Readings – Year B
Isaiah receives a vision of God in God’s glory in the Temple, and he hears the seraphim singing “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Then, after he has confessed and been cleansed, he hears God asking for someone whom God can send, and he volunteers.
A psalm in praise of God’s glory, the power and majesty of God’s voice, and acknowledging God as the eternal ruler over creation, the heavenly beings and all people.
By the power of God’s Spirit, we are heirs with Christ of God’s glory, we are adopted as children of God, and we are able to live according to the Spirit’s leading, not following our sinful nature.
Jesus teaches Nicodemus that, in order to see God’s Reign, he must be born of the Spirit. For whoever believes in Jesus, sent by God into the world to save the world, receives God’s eternal life.
(All summaries of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
RCL readings in landscape double sided format, COCU40B.TrinitySunday.readings
Components of worship (links to resources on this website)
Prayer of thanksgiving
Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are
Words of Assurance
Prayer for Illumination
Prayers for others
Prayer of Dedication
Benediction and sending out
An adaption of St Patrick’s Breastplate by Christine Sine
We bind unto ourselves today
the strong name of the trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in three.
We bind this day to us forever, by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River; his death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb; His riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom; We bind unto ourselves today.
We cast off the works of darkness today,
And put on the armour of light,
Light before us and behind,
Light within and light without,
Light to guide and to lead us,
Let us clothe ourselves with Christ.
Christ behind us, Christ before us,
Christ beside us, Christ to win us,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath us, Christ above us,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love us,
Christ in mouth of friend & stranger
Let us wrap ourselves around with the belt of truth,
And strap on the breastplate of righteousness,
Let us clad our feet with the gospel of peace,
place the helmet of salvation on our heads.
And take up the shield of faith.
Let us clothe ourselves with Christ.
We bind unto ourselves today, the power of God to hold and lead,
God’s eye to watch, God’s might to stay, God’s ear to harken to our need,
The wisdom of our God to teach, God’s hand to guide, and shield to ward,
The Word of God to give us speech, God’s heavenly host to be our guard.
In the love of God who shelters us,
In the light of Christ who walks beside us,
In the power of the Spirit who dwells within us,
We place ourselves today.
Let us clothe ourselves with Christ.
We bind unto ourselves today the strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation, Eternal God, Spirit, Word;
Praise to the God of our salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
(Source: Christine Sine, Godspace)
Dorothy Sayers (Mind of the Maker): “For every work of creation is threefold, an earthly trinity to match the heavenly. First, there is the Creative Idea, passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning: and this is the image of the Father. Second, there is the Creative Energy begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to the end, with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of matter: and this is the image of the Word. Third, there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul: and this is the image of the indwelling Spirit.”
Do you want to know what goes on in the core of the Trinity?
I will tell you.
In the core of the Trinity
the Father laughs
and gives birth to the Son.
The Son laughs back at the Father
and gives birth to the Spirit.
The whole Trinity laughs
and gives birth to us.
(Meister Eckhart, German theologian, philosopher and mystic, 1260-1327)
Trinity Sunday is the only week in the year when the focus of our worship is a doctrine. This year, though, the readings move the Trinitarian theme beyond the realm of purely intellectual fascination, into a very practical response to the radical transformation that comes from an encounter with this Triune God. May the mystery of the Trinity challenge and change us as we worship this week. (John van de Laar)
Trinity Sunday gathering litany
Within a mystery
lies another mystery
Within a mystery
lies a sacrament
within a sacrament
lies a journey
through a journey
lies a living
within a living
lies a calling
within a calling
lies our God
within our God
lies a mystery
always a mystery
within another mystery
Things are never as they seem
This is Trinity Sunday
not some enigma to solve
but a mystery to live
Welcome into God
Source: Roddy Hamilton’s Mucky Paws. He suggests that you: “Take apart a Russian Doll as you read this (make sure there are enough dolls inside to complete the reading).”
Abba, Father, Mother, Creator–we call You by many names, but the names we choose show our relationship with You. We desire to draw closer to You, O God. We desire to hear Your voice above the chatter of the world, to know Your ways and to walk in them.
