Trinity Sunday

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June 15, 2003

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God our Father, dwelling in majesty and mystery, renewing and fulfilling creation by your eternal Spirit, and revealing your glory through our Lord, Jesus Christ: Cleanse us from doubt and fear, and enable us to worship you, with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, living and reigning, now and forever. Amen.


Almighty and ever-living God, you have given us grace, by the confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and, in the power of your divine majesty, to worship the unity. Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your eternal glory, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Isaiah 6:1-8
{1} 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. {2} 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. {3} And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." {4} The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. {5} And I said: "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" {6} Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. {7} The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out." {8} Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!"

1. the year that King Uzziah died: About 740 bce. It is not clear whether Isaiah’s vision took place before or after Uzziah’s death.
the temple: "What the prophet sees is the spiritual reality of which the Temple was a symbol, Jehovah’s presence as King in the midst of His people." [1]
2. Seraphs: The verb seraf means burn. In Numbers 21:6 the noun is used of the poisonous serpents sent by Yahweh as punishment for the people’s impatience. The same word is used in Isaiah 6:2; 14:29; 30:6 for messengers of Yahweh who appear as winged serpents.
3-4: The "house" was filled with smoke (Revelation 15:8). The door-pivots shook at the voice of the seraphs who were flying around the "house" with their eyes covered and praising Yahweh.
Holy, holy, holy: The "four living creatures" which John saw beside the throne in heaven, each had six wings, were "full of eyes," and sang "Holy, holy, holy…. (Revelation 4:8.)"
5. I said, ‘Woe is me!….: The prophet is fearfully conscious of his precarious position in the court of Yahweh: he is a man of unclean lips and he has seen Yahweh. Yahweh told Moses that no one could see him and live (Exodus 33:20-23), so Isaiah is in danger.
6-8: Isaiah’s guilt is dealt with by one of the seraphs, and Isaiah hears Yahweh ask who will be his messenger. Isaiah replies, "Here I am," the response of a retainer ready to serve the master.
Isaiah’s vision and his answer to Yahweh’s call for messengers constitutes his call as a prophet. For a similar vision of Yahweh in his heavenly throne room see1 Kings 22:19-23.

Psalm 29
{1} Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. {2} Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor. {3} The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters. {4} The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. {5} The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. {6} He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. {7} The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. {8} The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. {9} The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!" {10} The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. {11} May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

"…from the very beginning we will have to consider the probability that a Canaanite Baal hymn with its description of a theophany was handed down without radical revision on the part of the OT tridents in Israel…." [2]
1. Ascribe to the Lord: The members of Yahweh’s heavenly court are commanded to show Yahweh the honor. The same command is used in Psalm 96:8 and 1 Chronicles 16:29, in both of which Yahweh’s power in nature is celebrated.
heavenly beings: In Hebrew, bene elim, "sons of God." In other near eastern religions these would have been subordinate gods who were literally descendants of the supreme god. In Israel, "sons of God" is a metaphor for those beings created by Yahweh who had the authority to act in his name. The Davidic king, likewise, had such a designation and such authority on earth (Psalm 2:7).
2. the glory of his name: Yahweh’s name is his identity, and by glorifying his name, Yahweh, himself, is glorified.
3-5. the voice of the Lord: The voice is "thunder, the booming word of power." [3] This image is used for Yahweh’s voice in other theophanies as well (Exodus 19:19).
6-9: The image is of a raging thunder storm, with lightning and wind and thunder that shakes the earth. In such a storm one could see the power of the formless, dark, watery void that preceded creation, over which a strong wind blew.
temple: The Hebrew word, hekhal, means both temple and palace, as well as the Holy Place in the Jerusalem Temple. "Since a temple is often considered a god’s dwelling place, the distinction between palace and temple is only minor. In the OT, the hekhal in the sense of ‘temple’ refers to the temple of Yahweh…. Several temples are referred to as the temple of Yahweh: the temple at Shiloh (1 S. 1:9; 3:3), the temple of Solomon (2 K. 18:16; 23:4; 24:13; Jer. 7:4; 24:1), and the temple of Zerubbabel (Ezr. 3:10; Hab. 2:18)." [4]
10. The Lord sits enthroned over the flood: The "flood" is a metaphor for the waters of the pre-creation dis-order, the chaos which constantly threatens the creation. Yahweh brought order out of this chaos and created the heavens and the earth. Chaos seeks to regain control and undo the order of creation, but Yahweh remains victorious. His ordering power is indicative of his power to care for his people.
11: The final verse prays for Yahweh’s gift of strength and peace, "the fullness of his power as the God of Heaven" [5] to his people.

Romans 8:12-17
{12} So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- {13} for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. {14} For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. {15} 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!" {16} it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, {17} 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.

