I have in my notes here to come up with a clever introduction. I did not do that, so we’re just going to jump right in.
I’d like to start with Proverbs 8. Here we have a poem about wisdom, personified as a woman. Wisdom goes all around and to all sorts of places, inviting people to live a wise life. Then Wisdom speaks, painting a picture of her life with God: how she has been with God since the beginning, how she saw God creating the world in all its glory and intricacies, how she took part in that creation and now continues to rejoice in and with God the creator.
If you are wondering what this has to do with Trinity Sunday, that is a great question. And the answer is that early Christians especially looked to this text and saw an early Jewish hint of Jesus. (insert something about this being a Christian reinterpretation–not the original or intended meaning, Jews still read very differently, etc.) After all, in this text Wisdom is with God from the beginning, just as Jesus was. [insert stuff about creation here if necessary–there are many ways to say ‘create’ in Hebrew. There is a verb that is used pretty exclusively of God creating, and this is not that verb. This can mean to create; it can also mean to possess; many early Christian scholars argued that this verb here in Proverbs meant something more like ‘begetting’, as in how Jesus is named the “only begotten son of the father” in John 3:16. Early Christians saw a distinction between Jesus being begotten and Jesus having been created, hence the Nicene creed says that Jesus was “begotten and not made.” And… this feels like a very long tangent now.] Wisdom was with God before creation began,–Wisdom says she was with God before earth and springs, before mountains and hills–and then Wisdom took part in that act of creation. As John 1 says, Jesus/”He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” That feels very similar to Wisdom’s role in this poem.
Also, we have this relationship between Wisdom and God. First, during creation Wisdom “was beside [God], like a master worker.” That is, Wisdom worked with God, but was not in charge. A master worker is skilled at their job, and may have other workers underneath them, but they are not in charge. They are not an architect, with the whole project in mind. No, a master worker does what they’re told, they just do it very, very skillfully. Just so is the relationship between Jesus and God: while He is on earth, Jesus is repeatedly quite clear that He is not in charge. He is doing the work God gives Him, and doing so out of obedience and love. In John 6, Jesus says, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” To return to the poem about Wisdom, the second important thing about the relationship between Wisdom and God is that sense of love. “I was daily God’s delight,” Wisdom says of God. God loves and delights in Jesus, just as in the poem God loves and delights in Wisdom.
(Or is Wisdom the Holy Spirit? Wisdom, after all, encourages us to live wisely–to live, that is, a life of faithfully following God and loving others. The Holy Spirit does the same for us. And the Spirit, too, was at creation and has been with God since the beginning.)
I love that phrasing–God delights in Wisdom, just as God and wisdom delight in the world God has created and the people who live in it. God delights in us. That is not just a matter of practicalities, of saying, “I’ve made sure you have everything you need, and now I’ll be on my way.” No, a love that delights is a love that wants to know everything about the beloved, a love that dwells on the way you eat toast or the way your hair looks in the morning or your obsession with an obscure thing that no one else has heard of. A love that delights is a love that wants to be together, to observe and to laugh together and still be together in a million years.
And that’s what this text has to do with Trinity Sunday. The Trinity is not just a doctrine, not just a turn of phrase to be memorized, not just an impossible math problem where 3 must equal 1 and questions are completely unwelcome. No, at its heart our belief in the Trinity is about love. It is about the ways that God loves Jesus and God loves the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit loves God and the Holy Spirit loves Jesus, and Jesus loves God and Jesus loves the Holy Spirit. And they don’t just love one another; they delight in one another! I have no idea if there is a God-equivalent to little habits like how you eat your toast, but if there is I like to imagine the ways that whatever it is delights Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
And–if you’ll take a moment to turn to our insert, where you’ll find a copy of an icon of the Trinity. It shows three people sitting at a table together, looking at one another. There’s nothing much special about them. I mean, I guess they all have wings? (I always forget that until I look again at the icon.) But what’s important for this moment is the way they’re sitting at the table. There’s a figure right across from us, two more to either side, and there’s space at the table. That is, there’s a metaphorical empty chair. We’re being invited into the Trinity, into the relationship, into the delight they all have for one another. After all, our reading in Proverbs 8 ends with God’s delight with human beings. After all, Jesus’ death and resurrection are the final, irrevocable invitation into relationship with God. After all, God sent us the Holy Spirit, so we could stay connected until Jesus comes again.
God delights in us. And God delights in us no matter what, don’t ever misunderstand that, but God invites us into that delight, invites us to also experience for ourselves the joy and relationship of the Trinity. God delights in us. God wants to know everything, and not just know it but hear it from us. God invites us to do the same–to delight in that turn of phrase in Scripture, to delight in the way that you so often feel God or hear the whisper of the Spirit in one particular place, to delight in all the particulars of a relationship with God the creator of the universe who also delights in us in turn.
May we all delight, and may we know the delight God has invited us into.
Alleluia, and amen.