Service at Home for Trinity Sunday on 30th May 2021
for Bolton Road Methodist Church, Christ Church Ramsbottom and Edenfield Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 30-05-2021
As usual, the entire service can be followed on this YouTube playlist without the need to look at these sheets. However, you may want to use these sheets if you prefer to read the words.
Welcome and introduction
Watch: Welcome and introduction
Welcome to our service at home for Trinity Sunday. This week we look at the nature of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit and how it helps us to know God better.
Watch: King of Kings
Watch: Father I adore you
Watch: Opening prayers
Prayer by Brian Wren
Living Love, beginning and end,
Giver of food and drink, clothing and warmth, love and hope:
Life in all its goodness – we praise and adore you.
Jesus, wisdom and word; lover of outcasts, friend of the poor;
One of us yet one with God;
Crucified and risen;
Life in the midst of death – we praise and adore you.
Holy Spirit, storm and breath of love;
Bridge builder, eye-opener, waker of the oppressed,
Unseen and unexpected,
Untameable energy of life – we praise and adore you.
Holy Trinity, forever one, whose nature is community;
Source of all sharing,
In whom we love, and meet, and know our neighbour:
Life in all its fullness, making all things new:
We praise and adore you. Amen.
Prayer of confession
Lord God, we know that we don’t always behave as you would like us to. Sometimes we do and say things that hurt you and hurt others. In a few moments of quiet, we remember the things we have done wrong ----. Lord, we know that if we are truly sorry, you are always ready to forgive us and we ask for your forgiveness now.
God is love and forgives our sins through Jesus. Amen.
And now say the prayer that Jesus taught us:
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 that trespass against us.
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. Amen.
Watch: Lead us Heavenly Father
Prayers of intercession and Bible readings
Prayers of intercession based on Psalm 8
1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
Lord, our Lord, I know that you have the power to silence evil in this world. I also know that there’s a great darkness in this world and that many evil things are being done by people against other people every day. I think in particular of countries where violence and injustice is common, such as Palestine, Syria, Nigeria, Chad, Venezuela and Yemen. I feel powerless in the face of such large-scale conflicts and I know that you alone have the power to overcome the evil that causes it, as you have done before. So Lord, I pray that you’ll use your power to overcome the evil and bring peace where there is conflict. I pray that you’ll protect the vulnerable, comfort those in distress and help people to rebuild broken lives.
As I remember that the virus causing COVID has become like an enemy to us, I know that you have power to silence it and break its grip on the world. I pray that the pandemic will soon come to an end and the resultant suffering will stop, whether by distribution of vaccines or by the virus mutating into a less harmful variant.
I also think about the darkness that exists within my community: the broken relationships, the addictions, the selfishness, the intolerance, the despair, the fear, the loneliness, the suffering. I pray that you’ll shine your light into the dark corners of this community and bring healing, peace and justice. Send your Holy Spirit into this area in a big way so that people will see you and turn to you.
Lord, I pray that you will replace hate with love in all the earth.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
Lord, I thank you so much that you do care for me. I think of the people I know who especially need your care today – those who are ill; mourning loved ones; or troubled in any way.
In a short time of quiet, I think about my other friends and relatives who I know especially need your care this morning and Lord, I bring them before you now in the silence …
Lord, pour out your healing power on to each one of these people and hold them especially close to you at this difficult time for them.
Lord, I also bring before you now my own problems, illness and concerns in the silence…….
Lord, heal me and care for me, and give me your peace.
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, when I remember that you created this beautiful world for us and left us to look after it, I’m ashamed that we’ve made such a mess of things. I’m ashamed that so much of the natural world has been destroyed to satisfy our greed. I’m ashamed that the world is being poisoned by our carelessness. I’m ashamed that the resources of this world are not used fairly, and that people are dying of hunger while others die from eating too much.
Lord, I pray that people will remember that this world is yours and therefore treat it with the care and respect that your creation deserves. I pray that you will help those trying to make sure that this world is cared for. And I pray that you’ll help those who are helping the people who aren’t getting their fair share of the earth’s resources. I pray that you’ll use your Church to speak out against injustice and the way that the earth is treated. I pray that I’ll recognise your power and majesty in the beauty and perfection of the earth.
9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Gospel: John 14:1-11
Epistle: Romans 8:12-17
Watch: No longer slaves to fear
Sermon and prayer
Watch: Sermon and prayer
I once heard a story about a little boy who was busy drawing a picture in Sunday School. His Sunday School teacher asked him what he was drawing a picture of. He said, “I’m drawing a picture of God”. The Sunday School teacher replied, “but nobody knows what God looks like”. To which the little boy answered “They will now”!
