We’ve taken down our streamers and bright red (or orange, or yellow) paraments. We’ve celebrated the gift of the Paraclete and the fire which fuels our proclamation of Christ’s good news. And we now turn our sights to the whole Godhead on Holy Trinity Sunday, some 700 years after this feast day was established by Pope John XXII.
This week, the RCL gives us texts that correspond to each person of the Trinity, though not exclusively. There is certainly some overlap among them and each text has an imprint from more than one persona. Below I offer a possible outline for teaching the Trinity from these texts, although you might find another division or approach more useful.
God the Father (Creator) – Proverb 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8
I hope you love as much as I do the poetry of Proverbs 8 and the female anthropomorphizing of wisdom. She was at the beginning of all creation, the first to be created. She states her credentials and makes her case for why her call to “all who live” should be heeded. She should be taken seriously — and, sadly, she often is not (RevGals, does any of that sound familiar?). She leads the living in the right path, and she knows the way because she was present for its creation. God is her witness. And the more I think about it, them more inclined I am to align this passage with God the Holy Spirit. See what I mean? Overlap!
Psalm 8 praises the God of creation and contemplates humanity’s place and role in creation’s order. And what I find most striking about this Psalm is that human behavior is implicitly invited to respond to God’s goodness. God is sovereign/great/amazing, and now let’s consider us. Who are we in comparison? And yet, we’ve been made “a little lower”than that, and given dominion (responsibility) over creation. We live not for ourselves, but to declare and respond to God’s goodness.
God the Son (Redeemer) – Romans 5:1-5
Through the Son, our Lord, we have peace with God. For years I used verse 1 as the assurance of pardon in our weekly liturgy. Paul’s strength was his incisiveness about who Jesus was/is, and what implications his life and work have for believers. For that reason, I think it might be helpful for the preacher to bring in some of Romans 4’s discourse on (Abraham’s) faith and/or the subsequent verses on Christ’s death and God’s motivation in it. I feel it would give this small pericope some helpful context. Nevertheless, it is powerful in its succinctness.
God the Holy Spirit (Sustainer) – John 16:12-15
Jesus is preparing his disciples for not just his departure, but the hardship and opposition they will face. He starts out in the first verses of the chapter warning them of some things to come, then tells them there are things they can’t even handle right now! And yet, he assures them they will not be without help. The Advocate (verse 7) will be sent to them. The Spirit will tell them all that the Father/Creator relays, and will illuminate the darkness of this world. The Spirit is our assurance of God’s presences, even as a tangible Jesus is out of our reach.
Preachers, how will you approach Holy Trinity Sunday? Will you focus on one person of the Trinity over the others? Will you set out to weave them together and show their unity? Is anyone playing with some compelling insights and hermeneutics on how we encounter the Trinity? Let’s talk!
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