Three in One
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity.
Preparation and materials
You will need to be familiar with the events that are described in Acts 2.1-13.
Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:
- an equilateral triangle, available at: https://tinyurl.com/h6bp6b3
- a shamrock, available at: https://tinyurl.com/jf42t55
- Note: this year, Pentecost falls on Sunday 4 June 2017.
Ask the children if they have finished eating all of their Easter eggs. Remind them that in the Christian Church, Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus. Explain that, after Easter, Jesus was taken back to heaven (on Ascension Day) and the disciples and other followers of Jesus were left alone. This was a sad time for Jesus’ followers. While Jesus had been on Earth, he had promised that, when he returned to heaven, he would send the Holy Spirit to his disciples.
Ask the children if they have heard of the festival of Pentecost. Explain that Christians celebrate the festival of Pentecost on the fortieth day of Easter (39 days after Easter Sunday). Pentecost is the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Tell the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit that is found in Acts 2.1-13.
Explain that Christians believe in the Trinity. By this, they mean that although they believe that there is only one God, there are different aspects to God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is difficult to understand: it is three-in-one.
Show the image of an equilateral triangle.
Encourage the children to describe its features. Turn the image round and view it from different sides.
Summarize the discussion by suggesting that whichever way you look at it, there are three sides that make up one triangle – it is three-in-one.
Show the image of the shamrock.
Explore its features with the children and then tell the following story about St Patrick.
The shamrock is a plant that grows in Ireland - it’s a kind of clover. St Patrick was a Christian missionary in Ireland many years ago and he later became Ireland’s patron saint. He and his friends used to puzzle about the mystery of the three-in-one God. The story goes that one day, Patrick’s friends asked him to explain the mystery of the Trinity. He looked at the ground and saw shamrocks growing among the grass at his feet. He picked one and showed it to his friends, saying, ‘Look at this beautiful little shamrock. Do you think it has one leaf or three?’
Patrick’s friends looked and looked, but they couldn’t answer; the shamrock looked like one leaf, but it clearly had three parts. Patrick reassured them, ‘The mystery of this shamrock is like the mystery of the Trinity; there are three parts, but they are all part of one.’
Time for reflection
Christians around the world continue to puzzle over the mystery of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There is one God, but three different ways of knowing about God. They use symbols based on the triangle pattern or plants like the shamrock to help them with this kind of ‘three-in-one thinking’.
When Christians get together, they often use the prayer below. The words were first used by St Paul to end his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 13.14). Listen to the ‘three-in-one thinking’ in the words of the prayer.
‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’