Spirit of Life, Wind and Breath among us, we feel You move through us, guiding us on our journey, inspiring us to share Your love with others.
Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of us all, our Brother and Friend, we desire to walk in Your ways and to love one another as You have first loved us.
Triune God, we desire to relate to You and to each other more fully, so that we might draw into the depths of Your love, first glimpsed at creation, when Your voice called us and the earth forth out of darkness into Your light. Continue to call us, guide us and lead us into this world and beyond. Amen.
(c) Rev Mindi, Rev-o-lution blog.
Prayer of praise
God, whose word spoke life and creativity into a formless universe,
and order to a nation of escaped slaves,
whose strong and compassionate voice challenged injustice through frail prophets,
we praise you.
Jesus, whose touch smoothed the broken skin of lepers,
and brought a bleeding woman back to health and belonging,
whose hand raised dead girls, and refused to throw stones at prostitutes,
we praise you.
Spirit, whose breath restores souls and bodies,
and whose presence comforts the grieving,
whose fire ignites compassion within us for the healing of the nations,
we praise you.
God of wholeness,
we celebrate the healing you bring to us and our world,
and we celebrate the promised wholeness
that awaits all of creation
in your eternal reign. Amen. (c) John van de Laar
Call to worship
Holy Creator, we have come to worship you.
Open our eyes to see your glory!
Holy Christ, we have come to follow you.
Guide our steps to walk more closely to you!
Holy Spirit, we have come to be reborn in you.
Teach us to embrace the gift of new life!
Together, let us worship the Triune God!
(c) Amy Loving, Worship Closet
Prayer of Confession
Then I heard the voice of the Holy One saying,
“Who shall I send, and who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I; send me!” —Isaiah 6.8
I am an unclean person, living among the unclean.
Our complicity in oppression and injustice is deep.
Our privilege is an entrenched addiction.
No angel can cauterize my racism with a single burn.
No single vision can open my eyes all the way.
But I can be led. I can grow. I can risk for God.
I can let the Spirit light my fuse and send me out
to witness, to speak out, to proclaim justice.
My resistance to public witness is my resistance to the Spirit.
That’s the limit of my faith, the edge of how far I’m willing
to be guided by the Spirit, to experience God,
to be vulnerable for the sake of the vulnerable, to be born again.
Out on the street, speaking your mercy, at the limit of my power,
there is where I will be born again, a new person,
a dependent infant in your strong and loving arms.
Your Spirit burns in me, and either it burns me up,
or it sends me out with light and warmth to the people.
Yes, I am unworthy. Yes, I am unprepared.
Yes, I am a little afraid. But send me.
Touch me with your fire, and send me.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
Prayers of Intercession/prayers for others
A desperate world
We are a world that is desperate for you, God.
When powers struggle for dominance,
and war, oppression and abuse result;
When groups of people oppose one another
because of ideology, religion or culture;
We need a God who is bigger than ourselves,
and our personal interests.
Prayer may be offered for specific areas of conflict in the world.
When people are disregarded and devalued
because of poverty, geography or disease;
When compassion and justice is withheld to some
because of sexuality, race or gender;
We need a Saviour who is more compassionate than we are
who includes even those we would exclude.
Prayer may be offered for specific people and places of suffering in the world.
When resources are mismanaged and abused,
and the world and its creatures are destroyed;
When motivation is scarce and creativity is in short supply
to address the challenges that we face;
We need a Spirit who is more powerful and more creative
than we could ever be.
Prayer may be offered for specific challenges and issues that we struggle with in the world.
Lord God, Loving Saviour, Empowering Spirit,
we offer you these prayers
because we need you so desperately.
Captivate us, call us and fill us,
that we may be carriers of your eternal life
to this world that you love so dearly. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)
See more Prayers for Others on this website.
We believe in God the Father,
who is faithful to all his promises,
and loving towards all he has made.
We believe in God the Son,
whose kingdom is everlasting,
whose dominion endures for ever.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who satisfies the needs of all things living.
We believe in God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
and rich in love. Amen.
