I had hoped on the drive to church, as I raised the posy of red and pink roses to my nose, inhaling the sweetness, that we would sing two of my favorite hymns today. For today is Trinity Sunday in our Anglo-Catholic parish and we often include the robust I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity… (St. Patrick’s Breastplate) and the stunning Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, early in the morning our song shall rise to thee….
It was a colorful, crisp day, unseasonably cool, the air brushed clean and clear by the breeze. The sun shone bright upon this gentle portion of earth that we call home. I clipped the five roses from my garden – ripe and full with edges browning. A few petals fluttered off as I hurried out the door, and we headed for church. I rushed downstairs to the parish hall to place them in a vase before a small statue of Our Lady and set them on the refreshment table.
I checked on the children in the Sunday School and realized they were sitting in the main church with their teachers. They were going to join the Trinity Sunday procession. Soon, the organ thundered the commanding notes, “I bind myself…” and we followed the thurifer swinging the sweet clouds of incense, preparing our way, the torchbearers with their flaming candles lighting our path, the crucifer with his crucifix held high, leading us. We took our places behind the celebrant in his golden cope and the deacons. The hymnbook said to sing this hymn “in unison, with energy,” and that we did, as we processed up the red-carpeted aisle to the chancel steps and turned right to the side doors.
We stepped outside to the sidewalk of Lawton Street and continued alongside the church. It felt good to be singing to the Trinity in a public space, traveling through the neighborhood, somehow linking us together. Was God smiling? I think so. It was a short distance – half a block – but it was a huge journey from inside to outside, from inside sacred space to outside secular, from the dark ark of the nave to the open sea of Lawton. We turned into the parish courtyard, following the crucifix above us, the choir booming as we marched, and up the front steps and inside once again. We did indeed bind ourselves as we walked the walk and sang the song. We bound ourselves to the Trinity and to one another. We also invited our neighbors to be a part of our world, to be with us.
We are liturgical sacramental Christians. We love song and we love the dance of liturgy, of parade, of expression through movement. It is difficult for us to remain still for long – we stand to sing, kneel to pray, make the Sign of the Cross over heart and mind. We voice Scripture in our verbal responses, and we pray together learned prayers that grow more dear with each saying. Our actions grow within us. They grow us. They texture us with God.
And so, as I knelt after receiving my Communion, singing with my brothers and sisters Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty…, I thought how the Trinity was like that too – an active love between the Father and the Son, a love we call the Holy Spirit, a spirit weaving us all together as we partook of God the Son and sang to the Three-in-one.
Our preacher mentioned how our Nicene Creed describes the Trinity, paragraph by paragraph. He said to also consider the Te Deum, a prayer that is part of our morning prayer office. It also describes the three natures of God. And lastly, the lovely Gloria which we sing at every Mass (except during Lent, I believe). So through words spoken we engraft this mystery onto, into our souls, to be reborn through memory again and again.
Ah, memory. And it is Memorial Day weekend, a time of memory, of thanksgiving for lives given so that we might worship today as free citizens in America, the land of the free. For without the sacrifices of these brave men and women we would not be free, would not be allowed to worship. Without their lives given we would not be processing up Lawton, singing to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
As we left church for home, I smiled. It was a good Trinity Sunday indeed. Not only two of my favorite hymns, but a glorious procession as well, singing to the Trinity.
And everyone thought the roses were lovely.