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Weekly Bible Notes for Trinity Sunday

Year C, Colour = White


Trinity image Trinity Sunday

“When we say Trinity we enter in a world of
mystery and humility we cannot understand
we can only experience the divine love”

Introduction

Trinity Sunday is a special time in the church year when we remember who God is, Father Son and Holy Spirit, The Holy Trinity. This is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian and yet it is very difficult to believe that God can be one and three. Of course it is beyond human understanding, God is a mystery to us and it would be a remarkable thing if we were able to capture God within the measure of our human mind. The Christian teaching about the Trinity is not meant to be an explanation of God, rather it is a way of describing what we know about God, even though we know that humanly speaking it is beyond our reason.

Opening Verse of Scripture    Psalm 8:1

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
 

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity: keep us steadfast in this faith, that we may evermore be defended from all adversities; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen. Common Worship

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. Common Worship—contemporary language

Father God, you have created all things and through Christ revealed your salvation in all the world. Give us a vision of your glory and by your Holy Spirit fill us with life and love that we may praise and serve you through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading   Proverbs Chapter 8:1-4, 22-31

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: "To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.
"The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. 

Second Reading  Romans Chapter 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Gospel Reading   John 16:12-15

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.


Post Communion Prayer

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.


Commentary


None of our readings today use the word ‘Trinity,’ yet God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is central to them. Indeed the word ‘Trinity’ is not used by Jesus, it is not found in the Bible at all, yet faith in the Holy Trinity is the touchstone of what it means to be a Christian. Those who do not believe in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit cannot use the term Christian to describe themselves—Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians etc.

Trinity Sunday is a special Sunday because we think about who God is—the Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. Even the most committed Christians find this hard because we all know that something cannot be individually three and also completely one. But this Sunday expresses and celebrates the fact that we encounter God in contradictory ways.
Triquetra shae for Trinity
In our world there are some certain simple truths, like - ‘water is generally wet.’ But when we start to speak about things which really matter - like God, then we soon find out that we run out of words. Human language and thoughts simply fail to work. Truth is no more easily reduced to trite slogans than the scientific explanation of the creation of this wonderful world can be reduced to two chapters of Genesis. Through history we can see times when people have imagined that they did possess understanding and knowledge of God. But, actually this is an illusion, faith is not built upon the measure of the human mind.

As Christians we need to be honest about our inability to explain God. It would be wonderful to be able to speak of God in certain and simple truths, but if we are honest, certainty is the property of fools, not the learned. Those who are more intellectually secure will usually admit that the more that we find out - the less we seem to know. Issues are only seen in simple terms of black and white by the simplistic and those who seek to lead them.

Does this make our task of speaking about God more difficult? I think not, it is a fact that people cannot be argued into belief. They can be attracted, they can be welcomed and embraced but they cannot be argued. People most usually come to believe through faith not through facts. Preachers will often preach the certainty, the black and white. However, truth is much more often grey. The more we learn the more we realise that the less we know. This is not to say that we should stop the task of learning, but we must be more prepared to recognise that God is too big for us. It is human sin and pride aspire to lift us to God, humility sees that God into the human mind will not go. It is no more possible for us to understand God than to put the ocean into a bucket.

Whilst the word Trinity is not found in the Bible, the belief which it expresses is stated many times. The early Christians soon discovered that they simply could not speak of God without speaking of the three ways in which he had revealed himself to them. This does not mean that there are three Gods. It means that there is one God who has shown himself in three ways: God the Father, God the Son or Jesus, and Holy Spirit of God who came to them and made God alive in them.

Clearly this teaching is absurd from the point of human logic, it makes no human sense! All of the clever illustrations (Clover leaf, the sun as heat, light and energy etc.) which we have heard since Sunday School, they all fall short of explaining how logically God can be totally three and yet totally one. Indeed some of the best illustrations used in sermons serve only to illustrate serious heresies such as modalism! If we are honest it is something which is more clearly explained in terms of that great Christian word, mystery. It is a mystery of our faith. We know why we use the term ‘Trinity’ because it expresses our experience of a God who can be present in Jesus, whilst at the same time, the voice of God is heard to speak from heaven and the Spirit descend as a dove. But nevertheless it is a mystery.

