Tag Archives: God the Father

A Hymn for Meditation

Come, Thou Almighty King 

Come, thou almighty King,
Help us thy name to sing;
Help us to praise;
Father all-glorious,
O’er all victorious,
Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days.

Come, thou incarnate Word,
merciful, mighty Lord,
Our prayer attend.
Come and thy people bless,
and give thy word success,
And let thy righteousness on us descend.

Come, Holy Comforter,
thy sacred witness bear
in this glad hour!
Thou who almighty art,
rule now in every heart,
never from us depart, Spirit of power.

To thee, great One in Three,
eternal praises be
Hence evermore!
Thy sovereign majesty
may we in glory see,
And to eternity love and adore.

Author unknown 

  • What qualities of a King does God the Father express? We have many names for him. Why might the hymnwriter have selected his kingship rather than his fatherhood to express in a hymn celebrating the Trinity?
  • Where do we learn the identity of the Incarnate Word? (see John 1:1-14) What does the hymnwriter, singing to the Incarnate Word, mean by the petition “and give thy word success”?
  • What is the witness of the Holy Comforter? How does the Holy Comforter rule in every heart? If the Holy Comforter is in your heart, where can you enter into secular space? When can you shed concern for God’s call on your life and behave according to secular standards?
  • Where in the Bible can you find the image of the Trinity? (see Revelation 4 and look for all three persons.) Muslims take offense at the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, that is the teaching that drove Mohammed to found a new religion. He said that God is One, not Three, and accused Christians of being polytheistic. How would you explain the Trinity to someone who was confused by it?

A Verse For Meditation

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8  

  • Some people reject the heritage of Christianity in the culture and structures of society and government of the USA. However, it is evident in the historical record in many places. For example, one of the common cries of the Committees of Correspondence in the colonies before independence was “No King but King Jesus.”  Does biblical teaching justify such a cry? What does this verse and its context teach you about King Jesus? With whom were the colonists comparing King Jesus? If citizens today rejected their national government in a revolutionary sense while clinging to biblical revelation, what might their cry be? 
  • When the first Continental Congress convened in 1774, its first official act was to invite a minister to lead the assembled congress in prayer. Some members wondered how they could manage, since the members belonged to many different churches. However, they all agreed that a prayer to the God they all served was completely in order for all attendees. The prayer began this way:

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires, and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor, and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee.

How does this prayer transcend the various denominational differences among Christians,? How does the verse above transcend denominational differences among Christians? How did the pastor who led this prayer express the teaching of this verse in his prayer? 

  • After a bitterly-fought campaign to elect a president of the USA, approximately half of the people who voted in 2012 saw their chosen candidate lose. What comfort can they find in this verse? How does this verse touch those whose candidate prevailed? What is the relationship of the winners of national elections to the God who speaks in this verse? 
  • Some people say that the God who speaks these words diminishes everyone by this message. Some people say that when God speaks these words, he elevates everyone. How would you explain the two very different viewpoints?

 

 

A Verse for Meditation

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:4, 5

 

  • For Hebrews, the heart was the center of a human’s life. It was the locus of the recognition of right and wrong. What would it mean to love God fully in recognition of the difference between all that is right and all that is wrong? To put it another way, knowing that there is a raging battle between good and evil all around us, what does it mean to love God with all your heart?
  • Greeks thought of a human being as a soul within a body; Hebrews thought of the soul and body as one being. To Deuteronomy’s author, humans are integrated, body and soul. What does it mean to love God as a fully integrated human being, a being who does not “have” a body, but rather a being who “is” a body? This concept occurs in Jesus’ teaching when he said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 NRSV) The word teleios which is translated as “perfect” could more clearly be translated “fully integrated,” and the sense of the word is such that an alternate translation might well be, “Be a person of integrity, as your heavenly Father is a person of integrity.” What does it mean to love God with your complete integrity?
  • The Hebrew word translated might is about the uttermost force and strength of life. It is about being utterly committed. It is about using every ounce of personal power. It is about being all in, giving 100%. What does it mean, therefore, to love God with all your might?
  • To live in today’s world is to be subjected to many calls for your attention at any given moment. Places to go, things to buy, desires, threats, simple everyday tasks. Multi-tasking to achieve multiple objectives in parallel is a highly-valued skill. Can it even be possible that there is one God who has a unique claim on all your priorities at all times? How can you possibly put God first, above all other demands on your attention and your loyalties?

