Reflection on This Week’s Readings


When the eleven disciples arrived at the mountain to which Jesus had directed them, they might have been surprised or overwhelmed by his commission to make disciples, baptize, and teach.

At first glance, this description of their future ministry maybe felt like a tall order. But remember, they’d been watching and learning. And on either side of these ministry specifics are promises they surely found comforting: first authority, then assurance. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18), Jesus said. This is authority in the best sense of the word, offered with confidence, love, and respect. The disciples are empowered to do the ministry Jesus is asking of them. And next, they are given assurance in these final words from Jesus, which serve as a benediction—”I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Whatever the outcome—trials, or joys that come along the way as they disciple, baptize, and teach—Jesus will be present with them.

This call is not just for the eleven but for us as well. We are called to heal the brokenhearted, care for the earth, and work for peace in the world. This commission comes to us in baptism. And having been baptized in the name of the triune God whom we celebrate this festive day, the newly baptized—whether child or adult—is presented to the assembly and welcomed into the mission we share, invited to join in “giving thanks and praise to God and bearing God’s creative and redeeming word to all the world” (ELW, p. 231).

Jesus sends the disciples from the mountain, and sends us empowered with the same authority and assurance that we do not go alone.


Pentecost is a day, not a season. Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday following Pentecost, has been kept since the tenth century as a special celebration of the mystery of the triune God, as in a similar way the Baptism of Our Lord follows the Christmas season with its trinitarian focus.


Called the Great Commission, the church proclaims this text on Trinity Sunday, affirming that even after the observance of the Ascension, the triune God is always present in the church. The conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew includes the trinitarian words that most Christians use at baptism: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


According to Christian doctrine, God is and has always been triune. The church has seen in the ancient Genesis cosmogony the everlasting Trinity at work in creation: God speaks the Word and breathes the divine Spirit over creation.


Many Christians over the centuries use this passage from 2 Corinthians as an opening invocation or a closing benediction. Especially beloved is Paul’s description of the attributes of the triune God as grace, love, and communion.
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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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