“. . . FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT,”
Today’s Scripture Reading
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Our singular moment of worship -- no singular in the sense that it is the only moment of worship within the prayer, but rather singular in the sense that it is emphasized or brought out of the familiar and meant for astonishment -- continues as we recognize all persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This phrase of the prayer builds upon the phrase, "And now, O, glorious and blessed God," which in one sense is a prelude to the grander announcement, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Naming the Trinity is perhaps naming the biggest mystery of God in Christianity. To evoke the Trinity, then, in the form of prayer might very well be the most profound act a Christian can carry out.
There are numerous analogies for the Trinity. I am sure you've heard most of them. There is the egg (shell, white, yolk), water (ice, steam, liquid), the human being (body, soul, spirit), the propeller (three blades), and the cake (dry ingredients, wet ingredients, icing). All analogies fall short of a variety of reasons. They are, even though they are not perfect, helpful for trying to wrap out minds around the mystery. The most helpful of analogies is likely the three-leaf clover which, of course, consists of the stem and three leaves representing God (the stem) and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (three leaves). This is the analogy said to have been used by St. Patrick to evangelize the Irish during the fifth century. Irrespective of the analogies, nothing can decisively frame an understanding of God.
The early Christians thought it important to develop and advance the doctrine of the Trinity. Our Apostles' Creed clearly describes three persons that are co-equal and co-eternal. The Father is the Almighty, Creator of all things. The Son is the image of the Father, our Lord and Savior. The Spirit is the extension of God in action, the power and breath of God. Although each of these persons of the Godhead is separate, the main point is that in them, there is unity. The Trinity is a picture of an authentic relationship -- a personal, relational, loving connection.
Wesley undoubtedly desired that those who said the prayer along with him understand that the relationship between God and humans was stitched together by God's holy love. To name, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," is to declare that a relationship exists. Wesley was citing an intimacy with God that superseded all other aspects of human-only relationships, and that also identified the fullness of God in which relationships can exist and thrive.
To have a relationship with God means that we are stitched together by holy love. This means that we are chosen, valued, and protected. To be chosen means that we are God's children (John 1:12), friends of Jesus (John 15:15), invited to live in communion with Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:17), complete in Jesus (Colossians 1:13-14), and have access to God through Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16). To be valued means we have worth to God. God values us be giving us opportunity to host God as God's temple (1 Corinthians 3:16) and to be partners with God in God's mission as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). Finally, to be protected in our loving relationship with God means that we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), that we are anointed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22), and that we are given assurance that God is working in all things for our (those who love God) ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
When we pray, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," it is important to pray knowing that we have a real relationship with God (the Trinity) and not just an intellectual acknowledgement of a detached God who rules from a distant throne and loves with a withdrawn heart. Quite the opposite, in fact. God loves us and desires a closeness that comes from a desire for us to draw near to God and deepen our commitment to Christ.
In addition, when we pray, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," we also identify the missional nature of God revealed in Scripture. God the Father sends God the Son. God the Son sends God the Spirit. God the Spirit sends us, the Church, into the world. Wesley prayed this prayer to illuminate the fact that we, the Church, the people of God, are the agency that God is using to restore the world toward its intended wholeness. God is a missionary God who is worthy of our unbroken devotion and faithful effort to participate in God's mission. This is one of the most fundamental aspects of not only this particular part of the prayer, but the prayer in its entirety. This reality expands the prayer beyond a personal prayer and develops it into a communal prayer. When we pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer, we do so in communion with the Church and in solidarity with our fellow followers of Jesus.
What is the biggest mystery of God to me?
How would I explain the Trinity? What analogy would I use? Why?
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we love you deeply. We offer a confession for the things we have done and for the things we have left undone. We ask for your forgiveness. May we, with our attitude, behaviors, and lifestyle, honor you. We remember, God, that you are a relational God longing for our complete love. May we offer you our love with the way we worship you and treat others. Amen.
PIECE OF CAKE
If you have time, bake a cake or cupcakes. As you bake, remember the Trinity is one God in three persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just as there are dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and icing. If you do not have time to bake, buy a cupcake or several to share with family and friends.
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