It is important to remember that the Trinity does not actually attempt to explain God. It only explains what we know about God, that which he has revealed to us in a very elementary way. So we Christians affirm the Trinity, not as an explanation of God, but simply as a way of describing what we currently know about God. This is honest and it should not make us frightened. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 it says
'where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;'

Knowledge will pass away. Human knowledge will be revealed to be a lot less important than some might care to believe. As Christians we need to have the honesty to say that we see but a poor reflection of God as in a mirror, we see through a glass darkly. Our knowledge of God is imperfect, we know in part and the rest is guesswork. Moreover we will never know all the answers until we see God face to face. Charles Royden

More about the Trinity

 

Meditation

Pray not to this end, that your own desires be fulfilled," advised Evagrius of Ponticus (345–399) in his Chapters on Prayer. "Once you have learned to accept this point, pray instead that 'Thy will be done' in me. In every matter ask him in this way for what is good and for what confers profit on your soul, for you yourself do not seek this so completely as he does." Evagrius learned this lesson the hard way. Palladius (c. 400) describes how in his younger years Evagrius fell in love with the wife of an imperial official in Constantinople. The woman loved him in return and when Evagrius wished to break off with the woman, who became eager and frantic, he could not do so, so caught up was he in the affair. After a disturbing dream, the next day Evagrius boarded a ship for Jerusalem. There he met the famous Melania, one of the wealthiest women of her time, who was also deeply committed to the monastic movement. After a severe sickness that lasted six months, Evagrius "confessed the whole story" to Melania. She advised him to flee to the desert. So that's what Evagrius did. For the last sixteen years of his life one of the greatest and most refined Christian intellectuals of his day submitted himself to the Coptic peasants of the harsh Egyptian desert. Today Evagrius is recognized as one of the most distinguished practitioners and guides of the early desert dwellers. He learned to love the love of God more than his own desires and it all started in that most ordinary of human experiences — a broken love affair.

 

Hymns

  1. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty (Tune Nicea)
  2. Spirit of Holiness (Tune Blow the wind southerly)
  3. Lord thy Church (Tune Abbots Leigh)
  4. Blessed city heavenly Salem, (Tune Westminster Abbey)

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

Prayers for Trinity Sunday

Let us remember the Creator God
O God the Father, we thank you that your are a creator God. We thank you that you have made all things and have made them well. That you have given to us all things richly to enjoy. For the beauty and the bounty of this fair earth. We thank you, O Father who has made all things and all people.
Forgive us if in pride and selfishness and in anger we have misused your gifts and have used for death that which was meant for life.
Let us remember the Redeemer God
O Lord Jesus Christ, the Son, we thank you for your redeeming power. You love us and we see your love shown most clearly on the cross where you gave of your life to conquer death and to make well the brokenness of the universe. We thank you Son of God who loves us with a never ending love.
Forgive us if we have treated your love lightly as a little thing and if we have shown little love in return
Let us remember the Spirit of God
O Holy Spirit of God we thank you that your are with us at all times and in all places. For the guidance which you give to us, for the knowledge which you have given to us for your continual upholding, strengthening and protecting power. We thank you that you are with us Spirit of God
Forgive us if we have tried to live alone, and have been reluctant to walk with you or draw strength from you.
May the blessing of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Three in One and One in Three be on us now and stay with each one of us always. Amen.

 

 

Lord God in spite of our unbelief and lack of understanding of who you are, show us your new way of living. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity: keep us steadfast in this faith, that we may evermore be defended from all adversities; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Most exalted Trinity, divinity above all knowledge, whose goodness passes understanding, who guides Christians to divine wisdom; direct our way to the summit of your mystical oracles, most incomprehensible, most lucid and most exalted, where the simple and pure and unchangeable mysteries of theology are revealed in the darkness, clearer than light; a darkness that shines brighter than light, that invisibly and intangibly illuminates with splendours of inconceivable beauty the soul that sees not. Let this be my prayer.
Denys (Dionysius) the pseudo-Areopagite (c500)

Father, you sent your Word to bring us truth and your Spirit to make us holy. Through them we come to know the mystery of your life. Help us to worship you, one God in three Persons, by proclaiming and living our faith in you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.
We joyfully proclaim our faith in the mystery of your Godhead. You have revealed your glory as the glory also of your Son and of the Holy Spirit: three Persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendour, yet one Lord, one God, ever to be adored in your everlasting glory.
And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven we proclaim your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord… Lord God, we worship you, a Trinity of Persons, one eternal God.

Father God, you have created all things and through Christ revealed your salvation in all the world. Give us a vision of your glory and by your Holy Spirit fill us with life and love that we may praise and serve you through Jesus Christ our Lord. Methodist Worship

Be to us, O Christ, like the sight of the sea to wearied eyes; like a walled-in garden to a troubled mind; like home to the wanderer; like a mighty fortress to the soul pursued. Come as living water for our cleansing. Come as a song to comfort our sadness. Come as the inward voice to direct our days; and all for your name’s sake. Amen
E Orchard, 1877-1955

Additional Resources

Proverbs is a book from the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It is an example of a type of literature known as 'Wisdom.' Some of the sayings found in Proverbs have become an integral part of our English language and British culture, for example 'Pride comes before a fall' 16:18 and 'Love covers a multitude of sins' Proverbs 10:12

Wisdom literature is personal, pragmatic and practical, it helps us to live our lives. Proverbs is full of common sense, saying such things as 'Don't visit your neighbours house too often, you will wear out your welcome' 25:17.

