In the United Church of Canada’s Manual there are recorded the 20 Articles of Faith agreed to by the founding members of the United Church, namely the Methodists, the Presbyterians (two thirds joined this new union) and the Congregationalists. The first article defined whom God is to us as a denomination, how we understand God and experience God’s identity.
Article I: Of God:
We believe in the one only living and true God, a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being and perfections; the Lord Almighty, who is love, most just in all His ways, most glorious in holiness, unsearchable in wisdom, plenteous in mercy, full of compassion, and abundant in goodness and truth. We worship Him in the unity of the Godhead and the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, three persons of the same substance, equal in power and glory.
As I read this Article a few things jump out, the tone of certainly and clarity are unmistakeable. Words like eternal, unchangeable, perfection, Almighty all speak of a clear and well-formed notion of God. There is a static quality to these assertions. On the positive side this Trinity is a rock we can lean on in times of trouble, we can say to ourselves “God is strong, almighty, and ever-changing” and thus God will hold me and get me through this. But on the other hand there is also a tone of inaccessibility too, a sense that this big, strong, and unmovable God is there and I am here. How does this Trinitarian God connect to me and my life?
To return to the Andrei Rublev icon The Trinity that I highlighted in yesterday’s blog the three faces of the Trinity sitting around a table offer a God of relationships and deep connection. The icon uncovers a God who is in relationship in the Godhead and a God who seeks relationship with us. The momentum from this icon is clear, if God is in relationship, if God is in relationship with us, then surely we too are called to deep relationship with one another.
Yesterday and today featured some challenging situations. It’s part of my work but I was able to lean on all three persons of the Trinity, God as Creator who nurtured me in the growing green all around me, God as Jesus whose parables of wisdom and truth help point me to a response in all of the challenges I faced and God as Spirit whose energy I stood with as I breathed in the presence of the Holy in prayer and silence. The sacred qualities of the Trinity are more than a static doctrine, they are also a description of a sacred dance that moves around me and about me revealing the nature and presence of God in my midst. I felt connected, healed and led by this Trinity.
I wonder how many of our church doctrines require the assistance of icons to bring them to life. I am not a visual learner but looking at this icon did open me to a relationship with the Trinity I had never considered or accessed before.