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Preaching Prompts: Sounding Through

For those dreading Trinity Sunday as if the task of the preacher is to explain in non-theological language how the math works in the Godhead, here’s a brief excursus.

The math is on the side of monotheism. Christians—despite our uncharitable critics and our uncritical thinkers—are monotheists, like Jews and Muslims. But unlike them, we hold to a notion of God’s relational character that is true within the Godhead as well as without. That is, God’s relationship to the world is grounded in God’s relationship with God. How God is and who God is are the same. God’s relationship to the world as love and only love is rooted in God being love within Godself.

Which takes us to the persons of the Trinity. Our modern idea of a person is the lone individual. But the origin of the idea of a person is the Latin word persona, which means mask. In Ancient Greek theater, actors wore masks to create characters. The voice of the actor would sound through the mask (per-through, sona-sound). In other words, a person needs another to sound though to be a person and not just an individual.

Instead of numbers, think of music. The Trinity is like a chord of three notes that sound through each other, always and only one reality, but with three vibrations making something richer. Or think of a tapestry. The threads are woven together in such a way that from the front the different colors blend into a unity that is only possible by the relationship of each to the other.  

Likewise, when we are in loving and faithful relationship with someone, say in a marriage or intimate friendship, it is hard to know where the one leaves off and the other begins. Each sounds through the other and becomes a person more than an individual.

Okay, still may be hard to preach, but maybe a new thought to play with. 

~ George A. Mason

22 May 2024

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