I’m waiting to hear what my friends think of a book I recommended. It’s a silly potboiler, full of magic, guns and fairly non-stop action, but its tone is much like another series we’ve both enjoyed reading.
It’s something we do, part of our friendship, that we exchange book recommendations. A number of years ago now, these friends introduced me to an author they had met personally and recommended his work. Now, I have not only had the pleasure of reading those books, I’ve met the writer himself and have a new friend.
These little exchanges among friends may take all sorts of forms. Recipes, favors, emotional comfor, or actual gifts all may be given back and forth in equal relationships that enjoy and delight in the exchanges.
The persons of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, relate to each other in a perfect and holy form of mutual and reciprocal giving. This is the Trinitarian life of God, which we celebrate this week on Trinity Sunday, June 3. Our human friendly exchanges mirror and reflect the perfect society of God which has gone on for eternity.
However, we well know that our human exchanges can be less than perfect. We are not always willing to give to one another. We are not even always pleased with what others give to us. Our dissatisfaction with one another leads to all sorts of hurt, which is very much at the root of what Scripture calls sin.
What our texts for this Trinity Sunday, Isaiah 6:1-8 and John 3:1-17, teach us is that God’s internal generosity overflows to us. The mutual exchange of the persons of the Trinity flows outward to bring us into its circle of giving. God gives to us even when we are unable to reciprocate.
The first and greatest gift of God, as we see both in Isaiah and John, is the gift of forgiveness. Isaiah senses his sin and the sin of his people. They have failed to be generous with God and with each other. Yet God freely offers him in verses 6 and 7 the gift of forgiveness, “your sin is blotted out.”
In a remarkable verse in John 12:41, the Gospel tells us that Isaiah’s vision was actually a vision of the glory of Jesus, in and through whom God offers forgiveness and an invitation to join in the generous life of God.
In His conversations with Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus makes it clear that the generosity of the Trinity is spilling over to humanity in the Father’s gift of the Spirit who brings new birth into the divinge life to human beings through the gift of the Son, sent into the world so that world might be saved through Him.
As we enter into the mutually generous life of God through faith in Christ, the best response we can offer is to grow in generosity ourselves. We learn to offer forgiveness and gifts to a growing circle of new life around us.