Let us pray (in silence) [to God the source of all being, through the eternal Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit]
God of unchangeable power,
you have revealed yourself
to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
keep us firm in this faith
that we may praise and bless your holy name;
for you are one God now and for ever.
Normally we celebrate in liturgy the great acts of God. Trinity Sunday is an exception. It celebrates a doctrine.
We live in a world that so often fears difference. We bully them, persecute them, will not employ them, do not want to live in their neighbourhood, kill them, go to war with them. Yet the universe, rather than being uniform and unanimous holds wonderful diversity in unity. This beautiful multiplicity held in harmony in our universe is no accident because the source and heart of all reality is the one we call “God” – three in one. To live the Trinity life is to rejoice in diversity and to work towards holding it in unity.
Six blind persons at the zoo were feeling an elephant. “Elephant is like a wall”, said one stroking his side. “No – elephant is not like a wall, elephant is like a rope”, said another clutching the tail. “A rope? No - elephant is like a sheet,” said the third holding the ear. “Elephant is like a soft, large hose” said the fourth grasping the trunk. “No – elephant is like a tree” said another, firmly wrapping his arms about a leg. “Elephant is definitely like a solid pipe,” said the sixth taking hold of the tusk.
As we explore the nature of God from the different facets we perceive, we can see God “beyond”-creator, God “beside me” as friend and companion in Jesus, and God “within” as Holy Spirit. Ultimately, we acknowledge we are like blind persons feeling an elephant – acknowledging that God is not merely a human construct (there is an elephant), but that we have a most limited understanding of God. The apophatics are right – God is not like this, God is not like that…
The Medieval votive Mass of the Holy Trinity became the basis for the Trinity Sunday propers. The feast entered the church’s universal calendar in 1334. It was added by the Avignon Pope John XXII.The 1549 Prayer Book is closest to the Medieval collect which can be found in the Gregorian Sacramentary for the octave of Pentecost:
ALMIGHTYE and everlastyng God, whiche haste geven unto us thy servauntes grace by the confession of a true fayth to acknowlege the glorye of the eternall trinitie, and in the power of the divyne majestie to wurshippe the unitie: we beseche thee, that through the stedfastnes of thys fayth, me may evermore be defended from all adversitie, whiche liveste and reignest, one God, worlde without end.
Trinity Sunday has a particular popularity within the English tradition of Christianity due to St Thomas Becket calling for its celebration throughout the realm. Recent Anglican reforms have re-highlighted that this is a feast day and the collect for Trinity Sunday is not to be used during the week following. The collect for the week is that of the Ordinary Sunday which Trinity Sunday replaces.
New Zealand is clearly influenced by the Church of South India Book of Common Worship collect for Trinity Sunday:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast revealed thyself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and dost ever live and reign in the perfect unity of love: Grant that we may always hold firmly and joyfully to this faith, and, living in praise of thy divine majesty, may finally be one in thee; who art three Persons in one God, world without end. Amen.
The version in BCP (USA):
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Restated by the Order of St Helena:
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, for you live and reign, one God in three Persons, for ever and ever. Amen.
The version in Common Worship (CofE)
Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:
keep us steadfast in this faith,
that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Roman Catholic Collect for this day:
you sent your Word to bring us truth
and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship you, one God in three Persons,
by proclaiming and living our faith in you.
qui, Verbum veritatis et Spiritum
sanctificationis mittens in mundum,
admirabile mysterium tuum hominibus declarasti,
da nobis, in confessione verae fidei,
aeternae gloriam Trinitatis agnoscere,
et Unitatem adorare in potentia maiestatis.
Those interested in inclusive languages or the variety of images for God may be interested to note this is the only Sunday Roman Catholic opening prayer (collect) in the Latin addressed to “Pater” (Father). Only one weekday opening prayer (collect) is addressed to “Pater” (the Saturday of the first week of Lent). The Roman Catholic collect is later than the Anglican one, originating with Alcuin.