Join our mailing list

The Trinity Who Cares - 2 Corinthians 13

A service plan from the Apostles' Creed focused on the Trinity and the way the Trinity functions together to care for the children of God. This service begins a 12-part series of sermons focused on the Apostles' Creed as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

In a number of traditions, Trinity Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The theme of this worship service is not only the Trinity, but the way in which the Trinity functions together for the care of those who are the children of God. This service begins a twelve-part series of messages and services that will focus on each article of faith in the Apostles' Creed as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Days 8-22.

Whereas other liturgical events are associated with a special time/day, such as Christmas, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost, this Sunday is shaped by a doctrine. While it is true that all Christian worship should be Trinitarian-that is, directed to and formed by all three persons of the Trinity-this service focuses on the interrelationship of the three persons and their care for those who are the children of God.

You will find additional resources for Trinity Sunday in The Worship Sourcebook (pp. 713ff.).


Prelude: "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Call to Worship and Opening Prayer
Holy, holy, holy God,
we worship and adore you-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Today in our worship we long for a glimpse of your glory,
seen perfectly in Christ, our Lord.
As we worship, may we gain new insight
about the mystery and wonder of your love.
And may we sense new ways to mirror that love in our world,
through Christ, our Lord.
Amen. (TWS, p. 714)

*Song of Praise: "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty" PH 138, PsH 249, RL 611, RN 204, TH 100, TWC 2, UMH 64 [see<href="#music" >music notes]

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Our Song of Response: "O Day of Radiant Gladness" PH 470
or "Father, We Love You" PsH 634, RN 37, SFL 77, TWC 10


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession
Father, you have come to meet us as we return to you.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, you have died on the cross for our sins.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Spirit, you give us life and peace.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Amen. (TWS, p. 719)

Our Assurance of Pardon: Romans 8:15-17

*Our Song of Gratitude: "Lord God Almighty" RN 40, SNC 9
or "There Is a Redeemer" RN 232, SNC 145

God's Call to Grateful Living [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

The Children's Moment


Anthem: "O God, We Kneel before Your Throne," Hopp

The Reading of the Catechism
How are these articles [of the Apostles' Creed] divided?

Into three parts:
God the Father and our creation;
God the Son and our deliverance;
God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.

Since there is but one God,
why do you speak of three:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

Because that is how
God has revealed himself in his Word:
these three distinct persons
are one, true, eternal God.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 8)

The Prayer for Illumination

The First Reading of Scripture: Matthew 3:13-17
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Second Reading of Scripture: 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: "The Trinity Who Cares" (The Apostles' Creed - #1)
Text: 2 Corinthians 13:14

We Affirm our Faith
Why do you believe in the Trinity?

All these things we know
from the testimonies of the Holy Scripture
as well as from the effects of the persons,
especially from those we feel within ourselves.

Can we understand this doctrine?

This doctrine of the Holy Trinity
has always been maintained in the true church,
from the time of the apostles until the present.
And although this doctrine surpasses human understanding,
we nevertheless believe it now,
through the Word,
waiting to know and enjoy it fully
in heaven.
(Belgic Confession, art. 9)

*Song of Praise: "Come, Thou Almighty King" PH 139, PsH 246, RL 618, TH 101, TWC 5, UMH 61


The Prayers of the People

The Offertory
Offering of Music: "Come, Thou Almighty King" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
Offering Our Gifts


*The Benediction
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
Amen! (2 Cor. 13:14)

*Song: "God, the Father of Your People" PsH 322

Postlude: "God, the Father of Your People" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

1. As you prepare this sermon you may feel a pull from two opposite directions. On the one hand the doctrine of the Trinity does not strike most people as an interesting subject and so we fear that a sermon on this subject will sound uninteresting. On the other hand, as many folks sense that our society has lost its foundation and moorings, there is a growing interest in doctrinal preaching that will provide substance for our beliefs. You may want to address these opposite pulls directly, and make some efforts to point out early in the sermon why and how this subject impacts us so directly. Note that the text is the benediction at the close of this service, illustrating this is not an abstract thought, but a practical and personal expression of the care we receive from God.

2. Obviously, the mystery of the Trinity must be acknowledged. We try a variety of illustrations but none fully satisfy. And yet we believe this mystery because we are taught it from God. It is better to illustrate from a variety of events in the Bible how the Trinity functions: Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 3:13-17, and Matthew 28:16-20, for instance. The Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession (see the more complete text of articles 8 and 9) give explanation of the interrelationship of the three persons of the Trinity.

