Sunday, 30th May 2021

Trinity Sunday

Morning Worship – 10.30 am

Prayer for use before worship:

Be still and rest in the peace of God.

Be strong and trust in the tranquillity of God.

Be quiet and rejoice in the beauty of God.

Be yourself and be enveloped in the heart of God.

Welcome and Notices

Lighting of Peace Candle followed by short silence

Call to Worship (stand)

The word of the Creator GIVES US LIFE.

The love of the Word made flesh SAVES US.

The presence of the Holy Spirit UNITES AND EMPOWERS US.
Come and worship the glorious Trinity, 
OUR GOD OF POWER, LOVE AND PEACE.

Gathering Prayer

O God, you are at the heart of creation. Your word brings life into being; your peace gives living its fulfilment; your Spirit unites us into your Son.

We draw near, seeking your love in our hearts; your wisdom in our minds; your power in our lives. Receive us with grace, in the name of your Son. Amen.

Hymn 34 – Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Prayer of Approach

Be still and rest in the peace of God.

Be strong and trust in the tranquillity of God.

Be quiet and rejoice in the beauty of God.

Be open and be drawn into the depths of God.

Be courageous and set sail in the sea of God.

Be yourself and be enveloped in the heart of God,

who has made all things, loves all things, renews all things, today and always.

1st Reading – Isaiah 6 vv.1-9a

Talk: “The mystery of the Trinity” (Nicola F-S)

O the mystery of the Trinity! Three in One and One in Three! I remember as a child listening to the preacher expounding his idea of the Trinity as three stumps (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the Godhead being the bails holding the doctrine of the Trinity together. At the end of the children’s talk I was still mystified because, in my understanding of cricket, there are two bails not one! And so, alongside the mystery lies the challenge to explain something that is more than just a little beyond our comprehension and understanding. In fact, we do a disservice to the doctrine of the Trinity

if we approach it as a mathematical conundrum. Three in One and One in three is not merely an obscure and unnecessarily complex bit of technical dogma. For the Trinity is not something that needs to be explained but it is something that needs to be experienced and it is something that needs to be lived.

The Desert Fathers first compared the members of the Trinity to the source of light (the Father), the light itself that illumines (the Son), and the warmth when you feel the light (the Spirit) or Augustine’s Lover (the Father), Beloved (the Son), and the Love shared between the two (the Spirit).

Perhaps that’s the best we can do.

In both of those ancient analogies it seems to me that the heart of the matter is about relationships and, more importantly, the relationships that make up a community. In the first it’s the various properties of light that, while we can name them independently, cannot actually be separated in experience. With Augustine it’s even easier, as he chooses love itself as the central metaphor by which to understand God, the love shared in relationship.

Prayer 

Gracious God, as we meet in the name of Jesus,

we bring our hands to be used in your service (hold out hands),

we bring our hearts to be touched by your love (place hands over heart),

we bring our minds to be challenged by your truth (touch head),

and we bring our lives to be transformed by your Spirit (hold hands together, ready to receive)Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer (modern version)

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN; HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME. YOUR KINGDOM COME; YOUR WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN. GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD. FORGIVE US OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US. SAVE US FROM THE TIME OF TRIAL AND DELIVER US FROM EVIL. FOR THE KINGDOM, THE POWER, AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOR EVER. AMEN. 

Hymn 352 – Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life

Sharing the Grace together

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ;

the love of God;

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all ever more.  Amen. 

2nd Reading – John 3 vv.1-8, 16 

Sermon – “Experiencing the Trinity”

Whilst the Bible doesn’t specifically use the word Trinity (because that was a later construct of the church) the Bible does point us to the experience of the Trinity. Standing in the holy sanctuary the narrator in Isaiah has a vision which tells something about the Holy One and also about the narrator. God’s presence is so large, the narrator says, that the hem of God’s robe alone fills the temple space. This is vastness indeed. Strange but faithful creatures envelop the throne and smoke obscures the whole scene. We are used to the images of fire and smoke, cloud and height being associated with God. It is all here. And, in comparison with that grandeur, we see ourselves, along with the narrator, as very small and inadequate. Yet God’s power to cleanse and make whole is ready to do its work.

