“Threes” seem to pervade our experience.
In The Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, Michael Schneider noted that ancient mathematicians thought of the numbers “one” and “two” as the parents of all the other numbers. “Three” was their firstborn. Bursting with the energy of newborn life, three bounced and played its way into patterns and images we see everywhere.
There are three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue.
A day has morning, noon, and night. Time divides into past, present, and future.
Hegel thought that culture and history unfold according to three dynamics: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.
Some people think good thing come in threes, while others think bad things do.
Three’s company, but not for very long. As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Guests, like fish, start to smell after three days.”
The third time’s a charm. Three strikes and you’re out. A three legged stool is stable; a three stranded rope is strong.
The Genie in the Lamp gave Aladdin three wishes. Goldilocks visited the home of three bears.
The Three Little Pigs escaped the Big, Bad Wolf. The Three Musketeers had swashbuckling adventures. The Three Blind Mice lost their tails to the farmers’ wife and her carving knife.
Larry, Moe, and Curly were Three Stooges, who often made of life a three-ringed circus, but not the greatest show on earth.
Christianity intuits that our attraction to threeness comes, in part, from our yearning for a relationship with God who is somehow oneness in threeness and threeness in oneness.
Trinity isn’t about a kind of illogical mathematics in which it’s possible to add one plus one plus one and have the sum be one. Instead, it’s about a God of vast, mysterious, and beautiful love which our logic cannot corral.
Trinity is about God’s love: the love God is and the love God shares. Eternally, God is a lover who has a beloved and love flows constantly between them.
So, God is Lover, Beloved and Love. The Lover is Father, Mother, Creator. The Beloved is the Child, the Son, Jesus. Love is the Spirit, Wind, Breath which moves between them.
Amazingly, God includes us in that flow of love that is God’s own life. Love is the dance of God’s heart, and God invites us to the dance.
Trinity wasn’t the result of philosophical speculation or mathematical ciphering; it was the fruit of everyday encounters followers of Jesus had with God’s infinite and intimate love.