Please join in this online worship service on Sunday 30th May 2021. Over the last few weeks, we have been thinking about the great events of Easter and the resurrection. This week, Trinity Sunday, it is time to focus on God; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who is far beyond our understanding.
Call to Worship
Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name,
worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness.
Hymn 110 Glory be to God the Father.
Prayer of Approach
We come before you today to celebrate the exciting mystery,
that you, our God, are three persons in one being.
Your essence is so awesome, it is beyond our understanding.
God the Father, we come, in wonder of you.
We are overwhelmed by your creation.
We are inspired by the mystery of life.
We are amazed by the beauty of your world.
We are astonished by your wisdom and power.
We come before you, in awe and wonder, humbled by your greatness.
God the Son, who has come amongst us in the person of Jesus.
We come, no longer in fear and trembling,
but seeking the embrace of your love,
the smile of your acceptance,
the touch of your forgiveness.
We dare to come close to you because you have come close to us.
God, the Spirit, we are thankful for your constant presence.
for the healing of your love.
for the challenge of your Word.
for the inspiration of your Gospel.
for the community of your Church.
Renew us and refresh us.
enable us and enliven us.
challenge us and change us.
prompt us and improve us …
in our worship …
in our mission …
and in our service to you.
Holy Spirit, pour love and mercy into our hearts.
giving us eyes to see and ears to hear your gift,
in every person
at every moment.
May our words and actions be our praise of you,
reaching into your Kingdom,
made real for us in the person of Jesus.
who taught us so much,
including how to pray these words:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Isaiah 6: 1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
John 3: 1-18
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still, you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things, and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Hymn 251 I, the Lord of sea and sky
We encounter many conundrums in our lives. It is a mystery to me how a fax machine works, or why do we have tonsils and adenoids? I had mine removed as young child and have lived happily without them. How can I explain the definition of the words “up and down” without using my hands?
This is Trinity Sunday. The mystery of the Trinity is that our one and only God is three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have celebrated Easter and the birth of the Church on Pentecost Sunday, last week. The God who was visible, and comprehensible in Jesus Christ is beyond our definition. We know that there is only one God so how can we explain the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The first commandment is not that we should understand God, but that we should love Him with every part of ourselves, and this is what we are trying to do as we worship God. If we measure worship by standards, like beauty, or punctuality, or liturgical correctness, or the length and the regularity of our attendance at church, or the kind of music we include, – then we will be led astray. These are not the ways to judge our worship of God. Worship is coming close to God our Father in love, and our participation of loving is the gold standard.
Much Christian tradition have been concerned with religious deeds, the things that we think that you must do to satisfy God. But if our relationship with God depends only on good conduct on our part, we have failed. God’s grace is freely given to us all. Even the faith to receive his grace is God’s gift to us. This means that the acceptance of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has done what the heavy-duty religious works could never achieve.
In our day to day lives we tend to become quite blasé about asking for forgiveness, but we are offered God’s pardon wholeheartedly. Trust and faith can flourish when we are at peace with God and that means we can look more positively at the things which come to us in life, seeing them as opportunities rather than problems. God pours his love into our hearts and he sends us hope through His Holy Spirit, to guide and inspire us, and to fill us with the joy of his permanent presence.
He gives us the promise of sharing in His glory at our heavenly destiny. This world is only our temporary home. That is a salutary thought when we are feathering our nests and spending time and money on things, we will not be taking with us. That does not mean that as Christians we should not enjoy the lives that God has given us, but that we can be released from the excessive pride.
God’s love for man, however, does not mean that God condones man’s sin. God is also just, meaning He offers salvation freely to all who believe and are willing to received it, but He also holds man accountable for his deeds. God offers man His grace and mercy, but we cannot expect to have an easy ride or assume that Christians are destined to lead trouble-free lives. Sometimes it is when we are under pressure that we can actually be most like Jesus. Jesus did not just drift about, he lived under great pressure. Facing our troubles produces endurance… which brings God’s approval… and this creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, pours his love into our hearts and our relationship of love with Him should be our mainstay, exciting and driving us.
In the reading from John’s Gospel, Jesus reveals to Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit’s work is in the true salvation of the believer. Human birth gives man entrance into our physical existence, and spiritual birth is required to be part of God’s Kingdom. Where the Spirit works, a person’s whole outlook on life changes.
Jesus used the illustration of the action of the wind to explain this truth to Nicodemus. We know the wind exists and we cannot see it, but we can see its effect on the things it touches. Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible to the human eyes, but His work can be clearly seen. We cannot see God, but we can see what He does.
Nicodemus rejects what Jesus was telling him. Even though Christ explained it to him, he did not understand or accept this truth. Jesus reprimanded Nicodemus, because in his mind he prided himself in being a righteous Jew and he is confident in his knowledge of the Law. Jesus exposes this as naivety.
Jesus then refers to Himself as the Son of man which is in heaven. This statement is a wonderful truth and attests to the Trinity and to Jesus as being omnipresent both in heaven and on earth at the same time.
Once we arrive at the conclusion that the Trinity is ultimately incomprehensible to our human mind, we can then focus on our relationship with God.
The mystery of the Trinity is that God is somehow three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and yet there is only one God. In our journey of faith with God, we do not need to explain the unexplainable and fathom the unfathomable.
Prayer of Intercession
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
We pray that we will never forget the need to care for others,
or take for granted the mystery of human life.
We pray for the problems of the world’s nations,
the decisions of our politicians,
and the threats and fears of peoples everywhere.
We pray for people who are disregarded and devalued,
because of poverty, geography, or disease.
We pray for those from whom compassion, and justice is withheld,
because of sexuality, race, or gender.
We pray for those who touch the lives of the marginalised,
that they would show patience and kindness,
and include those who were previously excluded.
We pray for wisdom for those who are leaders,
and tolerance and understanding for those who are followers.
We offer prayers,
when resources are mismanaged and abused,
and the world and its creatures are destroyed.
when motivation is scarce, and creativity is in short supply,
to address the challenges that the world faces.
The dying, the sick, the lonely and the forsaken are your special people,
for you know each one by name,
as we ask you, to remember them.
And, now in our prayers, we think of Alex and Louise,
and any other members of our congregations,
whose health is adversely affecting their day to day lives.
Lord God, Loving Saviour, Empowering Spirit,
we offer you these prayers.
Please hear us,
captivate us, call us, and deepen our trust,
that we may be carriers of the Good News of eternal life,
to the peoples of this world that you love so dearly.
Hymn 510 Jesus calls us here to meet him.
God the Father who created the world,
Jesus the Son given for the world,
Holy Spirit ever present in the world,
be with us today and for evermore,