Faced with ultimate majesty, Isaiah’s response to this sight is entirely understandable He cries out ‘woe is me’. Faced with the awe of God he is very aware of his own sinfulness. He has “unclean lips” which signifies his inability to stand before the Holy One. The purity codes of the ancients are foremost in his thought. He must be purified by another, in this case, a seraph who touches his mouth with a coal from the altar. The purification is not something the narrator can do for himself. The result is healing and forgiveness. Then God asks ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ God is always seeking out ways of relating to humanity. As a call narrative, this is a unique text in that the narrator, rather than being “called” by God to serve, volunteers to be the one sent – commissioned to be that creative, sustaining, and healing presence into the world.

Read against the backdrop of Nicodemus’ night-time visit, today’s reading from John’s Gospel again draws us into a mystery that is beyond our understanding and our wisdom. Jesus makes it clear to Nicodemus that being holy, being part of the kingdom of God is about being a child of God, and that this is a gift, not something which is our right. No one can see anything clearly about God and God’s kingdom, Jesus tells him, without being born again. 

Jesus picks up on words and concepts introduced by Nicodemus and turns the conversation toward deeper truths again and again With each repetition of the words God, enter, and being born Jesus shifts the conversation from the smallness of Nicodemus’ view to the largeness of life in community with God.

‘You must be born again’ can also be translated ‘you must be born from above’. A re-birth then of water and of Spirit, of being born as God’s child, into a life in which God’s kingdom is visible and accessible and which places the whole person in a new light, which Nicodemus, who has not experienced it, cannot yet see or understand. 

Then we reach the verse that shines like a beacon over the whole Gospel.  John 3:16 brings together the Gospel’s first references to eternal life and to love which, perhaps surprisingly, don’t just refer to the followers of Jesus but is for the whole world. 

Jesus tells Nicodemus ‘God so loved the world he sent his only son…’ God in Trinity reaches out to embrace and love the whole world. Our job is only to accept it and to become part of the community of love. It is a gift of life from the heart of the Father, breathing the Spirit wind over us and through us, and opening our eyes to the Son who must be lifted up to draw all people to himself to learn his lesson of love. But this is not merely an invitation.

There is no distance, no boundaries between the Spirit who is sent into the hearts and minds of the disciples at Pentecost, Jesus who promises that Spirit, and God the Father who sends the Spirit. At the heart of God is perfect relationship, perfect communion, perfect love and that love reaches out, in three persons, to the world God has made.

The Trinity is not something that needs to be explained but is something that needs to be experienced and something that needs to be lived. Because the Trinity is dynamic and loving and relating – and it is on the move. God in Trinity wants to bring new lives into this relationship. God in Trinity wants to give us the chance to be born from above like Nicodemus to become part of God’s love reaching out into the life and lives of the world to build the kingdom of love joy and peace.  Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

For the whole of humanity, marred and halted by Covid-19, as well as individuals struggling with other illnesses and addictions:

we pray the healing of the Trinity.

Where there is violence and conflict:

we pray the peace of the Trinity.

Where communities are fragmented and mistrust divides:

we pray the unity of the Trinity.

Where creation is destroyed and animals exploited:

we pray the transformation of the Trinity.

Where churches have lost their way and faith is side-lined:

we pray the wisdom of the Trinity.

Where children go hungry and needs go unmet:

we pray the generosity of the Trinity.

Where unemployment has brought despair:

we pray the hope of the Trinity.

Where constant demands have brought exhaustion:

we pray the energy of the Trinity.

Where people are lonely and cries go unheard:

we pray the compassion of the Trinity.

In our hearts, in our prayers, in our lives:

we pray the love of the Trinity.

Creator God, help us to care for the world you made.

Loving Jesus, help us to love the people you gave your life for.

Empowering Spirit, help us to do your work in the world.

Creator, Loving, Empowering God, be with us today and every day. Amen. 

Offering and Dedication of Gifts

Generous God, all that we have and all that we are and all that we ever will be, WE GIVE TO YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND YOUR GLORY.  AMEN.

Hymn 543 – Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us

Words of Dismissal and Blessing

May the grace of Jesus be our strength, wherever you go; may the love of God be our joy, whatever our circumstances; and may the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be our inspiration, whatever we do.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us now and for ever more.  Amen.

Author: Russell Furley-Smith

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