The Book of Proverbs begins by giving us an idea of what it is about and where it comes from Proverbs Chapter 1:1

'The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair...'

It is said that when Solomon became king he had a vision of God in which God asked him what his heart desired above everything else. Solomon asked that he be granted wisdom. Because he asked for this instead of riches or fame, God gave him all three. Proverbs therefore at first appearance seems to be the collected wisdom of the wisest king that Israel ever had. (1 Kings Chapter 4 29). However although tradition has ascribed the entire work to the Hebrew king Solomon, we now know that it was an ancient custom to pay tribute to famous figures by making such statements. Proverbs is most probably best described as a collection of short moral sayings composed or compiled by a number of unknown persons. The most commonly accepted view is that these persons were professional sages who offered moral and religious instruction to young, upper-class Jewish men. Although some of the material contained in Proverbs may date from the time of Solomon, the whole collection most likely was given its present form sometime during the 5th or 4th century BC. Some of the teaching is thought to go back into the Bronze Age!

Some of it probably started as traditional sayings handed down by word of mouth. Other sayings are very polished and literary and may have been written for educational purposes. The Book of Proverbs is concerned mainly with three areas of life

1. The home- advice for parents and children 2.The village - advice for living in the wider community 3.The royal court - political advice.

Many cultures had wisdom teachings, such as Egypt and Babylon, the difference for the Biblical Wisdom is that it starts with God. It is not just about how to get on in life and be successful. It starts with a relationship with God and deals with motive, why should we bother to be wise? Why not enjoy being evil? The answer is that God is wise, people are made in his image and should follow his ways. God is just, therefore we should be just, God is wise, therefore we should be wise.

Christians believe that God has built into his creation certain principles and order. God is wise and his creation reflects that wisdom. Just as we can discover certain physical laws in nature, such as gravity, so as we experience life we can discover certain moral laws built into the structure of the universe.

Obviously this means that different religions will often agree on many things, having discovered the same 'moral laws,' it is general revelation. There are many things which we can learn about God from just living in his world. It might be thought of as human wisdom, but it is God given. Common sense is most probably better described as 'God's sense.'

What is clear from Proverbs is that the reader can choose to either seek wisdom or live a life of folly. Certain temptations are clear and obvious crimes of violence (1:10-19, 4:14-19) binding oneself by a rash pledge (6:1-5), sloth (6:6-11) and sexual impurity (2:16-19, 5:3-20, 6:23-35, 7:4-27, 9:13-18). If one is able to avoid these kinds of dangers then the rewards will more likely be long life and prosperity and honour. If one fails to heed the warnings then there will be dangers and pitfalls.

Proverbs is a book about how followers of God can live alongside others with integrity and put their faith into action. It shows how a relationship with God can permeate every action and thought. So there are proverbs about speech and thoughts, weights and measures and marriage.

We started by saying that the Proverbs form part of the Hebrew Bible, they are Jewish. They are also a part of the Old Testament, which means that for us as Christians we read them in the light of Christ. Jesus is seen as the living embodiment of the wisdom of God. The wisest teaching is that of Christ and the way he lived showed most clearly how we should live in relation to others. Charles Royden

Alternative Hymns

  1. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! - Tune: Nicea
  2. Father God, I wonder how I managed to exist
  3. King of kings and Lord of lords,
  4. Thine be the glory - Tune: Maccabaeus
  5. Christ is made the sure foundation - Tune: Westminster Abbey Purcell
  6. God is our strength and refuge - Tune: Dambusters March
  7. Father God, I wonder how I managed to exist
  8. Angel voices ever singing
  9. Thou whose almighty word
  10. Purify my heart

 

 

Prayer

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty,
who is and who was and who is to come.
Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever.
Worthy are you, O Lord our God, to receive praise, glory, honour and blessing.
Let us praise and exalt him for ever.
Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and divinity,
wisdom and strength, honour, glory and blessing.
Let us praise and exalt him for ever.
Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Let us praise and exalt him for ever.
All the works of the Lord, now bless the Lord,
Let us praise and exalt him for ever.
Praise God, all of you his servants, and you that fear him, both small and great.
Let us praise and exalt him for ever.
Let heaven and earth praise his glory,
and every creature that is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.
Let us praise and exalt him for ever.
Glory to the father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be 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 in one God, now and forever. Amen. (Church of S. India)


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Peace to you from God our heavenly Father.
Peace from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace.
Peace from the Holy Spirit the giver of life.
The Minister:
God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love,
defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always.
Amen.
 

