Trinity Sunday (this coming Sunday) has lots of special associations for me. I attended seminary at Trinity College, Melbourne (a seminary embedded in a university college) with a beautiful gothic chapel at its heart. There we sang St Patrick’s Breastplate, “I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity” with all our hearts as we will also this Sunday. But my favorite Trinity Sunday hymn in College was “Thou whose almighty word” with its final verse: “Holy and Blessed Three, glorious Trinity.” It was like the College war cry which I led on the banks of the Yarra River as the College eight rowed to victory! Them were the days.
Eventually I became Rector of the parish of Holy Trinity, Kew, a suburb of Melbourne, with its bluestone (basalt) church built in the 1860s where I ministered for 11 years. I became familiar with all the Trinitarian iconography of that church, from fleur de lys to triquetras, as well as with the Trinity in the art of Eastern and Western Christendom. I especially fell in love with the classic Orthodox icon of the Trinity, “The Hospitality of Abraham,” where Abraham and Sarah’s encounter with the three angelic figures is interpreted as their meeting with the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. It has always fascinated me that God is there encountered through the offer of hospitality. There are echoes of this of course in Luke’s Gospel account of the Supper at Emmaus. By chance during my time at Holy Trinity, Kew, I had a sabbatical in Jerusalem where I was able to purchase a Russian icon of the Hospitality of Abraham for the parish.
Associated with the parish was a large all boys school, Trinity Grammar School, which had been founded by the parish in 1903, and on whose Council (board) I served ex officio. One of my joys as a council member was to be intimately involved in the building of a school chapel as the result of a generous bequest. It became the Chapel of the Holy Trinity. I participated vigorously in the council debates about the building: should it be an “all-purpose building with a chapel function” or should it be a clearly designated chapel? I was so glad we decided to build a beautiful, meditative, chapel in the heart of the school. I had the privilege of working with the architect and I believe the resulting building speaks louder than words that God is at the heart of that school!
Then in 2003 when I came to New York I was appointed as Interim Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, East 88th Street, here in the city. So, you can see how this coming Sunday is one redolent with memories and associations for me.
But most of all it is a Sunday about God: God in all God’s glory; God who is beyond words, but whom we know as holy, blessed and glorious Trinity.