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Trinity

Trinity Sunday (15 June 2014)

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5

Aims

To help students understand something of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and three readers.
  • If possible, find images of any or all of the following:
    – a shamrock
    – the chemical symbol for water – H2O.
  • You will need a candle and matches for the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.
  • Have available the song 'It's a mystery' by Toyah Wilcox or the Credo from a choral mass and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.

Assembly

Leader  Christians refer to God as the ‘Trinity’. That means three beings in one – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – a 'triune' God.

This is a very confusing idea and very hard to understand. Are there ways of thinking about the Trinity that can help us to understand it better?

Reader 1 I was told Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, taught his people about the Trinity by using a shamrock.

Show the image of a shamrock.

A shamrock leaf has three distinct lobes but they are all part of one leaf. It does look a bit like three in one, but I can never find a real shamrock and, anyway, it seems a bit too easy to me.

Reader 2 I came up with the idea of H2O.

Show the image of the chemical symbol for water.

Sometimes it's water, sometimes it's ice and sometimes it's water vapour. So, it's the same thing, but takes on three different forms. I was really pleased with my idea, but our vicar said it wasn't quite right. God, he said, is always the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not one sometimes and another on a different occasion.

Reader 3 Well, I've cracked it because I'm three different things at the same time! I'm a son/daughter, sister/brother and a grandson/grandaughter.

I think this Trinity lark is all about relationships. God loves all of us and he cares for us as a perfect father should. He is also obedient to his father, as a perfect son, so there is no difference between them.

Readers 1 and 2 So what about this Holy Spirit then?

Reader 3 I think that's maybe to do with the feelings we have about each other. It gives life and energy to all our relationships – in our families, at school and everywhere. It's like the feeling you have when you feel easy, relaxed and happy with someone.

Leader Christians believe that the Trinity really is a mystery and no one can fully understand how it works. That is why belief is important. Priests used to be ordained on Trinity Sunday. It was a way of setting them out on their new life as people committing their lives to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Time for reflection

Reader 1 Christians often say the prayer I will say in a moment on Trinity Sunday.

Readers 2 and 3 light the candle.

Leader  
While the prayer is being read, we could reflect on some of the mystery of belief – how difficult it can sometimes be and how important faith is. 

Prayer
Reader 1 Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
and live and reign in the perfect unity of love:
hold us firm in this faith,
 that we may know you in all your ways
and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory,
who are three persons yet one God,
now and for ever.
Amen. 

Follow-up activity

  1. Paint a picture or create a collage entitled 'Trinity'. 

  2. Look up the Alternative Service Book (1980) baptism service. Parents and godparents are asked:

    Do you believe and trust in God the Father, who made the world?
    Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed mankind?
    Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God?

    What do the parents and godparents reply?
    What does the priest say next?

  3. Discuss the following questions.

    – What is the most mysterious belief you think Christians have?
    – What would be the most difficult for you to believe in and understand?

Music

'It's a mystery' by Toyah Wilcox or a Credo from a choral mass.

Publication date: June 2014   (Vol.16 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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