John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
In this opening sequence of John’s gospel the full and complex nature of Christ is revealed. Jesus’ earthly cousin, John the Baptist was following his calling, baptizing with water and preparing the way for the one who would come after him. John is privileged to baptize Jesus and in that moment he has a vision of the Triune God. Jesus, the God-man is baptized and the Holy Spirit descends and the vision expands for John to be able to declare that this is the Son of God. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all revealed in this climactic moment at the initiation of the work and ministry of the one who is called, “the Lamb of God.” The vision reveals the fullness of who Christ is and the loving engagement of God with those who are lost.
The vision will expand into an invitation through the sacrifice of the lamb. Through participation in Christ, humanity, empowered by the Holy Spirit may participate in the community of holy love revealed in the Triune God. John lays it out for us right here at the beginning. giving us a little foretaste of what will be unpacked throughout his gospel.
Today is Trinity Sunday when much of Christianity will celebrate the Triune God. I remember growing up as a child in the church and wrestling with this idea of the Trinity. We learned about it in Sunday School and in Caravans. People were always trying to come up with ways to understand the Trinity — like water being revealed as ice, liquid and steam — however, even these ideas and models seemed to always fall apart at some point. I later learned that some of these models were actually heresies and had been named as such centuries previous.
One of my most vivid memories is sitting in my first Systematic Theology class in Seminary and reading “Grace, Faith, and Holiness.” There I began to discover the richness of the Trinity and I had this aha moment when I understood why it would be the very first Article of Faith for our church. This understanding the truth is foundational to everything else that we believe. The holy and loving community found within the Trinity was an open invitation to me.
Kent Brower sees throughout John’s gospel a holy dance of mutual love within the Trinity. “John invites us to enter into just this kind of dance to enter into this unceasing dance of perpetual love, to be enveloped in the holy love of the Triune God and swept up into that most intimate of relationships. The words come out again, ‘Come, dance with us!’” The vision of the Trinity is an invitation to become participants in fellowship with the divine nature of God — and this is transformational.
God in the Trinity is a relationship of holy love. No wonder we are charged to love God and love neighbor for this is a reflection of all that is found within the Trinity. It is awe-inspiriting and it is overwhelming.
My tribe comes from the holiness tradition. Again — that aha moment sitting in class. If God IS holy love, then holiness becomes God’s desire for all of humanity. Holiness isn’t optional — for to opt out would mean to opt out of a relationship with God.
As we celebrate the Trinity this day may we be reminded that we are invited into the relationship of holy love. Christ will be revealed in and through those who are reflecting that in which they are participating. The vision and the invitation are before us. Come — let us join in.
God, thank you for the invitation into divine fellowship. Your love overwhelms. Amen.
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