Household Worship – Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday
June 7, 2020 

A printable PDF is HERE.

Divine arithmetic?
As children, many adult Christians were taught that God is one and God is three. Schooled in this same heavenly arithmetic, many preachers in the history of Christianity have reduced this calculus to a proposition: God is a trinity of being. Case closed. Just accept it (or privately choose to ignore it) and focus on what seems more manageable, more tangible: the life of Jesus. But is that what Christian life is really about: giving one’s assent to a proposition?

It can come as a surprise to some if not many Christians that feminist, African American, and Hispanic theologians find the Holy Three to be one of the most liberating dimensions of Christian faith and life: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Liberating, you said? How is that possible? Isn’t the Trinity just two men and a bird or a fabrication of long-dead Greek theologians? Hmm. Let’s step back for a second and hear what these contemporary thinkers have to say.

Opening up, not closing down
First, God is more mystery than any proposition about divinity. If God is the ultimate reality that quenches the thirst in our souls, then we have to recognize that our human words and images will never capture fully who God is … and who we are. There will always be more than we can imagine. Say it again: there will always be more than we can imagine about God and about ourselves. If anything, that claim should nourish a good measure of humility in us. Perhaps this is why we might find ourselves uncomfortable in the presence of those who speak of God as if God were the next-door neighbor handing out peppy advice on how to get through the day or as the divine handler one calls in an emergency. Yet God is greater than just one thing and if there is more to God than we have imagined, our temptation to think that we fully know God begins to diminish. Well, one hopes.

Second, the notion that God is a strong (“all-powerful”) white male simply supports the cultural patriarchy that has seduced Christians for centuries (though not every century). None of us have been helped in imaging God by those male artists who painted God to look just like them: old white guys. But if God is a community, our contemporary theologians say, things begin to open up. And if that community is a not a neat pair of two but a lop-sided three, things begin to get even more interesting. In others words, say those who have reflected long and hard on the mystery of God, there is asymmetry in God and there is an opening up beyond neat dualisms in God and in human life (you know: black vs. white, good vs. bad, us vs. them, women vs. men). And if there is opening up in God, a breaking out of neat and often confining boundaries, and that opening up spills forth into a diverse and marvelous creation (see Genesis 1-2; Psalm 104), it would seem that this Mystery of the Three is eager for human lives to be opened up, not closed down. That sounds more like a liberating force than a neat proposition that induces sleepiness.

When newcomers ask why Episcopalians are committed to forming an inclusive church in which people should experience freedom from the harsh prejudices and deadening stereotypes in our culture, the first answer just might be this: we worship a communal God who delights in diversity, a God who is committed to opening up rather than closing down life, a God who is loving, liberating, and life-giving. Is this not what we yearn for as the nation is rocked by protests against the sin of racism and the brutal murder of one man as well as many more innocent people of color? Take note: this Holy Three is alive within each and every one of us washed in the water of new birth. This triune God is nudging us and sometimes pushing us to let our lives and our communities be filled with this same loving, liberating, and life-giving Presence. 

With the feast of the Holy Trinity, we come to the end of one cycle in the year and begin a new one; we will soon move into Ordinary Time with its many shades of green. One of the oldest images of the Triune God shows three angelic figures seated around a table where there is a cup and a fourth seat for the viewer. Household worship can take place anywhere but it is most appropriate at table: an image of divine hospitality, an opening to the visitor, the stranger, or the person who is hungry. The color appointed for Holy Trinity is white, an inherently positive color associated with light, brilliance, and enlightenment. Do you have a white tablecloth to dress your table? And speaking of illumination, light a candle on this day. Anglican spirituality holds that all the senses reveal God’s presence – not just texts and speaking or singing. Flowers and incense mark festive holy days among us and are rightly incorporated in household worship. On the last page of this bulletin (after the Notes) you will find a large image of the “Iona Trinity,” an icon based on the well-known “Holy Trinity” icon of 14th-15th century Russian iconographer, Andrei Rublev. If you can print it, let it serve as the focus of your prayer.

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Make the sign of the cross and say
(+) The Sacred Three be over me,
the blessing of the Trinity.

