DATE: 31 May 201
TO: LakeView Congregational Church, UCC
TITLE: God, Jesus, the Spirit and I… (The Trinity plus me)
Romans 8: 12-17
12 So, brothers and sisters, we have no obligation to live the way our corrupt nature wants us to live. 13 If you live by your corrupt nature, you are going to die. But if you use your spiritual nature to put to death the evil activities of the body, you will live. 14 Certainly, all who are guided by God’s Spirit are God’s children. 15 You haven’t received the spirit of slaves that leads you into fear again. Instead, you have received the spirit of God’s adopted children by which we call out, “Abba![a] Father!” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 If we are his children, we are also God’s heirs. If we share in Christ’s suffering in order to share his glory, we are heirs together with him.
John 3: 1-17
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish council. 2 He came to Yeshua one night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that God has sent you as a teacher. No one can perform the miracles you perform unless God is with him.” 3 Yeshua replied to Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”[a 4 Nicodemus asked him, “How can anyone be born when he’s an old man? He can’t go back inside his mother a second time to be born, can he? 5 Yeshua answered Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual. 7 Don’t be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above. 8 The wind[b] blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it’s going. That’s the way it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus replied, “How can that be?” 10 Yeshua told Nicodemus, “You’re a well-known teacher of Israel. Can’t you understand this? 11 I can guarantee this truth: We know what we’re talking about, and we confirm what we’ve seen. Yet, you don’t accept our message. 12 If you don’t believe me when I tell you about things on earth, how will you believe me when I tell you about things in heaven? 13 No one has gone to heaven except the Son of Man, who came from heaven. 14 “As Moses lifted up the snake on a pole in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up. 15 Then everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16 God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world.
Happy Sunday church!! Last week we ended the sermon with the words, “Behold, S/He is doing a new thing…”
I don’t know if you all remember, but I gave you each a homework assignment. I told you that together we would be writing a Love Letter to God:
We prayerfully considered each person that we came upon,
We asked for God’s guidance in leading us to the right person,
Where we authentically SMILED big,
asked, “how are you?”
and shut our mouths,
and then we were supposed to intentionally listen.
So, I invite you to consider one specific person who you have spend time listening to. And now, I invite you to prayerfully help me to write this LOVE LETTER. Here is a post-it-note, I invite you to write the name of an individual / or / a way that you think of them so that we as a congregation can prayerfully and intentional join you in prayer this week.
Today is Trinity Sunday, which means that TODAY is the day that we the church recognize and celebrate the power of the trinity in our lives, after having experienced their individual revelations to humanity, each in their own moment!
1. We have met God Creator, who created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1)
2. We have met Jesus Christ, who is embodied God walking among us, as exemplar…Jesus walking with us is, for me, God loving us while walking with us…In a mathematical way Jesus is the individual who represents the limits of what a human can do is a believer in what God can do… Another way to look at Jesus Christ is as the Word of God made Flesh (John 1: 14)
3. And last week, on Pentecost Sunday, we met the Holy Sprit, who breathed fire and passion into the community of believers (Job 33:4, John 20:22 and Acts 2).
Please close your eyes…
So, let me start with a question, show of hands, how many of you feel that you are now part of that trinity story?
Second question, show of hands, how many of you feel that you form part of the trinity and have in fact inherited the responsibility that comes with it?
Our sermon today is titled: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and I… (The Trinity plus me).
Infinity + Infinity + Infinity = GOD + me
In Romans 8:17, it says “we are [God’s] children, we are also God’s heirs. If we share in Christ’s suffering in order to share his glory, we are heirs together with [God].” So then, what does that mean?
