This weekend the Christian church celebrates it's distinctive take on how we understand God. We believe and trust in a God whom we describe as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three 'persons', but one God. This threefold understanding of the nature of God does not just come from theorising, but from the Bible and the experience of those first disciples who followed Jesus Christ, who came to believe he was God's Son, who worshipped with him the God whom he called Father, and who received at Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit, God coming into their hearts, as we believe he will for us if we ask this. It is not an easy idea to visualise, and it does seem strange to people of other religious backgrounds, but in many ways it does make sense of the different things 'God' can mean to us. Come and hear me preach about this if you want to known more!
This story is told of St Augustine of Hippo, the great African philosopher and theologian. He was preoccupied with the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. He wanted so much to understand the doctrine of one God in three persons and to be able to explain it logically. One day he was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on this. Suddenly, he saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a hole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup with sea water, ran up and emptied the cup into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went to the sea, filled her cup and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine drew up by her and said, “Little child, what are you doing?”
She replied, “I am trying to empty the sea into this hole.”
“How do you think,” Augustine asked her,
“that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole with this tiny cup?”
She answered back, “And you, how do you suppose that with your small head you can comprehend the immensity of God?” With that the child disappeared.
The doctrine of the inner relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each fully and equally God, yet not three Gods but one, cannot be fully comprehended by the human mind. We say that it is a mystery, not as a 'cop out' but acknowledging that the human mind cannot grasp the unfathomable nature and wonder of God.