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Trinity Sunday

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity


Matthew 28.18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Trinity Sunday falls on the Sunday after Pentecost. For fifty days we celebrated the death and resurrection of Christ, culminating in the descent of the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday is dedicated to reflecting on what that means. What has God told us about himself in these events?


God Revealed

God sent into the world his Word (who became flesh as Jesus) and his Breath (the Holy Spirit) to give us eternal life with him. In our experience, word and breath are passing things. We all know the power of words for good or bad but in the end our words pass away – and our breath eventually fails as well. But it is not so with God. Since God is eternal, so too is his Word and Breath. The Jewish Scriptures already speak of God acting through his Word and Breath in creating the world (Psalm 33.6):


“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,

and all their host by the breath of his mouth.”


God’s Word and Breath are eternal. Jesus, the Son of God, is the Word-made flesh, who died and rose again to save us; the Holy Spirit of Pentecost is the Breath of God, whom Jesus blows into our nostrils to give us everlasting life. God’s self-revelation, (recorded in the Bible), teaches us that just as God created the world through his Word and Breath, so he redeemed it in the same way. But we would not know this except for the coming of Christ and the Spirit. We certainly can know (with philosophers, Jews and Moslems) that there is but one God. But the Gospel teaches us infinitely more. This one God is not a single solitary “bare one” in eternal “splendid isolation.” God is a community of three persons so bound together in love that they are but one God. The word Trinity (tri-unity) conveys both notions - “three and one.”


Although we only know this because God has revealed it, the experience of human love – in which two may become one yet without ceasing to be who they are as persons – can offer a faint glimmer of light to help us understand it. In God that is true at a higher level of understanding. But does it matter? Yes! It is the key truth of Christianity.


  • The Gospel tells us that God so loved the world that he sent forth his Word and Spirit to save us and give us life

  • All three persons were active: the Father gave up his Son for us, the Son gave his life for us, the Spirit is given to us

  • God the Father is not some distant potentate up in the clouds, but the Father of Jesus and “our Father” through the Spirit of Jesus, given to us

  • Since loving relationships are at the heart of God – the communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the task of Christians is to reflect that in the world by creating loving relationships

  • The Church – the Christian Community – is a people brought into one by the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

 



 

This medieval painting, called the “Throne of Grace” is a symbolic way of showing the Trinity. It tells us much about how to view this stupendous mystery.

  • The loving “Father” though symbolised by a father-figure, is neither literally male nor an old man

  • Christ is at the centre because only through him do we learn that God is a loving Father to us and only through him do we receive God’s Breath, the Spirit of life

  • As Jesus suffers, so his Father and the Holy Spirit are with him, holding him up in their embrace

  • Such is the loving communion into which Christ admits us: the embrace of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is our future!

 

For Prayer

  • That the mystery of the Trinity – the mystery of love – may be at the heart of our faith and prayer as it is the heart of the Church’s worship and witness

  • That Jesus crucified and risen may show us the true face of our Father in heaven

  • That the Holy Spirit may breathe new life into us so that we experience the presence of Christ in faith

  • That all who work at building relationships of love may be moved by God the Holy Trinity

 

Collects for Trinity Sunday

Holy God,

faithful and unchanging:

enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,

and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,

that we may truly worship you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Almighty and eternal God,

you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

and live and reign in the perfect unity of love:

hold us firm in this faith,

that we may know you in all your ways

and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory,

who are three Persons yet one God,

now and for ever. Amen.

 

A Syrian Orthodox Prayer to the Trinity

Glory to the Father,

to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit:

to the one true God be glory,

and on us mercy and compassion for evermore!



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