The Christian Year – Today, the First Sunday after Pentecost, is Trinity Sunday, a festival that highlights our unique Christian understanding of God as a “Trinity”.
This understanding of God arose in the first five centuries of church history, in response to the question, “Who are God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in relation to each other?”, the answer to which is not clearly explained in the Bible. There were a wide variety of opinions on this question (and a lot of heated debate!). There were those who believed that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were lesser beings than God, for example; while others believed that that view contradicted certain statements found in the Gospel of John. At the same time, Christian teachers wanted to uphold the Old Testament teaching that there is only one God.
In the end, the official doctrine (teaching) of the church became the doctrine that God is a “Trinity” — three “persons” (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one (God). The word “trinity”, by the way, is not used in the Bible at all.
The doctrine of the Trinity remains a fundamental element of Christian teaching today, in Christian churches of all denominations. It is so fundamental that churches that do not accept it are not considered true Christian churches by those that do. It is a very difficult doctrine to understand, reminding us perhaps that God is greater than our human capacity to comprehend.
The symbolic color for Trinity Sunday is white, signifying joy and celebration.