Tag Archives: Trinity

A Hymn for Meditation

God, Whose Almighty Word

hymnal1. God, whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard
And took their flight:
Hear us, we humble pray,
And where the Gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light!

2. Lord, who once came to bring,
On your redeeming wing,
Healing and sight,
Health to the sick in mind,
Sight to the inly blind:
Oh, now to humankind
Let there be light!

3. Spirit of truth and love,
Life giving, holy dove,
Speed forth your flight;
Move on the water’s face,
Bearing the lamp of grace,
And in earth’s darkest place
Let there be light!

4. Holy and blessed three,
Glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, love, might!
Boundless as ocean’s tide,
Rolling in fullest pride,
Through the earth, far and wide,
Let there be light!

  • What Bible story comes to mind when you read that darkness took flight? What does the hymn writer mean by “the Gospel day?”
  • Contemporary singers may wonder about the word inly in verse 2. This word means “inwardly.” What is an example of someone who is “inly” blind?
  • How does the phrase, “move on the water’s face” actually parallel the phrase, “bearing the lamp of grace?”
  • God said “Light!” and there was light. God said that a virgin would become pregnant and bear a son. An angel said that every word God speaks is possible. How does this hymn help us to understand God’s promises?

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?

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

A Hymn for Meditation

Looking forward to Trinity Sunday, this hymn inspires our praise and celebration of the mystery of the Trinity

 Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy Trinity
Holy Trinity (Photo credit: angelofsweetbitter2009)

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! 
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!

God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy!
All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns
around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim
falling down before Thee,

Who was, and is, and
evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy!
Though the darkness hide Thee,

Though the eye of sinful man
Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy;
there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in
love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name,
in earth, and sky, and sea;

Holy, holy, holy;
merciful and mighty!

God in three Persons,
blessed Trinity!

Questions for thought:

  • What Bible stories come to mind as you read the words of this hymn?
  • How do those stories enhance your understanding of the Trinity?
  • Why do we need to remember that the Trinity is One God in Three Persons?
  • How does worship and praise of the Trinity nourish our faith?

© 2012 Katherine Harms