It is true, isn’t it, that nobody knows what God looks like. Not even Moses got to see God’s face. But in the passage that we heard from John 14 just now, Jesus says in verse 7:
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him”.
And again in verse 9:
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”.
And then as we heard last week, at our Pentecost service, Jesus tells us that we’ll continue to see him, through the Holy Spirit living in us. In verse 19:
“Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me”
And in verse 21:
“…I too will love them and show myself to them”.
In other words, through the Holy Spirit we can see Jesus, and through seeing Jesus we can see the Father. This means that although we may not be able to physically see what God looks like, we can know what He’s like through the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Perhaps most importantly, the Trinity helps us to know how much God the father loves us. In the passage from Romans 8, we heard that:
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”.
This means that the Holy Spirit living inside us helps us to truly understand what Jesus did for us, which in turn means that we know that we are one of the Father’s children. So it’s the Trinity that enables us to truly feel the Father’s love for us in our hearts.
So it’s clear that the Holy Trinity is vitally important to our relationship with God. So it’s also clear that we need to do our best to understand the Trinity. Most of us are familiar with the term Holy Trinity aren’t we? But do you understand it? Do you understand how God exists as three persons in very different forms, but who at the same time have identical natures because they are in fact the same person? I don’t think anyone can really understand it – I know I don’t. And because we don’t understand it, I think the danger is that we place it into the compartment in our mind that’s labelled “too complicated”, alongside things like time travel and, in my case, knitting, and we ignore it. But we mustn’t ignore the Trinity because, as we heard just now, it’s through the Trinity that we can know God and feel His love for us.
It doesn’t matter that we’ll never completely understand it. After all, there’s lots of things that we don’t understand about God. We must just learn what we can about the Holy Trinity, by looking at what the Bible tells us. So let’s look at that passage from John 14 in a bit more detail to see what it tells us about the Trinity.
In verse 2, Jesus tells us that:
“My Father’s house has many rooms”.
And then in verse 3:
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”.
So the first picture of God that we get is of the Father being in charge in heaven, with Jesus getting things ready and then coming and fetching us. We could imagine the Father as being like the owner of a very large posh hotel, and of Jesus making beds and putting toiletries and clean towels in the rooms and then driving a limousine to come and get us. We could even imagine that Jesus does this without the Father knowing about it - sneaking us in the back door when the Father isn’t looking. But in verse 6 Jesus tells us that:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
This means that Jesus isn’t sneaking us in the back door at all. Verse 6 tells us that we can be with the Father through Jesus. We’re not just taken to the Father’s house by Jesus, we have a place in the Father’s house through what Jesus has done. This means that when we turn up at the posh hotel, we go in the front door with Jesus and go to the Reception desk, where Jesus says “I’ve paid for this person to stay here forever, all inclusive”. Because don’t forget, Jesus has paid for each one of us to live with him for all eternity in his Father’s house. He paid by dying on the cross. That’s why Jesus said “I am the way”.
We could still think that Jesus is doing this without the Father - the owner up in his office – knowing about all the waifs and strays like us that Jesus is bringing into his nice hotel. But verses 10 and 11 tell us that this most certainly isn’t the case. Jesus tells us that he doesn’t do or say a single thing that the Father doesn’t give him authority to do, so in fact, Jesus is doing the Father’s work for him. This is because Jesus and the Father are actually the same person. The hotel owner up in his nice office is the same person who cleans the toilets, drives the limousine and checks you in at reception. So if you think that you haven’t seen the Father you’re wrong, because you’ve seen Jesus who is the same person.
Kathy and I once visited a castle up in Scotland and were greeted at the door by a cheerful middle-aged man who checked our tickets. It was only when we were looking at the family photographs on display that we realised that the man at the door was actually the Laird whose family had owned the castle for centuries. If we hadn’t seen his photograph and we’d asked someone if we could meet the Laird, they’d have replied that we’d already met him as he was the man at the door. The man welcoming people at the door and the Laird were the same person even though the two roles are very different. And he was still the Laird even when he was checking tickets at the door. And he was still the ticket checker when he was fulfilling his role as Laird. It’s the same with Jesus and the Father. It’s the same person, but in two different roles. Both servant and master at the same time.
You may be thinking, this is all very well, but I’m not going to see Jesus until I die, so how does this help me to know God here today? If you are thinking that, then you’re wrong, and I’m now going to tell you two ways that you can see Jesus today. And neither way involves dying!
