It seems the day most Anglican priests dread to preach is the Sunday following Pentecost. Quite often in multi-clergy parishes, it is a given that the curate (recently ordained priest who is learning the ropes) will preach that day. And the topic of the homily will (or at least should) be something related to the Holy Trinity.
For many twenty first century Anglicans, the concept of the Trinity seems very abstract. And for previous generations of Christians, the concept was just as abstract. The Church realised this and slowly came to the conclusion that one way to help people understand the doctrine of the Trinity was to preach on it. This theological thrust led to the eventual establishment of a special Sunday which would be dedicated to discussing the Trinity.
Although we don’t have an exact date as to when Trinity Sunday was first celebrated, it seems to have been celebrated in Spain and France before 1000 AD. From there, it slowly began to spread to other countries.
The fact that Trinity Sunday directly follows Pentecost Sunday is no coincidence. On Pentecost, we recall the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples.
This revelation of God, the Holy Spirit, to the Church was not out of the blue. It is important to remember that these same disciples, who spent time with Jesus, gradually came to realize that Jesus was not just another prophet. They eventually were able to understand that Jesus was God Incarnate. This recognition of Christ’s divinity preceded their understanding that the Holy Spirit was also divine.
Perhaps some of the anxiety around Trinity Sunday would go away if those preaching didn’t try to tackle the whole doctrine in a 10 minute homily. After all, we will have all eternity to explore the mystery of the Trinity when we are in God’s presence in the next life.