Trinity Sunday

Exodus is the second book of the Bible; it is based on and around the story of slaves escaping from their oppression in Egypt and travelling through the hostile desert under the leadership of Moses; and it was in this process that a relationship was built up between them and the one god who would be theirs from then on forever; it was the god with the mysterious name of Yahweh, meaning something like ‘I am who is.’ This basic oral account over time gained a great number of elaborations and additions before it settled into the written form in the Bible that has now been more or less unaltered for about two and a half thousand years. In our extract for today’s first reading we hear of this aloof and even fearful God condescending to meet with Moses the people’s leader on the heights of the sacred mount Sinai. This god then announces himself (always referred to in this personal way) as kind and forgiving, despite the unfaithfulness of the people whose god He is. Moses is encouraged by this revelation and feels enabled to respond on behalf of the people he leads, with worship and prayer for blessing and forgiveness. It is this threefold pattern in this section of the Exodus story that is seen by Christians to suit this day’s feast of the Trinity – the threefold pattern of God the aloof, the one who shows Himself and the one who enables an appropriate response.

In the second reading we have the ending of the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. This ‘letter’ is most likely an amalgam of two or more previous letters written by Paul, gathered as one document. The end of the epistle which we hear today is very interesting. It could easily be taken as part of a Church service. As early as the 50s or 60s, Christians probably came together each Sunday to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, to mutually support each other and to hear some teaching from their leader. If there was a letter from Paul, it would have been read out at this meeting, perhaps with an ending like we have in today’s reading. This ending encourages rejoicing and happiness, it suggests renewing one’s efforts to live good lives and it calls down peace and love upon the community. This would conclude the reading at their gathering, before the most sacred part of their celebration, when perhaps they had what we today might call ‘the peace,’. On this feast of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity we particularly notice the Trinitarian wording in this blessing and it has become a common prayer used by Christians to this day and often referred to just as ‘the Grace.’

In the account of Nicodemus’ coming to Jesus at night (John 3:2), and finally being told that Jesus is the light (John 3:19) we seem to have a conversation carefully constructed for the Christians of the early Church in a Greek speaking context. Our gospel reading takes just a few verses from this account. In John, even more than in the other three gospels, we have a strong emphasis on the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit is not only the instigation of the public ministry of Jesus at His baptism but also the future source of eternal life after His death and resurrection for others; this comes to them at baptism and at what we would call the Sacrament of the Eucharist., enabling and supporting a lived-out belief in Jesus, where the 6th chapter of John’s Gospel reminds readers that the flesh without spirit is useless. Our passage’s references to love should also make us think of the action of the Holy Spirit, especially this day as we celebrate the triple dynamism of God’s reality, its relationship to creation and its life within which we live.

see Jeffs Jottings – Not alone

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