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:

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.

Image of the trinity knotChrist 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”[1] where “there ain’t but one train on that track, it goes to heaven and then right back.”[2] 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.”

[1] “There’s A Highway to Heaven,” Spiritual.

[2] “Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit,” Spiritual.