Making our Worship more Trinitarian

Posted by Robin Parry on 1 April 2013

Christianity is God-centred, and God is the Trinity. So it follows that Christianity must be Trinity-centred. The same must be said about our worship and prayer. Worship is God-centred, and because God is the Trinity, our prayer and worship should be Trinity-centred. Worship is the face-to-face encounter of the Church with God—with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So central is the Trinity that every other Christian belief connects to it. The Trinity is the hub of the wheel called Christianity, in which all its spokes connect. Every aspect of Christian belief has the Trinity at the centre: the creation of the world and everything in it; humanity in the image of (the triune) God; the providence of God; God’s redemption of the world through Christ (incarnation, ministry, cross, resurrection, ascension); the future of the world; the mission of the Church; prayer; worship; the Kingdom of God. Consider the following:
Creation. The Father created the universe through His Son by the Spirit’s life-giving power. The universe began its existence and continues to exist by the work of the Trinity.
Redemption. The Father so loved the world that He sent His Son, conceived in Mary by the Spirit. The Son spoke His Father’s words and did His Father’s deeds all in the Spirit’s power. On the cross, the Son offered His life to the Father through the Spirit. Three days later, the Father raised His Son through the Spirit and exalted Him to His right hand. From there the Father gave Him the Spirit to pour out on the Church.
Consummation. The Spirit will raise the dead, and the Son will judge everyone on behalf of His Father. All Christ’s enemies will be placed under His feet, and then He will hand everything over to the Father so that God will be all in all.
The story of the Bible is God’s story, and it is the story of the Trinity. Every act of God is an act of the three Persons working in unity. The same can be said for our own Christian lives and experience. We see it in the following.
Conversion. The Father sends his Spirit to convict people of their sin and of the truth of the gospel. The Spirit draws us to faith in Christ, and through Christ, to the Father. We are baptized into Christ in the Spirit and baptized in water in the threefold name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Worship and Prayer. Acceptable worship and prayer is only possible because of the new and living way opened up by Jesus; and we can only go that way as the Spirit enables us. Worship is a ‘gifted’ (given to us) response.
Mission. The Spirit enables the Church to join with Christ in His mission to the world on behalf of the Father. That is what mission is.
Going back to public worship, I have a strong suspicion that worship does more to shape the spirituality of Christians than just about anything else. There may or may not be formal teaching of a particular topic, but we learn by means of a kind of osmosis— just as we learn language. This makes public worship crucial in the spiritual formation of the Church. It is here that people will learn how to relate to the Trinity. It is here that the richness of the creating and saving deeds of the Trinity will come to expression. It is here that we will discover how to approach God through the Son and in the Spirit. It is in this forum that we will join together in honouring the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Can we really blame people for not seeing the relevance of the Trinity if we have stripped it from our songs and prayers? Expressing good theology in songs and services is not about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s but about enabling people to worship and experience the true God more adequately.
So here are some final questions.
1. How can we learn to pray in ways that are more overtly Trinitarian?
2. How should songwriters change what they do to be more Trinitarian?
3. How can we select songs that, while not being overtly Trinitarian, can work together to bring the three Persons of God into our awareness?
4. Can the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist be used to generate an awareness of the whole Trinity?
5. How can preaching be moreTrinitarian?
6. Can we learn to see the Persons of the Trinity more clearly in the Bible reading
we do?
7. How can the creative arts (painting, sculpture, dance, music, etc.) be used to foster a Trinitarian spirituality in worship?
All this really boils down to one question: How can we shape our public worship so that it facilitates a rich encounter with the Christian God? In an ideal model, our worship will ceaselessly and effortlessly move back and forth between the threeness of God and the unity of God. It will shift focus from Father, to Son, to Spirit and back again in a restless celebration of divine love and mystery. It will also highlight the deep relations within the Godhead by not allowing the worshippers to lose sight of any of the Persons. At times the worship will draw the Father into focus; however, the Son and Spirit will be there, out of focus, but still in our field of awareness. Other times the Son will attract our attention, but not in such a way that we do not see Father and Spirit. When the Spirit attracts our worshipping attention it will always be as the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son.
Worship that makes us aware of the interrelationships within the Godhead is fully Trinitarian worship. Trinitarian worship is always ‘through the Son’ and ‘in the Spirit’ — yet is woven from an ever-changing mosaic of songs, prayers, Bible readings, testimonies, Spirit-gifts, sermons, Holy Communion, drama, dance, art, and more. The variety is endless and the possibilities infinite. But at the heart of it all stands the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Taken from 'InsideOut Worship: Matt Redman and Friends' published by Survivor.

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