Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those in other places too! This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well and keeping safe. The weather has certainly changed this week, but I am sure farmers and gardeners are happy with the rain. We gather in our homes, gardens or wherever to have our service for Trinity Sunday.
Call to Worship
O Lord, our Sovereign,
How majestic is your name in all the earth!
When we look at your heavens, the moon and stars, the work of your fingers,
Who are we to praise you?
Yet you have made us in your image and set us in this world you love.
And so we come to worship you and learn to care for your earth.
Hymn 111 – Holy, holy, holy
We have heard about you, God of all power.
You made the world out of kindness,
creating order out of confusion;
You made each one of us in your own image;
Your fingerprint is on every soul.
We praise and worship you.
We have heard about you, Jesus Christ:
the carpenter who left his tools and trade;
the poor man who made others rich;
the healer who let himself be wounded;
the criminal on whom the soldiers spat
not knowing they were fouling the face of God;
the saviour who died and rose again.
We praise and worship you.
We have heard about you, Holy Spirit.
You broke the bonds of every race and nation,
to let God speak in every tongue;
You made disciples drunk with grace;
You converted souls and emptied pockets;
You showed how love made all things new
and opened the doors to change and freedom.
We praise and worship you.
God our Creator, we confess that we have not lived wisely in your creation,and so the earth suffers.God our Redeemer, we have not valued ourselves or one another as those made in your image, and so our relationships are strained.God our Sustainer, we have not trusted in your loving guidance, and so we follow paths that lead to foolish ends.Forgive our mistaken choices and selfish desires.Call us back to your loving presence and teach us again how to follow you.
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away. See, everything has become new! Thanks be to God that we can all make a new start this day and every day.
Readings: Psalm 8
Hymn 550 – As a deer pants for the water
Here is our weekly prayer from Arthur and Kathleen:
Oh Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth. As we look around us here in Cheviot Churches, we give thanks for the beauty of our surroundings. God in three persons, blessed Trinity, we pray for peace in the world, in our communities and our families: create in us a love for peace, not peace that is absent from struggle, nor peace that is blind to injustice but the peace that makes whole what now is broken. Amen
I was at the Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh the other day. Now, I wasn’t breaking any lockdown rules. It was a virtual tour, on my laptop, but I could see the various portraits and photographs of famous people. In most cases they would have known they were getting their picture painted or photo taken and would have planned accordingly, choosing appropriate clothes and background, because that would be how they would be remembered in the future. David Livingstone, for example, sits very nonchalantly, but with books piled on the table beside him. It reminds me of the Zoom interviews and meetings, where people position themselves in front of pictures they like or bookcases, because they want to project a certain image.
I once had my portrait painted in Zambia, but from a photograph, and it took me ages to choose which photo to use. Winston Churchill, or maybe it was his wife, famously didn’t like a portrait of him by Graham Sutherland and burned it.
How would you wish to be portrayed? Would you wish to appear younger or more mature? Obviously not with a lockdown hairstyle. Out in the country or in a study? We all want to project a favourable image of ourselves.
Today is Trinity Sunday, and in a way the Trinity is a portrait of God. It was the early Church’s way of expressing how they viewed God. They saw God as the Almighty, the Creator God, whom we hear about in Psalm 8; the transcendent God, before whose holiness Isaiah was to fall on his knees in awe. Yet they also saw God in Jesus, in his words and his actions, reaching out in love and acceptance to all in need, regardless of gender or age or colour or status. And they saw God in the Holy Spirit, working and involved in the present, encouraging and inspiring.
You could say the picture was of God beyond, beside and within. All different, but all working together, because they are interconnected. A traditional Celtic image of the Trinity is of three rings interconnected (see below), while a famous icon by the Russian artist Rublev shows the Trinity as the three angels who visited Abraham in Genesis 12. It portrays the Trinity as being in community with one another, in loving harmony and interdependence, each being distinct (see above). That speaks to me, for we are made in God’s image; and so we too are made to be in community and are only truly ourselves as we live that out. We have to live out our faith together with our fellow-believers.
Our Muslims friends often talk about the 99 names for God, 99 different aspects of the divine, and certainly for Christians there are infinite ways in which we could try to describe God – and never fully succeed. However, the image of the Trinity, all different but all working together as a community, is helpful. It is also something we need to emphasise in our daily lives.
We have all been outraged by the events in Minnesota, where the appalling death of an African-American man, George Floyd, has resulted in protests and riots. It highlights how divided a society the United States remains, how fractured a community it is. We need to recapture the image of Trinity distinct, but working in harmony and community.
At Pentecost the Spirit came upon all the believers and did not discriminate between young and old, male or female, Libyan or Persian. On the mountaintop of Matthew 28, the disciples, some still doubting, were given the commission to take the good news and to baptise in the name of the Trinity– not just to certain people, but to the whole world.
Therefore let us rejoice in the wonderful diversity of human beings and rejoice in the communities in which we live, ever working to strengthen them and to affirm all who live in them, for we are all made in God’s image. Amen
Hymn 769 – Holy, holy, holy (Argentinian chant)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
God of our past and our future, God of healing and hope,
We come before you with grateful hearts,
trusting that you walk with us through all the times of our lives,
including this strange time of illness and isolation.
You are still the God of our history and God of the world you love,
hear us as we pray for your world and the people around us.
We remember today those who face danger and despair in these times:
Those who suffer the effects of coronavirus in their lives and in the lives of loved ones;
those living with hunger while the world is distracted,
those caught up in unrest and violence despite the pandemic,
and all whose lives are directed by forces beyond their control.
We especially pray for the United States; for those who feel devalued because of the colour of their skins. Help them to know that they matter. We pray for those who are frightened and for all trying to work out peaceful solutions.
We pray for all those working to relieve suffering of many different kinds and bring justice and peace to those most vulnerable.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We pray for all those facing fear or frustration,
and those wrestling with sorrow or discouragement.
We remember those who live with illness, disability or pain day by day,
and all who know the grief and change of bereavement…
We pray for all those who work to bring healing and comfort to those who suffer,
remembering those who put their own health and life at risk during the pandemic.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We pray for all who feel helpless or hopeless in this present time of such uncertainty:
For those facing unemployment or struggling to make ends meet,
For those caught up in misunderstanding or broken relationships
And for those working through situations of conflict at home or at work…
We pray for all who offer guidance and support in the midst of such difficulties.
Hymn 112 – God whose almighty word
May the holy wisdom of God
Guard your ways and guide your paths
May the living truth of God
Enlighten your hearts and open your minds
And may the living Spirit of God
Give you life, and life to the full!
And may the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, be with you and be with all whom you love, now and forevermore. Amen
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