Sunday, May 27th, 2018
Readings ISAIAH 6:1-8; PSALM 29; ROMANS 8:12-17; JOHN 3:1-17
Collect Father, we praise you: through your Word and Holy Spirit you created all things. You reveal your salvation in all the world by sending to us Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Through your Holy Spirit you give us a share in your life and love. Fill us with the vision of your glory, that we may always serve and praise you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Alt 1 Enfolding God, Trinity of love, you are our source, our goal, our life: may we be born again in you, no more to live alone and unconnected, but, sharing the Spirit’s breath, be carried to your heart; through Jesus Christ, who lifts us up. Amen.
Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) alt.
Alt 2 Holy God, the earth is full of your love. May we your children, born of the Spirit, so bear witness to your Son Jesus Christ, that all the world may believe and have eternal life through him, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002) alt.
Prayer over the Gifts
Living God, receive all we offer you this day. Grant that hearing your word and responding to your Spirit, we may share in your divine life. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord
Prayer After Communion
Almighty and eternal God, may we who have received this eucharist worship you in all we do, and proclaim the glory of your majesty. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 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!”
THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.
THANKS BE TO GOD.
REFRAIN Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord, you gods, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. R
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice; the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendour. R
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox. R
The voice of the Lord splits the flames of fire; the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare.
And in the temple of the Lord all are crying, “Glory!” R
The Lord sits enthroned above the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people; the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace. R
A READING FROM THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.
THANKS BE TO GOD.
THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO ST JOHN
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.
He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”
Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.
This is Trinity Sunday – the only day in the church calendar when we celebrate a point of doctrine rather than an event in the life of Jesus or one of his followers. It is actually kind of a strange thing. The nature of God is something that defies easy and simple explanations – it is a mystery, and sometimes that needs to be enough of an explanation.
“If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped.” Evelyn Underhill
Its often said that the Trinity is the best picture we have of God but its less a high definition snapshot and more an impressionist painting – giving us the idea but with boundaries remaining a bit fuzzy – not because God is fuzzy, but because none of our doctrines or language about God can ever fully contain God. Ultimately God is mystery, but a mystery that wants a relationship with us.
And if God is going to be more a partner we dance with and not just a concept we wrestle with, we do need language to talk about God. And since that relationship is communal and not just individual, we need agreement as a church on core beliefs about God. For Christians, God is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
We say God is love. As we heard so beautifully from Bishop Curry at Harry and Meghan’s wedding a week ago.
But that’s also true for millions of Jews, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Sihks, Ba’hais and depending on the tradition – Hindus and Buddhists too.
The Holy Trinity is Christianity’s distinct contribution to the human understanding of God.
Succinctly put – The Trinity is one God who exists as three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Spirit—each fully and equally God. “Person” does not mean that God the Father or God the Spirit became human beings. Rather, it means that each member of the Trinity thinks, acts, feels, speaks, and relates because they are persons and not impersonal forces. We may speak of God as He, we may even speak of God as She – but we can never speak of God as “It”.
For Christians “The Lord be with you” can never become “May the Force be with you”. They are not the same thing. One uses a force. One relates to a person.
According to the doctrine of the Trinity, relationship is not only something God wants, its something God is.
Its a deeply profound statement for Christians to make – that God’s very self IS a community of persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – in relationship to one another.
And if that is true of God, then it must be equally true of us, the People of God.
So what do we see in the community of the Holy Trinity that would help us to be a holy …or at least holier…community here?
Not surprisingly I see three things:
First, you’ll notice that the Trinity, though three persons, is one God.
One person isn’t more God than the other – as if the Father is fully God, the Son is sort of God and the Holy Spirit is a watered down version of both – which by the way is what we end up saying in most of those metaphors we’re all familiar with trying to explain the Trinity.
Each is the fullness of God, because although each person manifests the divine differently, the work of each person flows from the same essential vision.
In other words, none of the three persons work at cross purposes or for their own glory.
How often are we, as persons or small groups within a civil community or even our parish community, tempted to speak on our own – that is, to push our own personal agendas, seeking not the glory of the whole, put the triumph of my goals over others?
Like the Trinity itself we as a community need to remember our core values – what is essential to being followers of Jesus – so that everything we say to one another, the ways we relate to one another, the decisions we make as members of the church (the Body of Christ) and the projects we undertake on its behalf all flow from and point back to those essential core values.
The individual must seek to reflect in his or her person the good of the whole.
But, and secondly, there’s also the flip side.
In the Holy Trinity while each person is God, containing the fullness of the whole – they are distinct and not interchangeable. All three are God, but the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father. And that’s the difficult part of community isn’t it? While seeking to be united in one common vision, we must still respect individual differences.
Each member, each small group within this church is an essential and important part of All Saints’ Church.
And yet, the Altar guild is not the choir and organist though both groups give glory to God in the Chancel. The Guild is not the Arthurs’ Memorial Garden Committee though both seek to serve God’s people. Mr. Tucker is not Mr. Wilkinson, though both serve as leaders among us and both are children of God and members of His church.
Too often – especially in the community of the church – we assume unity to mean uniformity, and yet within the Holy Trinity itself we see a respect of each person for the uniqueness of the other.
How often is unity something we try to impose – usually through conformity to one way of being – rather than through mutual respect and appreciation?
Finally, or I should say thirdly, we are reminded that love is what binds us together. The love of God, revealed in Christ, poured out through the Holy Spirit.
Love not only binds the persons of the Trinity together, its what binds all true communities together;
– not common goals – which once achieved become moot;
– not a common purse, because any marriage counsellor or organizational psychologist will tell you that control and distribution of money is the single greatest source of division between people;
– not common characteristics because any community in which the persons are too much alike becomes stagnant.
The only real source of true communion is the giving and receiving of love.
As Paul famously writes to the Corinthians: without love, I am but a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.
Perhaps then when we find ourselves complaining about others in our community – before insisting that what is needed are better structures, stronger leadership or more members – perhaps we should consider that what is needed is more love – in the way we speak to one another, in the way we forgive one another, in the way we stand with and suffer with one another.
The early church leaders described the Trinity using the Greek term perichoresis (peri-meaning circle, and resis meaning dance). The earliest image of the Holy Trinity was of the Father, the Son and the Spirit dancing together in mutual love, joy and respect… God’s act of creation means that God is inviting more and more beings into the eternal dance of Joy.
Sin means that people are stepping out of the dance… stomping on feet instead of moving with grace, rhythm and reverence. Then in Jesus, God enters creation to restore the rhythm and beauty again, inviting each of us to stop wrestling and begin dancing – with God and with one another.
Let us go forth into the world dancing with God and loving each other.
Let us pray,
Enfolding God, Trinity of love, you are our source, our goal, our life: may we be born again in you, no more to live alone and unconnected, but, sharing the Spirit’s breath, be carried to your heart; through Jesus Christ, who lifts us up.