QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
ABOUT TRINITY SUNDAY
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What is the Athanasian Creed?
Why is Trinity celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost?
What is the liturgical color for Trinity?
What is the Trinity Season?
Why does the church assign a special festival to glorify the Holy Trinity?
WHAT IS TRINITY SUNDAY?
The first Sunday after Pentecost is the Festival of the Holy Trinity. On this day, the church rejoices in the impenetrable mystery that God is triune (three-in-one) -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How the Lord can be one God in three distinct persons is completely beyond the ability of any human to understand. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians accept this incomprehensible mystery as a fundamental article of faith.
WHAT IS THE ATHANASIAN CREED?
The Athanasian Creed is the Christian church's wonderful and profound confession of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This creed takes its name from the influential Egyptian bishop and theologian of the 4th century, Athanasius, who was once thought to be its author. Because of its length, it is not recited in church on a regular basis. However, many congregations (including St. Paul's) use it on Trinity Sunday. This creed, along with the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, is one of the three ecumenical creeds that have been universally accepted and confessed by the Christian church since ancient times.
WHY IS TRINITY CELEBRATED ON THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST?
How God can be one God in three Persons is a mystery. While it is clearly taught in the Bible (for example, in Matthew 28:18-20 and 2 Corinthians 13:14), it can never be understood or rationalized -- it can only be accepted by faith. Since faith comes only through the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace, it is appropriate that this glorious mystery is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost, the great festival of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
WHAT IS THE LITURGICAL COLOR FOR TRINITY?
The liturgical color for Trinity Sunday is white. White represents the holiness and perfection of God.
WHAT IS THE TRINITY SEASON?
The part of the church calendar between Trinity and the first Sunday of Advent is traditionally called the Trinity Season. While some churches (particularly those from the Episcopal/Anglican denominations) still use this designation, others (including many Lutheran churches) describe this part of the year as the Season after Pentecost.
WHY DOES THE CHURCH ASSIGN A SPECIAL FESTIVAL TO GLORIFY THE HOLY TRINITY?
From Advent through Pentecost, the church celebrates with joy and thanksgiving what Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have done to accomplish the salvation of sinful humanity. During the Season after Pentecost, we focus on how we as Christians ought to respond to the love that God has shown us. Trinity Sunday is a transitional day that bridges these two parts of the liturgical year. This is the solemn day on which we praise and adore God both for what He has done for the world and for who He is. As it is so beautifully confessed in the Athanasian Creed:
We worship one God in
Trinity and Trinity in Unity,
Neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.
For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is another.
But the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one:
the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.