Welcome to our Totley All Saints service on Trinity Sunday, the day we focus on and celebrate the three aspects of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.
We often say that the church isn’t a building – and it’s a good job because right now of course our building is closed. At the very time when we face a global pandemic as well as other recent events such as the hurt caused by the death of George Floyd, we can’t go to that place where we normally go to to meet and pray together as the bible tells us to. But rest assured, although we are all in different places we are still a community , we are the church and we are together in spirit as we worship and pray today.
So to set the tone for our gathering today and In the knowledge that our whole community is saying this together lets first of all declare what we believe in using the words of the creed below:
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Take some quiet time to say sorry to God for anything you wish.
Sing or listen to one or both of these…
Word - John 16:5-15
Trinity Sunday is the only date in our Church calendar when we celebrate an idea rather than a historicall happening – An idea that is sometimes quite difficult to get our heads around.
“Trinity Sunday”,said one vicar “is a fabulous opportunity to invite a guest preacher” From that you can take it that this is not an easy subject . I mean, we all know sort of what the Trinity is.. God in three different ways, Father Son and Holy Spirit and yet one whole – one God – but that’s about it. We have said the Creed and we have sung that we believe in God the Father , God the Son and God the Holy Spirit but the idea that God is 3 distinct things doesn’t sit with the fact that usually when we say “God” we say “he” and think of God the Father.
There is a joke among biblical scholars aparently that goes something like this…
When Jesus asked Peter.. “Who do YOU say that I am” Peter replied
‘You are the Logos, existing in the Father as His rationality and then, by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only in the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being coequal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple.’
To which Jesus replied, ‘Yer what?’
And no – I don’t understand that remotely either. It says more about Biblical scholars humour than anything else!
Another article I read said that the best way they had heard the trinity explained was in a sermon like this… a preacher went to buy a car and the salesman wanted to explain the brilliant way the engne worked. But the preacher wasn’t really interested. He just wanted to know that the car worked. And he said that the Trinity was a bit like that. You don’t need to understand all the theory behind it. Just accept it because the church has found that it works. It makes sense of God’s revelation of himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And yes God is not understandable – he is so vastly different from us that any attempt to understand him is perhaps futile –he is always beyond the capacity of our human minds to understand’
C. S. Lewis says the doctrine of the Trinity is like a map — Use it to get your bearings, but don’t confuse it with the reality it describes –Rowan Willimas, the former Archbishop of Canterbury,once said “Let God be God” – stop trying to understand him In other words.
In tryng to find out how best to talk about the Trinity I came across a really useful piece on the CPAS website by Debbie Peatman that really helped me.
Debbie reminds us that Jesus, on the night before he died, wanted his disciples to know that he was completely united with the Father – The God he had taught them about – and he wanted them to know also about the Holy Spirit who was completely one with him and the Father as well. This must be important because Jesus wanted to explain it on the night before he knew he would die – . Debbie goes on to suggest that Jesus was telling the disciples how he wanted them to be – The bible tells us we were made in God’s image, like a picture of him, and if God is three people united as one , then we cant look like him all on our own. We’re not meant to be individuals in an image of an individual God, we’re meant to be groups, families, communities in the image of a God who is a group, a family, a community.
We’re made to depend on one another – we often think that doing things on our own is a strength but In the reading, Jesus tells us that apart from the Father he is nothing. He tells us we can’t understand him without the Spirit, and we can’t understand the Spirit without him.
He tells us that the Father has trusted him with everything. It is the most amazing picture of each person completely open to and dependant on the other. In the glimpse Jesus gives us into the family life of God, the thing that makes you strong is being completely dependant on one another!
And We’re invited into the love of the Trinity This is the most amazing truth of all. We weren’t just made to be one with each other. We’re made to be one with the Trinity God himself. The Trinity isn’t a private party (Father, Son and Spirit having a lovely time in heaven together with the door shut). Jesus says: ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). The Trinity is the family of which we were all made to be a part. Some of us are blessed with wonderful human families. Some of us are not. But we are all invited in to the very heart of this family. We’re invited to sit round the table with God himself. We are all honoured, beloved children.
And that view from Debbie Peatman gives me a thought also – when Jesus was explaining to the disciples on the night before he died he was basically saying that the disciples would not have to do it all on their own, that the holy spirit would help and guide them, that a part of God remains on Earth – the wonders that he had performed would not stop – because of the holy spirit
When we say the creed we agree that we recognise this view of the trinity
we believe and trust in God the Father, who created the world. We believe and trust in God the Son who redeemed the world by dying for us. We believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit who gives life to the people of God, who is with us now.
What we believe about God is that He is the creator of the whole world, and he even made us in his own image and likeness. How amazing is that! He is as He is in Jesus, so there is hope: if you want to see God, point people to Jesus. And He is ever present, deeply within us and for us here and now through the Holy spirit that remains on Earth
This is what we want to say about God, and the Trinity is a way of summing that up. Of course whatever words we use about God will never be adequate, never be big enough to understand him – he is beyond our human understanding, but the language of Trinity is perhaps the best we can do to describe the three facets of the same God.
What does the idea of Trinity mean to you?
Spend some time thinking about how you experience the three aspects / persons of God. When you pray is there an aspect of God that you focus on? Do you focus on a different aspect depending on the circumstances… when you are angry, happy, sad, in need?
Prayers of Intercession
Spend some time in prayer with your family group or on your own and prayer for whatever and whoever is on your heart and then end with the Lord’s Prayer
We pray for all the regions of the world struggling with Corona Virus, both those affected by the health situation and those economically affected. We pray also for regions struggling with war and famine or any other natural disaster. We ask your Holy Spirit would be on all those that suffer.
We pray for an end to division and inequality wherever it occurs. We think especially of the current situation in America but also of anywhere where division and inequality occur. We ask your Holy Spirit would be with all those in authority who have the power to change this.
We pray for Sheffield and especially own own Parrish of Totley. We pray for all those in distress, sadness or pain at this time and we ask that your healing hand would be on all those who are sick.
We pray for ourselves, that we would be all that God would want us to be in this life. We ask that the Holy Spirit would guide us in all that we do.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.
The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.
“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”
So as we come to the end of our time today just one notice – if you do have any feedback please do email it to the address below –its always nice to know what people think and more importantly what we could do better.
Lets end by saying the grace together:
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.
And so lets go in Peace to love and and serve the Lord.