According to the dictionary, the word heir is defined as “a person who is legally entitled to the property or rank of another upon death (the synonyms for heir include: successor, next in line, inheritor, beneficiary); the second definition of heir is a person inheriting and continuing the legacy of a predecessor… “
In order to inherit, a death needs to occur. Many of us have watched movies or read books where a person is surprised to find that they have a long lost, unknown relative whose sudden death leaves them as the sole heir of an estate. If we were to close our eyes we could imagine all of the things we might suddenly be able to accomplish upon this unexpected realization of new found wealth. Many of us could imagine all of the things we could suddenly accomplish…paying off my student loans and becoming debt free would top my list! And I would be lying if I pretended that I couldn’t come up with a few fun ways to spend on my self!
But here is the thing about an inheritance. That second definition speaks to a continuing legacy of responsibility. According to the Apostle Paul, we have, from God’s self, inherited the spirit of God. Each of us is co-inheritor with Jesus Christ. Each of us has been left a legacy. Each of us have been left with an equal share. And that legacy includes a responsibility. Equally. For each of us.
Let me read to you a passage found in John 3: 1-17
There was a man of the Pharisee sect, [named] Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
Jesus said, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
So then, what does all of this mean…?
Well, church, it means, that we have been left as caretakers. Congregation, “If we are God’s children, we are also God’s heirs.” As a seminarian friend loves to point out, it means we inherit the responsibility of Jesus’ legacy. We are truth talkers, we are freedom walkers, we are love bearers, we are the arms and hearts of God on this earth. We inherit the need to show God’s love and mercy to all God’s creation. We inherit the responsibility of sharing God’s love with all…including the ugly!
We are partners and allies and sojourners with all who we meet on life’s journey. And that is why our homework from last week, continues…
Because when Jesus died on that cross and we understood people of all tongues on that Pentecost day, we inherited his legacy… and we were told to love and care for each other.
I can’t tell you that the road ahead is easy, but I can tell you that God is with us, in us, and works through us.
Sacrament of Holy Communion
All are welcome at this table, free to partake. All are invited to share in God’s grace.
Here it is, a common table. Here it is a sacramental table.
Where no one is turned away. Where all God’s people have a place.
Here is the welcome God offered when God said let there be light, and there was light Here is the welcome God offered when God said let the waters beneath flow together so dry ground may appear.
Here, at this table is with God’s creation. When God looked over all God declared it good, saying, “it is good.”
We have been declared good. We have been deemed worthy.
Here is the Church, gathered in Christ’s name.
Baptized in the Holy Spirit. And bound by love. Here we are, gathered by faith
Prayer of Confession
Let us pray in silent confession:
(Silent Prayer of Confession) …amen!
Words of Institution and Sharing of the Elements
And now, let us hear again the story of how this meal was first celebrated…On the night on which Jesus was betrayed, Jesus sat at supper with his disciples: students, friends, travel-mates, even one who would betray him…
While they were eating, he took a piece of bread, blessed it and gave it to them saying:
“This is my body broken for you.” (BREAK THE BREAD)
“Take and eat, in remembrance of me.” (DISTRIBUTION OF BREAD)
In the same way, Jesus took a chalice, filled it with wine and said, “This is my blood shed for you.” (PRESENT THE CHALICE)
He passed it to all who were gathered saying, “Take and drink, of this cup, filled to overflowing by my love.” (DISTRIBUTION OF WINE)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Remain with us, O God. Make this feast the nourishment we need to grow more wild and wonderful. Graft us onto the vine of your Beloved so that we might grow more connected with you and all of creation. With this food and this drink, let us be the love that we have found in you and your Beloved. Amen.
Please remain seated through the Benediction and Postlude, and join us for a Time to Share and Care:
As we leave this place:
May the Living God go with us,
Behind us, to encourage us,
Beside us, to befriend us,
Above us, to watch over us,
Beneath us, to lift us from our sorrows,
Within us, to give us the gifts of faith, hope, and love,
And always before us, to show us the way.
[And all in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit]
benediction – blair monie
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING: Growing in God: Prayers with Holy Communion for the Fifth Sunday of Easter was written by the Rev. Elsa A. Peters, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She wonders about ministry and liturgy at: http://impossiblethingswithgod.blogspot.com/