The Holy Trinity, Quarantine Version

Bedtime theology with the 4 yo...  

(Daytime chat about looking forward to Christmas)

Me: What do you think Christmas is about?

4 yo: Presents!

Me: Well, we do give and get presents. But it's really a time to remember that Jesus came from heaven to earth. He was born here.

4 yo: How could he come down from heaven?

Me: Jesus is similar to God, so he had the power to do that.

4 yo: But Jesus and God aren't the same!

Me: Ummm.... (Stalling. Should I go for Trinitarian theology?)

4 yo: Wait, is heaven white? 

Me: Like, is the whole place white? 

4 yo: Yeah, is it?

Me: I don't know honey, I've never been there.

4 yo: Well, we should check it out. 

What is the difference between God and Jesus? Do we get it? How much does it matter? Last week my 4 yo randomly announced that Jesus was more powerful than God. When I asked why, he said because Jesus created all things. I was about to correct him, but I stopped. At this age, it seemed more important to hear his insights about Jesus as creator, rather than rushing to the "right" answer. 

I haven't done a good job (yet? ever?) of explaining the Trinity to my children, the theological concept that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are distinct and yet one. Most of us grown ups don't really get it either. The word "trinity" isn't actually in the Bible, though there's a traditional festival Sunday for it- Holy Trinity Sunday, which occurs in June when most people here are out fishing and camping. I'm sure I've preached at least one subpar Holy Trinity sermon where I've attempted to explain this mystery with an analogy about, say, an egg. But it's really more about a relationship. 

Like many people in the pandemic, I've been spending a lot more time with the people in my household. I cannot think when in our 10 years of marriage that I have ever seen my spouse so frequently during the 9-5 shift. I see him at lunch, at bathroom breaks, and when he emerges for a bowl of pretzels or a cup of tea. We talk more. He shares funny insights on his colleagues. He comments on the kids' school work and art projects. We sometimes go for a family walk during the day. Our children are always here. It is exhausting. I was not prepared for it. Our house is a mess. Most days I love it. It is a whole new level of relationship. 

I don't know if it feels like quarantine in heaven, with God and Jesus and the Spirit hanging out for all eternity together. They're not jockeying for space at the kitchen table or telling kids to pipe down during an important Zoom meeting. Physical space and work deadlines don't worry them. God in three persons has figured out how to coexist. It's a total mystery to us what that relationship looks like, but the point is that it's a relationship. Like the ones we have on earth, the sum of the whole is greater than the parts.  There's power in the spaces between, too. I've find it incredibly comforting that God values relationship so much that God IS one. I haven't shared that concept with my children, but somehow I think they might understand. Whether they have the words for it or not, our children remind us of not only the value of deep relationship, but to slow down to see the holy spaces between us. 

Note: This conversation happened November 17, 2017.


  1. Comparing quarantining to the Trinity and being in heaven– love this!!

    1. Ha! It was fun thinking about the contrast between earthly and heavenly relationships. Maybe occasionally small similarities? :)


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