Thursday, June 05, 2014

God is Persons in Right Relationship -- Alternative Lectionary for Trinity Sunday (David Ackerman)


Trinity Sunday is near upon us. Having moved through Easter and celebrated Pentecost, which signals the coming of the Holy Spirit, it is time to consider the nature of God and how the doctrine of the Trinity might serve to help us understand the nature of God. While not all Christians confess God as Trinity, it has been the traditional way in which the majority of Christians have confessed faith in God.  David Ackerman has chosen a group of texts for Trinity Sunday that illuminate some of the questions, focusing on love and faith, and the relationship of Father and Son.  The title of this offering for David's Beyond the Lectionary focuses on how God, in God's inner being, is a community of persons in right relationship.  That is a thought worth contemplating.

With this posting, David brings to a close his lectionary contributions to this blog.  For the past twelve months, usually on Thursday, I have posted David's lectionary materials.  We've moved through the lectionary, which I commend to you.  You can always search for the lectionary materials simply by searching under "Beyond the Lectionary."  I've enjoyed offering these materials to you and hope to bring further materials for your use.   Oh, and you can get David's book that lays out the lectionary and offers commentary and preaching suggestions by clicking on the book image!

 I want to also congratulate David on his being called to serve as Conference Minister for the Penn West Conference of the United Church of Christ!  May his journey be blessed.  

For now, let us consider what Trinity Sunday brings us.

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Trinity Sunday

“God Is Persons in Right Relationship”

Call to Worship:  Psalm 89:5-8 NRSV

One:  Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones. 
Many:  For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
 One:  Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and awesome above all that are around him.
 Many:  O Lord God of hosts, who is as mighty as you, O Lord?  Your faithfulness surrounds you.

Gathering Prayer:  God, you bring us together to be people who truly show your love in this world.  Sometimes, there are things about you that we don’t understand, so we pray that in this time that we share together today, we might grow in our faith in you.

Confession:  We haven’t been people who have shown your love, God, and we haven’t trusted in you like we should.  Our doubts in you mount to the sky even as our relationships in this world seem so often to crumble to the ground.  So we ask for mercy today, God.  Help us to change.  Show us how to live with you and with each other so that we might become the people you made us to be.

Assurance:  God has let go of the wrongs of our past, and because of this, we too can discover the power to let go of the wrongs that others have done to us.  Thanks be to God!

Scriptures:      Song of Songs 8:6-7 – “Love Is as Strong as Death”
Hebrews 11:4-7, 17-28 – “By Faith”
John 5:19-24 – “The Father Loves the Son”

Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.

Reflection Questions:

  •  What do you think about how the Bible celebrates passionate human love in the Song of Songs?  Do you think that it’s okay when the language in this book becomes sexual?  Is it good? 
  • The book of Hebrews celebrates the faith of the ancestors of Israel.  Do you know the stories of the people mentioned in chapter 11?  Why do you think the author points to their faith?  What does their faith teach us about how we should live?
  •  What does today’s passage from John 5 say about the relationship between the persons described as the Father and the Son?  What do you think this teaches us about the nature of God’s relationships between God’s self, people, and all of creation?
  •  Do you think the idea of the Trinity is present in the teachings of scripture or that it’s a later development in Christian faith and tradition?  How do you think this idea has grown and changed over time?
  •  What do you make of the masculine language that often gets used when people talk about the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”?  Are there feminine options for speaking about the persons of the Trinity? 
  • Some theologians say that the members of the Trinity must be named as persons and cannot be described in terms of attributes or roles (like Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer).  What do you think? 

Prayer of Thanksgiving:  Thank you, God, for revealing to us glimpses of how your Holy Trinity teaches us to live in justice and peace with you and our brothers and sisters in this world.  Help us to embrace your love for us, and show us how to place our trust in you.

Benediction:  God sends us out into the world to be people of faith, hope, and love.  God yearns for us to be people who live in right relationship with God and one another.  Let us go, then, and be the people God calls us to be.  Amen.




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