The first way that we can see Jesus today is through what the Bible tells us what Jesus did and said. I like reading biographies, and at the moment I’m reading one about George Whitefield. By reading the book, I’ve felt that I’ve got to know him and understand his character. It’s the same when we read the Bible, we get to know Jesus and understand his character. When we read the gospels, and other books in the Bible as well, we get a very detailed description of the nature of Jesus: his power, wisdom, obedience and courage, and most importantly his love for us. The Bible doesn’t of course tell us what Jesus looked like, but that’s not important is it? It’s his character and what he said and did that’s important to us.
The second way that we can see Jesus today is through what we looked at last week, at our Pentecost service. Jesus tells us that the Father sends us the Spirit, to help us and to be with us forever. And that we’ll know the Spirit because he’ll live in is. Jesus also tells us that he comes to us through the Holy Spirit living is us. So in other words, we see Jesus whenever we see the Holy Spirit at work, both in ourselves and in other people. Also, the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, patience, self-control, show us the character of Jesus. And the gifts of the Spirit, such as healing and prophecy, show us the all-powerful supernatural nature of Jesus.
Whenever we use the Trinity to help us to know God better, we must remember that all three persons of the Trinity are equally important to our view of God. In other words, we need a balanced perception of all three persons of the Trinity to be able to know God properly. For example, if we focus just on the Father, God will seem very distant and judgemental. If on the other hand, we just focus on Jesus, there’s a risk that Jesus becomes to us just a very wise teacher, which can result in us trying to apply the teachings of Jesus through social action and lose sight of the awesome supernatural power of God. And if we just focus on the Holy Spirit, there’s a risk that we’ll just enjoy God’s presence in church on Sunday, instead of becoming true disciples by obeying Jesus’ commands on the other six days of the week.
So to recap what we’ve learnt about the Trinity: we see what Jesus is like through the Bible and through what the Holy Spirit does because Jesus is actually the same person as the Holy Spirit. And we see what the Father is like by what Jesus is like because Jesus is the same actually the same person as the Father. Therefore, as God is these three persons, who are actually one person, we see God whenever we see the Holy Spirit working in ourselves or in other people. And we see God whenever we read about Jesus in the Bible. We’ve also learnt that it’s really important to focus equally on all three persons of the Trinity, otherwise we don’t get a correct view of God.
The question that I need to ask you is this: how well do you know God? Do you know God very well through a balanced view of the three persons of the Trinity, as we’ve just been talking about? Or do you need to get to know God better? I don’t think anyone can claim to know God perfectly, and we should all attempt to know Him better.
If you want to know God better, I invite you use the following short reflection on the persons of the Trinity, also thinking of the words in Psalm 8 which we heard.
Please get comfortable and close your eyes.
Think of God the Father. He’s the creator of the universe – who set in place the stars and planets. He’s the creator of life – the animals and birds and fish and us. Think about the amazing and beautiful world that we live in and how this shows us the Father’s glory, majesty and power that fills the earth………
His house has many rooms – where you’ll live an eternal life in unimaginable happiness if you let Jesus show you the way. Think how reassuring it is to know that one of those rooms already has your name on……………..
Now think of Jesus, God the Son. Jesus was with the father at the beginning of the Universe and will be there with him at the end. Yet he chose to come to this world to live amongst us, to serve and teach, and to die for us. He came to this world so that you could know him through what’s written about him in the Bible. Think about what the Bible tells us about Jesus’ miracles, wisdom, courage, obedience, ability to resist temptation, power over demons and power over death…………..
Think about what the Bible tells us about how much he loves you – so much that he sacrificed himself on a cross for you……………..
Jesus came so that you could know that he is the way and the truth and the life; and that no one comes to the Father except through him. Think what knowing this means to you………….
Now think of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit living in us makes us become more like Jesus. Think of the changes the Holy Spirit has made to you or to people that you know and how this helps you to know the nature of Jesus. Think of the love, patience, compassion, self-control, generosity and willingness to humbly serve others………..
The Holy Spirit living in us enables our faith in Jesus to be real and enables us to hear him. Think of the times that you’ve been aware of God’s presence or heard him speaking to you…………..
Now think of God the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one person. Jesus tells us that he is in the Father, and we are in him, and he is in us. Think what it means to know that God has the loving, humble, serving nature of Jesus……………
Think what it means to know that the glory, power and majesty of the creator of the universe is living inside you……………
Think what it means to know that you can see God by looking at the faces and actions of other Christians……………
Dear Lord, I thank you so much that you came to this world and have given me your Spirit so that I can know you. But Lord, I want to know you better. Fill me with your Spirit now, the Spirit of Truth, to teach me and help me to know you better day by day.
Come Holy Spirit, fill us, teach us and reveal the Father and Son to us. Amen.