Join the Christ Church Choir and Assembly in singing “All glory be to God on high,” (Hymnal 1982 #421) at:

Pray this prayer

God of heaven and earth,
before the foundation of the universe,
you are the triune and life-giving God:
Author of creation, eternal Word of salvation,
and life-giving Spirit of wisdom.
Guide us to all truth by your Spirit,
that we may proclaim with our lives
all that Christ has revealed of your love.
Praised be you, O Holy Three, now and forever. Amen 

The Word of God for Trinity Sunday
The Gospel is the primary reading of the day and should always be read. It follows after a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, a Psalm, and a reading from the early church. The first three readings are found here: 

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Psalm 8
Listen as the ACDA National Children’s Honor Choir sings this setting of the psalm.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 28:16-20
Read the gospel aloud without rushing. Allow the images to enter your consciousness: let them find a home within.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Glory to you, Lord Christ

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Christ.

A meditation by Richard Rohr, OFM, on the Holy Trinity and Racism
A Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr is an author and spiritual leader living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation.

“When you start with a conception of God as an old white man sitting in the clouds, it is of little surprise that white men, empowered white men, are considered the closest to God and the most worthy of respect and value. It becomes a top-down universe, a pyramid much more than the circle marked by equality, marked by a gentle dance between all. The Trinity as a community, even a dancing community, is indeed the daring image that ignited the finest intuitions of early Christian theologians, prompting consensus around this utterly new revelation of God. It took them three centuries to make full sense of Jesus’ language about what he named “Father,” how he understood himself, and what he named ‘Holy Spirit.’

“Our common form of dualistic thinking just could not process such three-fold and one-ness evocations at the same time. It was frankly, illogical. How could we reconcile what seemed like a huge logical and theological problem? The human ego is so resistant to anything its mind cannot quickly process and control; it prefers separateness and a sense of superiority — precisely what the Trinity rejects.

“Yet if we do not discern and celebrate difference on the level of what is visible in humanity, what hope is there on issues where ‘difference’ is often much more striking (race, gender, and class)? Every one of these issues is searching for its own locus of authority today, and as naïve as it might sound to some, I believe the Trinity does provide such an appropriate locus of authority for those who are willing to trust it and allow it: God is precisely one by holding together very real difference.

“God’s pattern and goal has never been naïve uniformity but radical diversity (1 Corinthians 12:4ff) maintained in a communion ‘of perfect love’ that infinitely self-empties and infinitely outpours—at the same time. This Divine pattern is, of course, most beautifully revealed in ‘the array of creation’ (Genesis 2:1). God is forever ‘making room’ and ‘infilling’ all things throughout the creation; this is the Way of the Flow.

“This is, in our finite understanding, an utterly new logic and is the foundation for the success of the human project for those ready to embrace at the level of experience what they already confess in the creeds.

“Of course, it is precisely self-emptying that the human ego resists and opposes; yet without this self-emptying, the whole waterwheel of divine love does not flow through us. We may like infilling, being ‘empowered,’ but we do not know how to make room for that infilling. This is always and forever the spiritual problem. This is the root of racism: failing to make room within our communities and ourselves for others. This is what the tradition courageously refers to as ‘sin.’

“In my reading of the Gospels, this explains why Jesus exemplified the path of self-emptying (the kenosis of Philippians 2:7) and making room for ‘otherness’ (John 16:7). The Jesus path is a constant visible lesson in both allowing and handing on, receiving and giving away what is received. He makes the Divine Waterwheel visible and attractive, so we can trust this process and even fall in love with it (1 John 1:1-2): we can step into what this mighty river of God’s mercy and restorative justice has always been doing — challenging the idol of superiority, the idol of false oneness under the guise of uniformity, the idol of exclusion. Christ is the choreography of new creation made visible, and we are still being invited to this dance, this making room for ‘otherness’ in our lives.”

Listen to the Christ Church Choir sing under the direction of Kathryn Nichols, with Mark Brombaugh, organ, and Zachary Lyman and Morris Northcutt, trumpet

Come, thou Fount of every blessing! Tune my heart to sing thy grace!
Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise;
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount—I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love!

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy grace I’ve come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home;
Jesus sought me, when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger, interspersed his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter; bind my wandering heart to thee!
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it! Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it! Seal it for thy courts above!

O that day when freed from sinning, I shall see thy lovely face!
Clothed then in blood-washed linen, how I’ll sing thy sovereign grace!
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry, take my ransomed soul away!
Send thine angel now to carry me to realms of endless day.

Prayers for the church, the world, and all who are in need
These intercessions may be used, adding others in each household

O triune God, bless the proclamation of your Word, and pour your Spirit on church leaders and all the baptized. Give wisdom and stamina to those who work in the Episcopal Church Center and in diocesan offices.
Holy One, Holy Three, we pray: Grant your threefold blessing.

