Sunday Worship – 12th June 2022

Theme – God in Three Persons

Welcome to our Trinity Sunday Service, today shared on paper across our Circuit and with the congregation at Calverley Methodist Church, and led by Jackie Marshall, one of our Circuit Local Preachers.

Click on the blue links to follow them for Bible readings and associated links

We begin by reading, singing or, if you are able, viewing on YouTube the famous hymn celebrating our Three in One God.

Hymns & Psalms (HP) 7/Singing the Faith (StF) 11 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty

Let’s take as our opening prayer a reflection by David A. Campton entitled A Trinitarian Creed.

We believe in one God,
A community of three in a unity of being.

We believe in the Creator,
Creator of sky, earth and sea,
Maker of microbes and plants
birds, animals and fish, and us…
Creator of all that is, seen, unseen and unimaginable.

We believe in Jesus Christ,
Born of God…
Born of woman…
Born, lived, died, and rose again,
Born to teach, save, and give us hope.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
The all pervading breath of God.
Who breathed life into us in the beginning
Who breathed life into the church at Pentecost
Who brings gifts and strength, and encouragement.

We believe in God, the Three in One.
The One in Three
The blessed, sacred Trinity.
An eternal dance of personality;
Diversity in unity Creator, redeemer, sustainer.

We believe in the Church
Diversity in unity
A community stretching around the globe
And through the ages
And stretching out to all creation
Redeeming, sustaining.

We believe in God
We live in God
Three in one, one in three.
The living, loving trinity.
We join together in praying the Lord’s own 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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil;
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

The words of the Psalm set in the Lectionary for today, Psalm 8, encourage us to wonder and worship. Let’s either read the Psalm or join in singing or reading the hymn, HP 353 With wonder, Lord, we see your works, which is based on the words of the Psalm.

Next, we come to our first New Testament reading, from St Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.

Romans 5: 1 – 5

We celebrate the role of our Lord Jesus Christ as we read, sing or view

Hymns & Psalms 260/Singing the Faith 353 Jesus is Lord! Creation’s voice proclaims it 

In our Gospel reading, St John gives his account of Jesus’s words to his disciples after the Last Supper, where Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit.

John 16: 12 – 15

In her poem, Consolation, Marjorie Dobson reflects on this promise of Jesus.

We, who never met Jesus as a man;
never sat at his feet to listen to his teaching;
never had the chance to ask him a question;
never felt his personal touch of healing;
never heard one of his stories from his own lips;
never witnessed his attacks on the religious leaders;
never took a meal with him;
never prayed with him, never suffered with him;
never watched him die,
or were amazed at his resurrection appearances;
we may feel that we have missed that special sense of connection
felt only by those who knew him personally.

Yet even those who walked with the everyday Jesus
did not know him long enough to receive all his teaching.
Jesus knew he could never encapsulate
all the wisdom and grace of God
in one short lifetime.

So, as his life neared its end, he made a promise
and that promise is for all who would follow him,
no matter how many centuries have passed since it was made.
So we, who never knew Jesus as a man,
can still experience the same Spirit that was in him
and that Spirit will be our guide
as we explore the nature of God
that will lead us into the real truth
of our purpose here on earth.                                                                                                              ©Marjorie Dobson

We celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit as we read, sing or view 

Hymns & Psalms 326/Singing the Faith 398 There’s a spirit in the air

With our readings, hymns and reflections, we’ve explored our theme of God in Three Persons from a number of aspects this morning.  But I have a confession to make – we’ve missed out one of the Lectionary readings, a passage from Proverbs that personifies Wisdom, as a Lady, who is described as being with God from the beginning (Proverbs 8: 1 – 4, 22 – 31)! I read it and my heart sank – trying to get to grips with three persons in one is bad enough – where does a fourth fit in? Further reading left me a little bit wiser, in that Wisdom and the Word, as described right at the start of St John’s gospel, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1: 1), can both be taken to refer to Jesus. Or it may be that in personifying God’s wisdom, the writer was using a literary technique for dramatic effect.

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Rublev’s Trinity

However, thinking of a fourth person reminded me of this icon depicting the Trinity, with a fourth, apparently empty place at the table. It was painted around 1410 by the Russian artist Andrei Rublev, for a monastery chapel dedicated to the Trinity. It was a reworking of an earlier icon he had painted, depicting the visit of God to Abraham and Sarah, near the oaks of Mamre, in the form of three men (Genesis 18:1).

There at the table we see the three figures, sharing a meal. Initially, I thought that God the Father was represented by the central figure, with Jesus the Son on his right hand and the Holy Spirit on his left, but apparently that is not the case. The golden garments of the figure on the left symbolise his divinity – he is the Father. The central figure, wearing a robe the colour of sky and sea to symbolise his earthly humanity, is Jesus. His shirt of red represents his sacrificial suffering, and the gold material over his shoulder his resurrection and restoration to heaven. The Father and Son gaze lovingly at each other. The third figure also wears blue, with an overgarment of green, representing the new life the Holy Spirit brings to earth. He is gesturing with his right hand, seemingly towards a strange rectangular shape in the middle of the lower part of the icon. In recent years, scientific analysis of that odd shape revealed traces of glue and it is believed a mirror was originally fixed there. So, the Holy Spirit is inviting the viewer to take the fourth place at the table. That’s an amazing thought for us now but imagine the impact on the earliest people to see the icon – in the early 1400s, mirrors were costly and therefore uncommon items. They – we – are  invited to that place at the table, to share in the meal, to be in loving communion with the Three Persons who make up our one God, who is Love.

Let’s pause now to spend a little time looking at the icon and reflecting further on this wonderful mystery, either in the quiet, or if you are able, listening on YouTube to Stuart Townend sing

The Perfect Wisdom of Our God

We come to our time of prayer for others. There are so many situations around the world and in our own individual spheres of influence where our prayers are needed, so please include those that lie heavy on each of your hearts today in the appropriate places as we pray together.

God the Father, bless us.
God the Creator, we pray for the world,
Brought to birth by your love;
Where your children
Fight and kill,
Die of hunger and disease,
Oppress and exploit one another.
We pray for …

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
We ask for new life in you.

God the Son, protect us.
God the Saviour, we pray for humankind,
Whose joys and pains you came in love to share,
And who are still in need
Of repentance and forgiveness,
Of healing and comfort,
Of faith and hope.
We pray for …

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
We ask for new life in you.

God the Spirit, guide us.
God among us, we pray for the Church,
Created, sustained and filled with love by you,
Asking that you will give us
Vision and courage,
Unity with one another,
The strength to serve you in the world.
We pray for …

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
We ask for new life in youAmen                                                                                       
©Christine Odell (Sheasby)

As we near the end of our act of worship, I wonder if there has been a particular description of the Trinity that has spoken to you? I do hope so. We are left in awe and wonder, realising how far beyond our comprehension God is – and yet at the same time, how much he loves us. Let’s join in our final hymn, reading, singing or watching

Hymns & Psalms 36/Singing the Faith 103 God is Love: let heaven adore him 

God the Father, bless us,
God the Son, protect us,
God the Spirit, guide us,
now and evermore. Amen                                       

Credits: Copyrighted items downloaded from The Worship Cloud, with permission to use in local services of worship. 

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