Exploring the Trinity

Long ago (before the Rotation Workshop Model was a “thing”), I worked in a parish as their Director of Christian Education. From time to time we would have intergenerational gatherings of learning; one year on Trinity Sunday we had such an event in the midst of worship. In the context of the Holy Eucharist, three stations with Bible readings and related projects served as the Liturgy of the Word. The congregation began in the church and fanned out to the three learning centers (set up in advance) in adjacent spaces (the nave, chapel, and a nearby room where coffee hour was held). These three groups of mixed ages rotated (with the sound of a bell) from location to location. Each station took about ten minutes. This year Trinity Sunday will be observed on June 7, 2020.

Bracelets and Headpieces

A young man at the Western Wall in Jerusalem studying Scripture with his phylacteries on his desk. (c) 2019 John F. Pearson

In the first center participants read the “Shema” in Deuteronomy 6:1-9. This text commands adults to teach children the laws and love of God, “to bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts in your house.” Learners were invited to read the following descriptions of God and think about which one described God for them.

  • Maker: God made the world and everyone and everything in it.
  • Giver: God gives people good things.
  • Lover: God loves people (and all of creation).
  • Leader: God leads people in the right way to go.
  • Protector: God protects people from harm.
  • Feeder: God feeds hungry people with God’s Word and asks us to feed others with food to physically eat.
  • Healer: God heals sick people through the ministry of doctors, nurses, medicine, and our prayer and care.
  • Finder: God finds lost people. Jesus cares for us all and goes after those who are lost.
  • Rescuer: God rescues people in danger and provides helpers in our communities.

White paper strips, crayons, and markers were provided. Participants selected one of the above descriptions and wrote it on the paper. The papers were stapled into the shape of a bracelet or headpiece to suggest the text’s command to the people of Israel to wear reminders of God’s love on their hands and foreheads. (Adults tended to make bracelets, while children made headpieces.)

Trinity Hangings

The second learning station directed everyone’s attention to Romans 8:9-17 in which the apostle Paul mentions God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Materials at this center included three paper circles of equal size per participant. The first circle represented God the Father/Creator. Adults and children drew pictures and symbols of creation, such as the sun, people, flowers, and the hand of God. The second circle represented God the Son/Jesus. Symbols of bread and wine, the cross, butterflies, and other images related to Christ were drawn on them. The third circle represented God the Holy Spirit, decorated with doves, flames, and other symbols of the Spirit.

When completed, each circle was stapled together into a cone shape. A string was then run through the center of each of the three cones, knotting the string before and after each cone to keep them separated. The final product was a three-cone-shaped hanging that pointed to the mystery and wonder of the Triune God.

Apples

The final station featured a reading from 1 John 4:2, 9, 13-15 and John 16:5-15. Jesus promises to send his followers an “Advocate,” the Holy Spirit, and describes the Spirit’s work. This center’s focus was on an apple. A fruit composed of three parts of a whole: a peel, core, and seeds, it is still a single whole fruit. Everyone made a name tag from the three pre-cut pieces gluing the core and then seeds on top of the construction paper apple. After reading the scripture passage, real apples were cut, sliced, and placed in bowls which were passed around to share a snack. Before eating, each group sang “The Johnny Appleseed Song.

Once everyone rotated through each of the learning centers, the congregation returned to the sanctuary to share the Peace and complete the Eucharistic liturgy.

Note: This was an article I wrote for the Spring 1997 issue of Episcopal Teacher (when it was in newspaper format). I discovered it on a weathered newspaper clipping. Can you tell I am cleaning up old files?

Top photo by 宗華 鄭 on Unsplash. Bottom photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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