Reflection for Trinity Sunday - 30th May 2021

Icon of the Holy Trinity

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today that prayer is especially apt. We come to the amazing and mysterious heart of our faith, that ultimate reality is at the same time one God and yet three persons, a dance of love that invites us in and unites us with God.

After Fr. Peter’s thought-provoking retreat on the three persons I wonder what more I can say? But always there is more and two millennia of theological pondering have not exhausted the theme – so I will have a go and hope I don’t fall into a heretical hole!

Our offices for this feast are full of the grandeur and holiness of the transcendent God but this is also a feast of the intimacy of God. We celebrate the totality of the Christian revelation of God, transcendent, incarnate and indwelling. An expression of this that has stayed with me since I first read it is the final line of Malcolm Guite’s sonnet for Trinity Sunday: “Our God beyond, beside us and within.” I remember nothing of the rest of the sonnet but just that phrase!

It captures the three-ness of our human experience of God, which must be one source of Trinitarian ideas. I think all of us have times when we sense a transcendent presence beyond all created things that infuses them with meaning and glory. But then this sense is connected with the experience of Christ alongside us in other people, or perhaps as a mysterious unseen presence who stands with us. And then coming closer still the sense of God deep within our hearts, the indwelling Spirit, which, as we go still deeper, explodes out again into the transcendent. Father, Son and Holy Spirit… but then the three are inseparable, one God, all three simultaneously beyond, beside and within.It is beyond anything our analytical minds can understand.

Our prayer needs to take in all three of these dimensions of God’s presence and maybe Trinity Sunday is a time to be challenged to engage with a person of the Trinity we may be ignoring. Or to hold together the sense of all three persons simultaneously with the sense of one-ness. It can be easy to settle into our comfort zone and not allow our minds to be exploded by this mystery.

Each one of us is different and will express our experience of this mystery differently. I find my own prayer has a sense of concentric circles – the transcendent Father way beyond me yet shining through all things, the Son standing in front of me and encircling me in his love and both these two centred on the in-dwelling Spirit in my heart. As I go deeper into the centre the Spirit draws me back once more to the transcendent God utterly beyond me. I move between these circles as I pray, sometimes more immersed in just one person, sometimes strongly caught up in all three.

Maybe you resonate with what I have portrayed, or maybe for you your prayer is something completely different?

I decided to look up the whole of Malcolm Guite’s sonnet to share with you his expression of this mystery:

In the Beginning, not in time or space,

But in the quick before both space and time,

In Life, in Love, in co-inherent Grace,

In three in one and one in three, in rhyme,

In music, in the whole creation story,

In His own image, His imagination,

The Triune Poet makes us for His glory,

And makes us each the other’s inspiration.

He calls us out of darkness, chaos, chance,

To improvise a music of our own,

To sing the chord that calls us to the dance,

Three notes resounding from a single tone,

To sing the End in whom we all begin;

Our God beyond, beside us and within.


Mother Anne - 30th May 2021