First, that we have little understanding of the Trinity, and second, the understanding we do have does not seem to matter in the way we worship. By far, the greater number of songs we sing as the church gathers for worship have `You Lord' words that do not define the doctrine of the Trinity. If it is true, that we remember songs we have sung not the sermon we listened to, it is absolutely essential to come back to the heart of worship and sing our theology. The reasoning behind this thought is that worship shapes our spirituality. The danger ahead of us is an undefined `god of our own making' rather than the Trinitarian doctrine of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It appears that we do not have Christian worship but Christians worshipping. This does not refer to style or type of music played but the words that are sung. It also creates a paradox of belief and practice: we are Trinitarian in belief but Unitarian in practice. This becomes too lose and open for misinterpretation. Even the Pharisees understood the songs that children sang about David. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are present in the narrative of scripture because they are the narrative. From before creation through to the new heavens and earth there is no void where the trinity are not actively present and cooperating. Even if our worship was limited to the context of Jesus' incarnation we would still have plenty to sing about. His birth, early life, baptism, ministry, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension create a catalogue of resource to compose a rich body of Trinitarian theology to sing about. The traditional Christian calendar is a wonderful outline to follow all that Jesus did.
If we did not want to follow the typical Christian calendar the narrative of Scripture is not separate from the Trinity. We could preach and sing about creation and how the Father, Son and Spirit intended us to live in Eden, and how creation waits in eager expectation for Jesus to return. Although this sounds a little `tree-hugging' we tend to avoid anything outside of the typical Pentecostal experience. Even in this, we boil it down to `my personal experience' instead of the experience of living in the great narrative of the Trinity that had no beginning and will have no end. For people with no hope and tangled up in temporary struggles this can be the most spiritually uplifting experience. Not that we continue to sing, `This world is not my home' but `Your (trinity) Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.'
How would I summarize this to a friend? I am assuming that my friend is not a Christian. I would share with him that the whole experience of being a Christian (in Christ and Christ in me) is an expansive narrative that he is included in. The inclusion is not because of qualification or requirements (like Judaism following the law, repentance, prayer and good works) but something that was planned and carried out by the Trinity. The Father sent his Son who died for us but was raised by the Holy Spirit. The Father wants us to be reconciled to him through his Son made real in our lives by the Holy Spirit. I would explain that we receive by the Holy Spirit what the Father has done for us in his Son. As my friend begins to read the Bible, gather together with the church, pray, worship and live a holy life, it is all through the Trinity. The way my friend would come into faith has to be the way he continues.
He would read about the Father in the scriptures, as the Holy Spirit gave him understanding, and understand that Jesus is the theme from Genesis to Revelation. The hope he now has would not just be for the `here after' but `here and now' because the Holy Spirit reveals a continued conversation that Jesus promised. (John 16:11-13) "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." As Jesus was never on his own and would do what the Father asked him, so the Holy Spirit will only speak what he hears the Father say to the Son concerning my friend. He has been invited, not only into the community of faith but into fellowship with the community of love - the Trinity.
This would certainly build rich God-human relationships and transform human relationships. My belief is that we need to go further than just examining the words we sing in our worship in that the whole church experience needs to speak of the Trinity, not just in the life of Jesus, but the eternal narrative. To that end, Holy Communion, the reading of scripture, preaching (proclaiming) the Word of God, and reading the scriptures without comment, all speak of community. This would be multi-sensory that includes how we are made and fitted together. Our physical body would be in close proximity with `others', our soul (emotions and mind) would be engaged in thought and response, and our spirit would continue to mature. The central purpose of this would be what the Father has done for me in his Son, what Jesus the Son has done and continues to do, and what the Holy Spirit speaks into my spirit from what he hears. This is primary and must come first to make any sense of relationship with `others.'
Although my roots are Pentecostal, I would want to hear more liturgical dialogue in prayer, contemplation, reflection and meditation. This allows the Holy Spirit to speak into my spirit. It also allows me to take in the world around me (creation) and the complexity of sight and sound. Again, the focus is not diminishing the incarnation of Jesus the Son, but allows time and space to contemplate (with the Holy Spirit) that God was incarnate and became like me to rescue me. Quoting various Trinity filled creeds does not replace, diminish or reduce the written Scriptures but it does add context from a human-God perspective in our response to Him. It appears that the Christian calendar allows for brief moments of reflection at Christmas and Easter to encounter a partial narrative of the incarnation. These two seasonal events do not allow pre-incarnational thinking where Father, Son and Spirit were always the community of love, or ascension thinking where Father, Son, Holy Spirit, me and `others' are a community of love. To that end, a careful examination of what we do, sing and say in worship will produce a rich God-human relationship affecting our other relationships.
Andrew Fox author of Change Through Challenge