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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Trinity Sunday
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary — Revised Common Lectionary


Matthew 28:16-20 (Standard [Episcopal] Lectionary and Revised Common Lectionary)

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."


Reflection on Matthew 28:16-20
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

During the first few decades of Christian existence the “threefold-ness” of God, so to speak was a matter of experience rather than of philosophical theology. They spoke of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because they had experienced God in those three ways.

The first gospel concludes with what we call The Great Commission.  By so doing, Matthew serves the pastoral need for closure in the wake of the Resurrection. Some of the 11 remaining disciples prostrated themselves in worship, something they had not done prior to the crucifixion. Others in that small group "doubted." To both groups Jesus makes the same statement and gives the same charge, using the same language.

Matthew's Jesus says in effect that the resurrection has established who is in charge of the universe: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (This echoes Daniel 7:13-14.) On the basis of that sovereignty the Church makes disciples, baptizes, teaches, and remembers. There are no boundaries after the resurrection, unlike earlier (Mt. 10:5), against disciple making. Mark 16:15, which may have been written after Matthew, emphasizes this wide scope: "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation."  This closure brings new beginning.

It is not individuals alone, but whole groupings of peoples (ethne, nations) that are made to be disciples. Communities are changed thereby. Value-orientations are transformed so that the new community (the Church) lives out the sovereignty of God in human experience. They are baptized into the possession and protection of ("in the name of") Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are taught beyond thought "to obey" everything that Jesus commanded. Through all the changes of their life together they remember: "I am with you always, to the end of the age."

What a corrective to the hyper-individualism of Western civilization in our time! The center of attention is not the individual sinner who has to be saved.  True evangelism transforms whole communities between heaven and earth. Here the whole Church is the evangelist, not just one person. That People sees every today in view of  "the end of the age." Our lectionary quite rightly, therefore, includes the first Creation Story.



To Reflections on other Readings for Trinity Sunday, Year A:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Revised Common
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Psalm 150 or Canticle 2 or Canticle 13
Psalm 8 or Canticle 2 or Canticle 13
New Testament Lesson
Reflection on all the Readings: Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Reflection on Genesis, 2 Corinthians and Matthew Readings from RCL


John Gibbs, a retired theologian, attended Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2002. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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