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Picturing the Trinity

Who can wrap their mind around the Trinity? 

No one who wants to keep theirs. In Sunday's sermon I recounted the story of St. Augustine on the seaside. Augustine also once said that the person who denies the Trinity is in danger of losing his salvation, but the person who tries to understand the Trinity is in danger of losing his mind.

And so, in the history of the Church, Christians have taken various approaches to help better grasp this mystery of the triune God which is at the heart of our faith—even at the heart of existence itself. We’ve tried different ways, in other words, to understand and not lose our mind.


angelsatmamre-trinity-rublev-1410One of those ways is through art.

One of the most famous artistic depictions, or interpretations, of the significance of the God’s triune nature is an icon from the 15thcentury, painted by the Russian artist Andrei Rublev.

And it doesn’t look to be about the Trinity at all.

It actually depicts the scene from Genesis 18, when three mysterious visitors called on Abraham under the Oak of Mamre. But that story in the Christian tradition has long been understood figurally as an anticipation or even manifestation of the Trinity.

Here’s what I love about this icon, though: it doesn’t just help us understand  God’s three-in-oneness, intellectually. Even more than that: it invites us to participate in the Trinity, relationally. To take our seat at the table with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Which is ultimately what the Trinity is all about: you and I and all creation being caught up into the love of God.


trinity-blog-post-2Note the composition of the icon.

It is in a circle: there’s the three angels, symbolizing the three persons of the Trinity, encircling the table-altar. And there, at the center, is the lamb of sacrifice, symbolizing the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation.

But in a sense the circle is incomplete.

There’s an openness to it. As if to say, There’s room at the table. And the three figures seated there seem to be simultaneously looking at one another, but also looking at the viewer—looking at you and me—as if to say, Come. The feast is ready. Come, share in our communion.


This is the invitation for us in the Divine Service. 

In worship we join with angels and archangels and sing “Holy, holy, holy” in praise of the triune God. And more than that: we join the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the table, as we receive the Lamb sacrificed for our salvation.

At the Lord’s table, you and I are brought ever-deeper into the fellowship of the triune God. And at His table we receive a foretaste, a little sample, of the time when we will sit at table with our Savior and all the saints and enjoy the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end.

Until that day, our God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—surrounds us with His love. And we may even keep our minds in the process.

Sunday's sermon

At the heart of our Christian faith is a profound mystery: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—three-in-one, the Trinity. How does this mysteriousness shape our lives of faith?

Listen to Sunday's sermon

News & Notes

  • I'm excited for our summer schedule to start this weekend—friendly reminder, it's 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 & 10:30 on Sunday. Rev. Ken Chitwood will be preaching on Sunday, the first of many dynamic preachers who will ascend the Trinity pulpit this summer. Here's the full schedule of preachers
  • As for the Saturday service, it will be a little different. I'll be teaching through the lectionary Epistle lessons during the summer. It will feel a bit more like Bible study. Also, Saturday evening will be a spoken liturgy, whereas Sunday morning will be chanted. I'm grateful to Deb Dinkmeyer, who will be leading our music. 
  • Speaking of gratitude, Eilene Kane has graciously stepped up to help out in our church office. Eilene has a wonderful servant's heart. Like so many at Trinity, she is volunteering her time and effort to bless our church. 

From the Church Year

This coming week the Church Year commemorates the Nativity of John the Baptist. From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

"St. John the Baptist is not the Christ, only His Forerunner (Acts 13:25). He was called from the womb to bring Jacob back to God through his baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Is 49:5), just as Christ was the true Servant of the Lord. Miraculously conceived by Zechariah the priest of barren Elizabeth, John was marked to be the greatest born of women (Matt. 11:11). The Church rejoices over the Lord's mercy just as Elizabeth's neighbors and relatives did at John's birth. But when Zechariah's tongue was loosed, John was not the subject of his song. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has visited and redeemed His people. John is the voice preparing the way of the Lord (Isa. 40:3); Jesus, the virgin-born Son of God, is that Lord. John is the prophet of the Most High. He is born to give knowledge of salvation to God's people by the forgiveness of their sins, because Christ the Dayspring is visiting (Luke 1:76_79). Thus, what John preaches is the comfort of iniquity pardoned by Jesus, the promised Savior of Israel (Acts 13:23) and the nations, that His salvation may reach to the end of the earth (Isa. 49:6)."


"The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease."

- John 3:29–30

Looking ahead to Sunday

The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost
  • Readings
    • Old Testament lesson—Isaiah 65.1-9
    • Epistle lesson—Galatians 3.23-4.7
    • Gospel—Luke 8.26-39

+ Grace & Peace +

Pastor Tinetti

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