Sunday 7th June 2020
Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. I have included all four readings set for this Sunday as the two new testament ones are noticeably short, as is the psalm. The first reading from Genesis gives us a chance to read the creation story in its entirety once again.
I have also included a couple of suggestions for hymns as I have been asked by a couple of folks about this.
CH4 211 Today I awake
CH4 249 We have heard a joyful noise
Lord God, there has been no time when You have not been creating;
no space where You have not been imagining.
Before our earliest ancestors existed,
You were dreaming and designing what people could be.
We were born into the flow of Your creativity
and breathe our every breath in Your company.
Come close to us, come alive in us,
stir us like clouds caught by a summer breeze,
may we cling to You like sweet peas to a fence
and be as open to You as a blossoming sunflower to the sun.
Give us an expansive vision of what our world is and can be,
and let us move to the music of Your resounding call.
We surrender to You, Abundant and Almighty God,
and offer You our worship.
Dear God, how does it happen?
After all Your constant, faithful, unconditional commitment to us,
there are times we want to escape You.
When we don’t even know what gets in the way,
when our closed minds are a mystery to ourselves,
when our thinking gets clogged up with the pollution of self-hatred,
please will You come and speak some gentle sense to us again.
When loving us is a thankless task,
and You watch our futile efforts to clean up our own act,
please will You prod us into noticing You,
up close beside us,
willing us to reach out and grab Your hand.
Lord God, You know the bitter taste of failure,
You fully understand the temptation to give up.
You stay with us and quell all those gremlins of defeatism and pessimism
Thank you for your love and forgiveness.
Let’s continue our prayer by praying the words of the Lord’s Prayer…
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, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever,
Collect for Trinity Sunday.
Holy Trinity, sacred sharing of reciprocal love;
free flowing relationship of grace:
Give to us, Your friends,
that deep regard for interdependence which You manifest,
so that our practice may be collaboration,
drawing strength from each other, and that,
freed from isolation and operating like the lone wolf,
we may reflect Your nature which is community;
through Jesus Christ, at one with You, Creator and Sustaining Spirit.
Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 4a
2 Corinthians 13: 11 – 13
Matthew 28: 16 – 20
Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 4a
In March 20014 scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics brought us the news that they had discovered that the Universe had sent a message about its own existence and particularly its formation. Described as being “like a message from the dawn of time”, it was said to be a ground-breaking discovery giving a glimpse into how the universe was born. Some described this as the universe sending out its very own “Selfie”– a self-portrait of its early moments. This breakthrough will undoubtedly be useful to all of us someday in widening our understanding of the world, but our theological understanding informs us that the universe has actually been sending messages about itself for a very long time and continues to do so today in many different ways. Throughout the history of humanity, different cultures have recognised the planet, nature and the universe sending out messages from the very core of its existence. Over time cultures, tribes, and faiths have discussed, argued over, and formed conclusions on ‘big picture’ and ‘small picture’ matters as the universe has spoken. The creation stories we are familiar with in Genesis sit neatly alongside many other such creation stories. Some describe the story we are familiar with as a ‘Hymn of Praise’ – a poem that illustrates the magnificence of God at the heart of creation. As we read the Bible, letting the ‘Word of God’ speak to us, then it becomes clearer that rather than a random collection of ideas and unconnected teaching, the Genesis story is part of a big story that helps us celebrate the wonder of creation and human life, and allows us to understand our place in it. The verses from Genesis 1:1-2:4a provide us with an account of how an ancient people made sense of the messages they were hearing from the universe. They did very well to understand that in these messages was something more than just a message from the flora and fauna, the endless sky and ocean depths. These ancient people recognised a voice that we call “God”. Appropriately on this Trinity Sunday we see that creation originates and is established by God who is ably supported by the Holy Spirit, the ‘wind of God’. While not finding mention of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, in this account, we recognise the inherent connection with the Gospel of John where it is established that this second person of the Trinity was and is with God in all his creativity. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).
What a stunning, evocative poem this is. What a call to make space for wondering. How much wondering do we do, and what are the fruits of those times? What if we more often allowed the natural world to be our teacher? What stories can we share of times when we have learned something from our contemplation of nature, or from nature breaking in on our preoccupations? There is a strong echo of sentiments from the Genesis story in the second half of the Psalm. The Psalmist was clearly familiar with the community’s narrative of people holding this God- given status of below-yet-above. We have our place in relationship with all other creatures of the land, air, sea, and heaven. What perspective does this give us of ourselves and the wider world? If this is our right status, what tensions must we live with? What freedoms and what limitations come with it? How well do we respect both the boundaries and the generosity of our mindful, caring God?
2 Corinthians 13: 11 – 13
Like the Gospel passage, these are words given at an ending. Simple and succinct, like a summary or recap of what really matters. They could form a litany for ending our worship today:
As we go from here, this we will do:
We will put things in order,
listen to the appeal of truth,
agree with one another,
and live in peace,
faithful to the God of love and peace.
So may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.
Matthew 28: 16 – 20
These closing words of Matthew’s gospel begin with an overlooked gap. It is no longer a
group of twelve disciples, but eleven. Nowhere in the New Testament is there acknowledgement of quite how the tragic death of Judas was felt by the others in its immediate aftermath. It surely made for a compounded and confusing experience of griefs, as two huge losses were followed by one bewildering resurrection. Knowing His closest friends were in this totally vulnerable state, Jesus came and commissioned them. There is that one hint of people not feeling strong and ‘sorted’ – “but some doubted.” Perhaps it would be good today to spend some time with that phrase, as we live in these strange and difficult times. What losses and grieving is with us? What sense of resurrection? What are we doubting? What strength, or lack of it, are we feeling? What is the work we now have to do? How deeply are we able to trust Jesus, to take Him at His word, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Taking time to share honestly where we are at with some of this, might well strengthen our solidarity and teamwork as a congregation when we are able to come together once again. The eleven disciples cannot possibly have been all on the same page in processing these life-changing events. At this devastating ending that also led into a remarkable beginning, they were not the finished article, but had to continue to learn, relearn, make mistakes, take risks, get it right, get it wrong, fall out, fail, and keep going. The only sure things for them and for us are that we belong to God and will never be abandoned.
We bring to God our prayers for the church and for the world.
We pray for your world, your creation.
And we give you thanks for all the wonderful things you have made.
At this time, when we are perhaps struggling with a new way of life,
We ask your blessing and your guidance
On all those who are in positions of power and authority.
May they have care and compassion for all for whom they are responsible.
We pray for those I places where there is lack of water, lack of food,
Lack of medical care.
Lord, may they now your comfort and your strength in their situations.
We pray for all who are sick whether in body, mind or spirit,
And for all those who care for them wherever they may be,
Giving thanks for our careers and keyworkers
Who have continued in their work to help us through these difficult times.
We pray for those who are separated from loved ones by distance,
And for those who mourn the loss of a loved one.
We remember the family of George Floyd
And pray that the events arising from his death
Will bring peace and grace and understanding between all people
Of every colour and race,
So that we may all live together and share the world
That you have given us Lord.
We pray for each other,
For all our congregation,
For those in our communities,
For our families and friends,
That we may all be safe in your love
And guided by your peace.
This we ask in, and through, the name
Of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour,