W.4.0404 a. Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Like the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds and the liturgy for baptism,
this ordination question points us toward the doctrine of the Trinity, our belief
in one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
A colleague from Korea remembers hearing this story from his mother when he was a child. It has been used to explain the Trinity in a children sermon:
Do you see the sun up in the sky? We look to it for many things—light, warmth, comfort. Even in the nighttime, we may not see the sun, but we know it is there. That, child, is how I want you to think of the Trinity. God is always there no matter what. Jesus is the brilliant light that shines blessings on the earth. The Holy Spirit is the rays of warmth we feel that keeps us warm and makes our food grow to sustain us. Whenever you look to the sky and see the sun, know the light that shines over the earth, feel the rays as they touch your skin … you can be reminded of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, three in one, always with us.
Analogies such as this cannot fully demonstrate the three expressions of the Divine or exhaust the mystery of the Trinity. We can, however, benefit from exploring the ways in which we relate to the God as Three-in-One.
Christ gifted the church with the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Advocate. As servant leaders of the church, we are called to be in relationship with the Triune God through this same Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us to guide our church through our Constitution and our Confessions, with all their ramifications and growing edges. The Holy Spirit is the one who lifts our Constitution and Confessions off the paper to reveal their very real and living nature. It is the Holy Spirit who acts as the voice of God in our deliberations and discernments. As such, we are guided in our leadership by the Holy Spirit acting on behalf of the Triune God here in our midst.
In this way, the Holy Spirit is Advocate and Revelator, revealing God’s plans for our work, while revealing the intentions of our work to God. In the words of the old spirituals, the Holy Spirit is the conductor on “the highway to heaven” where “there ain’t but one train on that track, it goes to heaven and then right back.” It is quite the image that the Holy Spirit gives us this very real spiritual access to the counterparts of God and Christ in the Trinity. It reminds us that the work we do is of God and not simply a human endeavor.
This claim is affirmed in our Book of Order:
The Holy Spirit manifests God’s gracious action and empowers our grateful response. The Spirit gathers us for worship, enlightens and equips us through the Word, claims and nourishes us through the Sacraments, and sends us out for service. To each member of Christ’s body, the Spirit gives gifts for ministry in the Church and in mission in the world. (W-1.0105, italics added for emphasis)
For Reflection and Discussion:
How you have experienced the ways in which “the Spirit gives gifts for ministry in the Church” in your calling to serve as a leader?
How have you identified and related to the Trinity within your faith journey? How have the aspects of the Three-in-One been present in your ministry?
*For more information about what Presbyterians believe about the Trinity, read the article “The Triune God—the doctrine of the Trinity is not irrational.”
 “There’s A Highway to Heaven,” Spiritual.
 “Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit,” Spiritual.