Service for Trinity Sunday
[Keep a moment of silence, calling to mind that, though we are unable to gather with our Church family, we share fellowship together as we offer this short act worship in our own homes]
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
‘Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.’ [Romans 5.5]
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servant’s grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and 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.
Old Testament Reading: Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31
A reading from the Book of Proverbs.
Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; besides the gates in front of the town, at the entrance to the portals she cries out: “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live”. The Lord created me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. Where there were no depths, I was brought forth. When He marked out the foundation of the earth, then I was beside Him, like a master worker; and I was daily His delight rejoicing before Him always, rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday and the lectionary readings incline us towards the outpourings of the Holy Spirit [John’s Gospel], the ‘Results of Justification’ [St Paul to the Romans] and the ‘Gifts of Wisdom’ [Proverbs]. At last week’s Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee the words of Proverbs 3 [v.13-19] were beautifully set to new music composed by Jennifer Weir. In these verses, that are linked with Proverbs 8 1-4 and 22-31, some theologians propose that, ‘God’s wisdom speaks of assisting God in Creation’, ‘The Lord created me [Wisdom] at the beginning of His works, the first of His acts of long ago’ [Proverbs 8:23]. But if, as we often say of God, He is wisdom, how can God assist God? But first let us address a Trinity question, are you God-centred, Christ-centred or Spirit centred?
I believe there is an inherent faith in most people who would perhaps agree in that, ‘There is something bigger out there’; I call it the God-gene! Within religion there are then people who are Father-centred, those who believe that the source of all power, wisdom and eternal life comes from God alone. Those that are Father-centred may suggest, that Jesus and the Holy Spirit came later so then God is the higher being. But much theological debate abounds and suffice to say, that many Christians think that because Jesus was sent by God and the Holy Spirit is ‘sent by Christ at Pentecost’ that they did not exist beforehand!
However, the Bible tells us that they did. We first meet ‘God the Spirit’ in Genesis [1: 26] when God says, ‘let us’, thus placing the Holy Spirit at the beginning of creation, and in giving life to man the Spirit in Adam becomes a living being. Later Job affirms that, ‘The spirit of God has made me and breathed life into me’ [33:4] and there are many more Israelite and Old Testament references, for example, Psalm 104:30 and Isaiah 48:16.
Then, in the New Testament, Jesus comes as God, ‘made incarnate by the Holy Spirit’, sent in both human and divine form to redeem us from our sins, and described to me once by someone as the ‘heart of God’. As Christians we need a relationship with Jesus, God the Father, otherwise such a remoteness may lead to atheism. Likewise focussing exclusively on Jesus can become idolatrous and fanatical, without Jesus’ sacrifice [our justification] we could never know for ourselves of God’s grace and that He loves us unconditionally. Jesus came as humanity’s saviour; He paid the ransom for our awfulness so that we could be reconciled to God. For Christians the Holy Spirit seals our adoption through Christ and came to exist within us, from Baptism, into a lifelong moment-by moment of sanctification [1 Peter 1:2], until we reach God’s presence in a new creation, a new heaven. This is why when the Spirit is sought in isolation there is scope for division and confusion. The Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts to reconcile us with God’s gift of grace that, if we listen, gives us the wisdom to become Christ like. Any focus on one eclipses the other.
We are a complex humanity, sinful by nature of our human relationships and actions. To be developing as disciples of Christ we need wisdom in faith which guides a right discernment. Confusingly in Proverbs the author seems to be asking us to imagine ‘wisdom’ as yet another ‘person who assisted God’, whereas some maybe better interpret the me as the Holy Spirit. The ‘me’ in Proverbs 8? Perhaps the author simply understood the unfathomable depths of God’s nature and consequently separated it off in a metaphor ~ the idea of God’s wisdom as a person being easier to understand. I prefer to think of wisdom as an attribute of the Trinity, much like God’s grace, a gift for our lives and well-being. But in the end does God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit really mind the names we use as long as we love, worship and praise our Trinitarian Lord? Exploring a personal relationship with God is good, but we cannot contain Him and He will be to each of us something different anyway. What is undisputed is that our salvation is secured by faith alone and understanding the Trinity and how it affects our salvation can have a profound influence on faith-growth and a life lived but it is not, nor should it be possible to understand wholly this great mystery other than God gives us insight into Scripture and the wisdom to help us understand how to achieve salvation. In the waiting-time, the holisticness of the Trinity defines our faith and is what should shape our lives and church; they cannot be separated. Amen.
Blessed are you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three persons in one God. In your grace you have revealed yourself to us and invited us to share in your glory. God our Father, we give you thanks for your creation, for the beauty and wonder of our world. We ask your blessing on all who work in caring for the earth and may your Church lead others to respect the world and each other.
Lord, hear us...
Jesus Christ, Son of God, we give thanks for your grace revealed in our salvation. May we share with you in the bringing of all people to a greater freedom. We ask your blessing upon John our Bishop, Father Keith and Father Robert and for all who are praying and caring for the violated of our world. We remember especially the innocent victims of war and those who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes. Lord, turn the hearts of those intent of violence and hatred to the ways of reconciliation and peace.
Lord, hear us...
Holy Spirit of God, may we know your presence with us and within us. We give you thanks for the talents, gifts and abilities you give to us, and especially for those with wisdom to discern your ways. We ask your blessing on all who teach and learn. We ask for your guidance on all who are baptised. Help all the world to know your love and direction.
Lord, hear us...
Holy and blessed Three, we wonder at your unity and diversity and we remember before you all who are suffering because they feel unloved. Lord, we pray for the sick, suffering, housebound, elderly and troubled. We pray Lord, that they will be comforted by your healing touch.
Lord, hear us...
Lord, you are our Creator, Redeemer and Guide and you offer us new life and eternal life, and hence we remember in your presence all our loved ones and friends who are departed from us . May they rejoice in your love and presence now and forevermore.
Lord, hear us...
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for those who are unable to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.
[Prayer of St Richard of Chichester - adapted]
[Keep a moment of silence for spiritual communion with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters]
Affirm anew the threefold name, of Father, Spirit, Son,
our God whose saving acts proclaim a world’s salvation won.
In Him alone we live and move and breath and being find
the wayward children of His love who cares for humankind.
Timothy Dudley Smith [b.1926]
The Spirit of truth lead us into all truth, give us grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen.
Bible Readings: New Revised Standard Version  - Word of the Lord: Church in Wales - The Canterbury Preacher’s Companion 2010 - CCL Parish Copyright Licence: 753662