Thought for the Week: 24th May 2020
This thought was written by Steve Langton.
The opening words of a sermon most likely to make people go to sleep are surely ‘today we are going to talk about the Trinity’. I am going to do just that, but please don’t put your sheet of paper in the bin or close the window on your electronic device!
It is sometimes said that the Trinity is not a biblical concept. Whilst the word ‘Trinity’ is not found in our bibles, the three different ‘persons’ of God are so often to be seen in scripture. Today’s readings are no exception. Firstly we have our gospel reading from John 17: 1-11 in which we eavesdrop on Jesus praying, illustrating very clearly that God the son is distinct from God the Father. Then in the account of the ascension from Acts 1: 6-14 Jesus promises the disciples that they will receive the Holy Spirit in order to help them spread the gospel:
‘… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
So within these two passages we see the three distinct persons of the trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three are not the same, and yet they are all aspects of the same God. That is what the Trinity is about. God the father created the world. God the son lived as a human being and knows first hand both the joys of life, and its low points. Finally God the Holy Spirit is with us, helping us in our daily lives, no matter what challenges we might face.
Whilst we particularly relate to Jesus in human form, verse 5 of John 17 makes it clear that Jesus existed with God from before the world began:
Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
And of course, he will be there at the end of the world. Similarly with the Holy Spirit; we tend to associate the Spirit with Pentecost, but Genesis makes it clear that the Holy Spirit was there from the start. The Trinity is the eternal nature of God, not a temporary phenomenon relating to the period of Jesus and the early church.
I’m sure that my brief summary of the trinity is theologically incomplete. However, we do not need to be theologians to understand how the three aspects of God can help and guide us, any more than we need to be electrical engineers to use our TVs.
Let us finish with a prayer about the Trinity from Tom Wright:
Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
Set up your kingdom in our midst.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:
Renew me and all the world. Amen.