12-14: Life lived according to the flesh and according to the Spirit are contrasted.
14. children of God: Literally, "sons of God" See the note on Psalm 29:1 above. Also verses 16, 17 (tekna, specifically "children"), 21. "The mortification of the deeds of the body mentioned in 8:13 does not really constitute Christian life, necessary though it may be for the living of it. The Spirit instead animates and activates Christians, making them children of God." [6]
15. spirit of adoption: Through adoption by God we are included in his "honor." We are his and share in all his qualities and qualifications.
Abba: A familiar term for father in Aramaic; perhaps something like "poppa."
17. heirs: As God’s adopted children we share in the estate. "The Christian as such an adopted son, is not only admitted into God’s family, but, by reason of the same gratuitous adoption, receives the right to become master of his Father’s estate. Despite having no natural right to it, he acquires title by adoption through the Spirit." [7]
suffer with him…glorified with him: What we suffer as Christians is not our suffering, but rather our participation in Christ’s sufferings. And our participation in those sufferings is as certain as our sharing his glorification, and our being admitted into the Father’s family as heirs.

John 3:1-7
{1} Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. {2} He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." {3} Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." {4} Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" {5} Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. {6} What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. {7} Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.'

1. a Pharisee named Nicodemus: A Greek name meaning "conqueror of the people." Nicodemus is only mentioned in the Gospel of John, here and 7:50 and 19:39. In John 19:38-40 Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea retrieved the body of Jesus after the crucifixion and prepared it for burial with spices.
a leader of the Jews: "While the word may mean that he was a member of the Sanhedrin, the label surely identifies him as a member of the urban elite." [8] Mark 15:43 describes him as "a respected member of the council," probably the Sanhedrin. John 19:39 suggests that he was wealthy.
3. being born from above: The Greek word for "from above" is anothen which also means "again." The dual meaning is used in the passage as a literary device. "Nicodemus takes Jesus to have meant ‘again,’ Jesus’ primary meaning in vs. 3 was ‘from above.’ This is indicated from the parallel in iii 31, as well as from the two other Johannine uses of anothen (xix 11, 23). Such a misunderstanding is possible only in Greek…. …it is not impossible that the meaning ‘again’ is intended by John on a secondary, sacramental level…." [9]
5. Very truly: An oath formula. Jesus places his honor at risk to guarantee the truth of what he says. The formula is used in verses 3, 5 and 11.
born of water and Spirit: To be begotten of Spirit imbues a person with divine power. See Matthew 1:20 where Jesus is said to have been begotten…of a holy spirit. There does not seem to be a specific sacramental connection here, but see 3:22-23 where Jesus and John both are baptizing.
6: Birth of water and spirit is contrasted with fleshly birth. "For John ‘flesh’ emphasizes the weakness and mortality of the creature (not the sinfulness as in Paul); Spirit, as opposed to flesh, is the principle of divine power and life operating in the human sphere." [10] Like begets like; Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Son of God, and he baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
8. wind: In Greek, pneuma  and in Hebrew, ruah, the same word means both "wind" and "spirit," which permit language-specific word plays. Breath and spirit are both constitutive of life on different levels.
11-12. what we have seen…heavenly things: As one born of the spirit, Jesus is an eyewitness to the reality behind things that are seen, the spiritual world.
13-15. as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life: This is the spiritual reality that Jesus reveals. The Son of Man will, like the serpent in the wilderness, be lifted up and draw all to him, so they may live. (See the story in Numbers 21:4-9.) "Johannine scholarship commonly points out that while the duration of life (endless) is no doubt involved here, it is the quality of life, life of a new and better sort, that is central to John’s antilanguage. It is the life that God lives and that the Son has from the Father (5:26; 6:57). … This life emerges as Jesus bows his head and breathes out ‘his spirit’ (19:30). Jesus’ final breath is in fact the new breath of life, surpassing in quality the original ‘breath of life’ with which God animated humankind (Gen. 2:7)." [11]
16. For God so loved the world: "The aorist implies a supreme act of love. Cf. I John iv 9: ‘In this way was God’s love revealed in our midst: God has sent His only Son into the world that we may have life through him.’ Notice that in I John the love is oriented toward Christians (‘we’) while in John iii 16 God loves the world." [12]
he gave his only Son: "The verb didonai here refers not only to the Incarnation (God sent the Son into the world; vs. 17), but also to the crucifixion (gave up to death—the idea found in being ‘lifted up’ in vss 14-15)…. The background may be that of the Suffering Servant of Isa liii 12 (LXX): ‘He was given up [paradidonai] for their sins.’" [13]
may not perish…may have eternal life: See John 10:28 for the same contrast.
17: Jesus did not come to bring conflict and condemnation, but harmony and salvation. See John 8:15.