(Source: Written by Michael Perry. ©Mrs B Perry, The Jubilate Group)
The following could be adapted for the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving for Trinity Sunday:
A love so strong by John van de Laar
We thank You, God, for a love so strong, that you would fashion a universe, place within it a world, and give life to creatures so that you could have someone to love.
That you would confront the worst that people can do and conquer without drawing any blood but your own.
That you would breathe your Spirit into what you made, allowing human hands to share in building your life and purpose in the world.
That you would live in that which you created, and inspire love for you in our hearts, so that when we take the time to look we would find you in each other and share the love we have found in you.
The love of the faithful Creator,
The peace of the wounded Healer,
The joy of the challenging Spirit,
The hope of the Three-in-One
surround and encourage us
today, tonight, and forever.
May the blessing of God – the Creator, the Healer,
and the Spirit,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.
(The Pattern of our Days, Iona Community)
All Hail, Majestic Trinity!
Tune suggestions (18.104.22.168 LM meter):
OLD HUNDREDTH (Praise God from whom all blessings flow)
DUKE STREET (Jesus shall reign where’er the sun)
O WALY, WALY (Tho’ I may speak with bravest fire)
All hail, majestic Trinity!
All hail, eternal unity!
O God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Spirit, ever one.
One living God, our hearts adore;
three Persons, now and evermore;
and in your loving mercy kind
salvation’s promised hope we find.
O Trinity, O Unity,
our God, both now and ever be;
and with the songs that angels sing
we shall rejoice, all-glorious king.
(Translated from the original Latin 10th Century by Michael Saward, after John Chambers (1805-93). (c) Michael Saward / Jubilate Hymns.
Please report the use of this hymn on your CCLI license)
Trinity Hymn (tune: Ellacombe)
The void that rippled with your breath
was ordered to your will;
then life evolved, as love informed
your purpose and your skill.
That love, the ground of all that was,
of all that is to be,
inspired the prophets, fired each word,
and still is wild and free.
The fire of love was never quenched,
yet all your power distilled
until a human frame contained
all that you loved and willed.
You came in humble gentleness,
to live beneath this sky,
and though your flesh was scourged and torn
your love would never die.
Beyond the cross, beyond the grave,
you lived audacious hope,
and proved that truth and grace could give
a life of greater scope.
And now the spirit fires our lives
and we are living proof
that God who formed the universe
loves now through grace and truth.
(c) Andrew Pratt 19/3/2010, Hymns and Books.
Psalm 8 music suggestions – check out Christine Longhurst’s list.
Holy Holy Holy
I was interested to find a version of ‘Holy Holy Holy’ on a Unitarian site with reference to the Trinity omitted. See what you think.
Tune: NICAEA (Irregular)
1. Ho-ly, ho-ly, ho-ly! O God Al-migh-ty!
Ear-ly in the morn-ing our song shall rise to thee;
Ho-ly, ho-ly, ho-ly, mer-ci-ful and migh-ty!
Per-fect in power, in love, and pu-ri-ty.
2. Ho-ly, ho-ly, ho-ly! All the saints a-dore thee,
cast-ing down their gol-den crowns a-round the glass-y sea;
Che-rub-im and se~raph-im fall-ing down be-fore thee,
who was, and is, and ev-er-more shall be.
3. Ho-ly, ho-ly, ho-ly! though the night-fall hide thee,
hin-dered by our va-ni-ties we have not eyes to see;
On-ly thou art ho-ly; there is none be-side thee,
names with-out num-ber, blest in u-ni-ty!
4. Ho-ly, ho-ly, ho-ly! O God Al-migh-ty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Ho-ly, ho-ly, ho-ly; mer-ci-ful and migh-ty!
Per-fect in power, in love, and pu-ri-ty. A-men.
Noble, Yet Mystical Ground… (Tune: ‘Was Lebet’ 11 10 11 10D)
Noble, yet mystical, ground of creation,
star-fire and sun shower, and darkness and dreams;
all that through senses draws forth adoration,
God, we would worship, the love that redeems.
Human, yet awesome, the Christ, our relation,
offers a spirit: we learn to forgive.
Conquering our will this divine annexation
offers a way for us simply to live.
