The famous painting, The Trinity, created in the fifteenth century by Russian artist Andrei Rublev helps us do just that, explain the unexplainable. According to Richard Rohr, this painting has become “the icon of icons” for many in both the Catholic and Protestant traditions. It is said to be based on the biblical account in Genesis chapter eighteen, in which three visitors came to Abrhaham and Sarah. Abraham called to his servants and Sarah and they prepared a meal for the guests. It was during that meal, the visitors told Abraham and Sarah they would have a son even though they were along in years and Sarah was considered barren. Upon that story and the powerful encounter, Rublev depicted the holy guests sharing a meal together.
So powerful is this painting that a story is told that one artist became a flower of Jesus just from gazing at this icon, exclaiming, “If that’s the nature of God, then I’m a believer” (Rohr). The original is still on display in the Tretyakov (Tret-ya-kov) gallery in Moscow. The invitation for you, for all of us, is to allow this painting to teach, inspire, and broaden our understanding of the trinity. It is my prayer that all of us will expand our awareness of the role, significance, and power of the Trinity.
The Holy One expressed in three - each revealing a unique aspect and quality of the whole; each interdependent on the other; eating and drinking, in infinite hospitality and mutual indwelling; both separate but one, sharing the deepest connection between themselves in true communion and community. (Rohr).
Like with any powerful piece of art, the more you look at this piece, the more you can see; the more it “speaks” to you of its mystery. Every part of it was obviously meditated on with great care: the gaze between the Three, the deep respect between them as they all share from a common bowl. Note the hand of the Spirit pointing toward the open and fourth place at the table. Why would Rublev include this action? What does it mean? Is the Holy Spirit inviting, offering, or clearing a space and if so, for what? For who?
Perhaps the words penned by Paul in the book of Romans 5:1-5 will provide our answer. The answer is “you” in the plural form; you all, you-ins, all y’all. Everyone and anyone.
The power of the Trinity is found in its relationship to itself first and to us second. Without understanding or at least acknowledging the depth of love and communion in the relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, we cannot come to understand or acknowledge what our relationship with them is nor what our relationship one to another is to look like. Without the trinity we cannot understand true community. We do not grasp the depth of love, service or sacrifice without the trinity.
That was the mystery within invitation to Abraham and Sarah - to be a part of God’s bigger plan and that is (at least in part - as much as I can articulate) the mystery of our participation with God, with Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit - All in one. We are invited to sit at the very table with the Three in One. We - the collective we are the fourth presence at the table!
The question for us then, is this: What does it mean for you to know that God, the all in one, invites you to participate with them in all things good, beautiful, and true? What ramifications does it have on your life to know that at any given time and in any given situation or circumstance, there stands with you, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, all in one? How might your life be changed, your interactions different, your decision making challenged, your relationships transformed, knowing that all of God, represented in all of Jesus, is given to us by all of the Holy Spirit? All in one.
Dear People of God, if that doesn’t leave you speechless and standing in awe, I don’t know what will. Amen.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine