I join with Paul in welcoming the “Spirit that has been given to us.”

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