–by Joanna Harader
Scripture Reading: Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Thoughts on Scripture:
This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday. I don’t know about you, but the Trinity is a concept I don’t really understand myself, and one I definitely don’t feel competent to explain to children. There are about seven passages in the Bible that mention the three “persons” of the Trinity together–one of which is the passage above from the end of Matthew’s Gospel. There are no places in scripture that provide an explanation of the Trinity.
Christians have been wrestling with the nature of the Trinity since nearly the beginning of the Church. According to the Council of Nicea in 325, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “three persons of one substance.” So that should clear things up for your six-year-old.
There is a story about the great theologian, Augustine of Hippo. One day after he had been writing about the Trinity for awhile, he decided to take a break and go walk along the beach. He came across a boy who had a bucket. He would fill up the bucket, run up the hill, and dump the water into the sand. He did this over and over until finally Augustine stopped the boy and asked, “What are you doing?”. The boy said, “I am draining the sea into the sand.” Augustine pointed out the futility of the task, and the boy replied, “Yes, but I will drain the sea before you understand the Trinity.”
So I would suggest that the point of Trinity Sunday is not for us all to understand the Trinity; the point is for us to celebrate the Trinity. Here is what we can say to our children with confidence:
God has lovingly created you and this entire, beautiful, world.
God came to earth as Jesus to show Divine love for us and too help us understand how to love others.
God is present with us and among us today, comforting, encouraging, and guiding us.
Let us rejoice in the truth that God loves us deeply, eternally, and in surprising ways.
Thank you for creating us.
Thank you for coming in Jesus to love us and teach us.
Thank you for being with us in the Holy Spirit.
Your love for us is ever-present and overwhelming.
May we know that love for ourselves
And share that love with others.
Spend some time outside and see how many things you can find that are related to the number three. For example, you might find an acorn that has three parts: shell, “hat,” and meat; a clover with three leaves; a caterpillar with legs, body, and antenna. You could also give your children a challenge to collect three leaves, three flowers, three shells, etc. (Perhaps this is also a good opportunity to talk about avoiding the three-leaved poison ivy plant.) As you find threes in nature, thank God for being our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
Final Blessing: from 2 Corinthians 2:13
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.