Caireen has a cake stand which her mother passed along to her - a family heirloom from some distant and rainy point in her Scottish family history.
It is made up of three individual trays but it folds up into one single unit. She's used it to explain the Trinity to small children in church. For my part, over the years, I’ve done steam, water and ice (I brought a kettle into church). I’ve dug out a yellowed poster of the old-fangled Trinitarian shield. I’ve made reference to the clover leaf and the fleur de lys.
When our children see the Sunday school teacher or the Rector lugging some contraption or potted plant into church they can bank on it being Trinity Time again. So, why all this hardware?
What's at stake?
The words of Jesus which come closest to expressing what the church understands as the concept of the Trinity all have to do with belonging. When you believe in Jesus, you belong to God. Jesus' words of welcome and invitation are a valid and effective invitation into the heart of God's love. He and the Father are one. The Holy Spirit who will be sent to anoint the followers of Christ and enliven the world will say and do the same thing as Jesus does – the same things that the Father sends him to do.
There is no mistake here. Nor do Jesus’ words represent a mere hypothesis on his part about what God might be like. This is a path with its gates wide open, in which the encounter with Christ through the Holy Spirit leads the abiding and eternal presence of God - all this by design and not by accident.
Our explanations – whether through the agency of cake trays, clover leafs and pencil sketches – have sometimes caused more problems than they have solved. They fall far short of the beauty of what they attempt to point to: We belong to Christ. Christ belongs to God.
Stake your life on that. Take risks based on it. Be a fool for its sake, even.