Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Mysteries of Faith
The end of the month of May provides a great time to talk theology. These last two Sundays are dedicated to two particular “mysteries” of the church: Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.
Pentecost is that day in which we celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. It is a profound moment for the Christian faith in that it is considered the ‘beginning’ of the church. Jesus has, at this point in the story, ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit quite literally rushes in and transforms the disciples into empowered witnesses to the story of Jesus. With the absence of Jesus on earth, the Holy Spirit becomes the guide for the church as well as that power of God which enables us to carry on.
Yet the action of the Holy Spirit is mysterious. As Jesus says of the Spirit in the Gospel of John, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” (John 3:8). We can experience the effects of the Holy Spirit, but we cannot truly pin the Spirit down.
Trinity Sunday, though, is a bit more of a mystery. We are Trinitarian. By that, I mean that we believe in what is known as a “triune God” that is found in three persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These three ‘persons’ are separate yet inextricably linked to one another. The difficulty in talking about the Trinity is that there are no direct scriptural quotes to which I can point to make it clear. The concept of the Trinity is arguably echoed or prefigured in the Biblical texts, but the concept itself took a great many years before it became the default point of belief of the Christian faith.
To talk about these two Sundays is to embark on a conversation of mysteries. They are critical elements of the Church, yet they are also points on which we cannot ever be completely clear. For an example, one might think about light itself. We all recognize light – especially when we have been in a dark room. Light is that which enables us to see.
But we never actually see light. We see the effects of light, not the light itself. We are surrounded by light, yet we cannot see that which enables us to see. Amazing, right?
So when we gather as the month comes to a close, we will be speaking of that which we affirm, that which we as a Christian community profess to be true. Yet while we speak of these things, we have
to also recognize that we can only speak generally. They are what the church has sometimes referred to as “Holy Mysteries” in that we are speaking of elements of our faith, but elements that we still do not fully comprehend.
I invite you to come and join with us as we speak to the best of our abilities about a great set of mysteries: the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. And in speaking of those mysteries, may we find ourselves in joy and in awe of that which we profess, yet still manages to mystify us.
Grace and Peace,