“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”” – Psalms 91:2 NIV
We all know the saying, “Good things come in small packages.” It might have actually been one of the first sayings I ever remember hearing as a child. That and “Because I said so.” I heard that a lot when I was young. Our parents seemed to have a lot less patience for explaining themselves to us than parents these days do. But I digress. This verse may be a small package, but it is one that contains so much hope and so many themes about who God is, or can be, to all of us.
God is known by so many names. My favorite as a teenager was Yahweh, mostly because my high school religion teacher had a tendency to boom it out when he would say it in his deep, raspy voice. “Yaaahhhh-weeeeehhhh.” In the passage above He is called Lord and God. In the Jewish tradition He is often referred to as “Adonai”, “Elohim”, or “haShem”. Still others in the Bible are “Abba” (Father) and the “Alpha and Omega” (Beginning and End.)
This passage also uses the descriptors “refuge” and “fortress” to show us the awesome power that He has to protect and shelter us from life’s storms. Finally, it ascribes an important character trait to him as well, that of trustworthiness. I’ve written previously (Day 17) about how God’s character is demonstrated to us in the Bible and how paying attention to those characteristics can help connect us to Him, and to the world around us that He created.
So many good things wrapped up in such a small package. After reading it, it got me thinking about what comes to mind when I think of God, and how He can be so many different things to me at the same time. One of the perfect examples of this is how we understand the Trinity. Now, I am as far from an expert on the Trinity as there is, so I decided to turn to a friend, and my pastor, Rev. Matthew Kozlowski for some help. Here is what he wrote to me, edited a bit by me for clarity.
“To start…The Bible says that God is love. (1 John 4:8). Now, for love to exist in an active/real way, then there must be a subject and an object. In other words: a lover and a beloved. In other words: one person who loves and another person who receives that love; and hopefully loves back. Therefore, love can only truly exist in a community of persons. Objection: God could love the world, and God could love people. That would work, right? Actually, no. Because again, it’s not just that God loves; but rather the Bible says that God IS love. Therefore, God must be more than a single static God pouring out love to the world. Again, it’s more than that. God must be a community in and of Himself (Godself) – giving and receiving love within the very divine reality, the Godhead.
So, why then three? St. Augustine and others explained that the Father loves the Son… the Son is the beloved… and the Holy Spirit is the love between them. So, three. Though there is much more to the Holy Spirit than that!
At the same time, God is still one. Tri… unity… three in one… Trinity.
There are, of course, other reasons for the 3 persons of God. And Scripture continually speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in many places. Of course, the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. But the truth of the Trinity IS most certainly found all over Scripture.”
Complex, yes, and something that I am sure I will never fully understand. But, at the same time, one simple, abiding truth: God is Love.
Hugh, this is so good! Thank you for featuring me. It really came together nicely.
I look forward to reading a lot of your other pieces.
See you soon!
Ps: next alpha prayer course starts Wednesday April 12 at 7pm
The Rev. Matthew Kozlowski, PhD
All Saints Church