The Corinthian correspondence is hard to read. Not because it’s theologically thick or difficult to understand. But, because Paul had some tough things to say to the Corinthians.
They had major ethical issues going on. They had class issues, dividing them between the “have’s” and the “have nots.” They had issues competing with each other over the various spiritual gifts some of them believed they had been given.
And Paul confronted these issues head on. Directly. No mincing of any words whatsoever.
He talks over and over again about how he knew he was being tough on them, and how he wished he didn’t have to be.
The second letter is less harsh than the first letter. And some scholars think that there may be fragments of a third letter embedded in the second. But, in the ending of what we know of as Second Corinthians, we find a little ray of light and hope.
It’s a Trinitarian ray of light too, which is why we get it on Trinity Sunday.
May the love of God
The grace of Jesus
And the fellowship (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit
Be with you all
This isn’t a text to absolutize. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) attempt to build a theology of the trinity around this.
It’s not like God the Father is the only font of love in the Trinity. And it’s not to say that grace belongs to Jesus or that koinonia belongs to the Spirit more than the others.
This isn’t modalism.
This is Paul invoking the fullness of God in prayer over a community (koinonia) in Corinth that had it’s issues.
I tend to take Trinity Sunday as a moment in the church year to preach a serious sermon on theology. I try and talk about the doctrine of the Incarnation, the Trinity, and the development of the kind of theology that led up to Nicea, and which flowed out from 1,600 years of theology post-Nicea.
But, every once in a while it’s nice to climb down from the ivory tower and realize that I’m pretty messed up. I have issues.
As a church WE have our issues.
And sometimes it’s good to name those issues. Sometimes we need to call them out. Sometimes we need to be called out.
But, then there is also a time when we put all that away and get the fullness of the glory of God poured out on us. Sometimes we need to invoke love and grace, and revel in the community/ koinonia that God has so wonderfully given us.
I see this closing benediction in Second Corinthians as the whispered “I love you” after the knock-down drag-out fight.
And, it’s an embodiment of what Christian community is meant to be like. A place where love and grace is known, prayed for, and lived out. Where the while fullness of God, in all three Persons, is invoked and called down.
Even when we have our issues.
Heck, maybe especially when we have our issues.