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Trinitarian Inclusiveness

Trinity Rublev

God has no gender. The Persons of the Holy Trinity have no gender. The Christian tradition of praying to the First Person, in and through the Second Person, in the unity and power of the Third Person of the Trinity is able to be done in a gender-inclusive way; even in a complementary-language way. This dynamic of praying is the tradition (yes – with exceptions that prove the rule) in the Eucharistic Prayer (and other major prayers). The Eucharistic Prayer is the core of The Ministry of the Sacrament. In the West, the collect (with a similar Trinitarian dynamic), is the core of The Ministry of Word and Prayer.

This tradition I have just briefly described expresses and facilitates our being drawn into God as we are incorporated into Christ, the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity.

While collects in A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa have a pick-a-Person-of-the-Trinity-any-Person approach, I have long been an advocate of renewal of this Trinitarian dynamic.

Furthermore, this approach, as I indicated, has no issues with inclusive language.

The following is just one example of a collect that has been prayed on the same day by Christians for over 13 centuries:

Faithful God,
source of all good,
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
and bind us more closely to you
so that you nourish the goodness you sow in us,
and, by your watchful care,
you tend and guard the good you have nourished;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

[I’ve been putting up a traditional collect like this most weeks onto this site, and they will be collected together into a revision of a Book of Prayers in Common.]

Now General Synod Te Hinota Whanui 2016 (GSTHW16) wanted to change A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. Currently, page 549 includes:

At the end of a Collect, when needed, the minister may add

Hear this prayer for your love’s sake. Amen.

Or Praise to you our God; you answer prayer. Amen.

Or when the prayer is addressed to God

This we ask through Christ our Mediator / Saviour /
Redeemer / Lord. Amen.

Or when the prayer is addressed to God and ends with words
referring to Jesus Christ

Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever. Amen.

And GSTHW16 would like to change this to:

Concerning Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year

The minister chooses one, or more, of the Collects set down for the Day for use in the service, and selects the Sentence, Psalms, and Set Readings from pages 550-723, or selects the alternatives set down in A Prayer Book for Australia, or in Revised Common Lectionary Prayers.

At the end of a Collect, when needed, the minister may substitute one of the following

General
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or, if the Collect is addressed to the second person of the Trinity
For you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or, if the Collect is addressed to the third person of the Trinity
Who with the Father and the Son,
live and reign,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The first diocesan synod to debate this was Auckland, and they have voted against it, primarily, if what I have been told is correct, because of the uninclusive language.

So the moral of the story: praying to the First Person, in and through the Second Person, in the unity and power of the Third Person of the Trinity deepens our spiritual life and is the easiest to do in a gender-inclusive way.

I don’t know about you – but I think it is peculiar to have reference to another Anglican province’s Prayer Book in the middle of our own one.

Finally, I remind you, in NZ Anglicanism this is all in the “may” part of regulations. There is no (longer a) must use a collect. So you may use a collect (or any prayer, or nothing). You may take it from any resource, or write your own, or make something up on the spur of the moment. And – whether GSTHW16’s change happens or not – you may end it any way you like.

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Image: Rublev’s Trinity – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54421

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14 Responses to Trinitarian Inclusiveness

  1. “The Persons of the Holy Trinity have no gender”.

    Jesus has no gender ? Hmmmmm.

    In the Catholic tradition we can also pray through Mary, which adds a nice gender balance.

    Many Blessings

    • Thanks, Chris. It’s not a maths equation. Jesus being 5ft 8inches doesn’t mean we can say the Second Person of the Trinity is 5ft 8inches.

      Asking others, living or dead, to intercede for us is, of course, quite another discussion.

      Blessings.

      • There is no Second Person of the Trinity apart from Jesus, any more than there’s a Jesus apart from the Second Person of the Trinity. (Arguably, there may have been a non-Jesus Second Person before the Annunciation, but that’s a fuzzy part of theology.) The two are completely inseparable. So the 1st Council of Constantinople determined.

  2. I don’t see this issue getting resolved any time soon. Yet I personally find the idea of god having gender to be less and less sensible as I think through the implications of what the infinity/unity/trinity of god might be.

    As I’ve posted before, when reciting gender-specific prayers or liturgy, I picture them mentally as poetry, and put invisible “air quotes” around “Father” “He” “Him” etc.

    If we could just live with metaphor, meaning, and mystery instead of being caught up in the literalism of the 20th/s1st centuries, I feel we would be so much closer to understanding the nature of the divine.

  3. An analogy, Bosco …

    NZ tax form in 2020: you may pay your taxes according to the NZ rate of tax or according to the Australian rate of tax. Just do whatever suits you.

  4. It brings us right back to Mother Julian’s “Father, Mother, God.

    Of course, the Lord’s Prayer seems quite specific – as related by the co-equal Son. I guess some people find the paternal somehow more authoritative – thus suiting their particue desire for a paternalistic God. But, as you say, Bosco; we have to seriously consider the complementarity of the God-Head.

    I think Chris’ understanding of Mary’s role makes her also ‘co-Equal’ with the Trinity – a rather defective theology, I’m afraid but common among some R.C.s

    Mary certainly has her place in the story of our human redemption – as a lowly Instrument, but not God

  5. Someone can correct me if I’ve got it wrong, but my impression of the debate in Auckland when that motion was lost, was that as well as some comments on inclusive language, there was a lot of support for the sentiment that we did not need to be told how to conclude the collect.
    Thank you for the work you are doing with the Prayers in Common, I love to think of these being prayed over the centuries.

    • Thanks, Joan.

      I wasn’t at the Auckland synod; I am reliant on people like you who were. The Christchurch synod ran out of time for this – we spent a lot of time on a motion that blessing committed same-sex couples is not consonant with scripture nor the doctrine of marriage.

      Surely, this sort of discussion needs to happen before reaching the diocesan synods. Again, not having been at GSTHW16, I am reliant on those who were – but I don’t get the impression that it was seriously discussed there.

      As to not needing to be told how to conclude the collect: I would think a lot of places end the collect simply as it is provided without such an “ending” – simply an “Amen”.

      Blessings.

  6. Not entirely sure about your solution, Bosco. I’m happy to bless you “In the Name of God: + Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. But you might feel short-changed if I bless you “In the name of + God, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

    • Thanks. I’m not sure what you are trying to say, David. What you write is neither a collect, nor gender inclusive. Blessings.

      • The point I was making is that “God” is not the equivalent of “The Father”. It can certainly be appropriate to address a collect to God, Loving God, Holy God, etc., but you cannot resolve the Gender-inclusive issue by substituting “God” for “Father”. It would generally be appropriate for a collect addressed to God to have a fully trinitarian conclusion.

        • Thanks, David. Most traditional collects, as I have regularly pointed out, are addressed to “Deus” (“God”) – I’m not sure how what you call a “fully trinitarian conclusion” to such a collect loses the gender-inclusive nature of such a prayer. Do explain. Blessings.




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