Thursday, December 10

advent 2009

Over the years there has developed a division of labor between Gaye and me when it comes to helping Emma with her homework: I help with English, Social Studies, and Spanish; Gaye helps with Math and Science. I’m not sure how I got Spanish since I never studied it in school, but I know quite clearly why I didn’t get Math and Science. In the midst of grade confession to my daughter, I revealed that I had gotten a “D” one quarter in Algebra II during junior high school. And even worse, I helped Emma with some science homework in 5th grade and she ended up getting a 33; that has never been forgotten! Math and science are not my forte. They remain a mystery to me.

I remember enough geometry, however, to know that the triangle Chrismons on our tree are equilateral triangles. As probably the first visible representation of the doctrine of the Trinity, the equilateral triangle has been used by the church since the third century. Its three sides of equal length remind us that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are co-equal; its presence on the tree is a quietly corrective reminder that though our attention is focused on one third of the triangle during Advent – the baby Jesus – God and the Holy Spirit are always present. The Christ was with God from the beginning of time as was the Spirit. The triangle clearly and simply visualizes this relationship. No side can be removed and the shape remain a triangle. All are integral to the function of the shape.

In a materialistic world that seeks to label, analyze, and explain everything, the Trinity reminds me that there is still mystery. Like the math I do not understand, I accept the Trinity on faith. God I know; Jesus I know; the Holy Spirit I know. The explanation of how their relationship is formed I accept on faith as the wisdom of (and revelation to) much greater and more receptive minds than mine. I know in part now; someday I may know in whole. Just as not understanding math and science does not break my relationship with Emma and Gaye, but strengthens our interdependence, so the mystery of all I do not know drives me to “lean not on my own understanding,” but to lean on that trinity of relationship that created all and knows all, yet loves and redeems me, a creature of such limited understanding. May this season continue to remind us of that dependence.

– Wyc Rountree

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