3. Paul's last recorded verse to the Corinthians gives us a warm and personal glimpse into the work of the Trinity for us. The benediction (a "good word") is given to comfort and encourage worshipers before they leave to carry out the task of living their faith before the world. It is, therefore, a very dramatic moment in worship-much more dramatic than many realize! The preacher reassures all worshipers that, in spite of how mysterious the matter of the Trinity may be, all three divine persons will be working together to care for us during the days of this week.

4. A mysterious doctrine, with a great deal of comfort and encouragement!

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

1. The suggestions for prelude are based on the hymn tune NICAEA ("Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty") and can be found in the following:


  • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Nicaea. Morningstar MSM-10-709 [1996] (E-M).
  • Farlee, Robert Buckley (1995). Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M).
  • Honoré, Jeffrey. Classic Embellishments. Augsburg 11-11005 [1999] (E, can include solo instrument).
  • Leavitt, John. With High Delight. Concordia 97-6845 [2000] (E-M).
  • Post, Piet. Fantasie over het lied "Heilig, Heilig, Heilig." Ars Nova nr 493 [1961] (E-M).


  • David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (M).
  • Innes, John. Majesty. Hope 269 [1985] (M).


  • Wagner, Douglas E. Festival Piece on "Nicaea." Jenson 466-06019 [1983] (3 octaves, E-M).

2. Alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty" can be found in the following sources:

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 5. Ludwig O-14 [1992].
  • Wood, Dale. New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9292 [1968].

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Organ, Anne Krentz, and John Helgen. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

3. The anthem "O God, We Kneel before Your Throne" composed by Roy Hopp is set for SATB voices with organ and optional brass and timpani. This selection also includes a possible congregational verse. It is published by GIA G-5944 [2002] (E-M).

4. Alternative accompaniments for "Come, Thou Almighty King" can be found in

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GB 644 [1978].

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

5. The offertory suggestions based on ITALIAN HYMN ("Come, Thou Almighty King") can be found in the following sources:


  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 7. AMSI SP-104 [1988] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (E, can be adapted for piano).
  • Peeters, Flor. Hymn Preludes for the Liturgical Year, vol. 8. Peters 6408 [1966] (M).


  • Gerig, Reginald, ed. Piano Preludes on Hymns and Chorales. Hope 251 [1959] (M).


  • Lohr, Alan. The Almighty King. Soundforth 184218 [2001] (4-5 octaves, level 3).

6. Alternative accompaniments for "God, the Father of Your People" [HOLY MANNA] can be found in

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980].
  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 5. Ludwig O-14 [1992].

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

7. Suggestions for postlude can be found in the following sources:

HOLY MANNA ["God, the Father of Your People"]

  • Cherwien, David. Groundings. Augsburg 11-11119 [2001] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1. Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E-M).
  • Wood, Dale. Wood Works, bk. 2. SMP KK400 [1989] (E-M).


  • Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M).
  • Carter, John. Hymns for Piano II. Hope 8197 [2003] (M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. The Call to Worship can include an explanation that the Holy Trinity is the focus today; this will be very helpful in setting the tone of the service. The opening prayer will reinforce that awareness. A similar reminder can be included in the Call to Confession so the Trinitarian emphasis in the Prayer of Confession will be recognized.

2. God's Call to Grateful Living, as in all weeks, may take many forms. You may desire to use the Ten Commandments (either reading them from Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5, or in the form of a responsive reading) or some other passage of Scripture that includes God's descriptive call to holy living. (See TWS pp. 127-137 for a variety of resources.)

3. The Children's Moment is placed here so that it can be shaped in a variety of ways to suit the situation of your congregation. It may reflect on the section of worship we have just completed (Being Renewed in Grace); it may focus on the need to practice gratitude when someone has been gracious to us; it may look forward to the sermon on the Trinity (in which case you may wish to focus with the children on the Old Testament profession of faith, the Shema, as it is in Deuteronomy 6:4); or it may stand alone with another subject of your choosing.

4. You will notice that the historic confessions of the church have a prominent place in this service. We believe this is important so that in the preaching of a basic doctrine of the church it becomes clear that this doctrine has been taught and preached through the centuries in the historic Christian church. We stand with a long line of those who have professed this doctrine, and we take our stand with them. While the reading of the Heidelberg Catechism is the exact text of the catechism, the litany from the Belgic Confession is reformulated to be a suitable reading.

5. It is important that the benediction of this service include the words of the text of the sermon which have been explained in the sermon.