Material for Worship for Trinity Sunday

When you think about it, the belief that God is Trinity is the foundation for our belief that God is also love, it’s all about relationship. If God were not Trinity, the most we could say with absolute confidence would be that God occasionally – or even regularly – chooses to act lovingly, but not that God’s very essence is love.

Let’s hear Margaret read our first Lesson from Romans 8:12-17

Belief in God the Trinity says that before there was ever anything external to God, towards which God could act lovingly, God’s being was still expressed in the love between Father, Son and Spirit. This ‘love’ of God is not an abstract quality, unrecognizable by the usual marks of what we humans would call love. It is personal, dynamic, and creative. It is full of delight and generosity. We, God’s creation, came to be, out of the exuberance and sheer vitality of that love, and we are designed to share in it, to be drawn more and more into the reality of the loving God.

As we view the image, let’s respond in the hymn ‘Holy, holy, holy one’ CP 489 played by David.

Holy, holy, holy One,
Love’s eternal Trinity;
we who hear your call, respond:
“Here I am, my God, send me.”

Holy source of all that lives,
through creation’s mystery,
your love speaks and we reply.
“Here I am, my God, send me.”

Holy Lamb, Loves sacrifice,
mighty in humility,
overawed we humbly say,
“Here I am, my God, send me.”

Holy Spirit, Deathless Joy,
though we face Love’s agony
touch our lips and we will cry,
“Here I am, my God, send me.”

Three Times Holy, loving God
call our name, and we will be
each Love’s living sacrifice
“Here I am, my God, send me.”

Alan Gaunt CP 489 A&M

So, let’s now listen to Morag reading this morning’s gospel. John 3:1-17

The verse we all know so well, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” is the climax of the odd, teasing conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. ‘This is the point of it all,’ Jesus says, ‘that God’s beloved people may live with us forever.’

Does Nicodemus understand that? It is very hard to tell, just as it is hard to tell what he is doing there at all, creeping about in the dead of night like a young revolutionary rather than a weighty religious leader of a people who have made a sensible compromise with their irreligious rulers.

Right from the start of the conversation, Jesus wrong-foots Nicodemus. Nicodemus has rehearsed what he is going to say to open the conversation. He pays tribute to Jesus’s ministry, while at the same time making understated claims for his own credentials. ‘I’m someone who can recognize the activity of God,’ he says in effect, ‘and you’re really doing very well, old chap.’ To which Jesus answers, in effect, ‘How would you know?’ All through the sharp-edged conversation, Nicodemus is trying to get things back on track, back into normal conversational and debating mode, and Jesus won’t let him. The activity of God cannot be ordered by your, or anybody else’s little checklists, he says to Nicodemus. You must tear them up and be prepared to start again.

Nicodemus, like all religious people throughout the ages, believes to some extent that God is love. But he believes that God’s love is measured and sensible and follows a set of rules. He believes that Jesus’s healings are, largely, consonant with the activity of God, but he has some worries about them, which is presumably why he is here, to get Jesus to fill in the proper forms. And he does deserve some credit for this, many of his colleagues couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see even this far into the love of God. But it is not far enough, because all Jesus’s replies to Nicodemus suggest that Nicodemus has to let go of all the measures that he has been using and launch out into the unfathomable reality of the totality of God’s love.

God does not love; when we have met the requirements, or when we have changed enough to be lovable, or when we were lucky enough to be born, in one race or sex. God just loves. And trying to measure the love of God is like trying to control the wind. God will do anything for this world he loves, including coming himself, the Son, to die for it. To understand this is to be, in Jesus’s words, born again, to start the world again, learning to walk and speak and think and grow in a world where the love of God is the breath that we breathe, so that our every response to the world around is informed by that love.

So don’t try to measure the wind of God’s love, Paul argues, just go with it, let it breathe through you and power you – God’s Spirit, in modern parlance, a totally renewable power source. To be filled with the vitality of God’s love is to share in God’s relationship with God, and to know ourselves beloved.

It is also to share in God’s wild love for the world, so that like Isaiah we say, Send us! Paul and John, both warn us that our love must be as insane as God’s. No reintroducing the checklists, no loving on our terms only. God the Son preferred to go to the cross rather than force his creation into a dutiful, fearful obedience to the Father, if our loving in any way reflects God’s love then that must be our choice also, if necessary.

It’s wonderful, it’s exhilarating, it’s scary and we are called to it by our baptism. Let’s pray that out into the world. Amen.


Loving God, help us to love your world and ours as you love it, so that we work for justice for all your people: we work for an equal sharing of the resources of our world; we work to be good stewards of the creation you have given us so that the earth and all that is in it is not damaged by our exploitation and greed.

Where we have failed to love your world as you do but have damaged it and exploited it. Forgive us.

Where we have failed to care for your people who are unable to care for themselves. Forgive us.

Where our greed has damaged your world and its people. Forgive us.

Grow your love in us so that we may be lights to the world, and your love may be known through us. Amen.

Our final hymn, written by Michael Hare Duke has the title ‘Daring, Dancing Trinity’ and is sung to the tune Blaenwern.

Lord, your love has called to being all that fills the earth below,
myriad stars beyond our seeing, tiniest creatures that we know;
earth and air and fire and water woven in the grand design,
witness to the final meaning of your love for humankind.

Human lives are made for sharing; joined in trust and truth we grow,
speech of silence opening pathways to the hearts we seek to know.
Welcome love, by your renewal worn out ways turn upside down;
weak is strong, success is failure, and the wise becomes the clown.

From yourself we take our nature, Maker, parent, love divine.
Bound into your life we flourish, leaves and branches of the vine.
Through the Christ we see your pattern, life surrendered, life restored:
echoing through all creation sounds the spirit’s deep accord.

Love releases us for taking one more risk than we might dare;
glory breaks through dark and danger, shows the Lord transfigured there.
God who planted our affections, help your gifts to grow more free,
fan in us the fires of loving, daring, dancing Trinity.

Michael Hare Duke (former Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane)