Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection Year C, Trinity Sunday, Psalm

Psalm 29:
Ascribe to the LORD, you gods, * ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his Name; * worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; * the LORD is upon the mighty waters.

The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice; * the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees; * the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;

He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, * and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD splits the flames of fire; the voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; * the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe * and strips the forests bare.

And in the temple of the LORD * all are crying, "Glory!"

The LORD sits enthroned above the flood; * the LORD sits enthroned as King for evermore.

The LORD shall give strength to his people; * the LORD shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Reflection on Psalm 29: by John Gibbs, Ph D

As we discussed for Cycle A, Trinity Sunday, there is no full-fledged developed doctrine of the Trinity within Scripture. What we see in biblical literature are, rather, the seeds of the later developed ideas about the interrelations between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Earliest Christians spoke of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on the bases of their experiences of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Reconciler or Sustainer. We may say, then, that biblical thought about God uses an incipient or “practical” Trinitarian language rather than a “systematic” or philosophical/theological language. [See, for example, R. Mehl’s outline of N.T. talk about God in the article “God” within J.-J. von Allmen, A Companion to the Bible (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 1958), pp. 146-51.]

As a consequence of the incipient nature of biblical references to the “persons” of the Trinity, as they were later denominated, subsequent theological discussions about the Trinity have ranged far and wide, all the way from excluding this doctrine from any central importance in theology (a position difficult to support on biblical grounds) to, on the other hand, making this doctrine the centerpiece of one’s theology. Karl Barth may be foremost among those who have done the latter during the last century. For an excellent short article about his Trinitarian theology, see Cynthia M. Campbell, “Trinity,” within Donald K. McKim (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith (Louisville: WJKP, 1992), pp. 374-77.

The difficulties of the doctrine of the Trinity for laity, not to mention clergy (!), have led some folk to treat it with silence, especially within preaching. Before doing that, however, we might well recall what happened to the adolescent Carl Jung when he was in his father’s communicants’ class, his father being a Protestant pastor. Carl read ahead in their textbook, and awaited eagerly the forthcoming discussion about the Trinity. But when his father led the class to that chapter, his father remarked that the doctrine of the Trinity was very complex, and that he could not make anything of it himself. So he skipped over that chapter. The young Carl claims that his disaffection with the Church began at that moment.

What, then, do we find about the Trinity in the texts for this day?

Psalm 29 praises the God of the storm who rules over thunder and lightning, who governs the fearful “waters,” and who at the end of raging storm “sits enthroned” to “bless his people with peace.” Shalom (“peace”) embraces all our life wherever we live and work. Even though nature produces no theology (and “no words,” see Psalm 19), nature does reflect the glory and strength of the Creator. As John Calvin succinctly put it, all creation is a theatrum gloriae dei (a theater of the glory of God).

Here again, as in Isaiah, God the Creator is both transcendent and immanent, both far above and other than the creation, and intimately within the creation. In both texts, moreover, the “grace” of God about which the N.T. speaks, is clearly evident as God “heals,” “blesses” and “gives strength” to “his people.”

Copyright Statement
NOTE: All readings for this day may be combined into one reflection.
To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
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New Testament Revelation 4:1-11
Gospel John 16:(5-11)12-15
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John Gibbs, PHD, is a retired theologian, who attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2004. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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