Loving God, quicken our hearts again, that we may receive Your Word afresh and anew. Send the refreshing wind of your Spirit upon us Lord that your voice may be heard in our hearts and your loving presence seen in all that we say and do, bless indeed your Word to us - our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen

Lord, lead me to look for the positive in all people and in all situations. May I help bring light to those in darkness, and encouragement to those who feel unhappy. May I show as much care for others as I would like them to show for me. Amen.

Prayer
God as Creator
As Christians we cannot believe that the world was the work of anybody other than our God. We look at it and it is marvellous and we believe that God made it. But it is more than a belief in some thing which we read. When we look at creation we feel God and his creating power.

Today we give thanks to God
Thank you God that you have made all things and made them well
That you have given to us all things richly to enjoy
For the beauty and the bounty of this fair earth and for the creating power alive in this universe which make all things new.
For this we thank you God

But forgive us when in pride, or selfishness or anger we misuse your gifts

God as Jesus who died for us
We read about Jesus but when we read the story it isn’t just a story, it comes across to us as powerfully as if it happened yesterday. We read that Jesus lived and walked this earth, we are coming up to the end of the millenium when we will remember the history of his birth, but there is more than that, we feel the life of Christ today, we seek daily to bear his cross and to live his risen life -
Thank you Jesus for your redeeming power.
That you loved us and gave yourself for us:
That you gave your life a ransom for many, a ransom for us.
That you were obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
We thank you O Christ
For give us if we treat your love lightly as a little thing, and if we ever failt to try to love you as you love us

God as the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit calls us to be God’s people, joins us together as one body in the name of Jesus. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives that we know God. It is the Holy Spirit who draws us on in the Christian life.
Thank you Holy Spirit for the guidance you have given to us. For the knowledge you have brought to us. For your continual upholding, strengthening, protecting power
We thank you Holy Spirit of God

Forgive us when we try to live the Christian life alone and have failed to seek the divine help which we might have had from you.

 

Meditation

To God, our ability is less important than our availability. Our ability can even get in the way if it obscures God's role in our achievement.

"You can't have a God. If you have, if you possess a God, if you talk about ‘My God’, my own little possession that helps me, my asset, then what you have is not the true and living God, father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but an Idol, a God made in your own image. And, brothers and sisters, much of the history of religion, even in the Christian Religion, is an attempt to make Gods of ourselves, by launching ego-projections into the middle distance - plop - and then having an affair with that ego-projection. That's what religion has been, so very often."
Bishop of London, Bishop Richard Chartres, writing on the Holy Trinity

Declaration of Faith


Declaration of Faith

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come.

We believe in God the Father, who created all things:
for by his will they were created and have their being.
We believe in God the Father
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named

We believe in God the Son, who was slain: for with his blood he purchased us for God, from every tribe and language, from every people and nation.
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.

We believe in the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high
We are called by him from every tribe and tongue and people and nation
a kingdom of priests to serve our God.

We believe in One God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
Blessing
To God the Father, who loved us, and accepted us:
To God the Son, who loved us and loosed us from our sins by his own blood:
To God the Holy Ghost, who spreads the love of God abroad in our hearts:
To the one true God be all love and all glory for time and for eternity. Amen.

God of heaven and earth, before the foundation of the universe and the beginning of time, you are the triune God: the Author of creation, the eternal Word of salvation, and the life-giving Spirit of wisdom. Guide us to all truth by your Spirit, that we may proclaim all that Christ revealed and rejoice in the glory he shared with us. Glory and praise to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

'God of pilgrimage Be with me on my journey through this life; Guard and defend me, Shelter and feed me, Challenge and inspire me, Teach me and lead me, and when my days are ended Welcome me home at last To rest in your love for ever. 'A Pilgrim's Prayer', 20th Century

Meditation

Because we believe the world is the Lords (Psalm 24) and see God in the world and at work in the world, we can afford to be optimistic about the world. We are not ones who want to escape from it because it is doomed and likely to be destroyed at any time. Rather we are God's troops at work in the world to help change and transform it. Christians must be positive about the world because it is God's and positive about people too who are his children also, a part of God's precious creation.

We experience God in three ways: as something beyond; something among us; and something within us God is more than two men and a bird U.S.Catholic 1990

 

The story is told that Saint Augustine was walking along the beach one day, puzzling over the doctrine of the Trinity, when he came across a little child who was running back and forth with a bucket, pouring water from the ocean into a hole he had dug in the sand. Augustine asked the boy, "What are you doing?" The boy replied, "I'm trying to put the ocean into this hole." Augustine abruptly realized that he had been trying to put an infinite God into his finite mind.