This is the first Sunday after the Pentecost. It is the beginning of a long season that takes us all the way through the rest of the liturgical year until we reach Advent once again. So, it is a journey of some length. It is also the church’s story. The first half of the year, from Advent until Pentecost is Jesus’ story. From Pentecost, then, the story shifts to us—to all the followers really, to how we seek to live out that call to discipleship, to how we fulfill the commission that Jesus gave us as he ascended. And yet, we begin that journey not with a reflection on our humanness but on the unique nature of God as we have come to experience that presence. We begin our story by turning to our Creator first.
This isn’t an accident, as you might surmise. In part at least, this is a reminder that we are who we are because of who God is. Our identity is in God. Our story is wrapped up in “The Story” or in “God’s Story.”
Our worship should be full of images of God, descriptions of how God has come to be known by God’s people. We can’t really have a lesson in trinitarian theology in this hour. But we can sing of God as Father and as Mother, as Creator and as Lover. We can pray to Jesus the redeemer, our brother and our example, master and teacher. We can dance with the Spirit, our guide and our strength, the power of love within and between us all.
The worship team should pay careful attention this week to how we talk about God. If all our images, all our pronouns, all our descriptions are the same and singular, then we are reducing the immensity of God into an easily understandable powerlessness. We don’t abandon traditional descriptions of God, but we balance them with more diverse ways of talking about this God we worship. We don’t subtract; we add. We enhance our understandings; we stretch our imaginations; we reach beyond the easy comfort and dare to approach the frightening majesty and wonder of God. Trinity Sunday is about grabbing hold of as much God as we can stand and then knowing that we have only a tiny piece.
This Sunday could be a time of wonder and awe. Let us pray to the God who astounds us, who surprises us, who can’t be nailed down. We tried that, remember, it didn’t work out so well. So, let’s find ways of opening up the worshipers to something bigger, something that inspires and transforms, something that unsettles a little bit too. The God we worship doesn’t want to leave us as we are, but to continually transform us. That is never an easy and often an uncomfortable process. But let’s prepare ourselves to tell the church’s story by reminding us that there is a God who guides us, who calls us, who claims us, and who loves us. Let’s be reminded that we are made new in the Spirit, continually renewed in the Spirit, as we seek to make disciples of ourselves and the world.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.