The idea of celebrating the Trinity might not be everybody's first choice as a theme for all-age worship - it can be hard enough for most adults to grasp. But precisely because it is such a fundamental belief of mainstream Christianity, and also because children are very often much better at mysteries than adults, it is a topic that we ought to explore and celebrate together. In the church's year, Trinity Sunday comes just after Pentecost.
The following idea is an outline for a simple, short celebration focused on the story of the Trinity. It could be used in an all-age service or as part of a Messy Church celebration; for a Sunday or midweek group; or even, with suitable adaptation, for a collective worship in a school. The outline includes a call to worship, Bible links, a way into the story, a way to tell the story together, a suggestion for a song, a prayer activity, something to go on talking about afterwards and, finally, a blessing.
You will need:
- Four short pieces of card linked by split pins so that you can create a number 3 or, when stretched vertically in one line, a number 1.
- Short pieces of red, white and green wool - one set for each person present.
- Pretzels - one for each person present.
Call to worship
Use one or more of the following 'call and response' phrases:
Leader: We are not just once in a while friends.
All: We are the family of God.
Leader: We are not just a cosy club.
All: We are the body of Christ.
Leader: We are not just strangers meeting.
All: We are temples of the Holy Spirit.
Leader: We are not here by accident.
All: Father God has called us to worship.
Leader: We are not just passing time.
All: Jesus wants us to know him better.
Leader: We are not just doing the same old thing.
All: The Holy Spirit has some special words for us.
(You might choose to use one or more of these regularly to give a pattern to this sort of short act of worship.)
- Matthew 28:19
- Luke 3: 21 - 22
- 2 Corinthians 13:13
- There is a retelling of the Luke story in The Barnabas Children’s Bible (story 255) and in My Storytime Bible (pp. 80 - 81).
A way into the story
Today we're exploring a mystery! The mystery is how 3 can be 1 and 1 can be 3 (stretch and reshape the visual aid you made accordingly). It's a mystery. Or maybe I should say a 'Mr Three'!
Ask someone who has multiple relations present - for example, a man whose mum/dad are present as well as a son/daughter - to come and join you.
Here is XXX and this person is a mystery! XXX is himself... a son... and a father, all at the same time. Who else is XXX? A friend... an uncle... a nephew... a grandson.. just think of all the different family relationship names we can have. He is one thing but also different things. As we all are.
And it is the same with God. Christians know him as the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. He is what they call a Trinity - a three-sided God! When Christians are baptised, they are baptised into this three-ness: 'In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit'.
There is just so much of God waiting for everyone to experience!
A way to tell the story together
To understand more about our Trinity God, we need to do some three-in-one thinking.
- In groups of three, link up three into one in different ways - holding hands, a group hug, a friendship circle, linking arms, joining hands centrally, linking palm to palm or foot to foot, and so on.
- In groups of three, tie together pieces of wool representing the different parts of the Trinity. For example, red for Jesus, white for God the Father and green for the Holy Spirit.
- Still in threes, make a triangle shape (=Trinity); a circle shape (=God made the world); a cross shape (=God rescues the world); a flame shape (=God remakes the world).
- When Jesus was baptised, all the three parts of God were heard or seen on earth together. Jesus was standing in the water, the Spirit came down as a dove and the voice of God said: 'This is my Son...' (model this by standing as Jesus, making a dove/bird shape with your hands and then cupping your hands over your mouth to say the words of God so that it resonates).
- Christians have an 'outside' (hands together pointing upwards), 'beside' (hands together pointing to one side) and 'inside' (hands together folded over your heart) God. Teach actions for these three terms and invite everyone to repeat them often and at speed!
- Isn’t it amazing? Christians believe that all of God is for all of us, all the time!
A suggestion for a song
Why not use the Peruvian Gloria, which is easy to pick up and praises each part of the Trinity in turn. Words and music, including an echo track, can be found here.
A prayer activity
Hand out the pretzels, saying we are going to use them to help us pray, before eating them.
- Hold the pretzel in one hand and notice how it is all one but also has three parts. Thank God that he is so much bigger and far more than we could ever imagine, and that he is committed to giving all of himself to us. Ask God to help us remember that he has all we need for each day this coming week.
- Notice how the pretzel is like two hands praying. Thank God that Jesus is always praying for us and that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray to God. Ask God to keep us faithful in prayer in the week ahead.
- Feel the pretzel. It is hard and shiny and real! God promises to be real to us if we ask him into our lives. As we eat the pretzel, thank God that he can live in us and that he will give us new strength for the week ahead.
- Finish with the words of the grace (2 Corinthians 13:13) that surround us with the Trinity who is God.
Something to go on talking about afterwards
- Just how big is God?
- How amazing that God should bother about me.
- Which part of God is most special to me at the moment?
- I wonder what each different part of God will mean to me this week.
(Perhaps this could be a blessing you learn and use every time for these sorts of short celebrations?)
God the Father watch over us - hands reaching up high above the body
God the Son walk with us - hands reaching out wide either side of the body
God the Spirit work through us - hands crossed over the body
Until we meet again - shake hands or high-five each other