Based on John 3:1-17 for Holy Trinity
Perhaps we could say that religion is like the house or the temple or the building dedicated to the Living Holy Other of that which we call God. But surely even using the word “God” already conjures up a variety of images and doctrines that either offer us some limited comfort of a tradition and/or a healthy congregation, or conversely, torment us with wounds and stridency from our encounters with “people of faith”, or with how we have been warped by bits of pieces of philosophy and theology we’ve breathed in from the world around us, from our parents, or peers.
Who or what is “God”? It turns out that our problem with “God” may be just that: “God”, the quotes suggesting in an ironic way that our “God” is a construct of what we have learned, heard, experienced often in the context of a particular religious tradition, or the lack of a tradition, in which case our sense of “God” is an amalgam of bits and pieces of our place in cultural history. We struggle to find words to adequately express the nature and qualities of an encounter with the divine. Religion becomes a distillate of experience, enshrined in normative dogm and practice.
Thus Christ, in John 3 is, like a good teacher, engaging Nicodemus in an adventure of a different sort of faith, an adventure of letting go of old constructs and opening up to the possibility of the Living Holy Other lurking within Nicodemus’ religion: GOD. GOD is beyond all definitions and beyond the strictures of religion. GOD as Living Holy Other can never be grasped or manipulated in the ways we attempt to do that with each other.
But this same Living Holy Other, as the very presence of the Christ, is the white light of yearning for depth relationship with creation, with creatureliness, with us. Indeed, in the Christ, we glimpse, as did Nicodemus, that which brought him to the Christ in the dead of night: the possibility of a Holy Living Us!
This, then, is how I understand the complex and incomprehensible concept of the Trinity. As Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity portrays, it is about profoundly relational love. It is about “God” beyond all our abstractions. It is about “God” becoming for us GOD, the Holy Living Other become the Holy Living Us. The Spirit invites us, the Christ takes up residence among us, and the Creator molds us all into a Holy Living Us, an abiding wholeness and life, born from above and beyond mere religion.