The Face of God

Now this is so.

I have never been one who knew too much of how to speak of the Holy Trinity.

I expect my mind does not work naturally in such categories, with such systematic ways of thinking.  More than this, and perhaps for this reason, I imagine, I have never found a good way to make it sound engaging on a Sunday morning.

It is certainly possible that this is just me, of course.

Either way, if you are looking for a way to explain this particular theological concept in a way that people will be eager to hear it next Sunday, you may want to look elsewhere!

Instead, over these last days, I have simply found myself with my eyes and heart open, hopeful to simply see the face of God, even the many faces of God, which is and are represented by the concept of the Trinity. This is where I have been led:

  • For I have wondered if perhaps this speaks to the gift of God’s good and very good creation as we hear about it in Genesis (Genesis 1:1-2:4) or in the Psalm (Psalm 8) which are assigned to this day and the goodness which runs through it all.
  • I have considered that surely the God of love and peace, the grace of Jesus Christ and the communion, the holy connection which is ours through the Holy Spirit as described in 2 Corinthians (2 Corinthians 13:11-13) can be shown in this way as well. Through the face or faces of God.
  • And as we speak aloud of it, pointing to God’s face even in unlikely places, perhaps it is so that we are blessed to be among those who pass on this gift, this understanding, to those we are called to share it with at the end of Matthew’s Gospel now. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Whatever else is true, in a stretch of time when for me, too much death has seemed to hold sway, this way of viewing the world has been healing.  Perhaps you would find it to be so as well.

So it is that here are some of the places I have seen the face of God in these last days:

On a Saturday morning as I pulled down from the cupboard a springform pan which has more years on it than I do, and in the doing so remembering the one from whom it came. Indeed, in the remembering I found that I was surrounded in that hour by all the ancestors in all their kitchens for all of time.

  • Pressing graham cracker crust into a stainless steel pan.
  •  Setting the bread dough aside to rise.
  • Wiping down the counters from the flour which always seems to find another place to land.

I could almost feel them pressing in with the smells, the sights, the memories.  And isn’t the face of God in all that love, all that connection, all that remembered joy?

On a Thursday late morning standing before a couple who had found one another again after more than fifty years.  In the bride’s tears as she spoke her words of promise, in the groom’s simple ‘You will never be alone…’ and in the spontaneous cheers of children and grandchildren.  Oh, isn’t the face of God in that?

And in this, over and over in this, where one might least expect it, but where God is still and always ever present, making God’s face known:

  • In the nurse and lifelong friend who, sitting with dear ones in the wake of a neurologist’s somber words, fielded questions about reasons to still hope.  I sensed her hesitation as she navigated her place and her role as one who had loved for so long, but who brought with her now twenty years of experience which few gathered there had. I watched the struggle play across her face as she kindly said, ‘One should always hope.’ In her seeking to weigh truth with kindness.  In her recognition that the shock and the anguish were still too deep to hear what was likely so, she spoke with love.  And isn’t the face of God in that?
  • In a gathering of family and friends who came and stayed and stayed, bearing gifts of food and water and toys for an active five-year-old and so much more. Who with their hugs and their tears and their laughter and their lifetimes of memories: some spoken and some not, ensured that this lonely time would be somehow a little less alone at least.  Wasn’t the face of God in that?
  • In another nurse tasked with the job of telling her husband that the tests confirmed what was already known, that all brain activity was gone.  And in his walking back through the crowd of us, head held high, not making eye contact, yearning only to get back to his station. In his willingness to step into such unspeakable pain and to give all that was human in him to do so.  Oh, isn’t the face of God in that?
  • On that last afternoon, as her husband and lifelong friends sat at her bedside waiting for the hour when her organs would be harvested.  And in their collective realization that what was surely one of the worst days of their lives, would also be the best day ever for those who would receive her liver, her kidneys, and whatever else they could take. In that astounding mix of sorrow and joy, isn’t the face of God somehow in that?
  • And in a visit to the farm a few days later as the five-year-old whose mother had so tragically died scampered around after more chickens than I could count.  Corralling one, her favorite, she brought her to me and holding her up, asked me to pet her. And in that child’s smile and in the softness of those feathers and in the certain love of her dad and her grandma and her older sister, all of whose broken hearts are somehow shielding her so that she still might live with some measure of joy.  Surely the face of God is in that, too.

No doubt, these are only a handful of the places and times and ways where God’s face shown in my presence this week. I find myself grateful to be able to offer them, though, and I hope that they might be a blessing to you as well.

I do not know where you will see the face of God this week, but I pray that you do.  And should you offer those images to the people where you gather, may their awareness and imaginations be opened to see the face of God as well.  Even or especially in the most unlikely of places. May they serve as some kind of illustration of the Holy Trinity, which I, at least, find difficult to explain outside of such every-day experience.

And so with you I wonder:

  • How will you preach on Holy Trinity this time through?
  • Where have you seen the face or faces of God in these last days?
  • Has seeing such as this brought healing to you as well?  How have you found this to be so?


  1. Frank Berman says:

    Thank you, Janet, for your poignant insights. I cried through most of them, having lost my wife of 54 years 13 months ago. And I’ve been praying for a 57 year old friend & former parishioner who is brain dead and will likely be removed from life support soon. Your words challenged me to seek & see God’s face as I deal with my own grief and the grief of others.

    • Janet Hunt says:

      God Bless You, Frank, in your continued time of healing. May you experience God’s Own Face looking you with such great love. For God is doing just that.

  2. Beth Olson says:

    Such a poignant column. Hit pretty close to the bone for me, too, especially as I thought of that line from Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” I’m preaching on Trinity in some fashion; we have a baptism this Sunday, so that will be a springboard into the message. The rest is still under construction.

    • Janet Hunt says:

      Beth, I also thought of that line from Les Miserables as I was writing. And yes, I find my own sermon still working itself out as well!

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