Readings: Lectionary Year A, Trinity Sunday
Isaiah 40:12-17,27-31 God’s greatness is expressed in care for the weak.
Psalm 8 God takes the risk of sharing dominion over creation with humans.
2 Corinthians 13:11-13 A plea for peace in the church, and God’s blessing.
Matthew 28:16-20 Jesus commissions his disciples for their global mission.
Sections of a window in St. Mary’s church, Houghton, by Dorothy Marion Grant (1959). The whole window illustrates the clauses of the Nicene Creed
These sections are for the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. A lamb for the Son, and a dove for the Holy Spirit are chosen from Scripture (John 1:29, Matthew 3:16) but what does ‘a hand, raised in blessing’ say to you about the Father? What symbols or images would you choose to depict the Trinity?
Some thoughts on the readings
• The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are written with the shadow of Jerusalem’s fall growing ever darker. In chapter 40 the mood shifts entirely. Most scholars see this as a new voice picking up the prophetic mantle of “Isaiah” many decades after the first Isaiah.
• Psalm 8 has a sense of perspective: the universe is great, God even greater, with humans fitting somewhere in the middle with “dominion” over the works of God’s hands. But “dominion” does not mean we can disrespect, waste, and destroy God’s works, as we too often do.
• The first Christians quickly came to the conclusion that God is both three and one, putting together clues from the Old Testament with what they had seen in the life of Jesus. The Trinitarian formulae which Paul and Matthew use are early expressions of that belief – the Creeds came later.
Suggestions for further Bible reading
Isaiah 48:12-16 It’s not always clear in these chapters who is the “I” who is speaking, but here it seems to be both the Lord, and the servant of the Lord, with the addition in verse 16 of “his [the Lord’s] spirit” – a Trinity clue.
Acts 7:54-56 Stephen “filled with the Holy Spirit” has a vision of Jesus and “God”. Although Stephen’s own words don’t mention the Holy Spirit, and the passage is written with hindsight, this is another Trinity clue.
Psalm 144:3-4 Emphasises God’s power and human frailty: compare this to Psalm 8:3-5 which emphasises how God shares power and glory with us.
What other Bible passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?
Points for Prayer
• Give thanks for recent rain, and for the crops maturing in the fields.
• Give thanks for teachers, shop staff, delivery workers, refuse collectors, emergency services, utilities, lifeboat crews, defence forces, and so many others who have continued working throughout this time of crisis.
• Pray that the riots and tensions in the United States of America will be turned to peace. Pray that the racism and hatred of others, which is at the root of so much suffering and injustice, will be brought to an end.
• Pray for the schools in our area as children gradually return to the classroom. Pray for teachers, staff , and children as they work in new circumstances – for safety, patience, learning and fun.
Some prayers you may find helpful
• The Post-Communion prayer for Trinity Sunday
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.
• The Collect (Church of England set prayer) for Trinity Sunday
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.
• A prayer from the Church of Scotland
Holy, Holy, Holy – let angels cry
Who see and know You face to face.
Blessed are You, Maker of all from nothing;
Blessed are You, Saviour of all from sin;
Blessed are You, Spirit of all,
In all, and through all.
Blessed are You,
God alone, yet in community.
Bless, O God, Your Church on earth
With the harmony and diversity of heaven,
That we may be one, as You are one.
• A prayer from the Sisters of Mercy
Good and gracious God,
you invite us to recognize and reverence your divine image and likeness in our neighbour.
Enable us to see the reality of racism, and free us to challenge and uproot it from our society, our world and ourselves.
• The Additional Collect for Trinity Sunday
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.
Some hymns you may enjoy
While we are not meeting for worship, you can enjoy hymns online, for example, from YouTube. You can sing along – nobody can hear you!
• The splendour of a king by Chris Tomlin (2004)
• Eternal Father, strong to save by William Whiting (1860)
• Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty by Reginald Heber (1783-1826)
• Affirm anew the threefold name by Timothy Dudley Smith (1926-)
• Thou whose almighty word by John Marriott (1823)
• I bind unto myself today translated by C F Alexander (1889)
• Meekness and majesty by Graham Kendrick (1986)
• King of Kings by Hillsong Worship (2019)
Points for Action
• ‘Clap for carers’ has ended, spend some time thinking of, and acting on, ways to express our appreciation for people who make our lives easier and safer. You could use the ‘give thanks’ list above as a starting point.
• Britain has been nearly 2 months (and counting) without using any coal-generated electricity – the covid-19 shutdown has helped. Work out how you can contribute further to reducing the need for fossil fuels.