O triune God, as at the beginning of time your word and spirit visited the earth, so now sustain this planet with your renewing care. Teach us to protect and cherish your whole creation so that future generations may flourish.
Holy One, Holy Three, we pray: Grant your threefold blessing.

O triune God, guide with your powerful mercy our troubled nation where relationships are fractured and injustice marks the land. Heal our wounded people. Give hope to the despairing. Protect the protestors. Save us from bloodshed. Preserve our cities from more tumult, and keep away those intent on destruction.
Holy One, Holy Three, we pray: Grant your threefold blessing.

O triune God, heal the sick, uphold all who face oppression, feed the hungry. We ask your mercy on the millions who suffer from the coronavirus – the sick, the dying, the bereaved, the unemployed. Uphold medical workers, strengthen public servants, and inspire those who seek a vaccine.
Holy One, Holy Three, we pray: Grant your threefold blessing.

O triune God, as summer begins, give safety to those who travel and contentment to those who cannot. Give a sense of Sabbath rest to the many who must stay home. Shine your sun on famers’ fields, so that enough food will grow for our needs and shield all farm workers from the worst of the heat.
Holy One, Holy Three, we pray: Grant your threefold blessing.

O God, bring us into the mystery of your triune life. We praise you as Life-giver, Pain-bearer, and Mercy-maker.
Holy One, Holy Three, we pray: Grant your threefold blessing.

Concluding Collect
Holy God,
fill us with strength and courage,
with discernment and compassion,
that we may be your instruments of love and justice in this world,
that it may be on earth as it is in heaven.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen. 

Join the Christ Church Choir and Assembly in singing, “Mothering God, you gave me birth”

Make the sign of the cross as you say,
May God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love,
defend us on every side, and guide us in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God Almighty, (+) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us, and remain with us always. Amen.


Giving thanks at table
Use this thanksgiving whenever you are at table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 








You are our Table,
You are our Food, and
You are the Server.

Blessed are you, Eternal God:
You give us food to strengthen our bodies
And drink to gladden our hearts.

Open our hands to all those who cry out for bread
And lead us to be generous in our sharing.



Introduction: “Divine Arithmetic?” Fr. Samuel Torvend

Image 1: A. J. Thamburaj, SJ, “The Holy Trinity,” before 1982. In Christian Art in India, Herbert Hoefer describes the painting: “Green is the colour of creativity and fertility. Red is the colour of activity. Blue is the colour of the sea and sky, symbols of mystery and eternity. Yellow [saffron] is an auspicious and joyful colour in Indian custom. The green upraised hand [abaya mudra] is a symbol of protection in Indian art and dance. It represents the Father. Its message is ‘Fear not.’ The fish denotes the ever-watching eye of God, for the eyelids of the fish never close. The blue downward hand [varada mudra] represents Christ. This gesture is common in Indian sculpture and dance. God is said to point his devotees to hide under the arch of his foot for refuge. The red wound reminds us that the risen Lord bears the redemptive marks of the crucifixion. The red upraised hand symbolizes the purifying fire, the Holy Spirit. The spiral line indicates the wind, connecting all three Persons in unity. Fire and wind are power. Our life is in the ever-present protecting, redeeming, purifying and empowering hands of the Triune God.”

Centering Cross: Medieval Celtic

Opening acclamation:  Fr. Samuel Torvend

Hymn: Text by Nikolaus Decius, 1522; tune: ALLEIN GOTT IN DER HÖH by  Nikolaus Decius

Collect: Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006

Image 2: Meg Wroe, “Iona Trinity,” n.d.

Biblical readings: The New Revised Common Lectionary adapted for Episcopal Use, 2006

Psalm 8: Setting by Dan Forrest; conducted by Henry Leck

Gospel reading: New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, Washington, DC:  The National Council of Churches, 1989

Meditation: Richard Rohr, OFM, “How God as Trinity Dissolves Racism,” in Sojourners, August 2016

Anthem: Text by Robert Robinson; setting by Leo Nestor

Prayers: Gail Ramshaw, revised ELCA Worship in the Home for June 7, 2020

Concluding Prayer: Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, Nashville: Consultation on Common Texts, 2002; administered by Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Lord’s Prayer: The Book of Common Prayer 1979

Hymn: Text by Dame Julian of Norwich, adapted by Jean Jantzen; tune: QUEBEC

Blessing: The Book of Occasional Services, 1988

Thanksgiving at Table: St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, and The Book of  Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada, 1985

Image 3: John Holyfield, “Grace,” n.d.






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