MATTHEW 2:1-12; 22:37; 28:16-20

January 8, 2012 

Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle


Matthew 2:1-12; 22:37; 28:16-20


This week, on Friday, was Epiphany, the Christian celebration of God’s incarnation in Jesus, recognized by the magi following a star and offering three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mt 2:11). To have an epiphany is to arrive at a new understanding, new revelation. Just to do so requires some access to our divine nature, moving beyond our human understanding into something previously unknown. The story of the divine child is told each time a child is born into this world. We are all God’s children, and God is within each one of us.

One of the epiphanies that brought me back to Christianity is the realization that I am a Trinitarian. This is an unusual epiphany for a Unitarian Universalist. Our heritage of anti-Trinitarianism is long and, at one point in history, was downright dangerous. Like the gifts of the magi at Jesus’ manger, my trinity came to me in an unusual way. 

In 2005, I began competing in triathlons, which require swimming, biking, and running, in that order. During my training for an Ironman triathlon (an extreme 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run), I learned the mantra, “Swim smart, bike strong, run tough!” You have to swim smart because if you don’t, you may drown, or at least can ruin the rest of your race. The bike portion is the longest and most physical of the race. You must bike strong. By the time you get to the run, your wits and strength are gone, and all that is left is toughness and tenacity. Smart, strong, tough… 

With this mantra, and its effectiveness in getting me through triathlons, I adopted my new trinity of mind, body, and spirit. Smart mind, strong body, tough spirit. I also realized that this was basically the Christian Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). Parents have wisdom (mind), children have strength (body), and the spirit is simply the spirit. This also parallels Jesus’ teaching of the second great commandment to love others with all our heart (body), all our soul (spirit), and with all our mind (Mt 22:39).

And so, rather than arguing a refutation of the Trinity, as my religious ancestors have been doing for centuries, I have embraced the Trinity as it speaks to me and helps me to live an integrous life using all of my mind, all of my body, and all of my spirit.


Spirit of life, help us to open our hearts and minds to new understanding, to new revelation, to daily epiphanies. Help us to see beyond the mundane and our tendency to reject rather than embrace. In all that we do, may love be our guide, may passion be our strength, and may courage be our way. Amen.