Spirit of living gives hope for our dying,
something transcending this life and its frame,
onward and upward in faith we are flying,
goal of existence, your love is our aim.
(Source: Andrew Pratt)
A reflection on the duality of ‘flesh/earthly desires’ and ‘spiritual life’
(this week’s Gospel and Epistle) and who is acceptable (‘in’) and who’s not (‘out’)
It is easy to read Paul’s letter to the Romans with a ‘duality’ mindset – either the flesh/earthly ways, or the way of the spiritual life. This excerpt from an article by Bil Aulenbach provides a thoughtful reflection on ‘bounded conscience’. At the end of the article is a link to Geoff Boyce’s book, Radical Hospitality, and a discussion about Hiebert’s bounded circles.
Martin Luther during the Reformation spoke about ‘bound conscience’: the human conscience could be bound and led astray by earthly or diabolical influences, or it could be simultaneously bound and freed by God and Scripture.
That was five hundred years ago. Now the term has been reinterpreted to allow church members to either follow Jesus’s commandment to love one’s neighbors or hang on to their prejudices forever as they see fit. Here are several examples of prejudices that can hide behind bound consciences:
* White men are superior.
* Gay men have made a bad choice.
* Women become lesbians because they can’t find a man.
* Transgender people are all drag queens.
* Muslims are all terrorists.
* Jews killed Jesus.
* And there are many more!
It seems that some people could spend their whole life with a frozen bound conscience and still be welcomed at church. This is problematic for me. In my opinion, anyone who professes to be a Follower of the Way but subscribes to any of the above ideas is an intolerant bigot—period!
Before I learned about agape, I was guilty of believing all of the above derogatory statements – even though I went to church every Sunday, and was a ‘good’ church member. At the same time, I commonly used offensive language to refer to people who were different from me. I suspect one could have called me a person with a bound conscience, but let’s call a spade a spade – I was a bigot hiding behind Jesus’s skirts.
Then I met the historical Jesus and heard his message loud and clear: As a Follower of the Way, I had to love every human being unconditionally. There could be no lists of undesirables, no derogatory name calling, no exceptions, and no such thing as a bound conscience.
That is what the parable of the prodigal son is about. That kid had messed up badly, but his dad loved him unconditionally—no questions asked. We, as Followers, are supposed to follow that example. No exceptions and no bound conscience shenanigans.
So-called Christians who have lists of undesirables, often long ones, are more like a political cult established to reinforce their prejudices with like-minded folks. They vote in blocs to ensure that fellow bigots are elected; that the LGBTQUI community is deemed unacceptable; that women and children remain subservient; that other religions are disparaged; that strangers are not welcomed; and on and on.
Down with bound consciences! Up with agape! What say ye?
Mysticism, Separation, and Unity by Carol McColman
Originally published on Patheos 2018
(reflections on duality, and possible application to the Gospel and Epistle reading)
Does the mystical life inherently involve a quest for separation — from the world, the flesh, the body, basically from all that is “not-God”? In other words, does our quest for union with God necessarily imply withdrawing from anything and everything that threatens to hold us back from God?
Certainly mystical traditions from around the world — not just Christianity — have plenty of writings and teachings that speak to this idea: that renunciation of all that is “not-God” is essential to truly embracing God.
It’s what Plotinus called “the flight of the alone to the Alone.” Only in my solitude — my separation, my claustration, my rejection of all that is “impure” — can I truly be prepared to receive God in God’s fullness. Or so the thinking goes.
There are plenty of buts that can go here. Is this quest for spiritual purity actually a kind of dualism, a way of thinking that “Spirit” is holy and good, while “matter” — and, in particular, “the body” — is somehow defective, or sinful, or even evil?
That seems problematic enough.
Perhaps an ever bigger “but” — at least for Christians — is the recognition that this kind of escape-from-matter is not something that Jesus taught — or, at the very least, not something he consistently taught.
The Gospels make it clear: the spiritual teachings of Jesus tend to emphasize mercy over judgment, hospitality over purity, and loving others over trying to be “good enough” for God.
