Trinity Sunday Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Trinity Sunday

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While every Christian worship service is a celebration of the Trinity, Trinity Sunday focuses explicitly on the mystery, power, and beauty of the triune God. Trinity Sunday, which is traditionally celebrated one week after Pentecost, marks the acknowledgment that all three persons of the Trinity exist together from eternity to eternity. Whereas other special services, such as Christmas, Good Friday, and Pentecost, are tied to specific events, this celebration is linked with a doctrine, which is itself a summary of scriptural teaching about God's being.

In Scripture

God calls a community modeled on the community of the Trinity in Deuteronomy 4:32-40 "Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other" (Deut. 4:34-35).

God gives his image-bearers dominion in Psalm 8 "You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet" (Ps. 8: 5-6).

The Psalmist's wonder at God's majesty in Psalm 29 "The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic" (Ps. 29:3-4).

Praise to the creating God in Psalm 33:1-12 "Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm" (Ps. 33:8-9).

The presence of wisdom at creation in Proverbs 8:22-31 "The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be" (Prov. 8:22-23).

Isaiah's awe in the throne room of God in Isaiah 6:1-8 "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: `Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.' The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke" (Isa. 6:1-4).

The Triune God at Jesus' baptism in Matthew 3:13-17 "And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, `This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased'" (Matt. 3:16-17).

Christ commissions his disciples in the name of the Triune God in Matthew 28:16-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).

Salvation comes from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in John 3:1-17 "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit ... For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:5,16).

Jesus speaks of the Spirit in John 16:12-15 "[The Spirit] will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14-15).

Justification in Romans 5:1-5 "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ ... and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rom. 5:1,5).

The Holy Spirit and union with Christ in Romans 8:12-17 "For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him" (Rom. 8:15-17).

The Triune God equips "But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment" (2 Cor. 1:21-22).

A Trinitarian blessing in 2 Corinthians 13:5-13 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you" (2 Cor. 13:13).

God sent the Spirit of the Son into our hearts "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, `Abba! Father!'" (Gal. 4:4-6).

One God "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:4-6).

The blood of Christ through the Spirit makes us clean before God in Hebrews 9:11-15 "For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!" (Heb. 9:13-14).

Points to Ponder

The divine encounter with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Trinity Sunday is a day to reflect on just who it is we encounter in worship each week, and why that divine encounter with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit informs everything we do in worship. It is not something about which one can finally be very casual. There's awesomeness here. There is grandeur here. And so worship makes room for times of awe-inspired silence and humility.

Our Christian identity and mission are given to us as we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).

Worship Our worship is not only directed to the triune God but is also enabled by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the mediation of Jesus Christ. At its best, our worship is also an expression of the unity and common purpose of the church, which Jesus prayed would reflect the unity between himself and God (John 17:20-21). The visual environment of worship should be conducive to adoration and praise before the mystery of the holy Trinity. Though green is the color of Ordinary Time, the season following Pentecost, white or gold is appropriate for Trinity Sunday. The use of trinitarian creeds is especially appropriate for worship on this day.

Symbols In contrast to the Western tradition that has often depicted the Trinity by way of a triangle, the Eastern tradition has usually opted for a circle to convey the idea of perichoresis, of the circular dance of the three persons in God. Call it the divine choreography, if you will. It's a dance of life and love that is never-ending as each person adoringly waltzes with every other person in a divine eagerness to make known to the world the riches of one another. The Father pours out everything onto the Son. The Spirit then takes all that from the Son to pour out these riches on all other people. Each person in God exudes enthusiasm for the other two (and the three together display a zestful enthusiasm for us all).

Perichoresis Creation itself sprang from a bubbling overflow of God's love. Like a shaken-up bottle of champagne, so also God's love within the Trinity was so effervescent, so richly pressured and full that sooner or later the cork had to explode out and when it did, a river of sparkling love gushed forth and sprayed everywhere. Creation is that overflow of love. God wanted to share the life and the love he already had so exquisitely among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Greek theologians of the Trinity in the early church liked to talk about what they termed "perichoresis," which is a Greek word meaning in essence the interpenetrating dance of love shared by the three persons in the Godhead. Whereas in the Western tradition of the church we have tended to depict the Trinity as a triangle, the Eastern church has always preferred a circle. The Trinity is like an ever-moving circle of dance in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constantly and forever move in and through one another in perfect bliss, harmony, and self-forgetful joy. The three persons of God are so invested in one another, so interested in one another, so caring of one another that although three persons they form just one God. They've been serving each other from all eternity and finding holy joy in that loving co-service. So it is no surprise that at some point those three persons decided that so great was this love, so focused was this love on the other, that they wanted an entire universe of others with whom to further share the love.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.