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Thunderbirds are go! Trinity Sunday (3 June 2012)

To use the television programme Thunderbirds as a model for the Trinity.

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 3

Aims

To use the television programme Thunderbirds as a model for the Trinity.

Preparation and materials

  • If possible, use Thunderbirds toys as visual aids. These toys are still available (Amazon.co.uk), but if you ask around, ‘younger siblings’ may well have these toys at home.

Assembly

  1. Trinity Sunday, which occurs eight weeks after Easter Sunday, is the day when the Christian Church reflects on the nature of God. The Church refers to God as ‘Trinity’, that is, three persons within one God. We call them the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    This is heavy duty thinking, so here’s a way to think about the Trinity that you may find helpful.
  2. You may have watched a television series called Thunderbirds. It was first shown many years ago, from 1965–1966, but it has been repeated many, many times.

    The toys from the show are still available, and you can still buy DVDs. Not so long ago a feature film was made, and there’s also been a stage show.

    If you never saw the series, it’s made with marionettes (the type of puppets that are moved with strings).
  3. Thunderbirds is about a family who live on a remote island in the Pacific. Jeff Tracy is the father, and he has five sons: Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John. Also living on the island are a servant, Kyrano, and his daughter Tin-Tin; Jeff’s mother, Grandma Tracy, whose only role seems to be making coconut crumble; and Brains, a genius designer and builder of planes, spaceships and rescue vehicles of every shape and size.

    The other people we meet are the very English Lady Penelope, an international socialite, and her ex-convict butler, Parker, who are based in London.

    Jeff runs the top secret family business, International Rescue. This organization picks up distress calls from around the world via its own satellite. These signals are radioed down to HQ, and then the Thunderbirds are launched!

    Scott goes first on Thunderbird 1. He flies in and sets up a mobile HQ, so that when Virgil arrives in the heavy transporter plane, Thunderbird 2, the rescue can begin. (Thunderbird 3 is a spaceship used for rescue; Thunderbird 4 a type of submarine; and Thunderbird 5 a space station.)

    The rescue always has moments of drama and high tension, especially if Kyrano’s evil brother, ‘the Hood’, contacts him through a weird psychic trance to try to sabotage the rescue attempt. Lady Penelope, who is International Rescue’s London agent, then usually gives chase until all is well.

    At the end, the people are saved, and International Rescue vanishes back to paradise – until the next call for help.
  4. So what’s this got to do with God? Well, let’s look at how International Rescue works. Jeff, the father, stays at HQ. The sons go out to rescue people. They communicate by radio.

    You might like to think of God as the Father, in heaven. God sees that people need help, so he sends his Son, Jesus, who lives with people and shows them how to be like God. His relationship to God the Father becomes clear through his death and resurrection, which we thought about over Easter. Christians believe that Jesus saves people from the wrong things they have done, bringing them back to a good relationship with God.

    And the Holy Spirit is like the radio. In Thunderbirds the radio carries messages from Jeff to Scott, Virgil and co. Christians believe that it’s the Holy Spirit, who lives within them, who helps them to be close to God day by day. Without the radio, International Rescue couldn’t communicate. Without the Holy Spirit, Christians can’t pray - their way of communicating with God.

Time for reflection

Think about International Rescue, flying out to save people from the disasters that they’ve been caught up in. Reflect on the claims of Jesus, sent by God the Father to bring us back to God.

Reflect on the claims of Jesus, sent by God the Father to bring us back to God.

Prayer

You might like to use the following prayer:

God,

Father,

Son

and Holy Spirit,

I don’t understand how that works,

but I believe that you are there for me,

saving me and helping me

day by day.

Be close to each of us today
and help us to work at our relationships with one another
and with you.
Amen.

Hymn

‘Spirit of God’ (Come and Praise, 63)

Publication date: June 2012   (Vol.14 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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