This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday. Now that the Holy Spirit of God resides in the hearts and minds of humans (Pentecost), the revelation of all three sides of God is complete. Those three sides are Father the creator, the Son our redeemer and God’s Holy Spirit our sustainer. And this Sunday I will address the topic by highlighting the intimacy between the three sides of God. Once again I will use John S. Dunne’s The Reasons of the Heart quote:

Our minds’ desire is to know, to understand, but our hearts desire is intimacy, to be known, to be understood.  To see God with our mind would be to know God, to understand God; but to see God with our heart would be to have a sense of being known by God, of being understood by God.  

John Dunne’s quote sums up the ebb and flow of a healthy, fulfilling relationship. One side of the coin is knowing the other person in the relationship. I call this “closeness”; John Dunne calls it seeing God with our mind. To be close to God means that I learn all that I can about God through all the means of grace available. But that is only part of the journey. The flip side of the coin is intimacy. John Dunne calls this seeing God with our heart. Intimacy with God means that we feel known and understood by God. (A great example is Psalm 139.)

This ebb and flow of relationship is not unique to God’s prescribed manner of knowing God. Rather, the roots of both sides of the relationship coin outdate human existence.

The nature of God is closeness and intimacy. The intimate nature of God begins in the creation story.   Genesis 1:26 reveals that God the creator was not alone in creation. The use of the plural “us” sets the stage for this monotheistic religion to reveal a deeper understanding of the personhood of this creator. Trinity Sunday gives us a handle on the “us” in 1:26 – Father, Son and Holy Spirit were present during creation. Each knew the other and was known by the other.

Seeking to know God is something I hear preached with great confidence. However, the idea of spiritual intimacy with God is something that I never hear. So today I am zeroing in on intimacy.

Now what I am about to say is true. And you know it is true because you have experienced and felt this truth. Listen up to this: Intimacy only happens when trust is readily available between all parties. Only when you feel that the other person is safe are you willing to open yourself up to be known. The environment of the relationship must be accepting of us, us at our best and us at our worst. Remember to be deeply known means that we offer the best and the worst of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, our triumphs and our failures. Only when we offer everything and it is accepted with unconditional love do we experience intimacy.

The Holy Trinity, who existed at creation and beyond, practiced closeness and intimacy. The Holy Trinity, the personhood of God also practices safety and trust. This is who God is. And this is how God wants us to live – in imitation of the Almighty.

A three ringed Trinity insignia can be used as an object lesson. The shared section in the middle can illustrate intimacy.

The creation story also teaches us that we are made in the image of God. We have the desire to be known by others and by God. We long to be deeply understood. Naturally, we desire safety and trust within our relationships so intimacy can happen. This longing that stirs in our souls points to our creation. We are made in the image of God.

Science has discovered the fingerprint of God upon our souls. We have learned that babies that are not nurtured fail to thrive. Essential is the safety of assured care and bonding with a caregiver. Studies prove that the better the care of a child, the more likely a productive and happy the adult will result. The trust factor between child and caretaker is a constant throughout the human life and experience. Even as adults, we need to feel a level of trust in our relationships, an assured acceptance that allows us to drop the façade of perfection and offer all that we are. Giving ourselves in this way means we become vulnerable. We risk rejection and hurt.

Jesus sets the standard for vulnerability. While the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was rolling along, unimpeded, God’s relationship with humans was not so successful. So God poured out a portion of Godself into human flesh and became vulnerable. All of this was in order to communicate God’s love for humankind. To live like Jesus means we seek and cultivate relationship built on trust and adopt vulnerability as our default button.

And that is the challenge for our relationships. Made in the image of God, we desire intimacy. And for intimacy to take place we need to trust. When trust is available, we feel that we can let our guard down and be real or vulnerable. Gone is the façade of perfection and ever present is the freedom to offer our broken selves to God, to our life partner, to our children, to our families and close friends. As we progress in our comfort with vulnerability, we will find that we need less trust. As a result we are more honest with ourselves and others about who we are, our abilities and our limitations.

The desire for intimacy lives deep within us. And so it should, after all it came from God. So work to build trust and respond to that trust with vulnerability. Abandon the masks you so easily don and take up the practice of being real, broken and needy with each other and with God. This is the lesson of the Holy Trinity.

Once upon a time a princess of a great King became of the age of marriage. Now the King loved his daughter and found her to be uncommonly wise for her age. So he, uncommonly, allowed her to choose her husband. The search began and eligible bachelors from all parts of the kingdom descended upon the palace. The princess greeted each one, but never removed the veil that covered her face.

After months had passed and no husband was found, one simple craftsman decided he would seek the hand of the princess. He wanted his place in the line of bachelors before but his forehead carried a significant birthmark. As a child, he received horrific teasing. Memories of those days caused him to doubt that the princess could love him. His decision to enter palace caused him to create a plan to cover his markings. He entered the palace wearing a hat with a feather that covered his forehead. And in order to be doubly assured the princess would not catch is physical fallacy, he borrowed a jeweled walking stick from his fellow craftsman.

Feeling he was ready to preform, he entered the palace with quite a confident gait. Much to his surprise, when he laid eyes upon the princess he felt a tug of affection upon his heart. He wanted to speak quite plainly to her but, out of fear, he proceeded with his plan.

“Dear princess!” He proclaimed, “Your beauty is unmatched. Your eyes, like the rubies of the walking stick, are mesmerizing! You soul sparkles within like these diamonds….”

Before the craftsman could get another word out, the guards carried him away and turned him out on the street.

This time the craftsman decided to wear a turban to see the princess. Turbans were not worn in his country but it was the only thing that would cover his birthmark. When he saw the princess, he followed his heart. The craftsman spoke plainly to her. He complimented her beauty, and then he asked questions about her. None of the other suitors had asked about her! They only gave speeches taunting their accomplishments. Now she felt a tug at her heart. After the simple craftsman left her throne room, she asked the guard to follow him home and note where he lived. She was curious about the craftsman in the strange hat but a little dismayed. Her suitor refused to look at her. He kept his head to one side. After some thought, she decided she could not live with a man who refused to look her in the eye and dismissed any thought of calling the craftsman back.

The craftsman left the meeting feeling a sense of accomplishment because he was not thrown out of the palace. He thought about the princess every waking hour. And he became most curious to why she kept a veil over her face.

In the meantime, suitors came and went. And her father became very impatient.

One day the King threatened to choose a spouse for the princess. He begged her to choose the suitor she liked the best. Out of desperation, she sent her guards to fetch the craftsman and bring him to the palace immediately.

The craftsman arrived in his work clothes and had no time to borrow a hat of any nature. Tired and dusty he stood before the princess’s throne. Sweat glistened from his birthmark.

The princess rose from her throne and stood in silence for a long time. Then she asked one question.

“Craftsman, why do you not look upon my face? Do you find me repulsive?”

Shaking in his boots, the humble craftsman replied, “On the contrary, I find you beautiful, inside and out. I dare on look upon you because of this mark.” The craftsman pointed to his forehead. “I have had it from birth and I fear it will dishonor you.”

“Have no fear, craftsman. Gaze upon me now, I command it to be so.”

The obedient craftsman turned toward the princess, who had descended her throne and now stood eye to eye with him. Her veil was now on her shoulders. It no longer covered her face. The princess’s beauty was radiant to him because on her chin was a similar birthmark.

The lesson of Trinity Sunday is as true for us as it is our craftsman. Build trust with God and with others. Drop the hats with feathers and turbans. It is your vulnerability that draws others to you. Jesus, like the princess, came to our eye level by becoming like us. So live like Jesus and be vulnerable.