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The Christian concept of God (for Trinity Sunday)

To explore the Christian concept of God as Trinity.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To explore the Christian concept of God as Trinity.

Preparation and materials

  • PowerPoint with images with three parts to them, for example, triangle, triceratops, tripod, tricycle.
  • 3 readers.
  • A pianist or musician who will be ready to play the three notes (see section 3).

Assembly

  1. I wonder if you can tell me what all of these images and objects have in common? (Hopefully, you’ll get the answer you are looking for.)

    Excellent, they all begin with the prefix ‘tri’: ‘tri’ means three. Today’s assembly will be about another word beginning with ‘tri’: ‘Trinity’.
  2. The word ‘Trinity’ is very important in Christianity as it explains a key teaching about the way that Christians understand the nature of God. For Christians, God is trinity, that is, a tri unity or three united together.

    It is very important to understand that this does not mean that Christians are polytheists – they don’t worship more than one God – they are monotheists, worshipping one God. It’s just that there are three separate and distinct parts to that one God. God is three in one at the same time. We call these parts, ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Holy Spirit’.
  3. Confused? Don’t worry, this is something that most people struggle with, and many theologians and Christians have sought different ways to try and explain it. It might be better to use an analogy or an example, and I have some volunteers here to help me.

    Reader 1: Example one is from the teaching of St Patrick. He used a shamrock to help. Although it is one plant, it has three separate leaflets (correct terminology for the leaves) but one stem. So the Trinity is three separate parts to the same centre.

    Reader 2: Christopher Columbus, when he discovered the island of Trinidad, thought at first that there were three separate islands. As he sailed closer, he realized that all the islands were joined together by a low-lying strip of land: three separate islands, joined by one piece of land. He called the island La Trinidad, which means ‘trinity’.

    Reader 3: The third example is a music chord of three notes. Take the three notes C, E and G. They can be played separately. (Ask the pianist to play them.) They can also be played together as a chord. (Ask the pianist to play the chord.). In the chord, the notes are joined and complementary.
  4. There are many more examples. (A creme egg is a good example.)
     But you get the idea that there are three separate parts and yet a single unit.

    The same is true of the Christian idea of the Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are separate but they are facets, faces, of the same God.

    Reader 1: God the Father, the one who cares for us and loves us like a good father. He is the creator and sustainer of the world.

    Reader 2: God the Son, Jesus, the one who was sent to earth as a human being in order to save humanity from itself. He is both fully God and fully human. He is the example of how to be.

    Reader 3: God the Holy Spirit, the aspect of God present and working in the world. Like the wind, the Holy Spirit cannot be seen but the Spirit’s power can be felt. The Spirit is traditionally regarded as the feminine in God.
  5. And so the three separate parts come together to create the God of Christians. They are separate and yet work together and within one another.

    See how many present-day examples you can think of where three mix into one. You might be surprised.

Time for reflection

Think again about the examples that we have considered.
How does what you have heard and thought about today affect your own image of God?

Prayer

Father,
you sent your Word
to bring us truth
and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know
the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship you,
one God in three Persons,
by proclaiming and living our faith in you.
We ask you this, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, true and living, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Hymn

‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’ (Hymns Old and New, 53)
‘Father, we adore you’ (Hymns Old and New, 125)

Publication date: June 2011   (Vol.13 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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