Sunday 7/6/20

The Cross Country Parishes

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A Sermon for Trinity Sunday
7 June 2020
Isaiah 40: 12 – 17, 27 – 31; Matthew 28: 16 – 20

This Photo by Unknown Author is Licensed under CCBY-SA-NC

Andre Rublev Old Testament Trinity Icon

Canon Professor Dan Hardy, formerly Professor of Divinity in Durham, once said that Trinity Sunday celebrates the simple heart of the Christian faith. ‘Simple’ and Trinity’ don’t often go together.  Trinity Sunday suggests incomprehensible sermons about 3 in 1 and 1 in 3.  But just suppose the Trinity really could be simple … even something exciting we can join in with?

The picture at the top is of an icon (a picture prayerfully painted to lead others into prayer) known as The Old Testament Trinity.  It shows the 3 visitors visiting Abraham to tell him that Sarah will bear a child in her old age; a story we find in Genesis 18.  Whilst using an Old Testament setting, the Icon painter called it the ‘Trinity’ and used which leads the worshipper into the riches of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I could write a whole sermon about this icon, but for now, notice the empty space at the front of the picture, inviting those who view the picture to take their seat on the fourth side of the table.  The figures form a complete community, but are open to all who wish to enter.

Then notice that the figures have the same face, yet are distinctive.  The figures represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Each with a distinct task of creator, redeemer and sustainer, yet part of the completeness of God. 

Whichever picture we use to help understand this, you’ve heard them all.  I could tell you of the 3 parts of a clover leaf forming a single leaf; of water, ice and steam all consisting of CO2.  I could even tell you the heresy of the Strawberry Jam, but none of these models help us enter into the community of the Trinity.

Instead of trying to understand something we can never really understand, come with me as we move into the welcoming community of God.  Who far from being dry and dusty is holy, glorious, creative, beautiful and life-giving, welcoming and much more besides.  Come with me and accept an invitation to dance with God.

Yes, to dance with God (even me, who has 3 left legs!).  The word theologians use to describe the life of the Trinity has the meaning of ‘around’, ‘make room for’ and ‘dance’.  The word is a Greek one, perichoresis, but we don’t need to know that.  What we do need to know is that there is room for us in the life of God, and we are invited to join the dance God leads.

If we accept the invitation, we can be certain that the dance will not be boring.  God is the source of all creativity.  His life is infinitely creative and immeasurable.  He is able to create the oceans and hold their waters in the palm of his hand.

Yet this infinitely creative and immeasurable God understands our humanity.  His Son experienced all the limitations of our humanity.  Jesus knew what it was to be tired at the end of a busy day; to grieve for a friend; to be hungry.   Father God knows our human frailty better than we know it ourselves.  He knows that even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. Commenting on the reading from Isaiah, Bishop Steven Croft writes: “The Christian life is demanding and requires strength and resilience.”  We need the Holy Spirit to sustains us; lifting us on eagles’ wings so that we can run and not fall.  Led and guided in the steps of the eternal dance God invites us to join.

However uncomfortable, the enforced pause of lockdown has given us chance to stop.  It’s not what we would have chosen, but our enforced pause has put us in a privileged position.  In stopping, we may have recognised how weary we have become with constant activity; the enforced stop has given us opportunity to stand back and consider how much of the activity was necessary, and to think seriously about which activity we want to return too, and which we wish to stop.  More valuable still is the opportunity to have time to notice the direction God is leading us in his dance.  To consider if we need to perform familiar steps in different ways; even to learn new steps as God leads and sustains us in his eternal dance.

As we ponder those questions, I want to end with some words from The Mock Turtle’s Song found in Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be

When they take us up and throw us, with lobsters, out to sea!’

But the snail replied ‘Too far, too far!’ and gave a look askance –

Said he thanks the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.

Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.

Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

‘What matters if how far we go?’ his scaly friend replied..

There is another shore, you now, upon the other side…

Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you will you join the dance?

Will you, won’t you, will you won’t you, won’t you join the dance?’

S Anne Lawson

4 June 2020

Prayers for Trinity Sunday

Holy, holy, holy God;

Holy and Strong one,

Holy and Mighty one,

Holy and immortal One,

Holy Three, Holy One,

Be with us now and evermore.

Be with us now and evermore.  Amen.

Holy Father, you have created all things

and made us in your own image.

We rejoice in the beauty of your creation.

We come before you in wonder and awe.

We seek to be sensitive to your mysteries.

We pray for places where your earth is exploited and marred,

where your creatures are abused or misused.

We pray for all who lack freedom or are oppressed.

Holy God, Holy and Strong one, 

hear our prayer.

Christ in glory, risen and ascended,

you have redeemed us by your love,

you give us life which is eternal.

We pray to you for all who walk in darkness,

all who cry out in pain, all who feel beyond hope.

We remember all who are rejected

and all who are outcasts in our world.

Holy God, Holy and Strong One,

hear our prayer.

Spirit of God, breathing life into all,

we give you thanks for our talents and abilities,

for the powers of renewal and refreshment.

We pray that we and all your church may reach out in love.

We pray for bishops, priests and deacons,

[remembering especially those due to be ordained in July, whose

ordination is now delayed],

for the ministry of all your faithful people.

We pray for the outreach and mission of your church.

Holy God, Holy and Strong One,

hear our prayer

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity,

One in Three, Three in One,

bind us together in unity.

Bind us together in love.

Bind us together with loved ones departed.

Bind us together with your saints in glory.

Holy God, Holy and Strong One,

hear our prayer.

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers 

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Prayers about the outbreak

Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy

in this time of uncertainty and distress. 

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, 

and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort 

knowing that nothing can separate us 

from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Lord Jesus Christ,

you taught us to love our neighbour,

and to care for those in need 

as if we were caring for you.

In this time of anxiety, give us strength 

to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,

and to assure the isolated

of our love, and your love, 

for your name’s sake.


God of compassion,

be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. 

In their loneliness, be their consolation;

in their anxiety, be their hope; 

in their darkness, be their light;

through him who sufered alone on the cross,

but reigns with you in glory,

Jesus Christ our Lord.


For those who are ill

Merciful God,

we entrust to your tender care

those who are ill or in pain,

knowing that whenever danger threatens

your everlasting arms

are there to hold them safe. 

Comfort and heal them,

and restore them to health and strength; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


For hospital staff and medical researchers

Gracious God,

give skill, sympathy and resilience 

to all who are caring for the sick,

and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. 

Strengthen them with your Spirit,

that through their work

many will be restored to health; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


For one who is ill or isolated

O God,

help me to trust you,

help me to know that you are with me, 

help me to believe

that nothing can separate me 

from your love

revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.


For the Christian community

We are not people of fear: 

we are people of courage.

We are not people who protect our own safety:

we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety. 

We are not people of greed:

we are people of generosity. 

We are your people God,

giving and loving,

wherever we are,

whatever it costs

For as long as it takes

wherever you call us.

Barbara Glasson

President of the Methodist Conference


Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty

Come, join the dance of Trinity

O come and join the dance that all began so long ago

Lord of the dance

Thou whose almighty word