26 May 2013

This week, instead of celebrating a biblical event or a characteristic of God, the lectionary leads us to celebrate a doctrine – the Trinity. In the face of this “theological” theme, it can be tempting to avoid the lectionary altogether, but, if we have the courage to embrace it,  the doctrine of the Trinity can be an exciting and creative playground in which to worship.

May you be inspired as you prepare, and transformed as you worship this week!

READINGS:
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
: Wisdom sings of being with God at the creation of the world, and of humanity.

Psalm 8: A song of God’s majesty, and the honour God has given to humanity.

Romans 5:1-5: In Christ God has given us peace and a place of privilege, and has also strengthened us by giving us the Spirit.

John 16:12-15: Jesus promises the Spirit who will lead us into truth, and teach us all that belongs to Jesus and the Father.

REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
The theme this week is clear – the nature of God as Triune. This “difficult” doctrine of the Church is a tough one to address in a sermon or in worship, which tempts us either to treat it as an academic exercise, or to skip over it completely. However, the very mystery of this doctrine – and of the texts that are wrapped around it this week – provide a wonderful array of options. There is the opportunity to acknowledge again the limitations of our language and thinking about God, and to embrace God’s glorious, infinite mystery. There is the chance to recognise how God has chosen to reveal God’s self to humanity in flesh and Spirit, and how Jesus and the Spirit really do show us what God is like. There is also the chance to recognise the work of all three Persons in the life of every woman and man. There is also the opportunity to explore God’s nature as community, as Love, as relationship, and what this means for us. Ultimately, though it is wise to bear in mind Richard Rohr’s words: “Trinity leads you into the world of mystery and humility where you can not understand, you can only experience.” And perhaps the heart of that experience is ‘mutuality’ – of God within God, and, miraculously, of God with humanity.

CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
GLOBAL APPLICATION: One of the massive challenges facing our world is competing ideas about God. This does not only apply to religions in conflict, but also to the way God is viewed from the perspective of the sciences – physics, anthropology, sociology and psychology. Within these competing visions of the divine lies the problem of human arrogance, and the need to impose our visions on others. Ultimately when we believe that God is on our side (who or whatever that God may be – from the warrior of a fundamentalist to the science of a Dawkins), we easily deny the humanity, the wisdom and/or the worship of others. As followers of Jesus, though, we are offered a vision that denies us this arrogance. It makes our speaking and thinking about God hesitant and humble, because we are forced to acknowledge the mystery behind the words. It also calls us to allow God’s relational image within us to shine forth, leading us to seek connection, mutuality and love with all. These are not two separate attitudes. Humility and mutuality are based on each other, and are a necessary ingredient for any work of reconciliation, peace-making and problem-solving in a world where the struggles we face are bigger than any one person or group.

LOCAL APPLICATION: In the Western culture of individuality and self-interest, we too easily lose our sense of connectedness and responsibility for others and for the collective. In the Eastern and African cultures of community and social responsibility, we too easily lose our sense of self-determination and accountability. In both cases, the vision of God that is offered to us in the Trinity gives us what we lack, and enables us to lean into the paradox which values both individuality and mutuality. In our communities and churches, then, we recognise God’s call to hold individuals accountable – those in leadership, and those who follow – and to challenge each one to take responsibility and live faithfully and justly (there are no grand children in faith!). But, we also recognise God’s call to bring people into humble, respectful, compassionate and generous relationships of mutuality and sharing, in which grace and respect and mercy triumph over judgment, exclusion and partisanship. The Trinity reveals to us both God’s confrontation of our human weakness, sinfulness and injustice, and God’s invitation to share in God’s love and mutuality in communities of faith. The glory is that justice can only truly be enacted when the trust of mutuality is assured, and mutuality can only be maintained when justice is upheld. We are called both to live this truth, and to proclaim it to the world.

RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
Prayers:
Life-Giving, – Restoring, -Fulfilling God
God, Saviour, Counsellor
A Desperate World

Hymn Suggestions:
Holy, Holy, Holy
Father, We Praise Thee
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
Immortal Invisible
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
Father, Spirit, Jesus (Link to YouTube video)
Praise The Father, Praise The Son (Link to YouTube video)
Glorify Your Name (Link to YouTube video – best one I could find, I’m afraid!)
Father, I Adore You (Link to YouTube video)

Liturgy:
A Liturgy for the Breaking of Bread

Video Suggestions:
The Trinity
Psalm 8

Image:
Trinity 1
Trinity 2

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