Trinity Sunday: Drenched in the Mystery

Drenched in the Mystery © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Trinity Sunday (June 3), Year B: John 3.1-17

As Trinity Sunday approaches, I find myself spiraling once again around Celtic wellsprings of faith that have so richly nourished the Christian tradition. As I’ve written about in a previous reflection for Trinity Sunday, Celtic folks have long devoted their creative energies not so much to laying out a clearly articulated systematic theology of the Trinity but rather to invoking and evoking the triune God in the rhythms and rituals, relationships and routines of daily life. For more than a millennium, the Celtic experience of the Trinity has appeared in a vivid variety of forms, including artwork, poetry, hymns, and prayers. The Three-in-One God is also called upon in blessings such as this one that Alexander Carmichael collected in Scotland in the 19th century and included in the Carmina Gadelica:

The guarding of the God of life be on you,
The guarding of loving Christ be on you,
The guarding of Holy Spirit be on you
Every night of your lives,
To aid you and enfold you
Each day and night of your lives.

Celtic wellsprings of spirituality remind us that the Trinity is not merely an idea to be grasped but a mystery to be experienced and a relationship to be entered into. This approach finds its undergirding in such stories as the one in this year’s Gospel lection for Trinity Sunday, where we get to eavesdrop on the nighttime visit that Nicodemus makes to Jesus. In Jesus’ responses to the questions Nicodemus poses about being “born from above,” we see that while understanding is important and something to be worked toward (“Are you a teacher of Israel,” Jesus asks of Nicodemus, “and yet you do not understand these things?”), what Christ desires most for us to grasp is the love of God: the love that sent Christ into the world to show us the face of God; the love that claims us and calls us; the love that invites us to enter into relationship with the One who dwells in mystery yet seeks to know us in the midst of everyday life; the love that drenches us and draws us into new life.

The approach of Trinity Sunday means that we have crossed once again into the season sometimes known as Ordinary Time. We had a brief bit of Ordinary Time earlier in the year, prior to Lent; now, starting with the day after Pentecost, we have entered into a much longer stretch that will lead us to the threshold of Advent. While the name “Ordinary Time” (from the Latin tempus per annum, “time through the year”) may well have its roots in the word ordinal, there is also a sense that the season encompasses the more commonplace sense of ordinary. Not in the sense of being lackluster or humdrum, as if God could be less than extraordinary. Rather, in these months that hold no major liturgical celebrations or feast days, we are beckoned to seek the God who shows up not only in the more dramatic times such as Lent and Easter, Advent and Christmas, but who meets us also in the rhythms of our daily living: in the patterns and repetitions and rituals that give order to our days; in the relationships and connections that reveal the God who inhabits every hour.

In the coming days and weeks—and in these moments, here and now—how will you look for the presence of the God who seeks you with constant love?

Blessing for Trinity Sunday

In this new season
may you know
the presence of the God
who dwells within your days,
the mystery of the Christ
who drenches you in love,
the blessing of the Spirit
who bears you into life anew.

For previous reflections on Trinity Sunday, click the images or titles below.

Trinity Sunday: A Spiral-Shaped God

Trinity Sunday: Blessing of the Ordinary
(includes “Blessing the Ordinary”)

For previous reflections on John 3.1-17, which also appears during Lent in Year A, click these images or titles.

Lent 2: Born of Water, Born of Spirit

Lent 2: In Which We Get Goosed

P.S. Join us for artful Advent preparation! Gary and I are excited about returning to the enchanting Grünewald Guild this summer, where we’ll be involved with the Liturgical Arts Week. The week will run from July 30-August 5, and our theme this year is “A Spiral-Shaped God.” I’ll be serving again as the keynote speaker for the week, and Gary and I will teach a class together called “Advent Portfolio: To Illuminate the Season.” The class will provide a great opportunity to dive into the Advent lectionary texts using a variety of creative approaches. Come join us! Classes at the Guild are limited in size and tend to fill up quickly; if you’re interested, be sure to register soon. More info at Liturgical Arts Week. (No experience as an artist is necessary!)

[To use the image “Drenched in the Mystery,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

3 Responses to “Trinity Sunday: Drenched in the Mystery”

  1. Sue Says:

    I just read an article about the Trinity this week which I found a bit annoying. I love so much better the Celtic approach of living into, appreciating, experiencing the Trinity than trying to make sense of it. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Sue! Yes—as in the story of Jesus and Nicodemus, Christ clearly desires us to seek understanding, but not to be so focused on this that we miss the underlying mystery and experience. I share your gratitude for the Celtic wellsprings of spirit that offer such rich invitations into that mystery. Thank you for your words, and many blessings to you as Trinity Sunday approaches!

  2. Sharon Elliott-Fox Says:

    In an arid desert of life and needed the drenching of the Spirit in your art. Thank you.

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