we come humbly into your presence.
Jesus, Son of God
we come gratefully into your presence.
we come quietly into your presence.
When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, Everything inside me wants to jump for joy!
Hymn 111 – Holy, holy, holy
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of Mystery and Mercy,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we meet you in wonder as the Blessed Trinity.
You are the Ancient of Days, eternal and unchanging;
yet you are the Source of each new day, renewing all things.
In Christ, you encounter us in whatever each day brings with a heart that beats in love for us.
Through the Spirit, you breathe life into what is growing older, energizing us to serve you in good times and hard times.
In the mystery of the Trinity, you are always with us
and so we bring you our worship and praise
to join in your dance of life and love,
Holy One and Holy Three, now and ever more.
O God of all holiness as we are here in your presence
help us to be honest about ourselves and our world,
to recognise the good and the bad, our strengths and our failures,
all that we have done wrong, and all the ways in which you are blessing and affirming us.
We confess our sins, and the sin of the world, and we ask for mercy, and the wisdom and courage to change.
Let us hear for ourselves the words that Jesus said to so many, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ and ‘Be at peace’.
God the source of all life re-creates us each day,
Christ has, once for all, redeemed the world,
and the Holy Spirit works to empower us in goodness.
Thanks be to God, the Holy Trinity of mercy, love and power, Our Father..
Readings: Psalm 8
John 16: 12-15
Hymn 189 – Be still in the presence of the Lord
One God, three Persons, help us to be gentle, with others and with ourselves. Give us, we pray, the calm that makes for consideration and the respect for others that makes us courteous. Give us the true wisdom that comes from our Creator God and thank you for reminding us that you rejoice and delight in all mankind. Amen
We had the funeral of Audrey Gibson yesterday, and on the service sheet there was a very dashing photograph of her in younger days, with a photo of her in more recent times at the back. It made me wonder who chooses the photos? Usually it would be family, going through albums to decide which one was best. These days, it would be images held in the phone, I suppose. In Audrey’s case, maybe she had decided beforehand.
How do we like to portray ourselves? We always want to look at our best. Winston Churchhill would have had his portrait painted a number of times, but he so disliked the portrayal by Graham Sutherland that he famously burned it. It wasn’t how he wanted to be portrayed. Churchill was himself a painter, but preferred landscapes, as trees couldn’t speak back!
At weddings the photographer is snapping away, but only the best will make it to the wedding album.
These days we can put little photos of ourselves beside emails or on social media apps like Whatsapp or Facebook – again we choose something good. I am conscious mine, even my picture on the church website, are all from a few years ago. I should maybe look for something more recent with more grey hair!
So how do we portray God? I remember having a book which began, ‘I saw God the other day. He was dressed in a white robe, with long flowing locks of hair, dangling his feet over a cloud’. It wasn’t a serious book! But often this is the kind of image we have of God, an unlikely, somewhat remote figure. But for the Hebrews, no-one could look at God. God was so holy, and could not be depicted. The same applies in Islam, and I was reading of a film being withdrawn from cinemas this week, because of a portrayal, not of God, but of Mohammed.
In Christianity, we can’t picture God, but we do know what God is like through Jesus. In the early church, they came up with the Trinity in order to describe God. Sometimes the Trinity can be depicted by an interconnected Celtic knot or a trefoil or even a triangle. The Russian Rublev painted his famous icon of the Trinity, and we see that God is social, is relational. The Trinity is inadequate, because we as humans use language, and that has its limitations and ultimately includes our prejudices. But it is also a glorious attempt to try to picture God.
We have God the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. In Psalm 8 we see God as creator and the Majesty of God’s handiwork. It makes us aware of just how small we are - teeny-weeny. Yet God made us a little lower than the angels, and we have a glimpse of God as Parent, who is like a father or, for some, the image of mother is better, so nurturing and protective. The God who has a passionate parent’s love, wanting the best, while also giving us the freedom to be ourselves.
But there is also God as seen as Jesus, who says the Father and him are one and who shows God’s love and mercy in action, to the point of sacrificing himself on the cross out of love for us. In Jesus we see God alongside us.
The last part of the divine portrait is the Holy Spirit, God within us, if you like. We celebrated her coming on the disciples last week at Pentecost. The Spirit lives in us, inspires us, directs us. One writer said, that ‘the Spirit is often portrayed as a dove, warming you, softly breaking your shell so that beautiful things can hatch, relentlessly and gently leading you into your future’.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit– we invoke the Trinity every week, and it shows a beautiful and complex truth to those who gaze on it. A God who creates and who redeems us, and who sustains our living; a God worthy to worship.
Hymn 112 – Thou whose almighty word
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
We offer to God;
the lives we lead each day, the best of what we are and hope to be, the resources we have and the money at our disposal.
God of all that is made, take our money and make it holy, fit for good work in the world.
Take our lives and equip us for service among your people.
Take all that we have to offer this day and make it a blessing for others. Holy God, Holy One and Holy Three, we bless you for bringing us into communion with you, offering us the same unity in love you share as the blessed Trinity.
Help your church in all its branches discover the unity for which Christ prayed.
May our unity in Christ show the world how to overcome divisions and enjoy the diverse gifts you have created in us.
By your Spirit, equip us to explore unity in diversity
through local mission and ministry.
We pray for children and their parents, knowing how important it is for a child to have a secure, loving start in life, and we pray for parents as they seek to provide it.
We pray for youngsters setting out on adult life, dipping their toes into the waters of friendship and romantic love and seeking to know what to study, or where to work,
We pray for those whose land has been torn apart by war and who have lost not only people that they loved, but all that once felt safe and secure;
for those who are waiting— at an airport, or on a railway platform or by a hospital bed— for the moment of parting from someone who is dearer to them than life itself.
May they know the presence and comfort of the one who said, “Do not be afraid… for I am with you always... to the end of time.”
Hymn 622 – We sing a love
Go in peace to love and serve God;
the holy and undivided trinity.
And the blessing of God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you today and always, Amen.