   "Coming at the conclusion of the historic celebrations, Trinity Sunday, the octave of Pentecost, provides a fitting climax to the first half of the year and lends a dogmatic foundation for the Sundays in the second half with the messages concerning the teaching of our Lord as exemplified in the life of the church." [14] The temptation will be to reflect on the doctrinal aspect of the Trinity rather than on our personal experience of God. "…the rudest man or woman who cannot reason about the Trinity may know the Trinity more perfectly than some acute theologian…." [15] The Second lesson "give[s] a window on the Godhead that opens out from the individual person—and, by extension, the church—rather than starting from a purely conceptual or philosophical point of reference." [16]
   By the gift of the Holy Spirit we are children of God and joint heirs with Christ both of his glory and of his suffering. "The original point of reference for the Aramaic prayer name [Abba] is not, after all, at the Jordan River in Jesus’ baptism, on the mountain at his transfiguration, or at a meal with his friends after the Resurrection. It is with Jesus alone at Gethsemane, the garden of anguish—the place of begging off the cross that looms in the distance, and, ultimately, of surrendering to God’s will. To cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ is to move, by the Spirit, toward that same surrender of ourselves into God’s care and provision; it is to choose, again by the Spirit, to walk in the direction of our dual inheritance—suffering and glorification—in Christ. To name God in this way reinforces our call to costly discipleship and our claim upon God’s ultimate deliverance." [17]
   We do not seek suffering, any more than Jesus did. It comes, but now it is Jesus’ suffering, and yet, ours too. The Spirit teaches us to pray, indeed prays for us, so that like the wind, we may come and go as God wills, confident that we are God’s children and that suffering with Christ is our glory.

Hymns [18]
With One Voice (e.g. 762v), Hymnal Supplement 1991 (e.g. 725s) and LBW (e.g. 32).
E=Entrance; D=Hymn of the Day; I=First Lesson, P=Psalm; II=Second Lesson; G=Gospel

284 --E--Creator Spirit,
187 --D--Dearest Jesus,
165 --I--Holy, Holy, Holy
535 --I--Holy God, We
719s --I--Sanctus
752v --I--I, the Lord
631v --I--Lift Up Your

773v --I--Send Me, Jesus (812s)
688v --II--O Holy Spirit
292 --G--God Loved the
693v --G--Baptized in           (759s)169, 166, 275, 230,    717v, 757v 787v, 769v

Prayers of the People [19]
God beyond our understanding; we worship you as you have revealed yourself in the Holy Scriptures of our faith. We find you there as God Almighty yet Father, as Word yet Son and Saviour, as Spirit yet Advocate, Counselor and Source of inspiration. God beyond our containing hear our prayer.
   We bless and praise you for the gift of creation. Help us to love, cherish and care for what you have made. We bless and praise you for the gift of relationship through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We bless and praise you for the gifts of Word and Sacrament through which you speak to us in every age, even our own. God beyond our containing hear our prayer.
   Bring together in spirit and purpose Campus Chaplains from around the world who will meet in Vancouver this coming week. Be present, O God, at this great table of cultures and experiences that those who attend may be blessed because you have spoken and been present with them. God beyond our containing hear our prayer.

Or [20]

Presider or deacon
Bound together in Christ in the communion of the Holy Spirit, let us pray with one heart and mind to God our Father.
Deacon or other leader
For peace from on high and for our salvation. For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all.
For this holy gathering and for those who enter with faith, reverence, and fear of God.
For N our bishop and the presbyters, the deacons and all who minister in Christ,
and for all the holy people of God.
For the world and its leaders, our nation and its people.
For all those in need, the suffering and the oppressed, travelers and prisoners, the dying and the dead.
For ourselves, our families, and those we love.
Remembering our most glorious and blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, let us offer ourselves and one another to the living God through Christ. To you, O Lord.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who created all things by your eternal Word. Hear the prayers we offer this day and breathe upon us with your Spirit. Glory to you for ever and ever.


[1] J. Skinner, The Book of the Prophet Isaiah: Chapters I-XXXIX. Cambridge: The University Press, 1954, p. 45.
[2] Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1-59: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1988, p. 346/
[3] Ibid., p. 348.
[4] M. Ottoson, [hekhal ], Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, (ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren). Vol. III. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978, p. 383.
[5] Kraus, ibid., p. 351
[6] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, New York: Doubleday, 1993, p. 499.
[7] Op. cit., p. 502.
[8] Burce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998, p. 81.
[9] Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel according to John (i-xii). Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966, p. 130.
[10] Ibid., p. 131.
[11] Malina, Ibid., p. 85.
[12] Brown, Ibid., p. 133.
[13] Ibid., p. 134.
[14] Luther D. Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy, Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1947, p. 519.
[15] Thomas Hancock, 19th century Anglican divine, quoted by Reginald H. Fuller, Preaching the New Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today, Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1974, p. 385
[16] Paul L. Escamilla, “Pentecost and Then: Waiting with the Spirit,” Quarterly Review 20(2000)101.
[17] Ibid., p. 102.