When Nicodemus Met God, the Mysterious Three in One

Holy Trinity by Fridolin Leiber (1853–1912)

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8     Psalm 29     Romans 8:12-17     John 3:1-17

Every Christian has heard the phrase, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” many times. We hear it every Sunday during worship, often more than once. We mention all three persons when we confess our faith in the Creed. Prayers often close with a reference to all three persons, sometimes rather lengthy. The pastoral blessing at the end of the Eucharist always names all three persons. We hear it at a baptism. We hear texts with reference to the three persons in more abstruse terms. We all know that God is the Mysterious Three in One, one God in three persons, but we all struggle if anyone asks for an explanation.

This phrase was not familiar to Nicodemus who, as a Pharisee, was well acquainted with the texts we call the Old Testament. He was more accustomed to think of God in terms of the most important words to Israelites: Hear O Israel. The Lord our God is one God. When Jesus began to speak of being born from above, Nicodemus was not prepared to understand what he meant. Jesus actually introduced Nicodemus to all the elements of the Trinity. That concept is not likely the message he took home with him, yet Jesus had to talk about all three persons for his message to make any sense. He pointed out that a person must be born of the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. He talked about himself, saying that he had come down from heaven, where the Father lives eternally, the same Father who spoke at Jesus’ baptism saying, “This is my beloved Son.” He summed up his teaching in probably the most famous words in the Bible, saying that God, who exists in three persons, loved the world so much that the Father sent the Son into the world to save the world. Faith in the Christ the Son is the work of the Spirit, by whose grace and power people are born into the Kingdom of God.

The whole idea of God who is one existing in Three Persons without being divided – it overwhelms human brain capacity and human language. Mohammed couldn’t accept it, and he created the religion of Islam for that very reason. His inability to accept the Trinity as an article of faith led him down a different road. Mormons, on the other hand, seem to acknowledge many gods, even though they focus on God the Father, and they ascribe no divinity to Jesus. They cannot accept One God in Three Persons, either. During two thousand years of Christian history, Christians have felt that they needed to explain this mystery, and this need has led to numerous heresies.

The simple truth is that we cannot explain the Trinity. We can only accept it. It is a mystery. God, infinite and eternal, is already beyond our comprehension. The Trinity is simply another mysterious truth about God. We confess faithfully that it is, but we also confess that we have no idea how it can be so.

The Book of Concord touches on the mystery, summing it up as the message of the gospel. It is the Father’s perfect plan that the Holy Spirit creates true faith in our hearts that we may come to Christ, our Redeemer. The gospel only makes sense if the Trinity is truth, and the Trinity comes clear to the eyes of our hearts in the gospel, even though our minds of flesh are still mystified. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus introduces Nicodemus to the mysterious Three in One, and when John sat down to write about Jesus, he thought this conversation was important enough that it needed to  be preserved,  even though the whole world could not contain everything he might have written about Christ. When we hear this story, we listen as Nicodemus listened, and Christ opens our minds and hearts to the truth of the gospel and the mystery of the Trinity.

Why does it matter? Because God himself, mysterious Three in One, ordained that faith in Christ the Son is the gift of the Holy Spirit by the grace of God the Father. This is the faith we hold dear and confess each Sunday in the Creed.

What difference did it make to Nicodemus? When Joseph of Arimathea took possession of the body of Jesus and laid it lovingly in his own tomb, Nicodemus brought costly spices for wrapping the body. The Trinity made a huge difference to Nicodemus. What difference does it make to you?

© 2012 Katherine Harms