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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, June 7, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Matthew 28:16–20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (NRSV)

As we celebrate Trinity Sunday today, here we have the clearest New Testament expression of God as Trinity. So what?

The first time I ever thought seriously about the Trinity was when I was a freshman in college. I had gone to an interfaith event at the campus Hillel Foundation. Someone made a comment, one I hear often, that “all religions believe in the same God.” The rabbi who was presenting that evening gave a response that has stayed with me. He said, “If you are a Christian, you believe in a God who is three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. As a Jew, that is not the God I believe in.”

I was shocked. Weren’t gatherings like this one supposed to bring us together, highlight what we all had in common, and build community? What was this guy’s deal?

“His deal” was that he was trying to get well-intentioned young adults to really consider their faiths, to live into their confirmations, and to own what we said in prayers, liturgy, and creed. Obviously he understood the power and significance of interfaith work; otherwise he would have been doing something else that night. But I suspect that he intended to startle us, so that we might begin to understand that genuine interfaith dialogue has to be deep enough to acknowledge and explore our differences; otherwise it is shallow and runs the risk of disintegrating when things get complicated.

Belief in the trinitarian nature of God is a constitutive element of Christianity. To say that I believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is to tell a very specific story about who and how God is. In claiming that story as my own, I never want to degrade or diminish how other faiths understand and speak of the Holy. But that long-ago night began to teach me that if I am going to pray the Gloria Patri or make the sign of the cross, I better know what I am doing. If so much of what I do and say is in the name of One who creates, redeems, and sanctifies, then how I live should imitate that divine movement.

God who is Father, Son, and Spirit, please pull me into your divine relationality. Make my love for the world as expansive as yours. Push me to reflect the dogma I recite in what I do today and always. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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