Sunday Worship  

Sunday Service Sheet 30th May 2021 – TRINITY SUNDAY


Call:  Holy, holy, holy is our wonderful God! Creator! Saviour! Sustainer!
Let us worship our God of infinite mystery, yet who is closer to us than our own breath.


Psalm  29


Prayer:  Wonderful God, as we gaze at the miracle of your world, intricate and interconnected, huge in scope, microscopic in detail,
we are amazed.  We wonder that you love each one of us, seeing us, knowing us and filling us with the breath of life.  You hold us in being moment by moment.  Help us to worship you as mystery, to hug you as friend, and with you, to care for the whole of creation.              Amen.


Hymn:        Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God almighty  StF11/R&S34


This week we turn to the reading from John 3 and the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus regarding the practicalities of being born again.  The passage affirms that God so loved the world that he gave his only son.  The two old testament passages from the Psalms and Isaiah speak of the omnipotence of God whose voice causes thunder, earthquake and fire; whose robe hem fills the Temple expanse, while Romans 8 describes the transformational power of the Spirit.


As a grouping the scriptures explored are an example of the natures or facets of the Godhead; the mystery of God; the relationship with Jesus and the conservatorship of the Spirit.


It is not surprising that many preachers try to avoid Trinity Sunday as there is always a challenge to explain the one-in-three/three-in-one nature of the persons of the Trinity.  Most attempts result in one heresy or another.  The analogies of a three legged stool or the ice/water/steam illustration can only be attempts at explaining the unexplainable.  It mighty be safer to describe the love that exists within the Trinity and if all else fails preach on something else.


I sign off today with a lovely service at Spalding celebrating the sacrament of communion and a rededication of the baptismal promises already taken by one of the members.  Thanks to the readership and the many encouraging and supporting comments throughout the past sixty weeks or so.  See you in September!

Prayer:  You are the Lord who gives strength to your people and who blesses them with peace.  You are the Lord who comes close to your people and draws them into your heart.  You are the Lord who equips your people and calls them to serve you in the world.  You are the Lord who loves your people and invites them into the fellowship of the Holy Trinity.

Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise you for the might and the mystery of your being.  We praise you for the uniqueness and the unity of your fellowship.  We praise you for drawing us together and for setting us apart.  We praise you in song, in silence, in the mundane and in the mystical.

God of truth, we bring to you our sorrow for our sins.  For seeking earthly absolutes and not eternal mysteries; for rooting ourselves in the finite and not nurturing the infinite within; for saying ‘I’ much more than ‘we’ and for damaging relationships; forgive us and strengthen us, we pray.
For we are truly sorry.                                                                     Amen.


Hymn:  Meek and majesty              StF362/ not in R&S


Readings            Isaiah 6:1 – 8

                             John 3:1 – 17               (Romans 8:12 – 17)


Message:  Jesus and Nicodemus discuss what it means to be born again by the Spirit and how to become part of the kingdom of God.  It is not a set of steps; rather, Nicodemus is told he must be born again.  Romans 8 describes the transformational power of the Spirit, whose life comes to us through the life, death, resurrection and ministry of Jesus. 


The Spirit brings life; the Spirit convinces us that we have been adopted by God and are God’s children; the Spirit enables us to kill those patterns of behaviour and attitude that would otherwise eventually kill us; the Spirit does what the law was powerless to do.  This is a complete life overhaul, not an outward makeover.  In a way, this is every bit as scary as Isaiah’s vision, because it involves putting ourselves into the hands of God completely, rather than assuming that we can be righteous by making a few tweaks and behaving a bit better.  There is no argument here that our lives need to change; the question is how that change is going to be brought about.  Paul writes that it happens through God’s Spirit at work within the deepest levels of our identity, not through our self-oriented and self-controlled will, which would lead to self-righteousness.  At the end of this passage, Paul mentions suffering. The path of the spiritual life is joyful and adventurous, but also unpredictable and vulnerable.


Nicodemus, a leading Pharisee, comes to visit Jesus ‘by night’.  We do not know what he was hoping for, but he felt that the opportunity to talk with Jesus privately was worth risking the scorn of his fellow Pharisees We have got so used to the phrase ‘born again’ that we assume that we understand it.  Nicodemus, on the other hand, has no idea!  The statement baffles him and he retorts: ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old?’  If he was hoping for some advice that would smoothly combine with what he already believes, he faces disappointment.  Jesus is uncompromising and insistent – it is this process of being born of the Spirit that makes it possible to even see the kingdom of God.  This release of new life, eternal life, is God’s plan for the world.  


There are no experts on God!  Nicodemus, an expert in the Jewish law, went to ask Jesus a question.  His expert knowledge of the law didn’t answer some of the questions in his heart.  Book knowledge was not enough.  God is close within, but also mysteriously beyond us.  God hidden in plain sight in our relationships and in all creation never lets us stop adventuring.  There are no experts on God.  We will always be beginners.  God’s untameable, dancing spirit urges us on in our search.


Perhaps, people who have been churchgoers a long time have a secret feeling that we ought to know more about God than we do.  We may have a bunch of ideas about God, and some questions, but feel embarrassed to ask them because we think we should know the answers. Or, maybe worse – we have given up asking our questions. 


Nicodemus was dying to find out if Jesus was really the Messiah.  The answer Jesus gives does its work on him however and he is transformed, seeing everything differently.  He appears later in the Gospel close to Jesus, and again at the burial of Jesus providing embalming spices.  The story suggests that when we hunger for God, enough to take risks, God hears and meets us in person, like Nicodemus.  We may not get an answer we understand all at once.  It might at first seem like silence.  But simply being heard by God as an individual can help us get unstuck.  We realise we count, and God loves us just as we are.  What question would you like to ask Jesus? And are you ready to be transformed by the answer?

Prayer:  Living God, you choose to save, not to judge, to forgive, not to condemn, to turn towards, not away, to show us your nature and not to hide. You allow us to know you, to love you and to serve you and for all these things, and more, we are truly thankful.

God of the Living Word, we praise you for the gift of Scripture for the truths it invites us to embrace; for the questions that echo our own; for the conversations that puzzle and enlighten us; for the encounters that inspire and inform us; for the certainty, the mystery, the grace.  We praise you, today and always. 

God the Father, ground me in your being as we pray for those who flounder and struggle with the pressures of life.  May they see some shape, some purpose to life and find a way to move forward.  May their struggles become less tangled, and may they find calm in the chaos of their living.  God the Son, enfold me in your love as we pray for those who know little or no love, security or peace; for those who live in fear and loneliness; for those who are shrouded in pain and smothered by death; for those without family support and succour, the friendless and the homeless.  God the Holy Spirit, embolden us to share as we pray for those who have no hope, no dreams, no visions; for those who have no knowledge of you, who have not seen you, nor felt you, nor encountered you; for those without faith and trust, those seemingly lost to themselves and to you.  God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, these are all your children; for them we pray.                                                                   Amen.


Hymn:  All I once held dear            StF 489/ not in R&S


Blessing:  Wonderful God, help us to keep adventuring with you.  May we allow ourselves to be filled with visions of your awesomeness, and may we know your presence closer to us than our own breathing.  Thank you for creating us, for being visible to us in Jesus, and for inspiring and empowering us with your interweaving Spirit.  And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us.                               Amen.

 'Link to audio file'

The URC has also provided audio services that can be found 'here'