I don’t mean to imply that Jesus never taught separation — after all, he said that only those who were willing to deny their earthly families were worthy to be his disciples. But overall, his message seems to be pretty earth-, body-, and community-positive. He does not call for separation so much as integration.
As is so often the case in mystical wisdom, we have bumped into yet another paradox here. Yes, there is a long tradition of mysticism-as-escape-from-the-suffering-of-the-world. But there is also, arguably, just as long of a tradition that celebrates the mysticism-of-finding-God-in-all-things. All things — even in the things that some contemplatives might feel we ought to separate ourselves from. Examples of the Paradox
St. Thomas à Kempis, in his classic book The Imitation of Christ, argues that a person of faith should avoid talking to strangers (this may have been pragmatic; after all, he lived in a time when the bubonic plague was still fresh in the memory of Europeans). But in his Holy Rule, St. Benedict insists that monks should welcome their guests as if they were welcoming Christ himself.
Then there is The Cloud of Unknowing, a 14th-century book which insists that we should put all our earthly cares, loves, and attachments under a “cloud of forgetting” when we seek God who is hidden in a “cloud of unknowing.” But another author from the same time, Julian of Norwich, insists in her Revelations of Divine Love that “the fullness of joy is to behold God in all.”
The twentieth century mystic Thomas Merton embodies the paradox himself, in his own life. As a young man, newly converted to Catholicism, he visited Havana and attended a Mass at a Franciscan Church, where — as he recounts in The Seven Storey Mountain — he encounters the presence of God by gazing at the elevated host: a God of purity, of distance, of transcendence. About eighteen years later, he tells the story in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander of a moment of epiphany he experienced on a street corner in downtown Louisville, KY — where in a flash of mystical insight he realized “he loved all those people,” seeing God’s presence in the passersby with such lucidity that it seemed to him as if everyone were walking around, “shining like the sun.”
So which of these is the true path of the mystic? The path of renunciation, of separation, of purification and self-denial — or the path of compassion, of connection, of hospitality, of celebration?
Do we opt for St. Ignatius of Loyola, who taught us to find God in all things, or do we stick with St. Francis de Sales, who emphasized penance and purgation in his teachings?Resolving the Paradox
The reality is, mystical wisdom has always included these two essential “dynamics” of the mystical life: the path of purity, and the path of hospitality.
The path of purity stresses love of God over love of neighbour, and indeed argues that we should be willing to surrender everything in order to embrace union with God. “Sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow me.” I think many Christians in our time resist this strand in Christian teaching — because we too easily see how it can be abused, or how it can turn into a subtle form of self-hatred, a kind of spiritual anorexia.
But I don’t think we can just abandon the spirituality of separation, because it’s part of the tradition. Some of Jesus’s teachings, and Paul’s teachings, certainly seem to affirm separation and purity as important dynamics of spirituality.
Here is what I’d like to suggest: the spirituality of separation helps to prepare us to love others, by learning how to give ourselves totally to God. In other words, separation may be an important dimensions of spirituality for a season. It’s the spiritual equivalent of boot camp. If you enlist in the army or the marines, you don’t spend your entire career at boot camp (unless you end up a boot camp instructor). You get your basic training, and then you go on to where you are called to serve.
So the spirituality of separation is the “boot camp” of the mystical life. It would be a mistake to drop anchor there (sorry for the mixed metaphor). Ultimately, God calls us to understanding the distinction between creator and creature, not to make us hate creation, but to prepare us, paradoxically, to find God right in the middle of it.
In other words, Merton’s otherworldly mystical experience at the Mass in Cuba was a step on the path to his profoundly this-worldly epiphany on the street-corner, almost twenty-years later. He had to give his heart totally to God — and then God directed him to give that God-surrendered heart to everyone.
Hospitality, compassion, service. The marks of a mature spiritual life — a mature mystical life.
So mystics and contemplatives need a season of separation, of purification, of letting-go and holding on to God alone — but only to prepare ourselves for the lifelong practice of finding God in all things, finding Christ in all people, finding the fullness of joy by beholding God in all. We separate ourselves from all things out of love for God — and then God sends us right back into the world, to bring God’s love and mercy and hospitality to all who need it.