‘Holy Trinity’

“I have to make sure when I go out to have the ‘holy trinity.’”

Recently, I heard a preacher say this in a sermon. At first I was not sure what he meant. Then he said, “I check for my keys, my wallet and my phone.”

Keys
This has made me reflect on how dependant I am on these three things. Maybe even more than on the Holy Trinity. I am dependant on the family of keys. There are keys for my home, my office, my cars and many other things that are mine. Keys represent ownership. They give me access and protection for my stuff. Do I find meaning and comfort in what I own or in who owns me, in what belongs to me or to whom I belong?

Wallet
Maybe my wallet is even more important. My wallet gives me the ability to get more stuff. There is a Capital One commercial that asks, “What’s in your wallet?” It is a good question, but not in the way they mean it. My wallet has my ID in many ways. It has my driver’s license, my health insurance card, my school work ID, my AARP card and my AAA auto card. Is this my ID, all the ways I am connected? Maybe my ID is also in the nine credit and debit cards in my wallet, and some cash. This is how my life is paid for. Or is it?

Phone
The newer necessity is the mobile phone. To quote another ad, “Don’t leave home without it.” It has become our primary means of communication. It brings together everything in our lives. It is our memory and our primary learning tool with books, written and audible, and access to all knowledge on the internet. It tracks our every movement and tells us where to go. It is our entertainment in games, videos, movies, music and TV. It is becoming our money and how we track our spending. It is how we communicate. With it we know what is around us regarding stores, restaurants, weather and even Pokémons. For many of us it is even our Bible. Our phones are the spirit of our lives.

I love all this technology and find it very helpful. Yet I wonder if it’s replacing the Holy Trinity. Am I living too much online? What is the relationship between virtual reality and reality?

Epiphany
We are in the season of Epiphany, celebrating God’s appearing in our world in the incarnation of Jesus Christ by the Father’s will and the Spirit’s power. Are we too distracted by virtual reality to think of the ultimate reality? God has taken on our flesh and blood to become fully Immanuel, God with us. Jesus Christ is still incarnate in his resurrection body to bring our flesh and blood fully into the presence of the Father. The Spirit is here, giving us glimpses of God in his creation and recreation.

Sometimes we think about the incarnation too virtually. The Gospel of John starts with the wonderful image of light to express the incarnation. This can make us think of only a power or energy, which is often how people think of God. Then John drives it all into physical reality, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14a).

This act of incarnation shows the value of the physical. God values his creation and our physical nature enough to enter into it to redeem it. This is what gives value to our trinity of possessions, identity and communication.

These physical things have value. The issue is their use. Are they used to help us be incarnate with others? Are our keyed places and things open to others? Are we stewards of all our wallets represent? Does our communication help us connect here and now and throughout the world?

We should not disparage our wonderful things. They are physical gifts and tools to connect us to our world and the Holy Trinity.  

  • Rev. Tom Wolthuis is a minister in the Christian Reformed Church and the Director of Geneva Campus Ministry at the University of Iowa.

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