04 June 2023
The doctrine of the Trinity can, at times, feel like an awkward and embarrassing Christian belief. It is also, almost certainly, a deeply misunderstood one. For this reason, Trinity Sunday may well be one of the days in the year where we are tempted to depart from the Lectionary and focus our meditations elsewhere. If, however, we can resist all these temptations, and embrace the mystery and majesty of this day, the worship we enjoy, springing from our reflections on our Trinitarian God, can be deep, transforming and deeply inspiring.
May we find new creativity and connectedness as we gather to worship the God who is revealed to us as Divine Parent, Incarnate Child and Ubiquitous Spirit.
Genesis 1:1-2:4a: The account of the creation of heaven and earth, in which God speaks the creative Word and the Spirit hovers over creation.
Psalm 8: The Psalmist ponders how the great God who created all things nevertheless cares for human beings and gives men and women a place of stewardship over creation.
2 Corinthians 13:11-13: Paul closes his letter to the Corinthian church with the famous benediction invoking Christ’s grace, God’s love and the Spirit’s presence.
Matthew 28:16-20: Jesus commissions his disciples to serve the nations and to baptise them in the name of the Triune God.
REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
This year the focus of Trinity Sunday is on two complementary themes. In the first, we are called to recognise and open ourselves to the work of the Triune God in creation – in the act of creating, in revealing God’s self to humanity, and in empowering humanity to participate with God in the care of the universe. Both the Genesis reading and the Psalm reflect this theme. In the second theme we are called to recognise the uniting, community-creating work of the God who is, within God’s self, a Triune community. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks of the unity of the church and of the Trinity’s gifts to bring us together and in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus calls his followers to bring others into the community of faith, giving them a place of belonging through the act of baptism in the name of the Triune God. Both themes – God’s work in creation, and God’s work in community – lead us to a recognition of the connectedness of all things, and of God’s presence and life in all things. God is always creating and always connecting (or revealing the connections that are always there), and so we are called to participate in God’s work by participating in God’s community and bringing others – including all of creation – into the gracious, growing, interconnected, life-sharing, just and creative communion of the Trinity.
CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
GLOBAL APPLICATION: The questions of how we define our connectedness and how we define community have become increasingly significant in the world today. We are beginning to recognise the extent to which we have divided ourselves as human beings – from God, from one another and from the earth and its creatures. We are also beginning to recognise the extent to which these divisions are illusory. We have come to understand that small changes, when they are multiplied through the interconnectedness of systems and creatures, have large impact. We have felt the effects of crises and conflicts that have happened far away from us, yet have changed our own circumstances and ways of being. We have discovered that things we do – what we buy and eat and drive and wear – can have surprising results, for better or worse, on other people in other places. This is both challenging and exciting. It is challenging because we can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse, and we find ourselves being disturbed by things that, in times past, would have caused little concern. It is exciting because we are learning and experiencing – perhaps as never before – the richness of our diversity, and the gifts of our connectedness. We are also being opened to discovering God in new ways, and in more intimate ways through the recognition of God’s connectedness with us and our world. And so we are faced with the call of God to become mindful, in every moment, every action and every interaction of God’s creative and community-building presence, and to participate, in whatever small or large ways we can, with God’s work of connecting. The questions we must face as we seek to answer God’s call are these: In what ways have we fallen into patterns of defining ourselves by our divisions and disconnectedness? In what specific ways can we seek to contribute to God’s connecting work and take our place in God’s global community while always seeking to make welcoming space for others – especially those with whom we struggle to connect?
LOCAL APPLICATION: One of the challenges of “doing church” in our networked age is to discern what the place of the church is, and to imagine what it can be. For some, this connectedness is threatening, and the Church strives to become a place of escape, a place of difference and a place in which connections can be carefully monitored and controlled. For others, connectedness is a threat to identity, leaving a small, closed community feeling the need to defend itself against becoming lost in the wider communities that beckon. If, however, we can learn to embrace what can be learned and rediscovered through these new global connections, and if we can begin to dream about our place in this interconnected universe, we can find wonderful inspiration and motivation for ministry, for community and for worship. What might it mean if we begin to identify ourselves by our connectedness, rather than our difference or disconnection? What it might it mean to view the local church as just one manifestation of a radically interconnected universe? What might ministry become if we were motivated and guided by the ways we are connected to those we are trying to reach, rather than focusing on how ‘they’ are different from ‘us’? When we begin to recognise that we share in the community within the Trinity, we find a home, and are also led into a radical openness and “welcomingness” to others. When we begin to experience the grace of Christ, love of God and presence of the Spirit working in us and through us, we start asking new questions, praying new prayers, singing new songs and initiating new actions. How might you be able to make this Sunday a celebration of this creative connectedness, and a time of dreaming up new ways that your community can share in it right where you are?
RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
Life-Giving, Restoring, Fulfilling God
God, Saviour, Counsellor
A Desperate World
Holy, Holy, Holy
Father, We Praise Thee
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
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)
Father, I Adore You (Link to YouTube video)
A Liturgy of Creation and Communion
Make Disciples And Baptize