With only a few bible studies left before our summer break, she approached me at the end of our weekly time together with a request. "Sometime, I'd like you to explain the Trinity at one of our bible studies."
This was not an unusual request. She would often catch me following a bible study to ask me a question, offer one more thought from our discussion, or share something that she found really insightful from our time together. For the past three years, it has been very obvious to me that she is a learner, a true student of the bible and someone who wants to know how it connects with our daily living. In short, a pastor's dream. In many ways, she reminded me of my mother who was about the same age and who also enjoyed reading and studying the bible.
In response to her request, I replied, "Trinity Sunday is only a couple of weeks away, so for our last Bible study of the season, I'll offer as much as I know about the doctrine of the Trinity. It's not easy to explain, but I'll give it my best shot." A great big smile came to her face and she said, "Oh, that would be great. Thank you!"
At our final bible study gathering, I came prepared. I listed the many scripture passages in which each of the three persons of the Trinity have divine attributes that are only associated with God. I also referred to Jesus' baptism and his transfiguration as examples in which all three persons of the Trinity were present at the same time. For example, when Jesus (the Son) was baptized, a dove (the Holy Spirit) descended upon him, and a voice came from heaven (the Father) stating that this is my son with whom I am well pleased. I also shared that while the word, "Trinity" is not used in the bible, it's the best word to explain how God is known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, especially when we read a verse like Matthew 28:19 - "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
After offering my best effort to explain the Trinity, I then told the bible study group that it's still a mystery. How can God be one and yet be known as three persons? The scriptures point us to the doctrine of the Trinity, but they don't remove the mystery that is behind it. "We accept the doctrine of the Trinity by faith," I said to them as we concluded our final session before our summer break with a prayer.
As I was packing up my bible and notes, she was one of the last to leave and I knew that she wanted to speak with me before I left. "Thank you for helping me to understand the Trinity. That really helped. And I really like it that you admitted that it's still a mystery to you."
I left from that bible study feeling like I accomplished something. Her kind words following that bible study lifted my spirit.
In just a couple of weeks after Trinity Sunday, this wonderful student of the bible passed away unexpectedly. I saw her son and daughter at the church yesterday as they were planning their mother's funeral service. I told them what a wonderful mother they had and about this story of how she wanted to know more about the Trinity.
As I told them this story about their mother and how she wanted to know more about the Trinity, it suddenly dawned on me.
And now, she knows.
[In loving memory of Rosemary Miller, February 2, 1929 - June 18, 2012]