Welcome to our Worship at Home for Sunday 7th June Trinity Sunday. Today the main service is followed by an additional video specifically for Junior members, with a message from Hucclecote Junior Church members Hannah and Ethan with leader (and Mum!) Beth.
Readings for Today: Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a, Matthew 28:16-20, 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Today is Trinity Sunday, a week after Pentecost when we focused on the coming of the Holy Spirit. But on Trinity Sunday we think about the three different ways in which we know the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In a way these are short hand terms that describe the different ways we know God.
We tend to use the word ‘Father’ to describe the mysterious ‘otherness’ of God. I’m not sure that ‘Father’ is the best descriptive word we could use because in human terms the word ‘Father’ can refer to a range of relationships. And of course, God has ‘Mother’ like characteristics as well. But ‘Father’ is the word that Jesus often uses to describe this aspect of his relationship with God the creator, and so I think we must take it as it relates to His relationship.
So when we talk about God as Father, we think of a God who is the all powerful creator of all things. Who existed before time began and will continue to exist when it ceases to be – we say he is eternal. This is the aspect of God that is mysterious and ‘other’.
We see him described in the Genesis creation story speaking the universe into being and seeing that it is good. We see him appearing to Moses in the Burning Bush, telling Moses to remove his shoes as he is standing on holy ground. We see him rescuing the Israelites from Egypt and guiding them through the wilderness, appearing as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of flame by night. We see him on the mountain top descending to Moses in a cloud. In the Temple He resides in the Holy of Holies, the mysterious central part unapproachable by anybody except the priests and then only on special occasions and for special functions.
This is the God who creates, who rescues, who teaches the law but is essentially apart and unapproachable. Powerful, Holy and Pure.
Then we think about God in terms of the Son – Jesus. Very human. Born in a stable amongst animals to a young girl called Mary. A human being but a very special one – so special that those who encountered him knew they had encountered God. Unlike the ‘Father’, Jesus is approachable by everyone. He is a teacher of God’s will and God’s way. He proclaims that the Kingdom of God has come and that we can be part of it. He teaches that the kingdom is characterised by Truth, Justice, Love and Peace and that those who want to enter it are welcome but must first repent and change to become the people God wants them to be. Jesus must have some charism about his personality that compels people to follow him, to trust him enough to leave their families and livelihoods to become his disciples.
Jesus demonstrates that he is the one who had been promised by the prophets – the Messiah, and that he has God’s power at his disposal. John’s gospel links him with creation describing him as being the “Word” – the same word which speaks creation into being in the Genesis creation story.
At his Baptism he is also linked with the Holy Spirit which descends upon him like a dove, and at that same moment a voice is heard saying “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16). Throughout his teaching he demonstrates his power through healing, through miracles, such as the feeding of the 5000+ and by demonstrating that he commands even the wind and the waves.
Finally he demonstrates his love for all humankind through his sacrifice, allowing himself to be put to death on the cross even though he has done no wrong, but enabling God to be glorified through his resurrection – restoring the broken relationship between God and his people.
Jesus is the human face of God. God coming to be human and to experience what that is like. Experiencing human joy and human suffering yet demonstrating that death is not necessarily the end of life.
As Jesus finally left the earth, taken up to be ‘with the Father’ he promised that the Holy Spirit would come to be comforter, helper, guide. Last week we heard or read the dramatic story of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples gathered together. But the Holy Spirit had always been present: sweeping over the ‘face of the waters’ in creation; descending upon Jesus at his baptism, and often working through Jesus in the gospels.
Today the Holy Spirit is still present with us and many Christians can describe specific experiences involving the Holy Spirit. But we can know God in each person of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Hence new Christians are baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as Jesus commands in Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 28: 16-20).
Jesus also commands that we make ‘disciples of all nations’ baptising them and ‘teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded..’.
This has never been more needed than in the world today where many seem no longer to value Truth, and Justice is denied to so many. Worse still those who are given the privilege of leadership seem to sit lightly to these values. Against this it is important that there are always those who are willing to stand up and speak out for the truth and against injustice wherever it is encountered. Speaking truth to power where necessary.
When those in positions of power and authority do not act with integrity and truth, then they cannot claim the trust of those they are meant to represent. Trust is not a given but something to be earned and when it is missing then the consequences can be painful for everyone. Now more than at any time we need to be able to trust those who lead us.
But even if we are not led in the right way by human leaders, we have a higher leader who teaches us the right way to live and to relate to one another. That leader is Jesus. It is he who leads us in the way of truth, justice and love and the Holy Spirit who is there to guide and support us.
The Kingdom will be fulfilled in God’s time. In the meantime we witness to the words and actions we see and let God be the judge. But we equally demonstrate what a life lived through kingdom values looks like when we live by them ourselves, following the teaching of Jesus and also following his example. Today we remember that we have a God who while being the overarching power in the universe equally stands alongside each of us in our personal situation because he has made us and he loves us.
Andrew Biggs 2nd June 2020