Devotion for Trinity Sunday

May 17th, 2013

From 56 Devotions on Short Notice, included with a subscription to the Ministry Matters Premium Library


Call

Grace and peace be to you from God our Creator and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer

O Trinity, supreme in being; O unity without beginning, all the powers of the universe sing your praise, standing in wonder before you. Heaven and earth, the heights and the depths, are in awe of you. Men and women bless you. The fire, the wind, the light, all serve you. All things created bow before you in faith and hope and love. Amen.

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:5-14

The Apostles Creed read in Unison

Suggested Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy

"Grace be to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ." Not a surprising greeting in church! Yet this truly is a strange formula we've been using today—Father, Son and Spirit, or any of the more current forms—Creator, Redeemer, Guide. We have heard it so often it raises no questions in our minds. The over-all term Holy Trinity raises even fewer questions. It may be the name of a church you've belonged to, or a college your daughter is attending.

Years of usage have implanted these words in our vocabulary: "Glory be to God the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen. "

Try to write a paragraph explaining the notion of the Holy Trinity. If you do some research for such a paragraph you will be surprised to discover that the term is not to be found anywhere in the Bible!

First used 300 years after the death of Jesus, it came into the Christian vocabulary after a lengthy and fiery debate on how to formulate, find form for, what Christians had experienced. It did not arise from an airy debate by professors of theology on fine points of theory. It was the result of everyday Christians reaching consensus on how to put into words what they had shared in daily living.

How have we encountered God? How do we find words for our encounter with the deity? What appears to be the nature of God?

As they discussed the ways God had chosen to reveal the divine presences they found their thought gathering around three distinct categories. There is surely but one God, yet we have found God acting in three ways— three ways at least! God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

As soon as we use the word "person" we are in trouble. For the early Christians used the word in a different manner than we do. In Greek drama the persona was the mask used by an actor to represent feelings. Thus we have the happy face and sad face as the logo for theatre today. Then the term was transferred to the actual "role" played—thus we find old playbills that list the "dramatis personae"—the roles of the drama.

Now we are closer to the meaning. One God, yet three roles. A human analogy may help. Each of us plays at least three roles at home. One may arrive home, see the children playing ball hockey in the driveway, give each a pat on the shoulder and say, "How's it going?"—the paternal role. One walks into the house and greets one's spouse with a fairly passionate kiss—the spousal role. Same person—different style of action. Then a mother-in-law or father-in-law may be sitting in the living room. One gives a kiss, but a more chaste one this time—the filial role. We are perceived in three roles, yet remain one.

So God is not a unit but a union, not a unity but a community. There is in God, as in each of us, something that resembles a "society." Neither we nor God are single beings, living and loving alone. God, like us, yet in a magnitude we cannot imagine, is personal and loving. In the beginning God—but if God is love, then— in the beginning relationship.

Leo Rosten tells of the old Jewish fellow knocked down while crossing the street in front of a Cathedral. A priest seeing the accident rushed to him and fearing he might die, asked him, "Do you believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?" The old fellow gasped, "Oy, I'm dying and he's asking me riddles!" We may feel as dismayed in having to deal with fine points of theology at a time when there are many questions that seem more pressing. Yet our own response to life is shaped by our convictions. As one made in God's image I am expected, like God, to be "creative, in community, for the sake of others." Doctrine so practical engages us and directs us.

Prayer

O God of all life, you are present to us in the wonder of creation; in the quiet whisper of a spring breeze and in the thunderstorms that shake the earth. You are present also in the tall strong Son of Galilee, whose earthly life provides a pattern, whose death provides release from old captivities, whose rising awakens a fresh new hope. We know your presence, too, in the still small voice within that warms us when we stray from your ways, and encourages us when we might stop along the way. We are grateful for your coming in these ways. Amen.

 

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