The Trinity and Mission
This particular service had two themes.
It was Mission Sunday as well as Trinity Sunday, so the two had to be combined.
Gospel Reading; Matthew 28:16-20
New International Version (NIV)
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Suggestions for Hymns and Songs
Awake awake O Zion
Prasie my soul the King of heaven
Ho w great is our GOD
Sing praise to God forever
We have a gospel to proclaim
St Patrick’s breastplate (www.sheilahamil.co.uk)
Guide me O thou great Redeemer
All my hope on God is founded
God be in my head
Sing of the Lord’s goodness
Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord
There is a black trick bible that can be obtained from www.decadeministries.com I keep a copy at a local church resources centre. Why not send for one you too can share with other churches.
In it are sculptured pages, so that when it is flicked it can reveal,
a) blank pages only
b) black and white pages only
c) coloured pages only
It can be demonstrated in order to compare it with our attitudes towards the bible,
b) a little interested?
c) totally absorbed, a guide to our lives, a light our path.
Ask the children if they know where in the real bible we can find the Book of Isaiah?
It comes exactly half way! But first invite four children to take and find the following:-
a) a thimble to bring back the ocean
b) a tape measure to measure the sky
c) a basket to gather up all the soil and dust on earth
d) a set of scales to weigh the hills and mountains
Agree that it would indeed be impossible to do these things! But let’s hear what Isaiah says about these things.
Isaiah 40. 11-14
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord,
or instruct the Lord as his counsellor?
Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
or showed him the path of understanding?
The prophet Isaiah, gave us these impossible images, to show us that to understand or even begin to imagine GOD is IMPOSSIBLE. For he is :-
All powerful, he is over all things because he made all things
So great he cannot be measured or compared with anything else on earth, He can’t be given advice.
Nothing we can make with our hands, no words we can speak can do justice to what he is like.
Invite the children to go and draw a picture of what they think God looks like, and ask them to bring them back at the end of the service to show everyone. (The best version I ever received from an older child, was simply a question mark!)
Joke: Tell the joke about a little boy who in class was busy drawing a picture of God. When the teacher told him he had given himself an impossible task, and that no-one knew what God looked like, he chirped up and said ‘Then they will when I’ve finished my picture)
Today is Trinity Sunday. The word Trinity is not actually in our bibles, but this word is the best way we Christians can describe God as he appears to us in the bible... being in three equal parts, three persons
i.e. the Father, Son and Holy Spirit...
A lady was once walking in Hyde Park, London, in a special place they call Speaker’s corner, which is an open area where anyone can stand up, sometimes on a box, and give a talk on any subject.
She went there because she had heard about it and she was curious.
There she saw a very tall man, on a low wall, a man with long dark hair in dreadlocks, who was shouting out, ‘What is this word Trinity? This God of yours you say he is One, you say he is three? Make your minds up!
How can one be three, how can three be one? Tell me if you believe that... Will no-one speak to me?”
No-one was stopping to listen to him, but she just couldn’t resist answering him, because she was a Christian.
‘I don’t have a problem with three being one and one being three!’ she said. His eyes opened wide with delight, someone had arrived to argue with him! Now he could draw a great crowd!
She continued, ‘Take area for example length x breadth x height,’ she said, three parts, but it’s still one area of space!’
‘Take water. It has three parts, ice, liquid and steam. But still one, it’s still called water.’
‘Take me,’ she went on. I’m a daughter, sister and a wife, but I’m still one person.
‘Or take an apple: skin, pip, flesh; or an egg:- yolk , white, shell....Three in one, one in three. It is possible!’
And so the great debate began...
She explained to him that, even though the word Trinity was not in the bible, there was a golden thread which ran right through the bible from beginning to end; all about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit... being equal, working side by side, AND working apart from each other: three persons making up one God!
Some of you, if you are new to church, may want to know just a little bit more about this golden thread of which the lady spoke.
The Golden thread starts at the beginning of time...the Creator God creates the world, the Word of God is speaking, and the Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the waters, saying ‘ Let us make man in our image, in our likeness!’ (three active persons)
God appears to Abraham, in the form of three persons, before going on to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.
In the middle of the thread we hear how a child would be born one day, Emmanuel, ‘God with us’ (God with us, in human form, filled with the Spirit at His baptism.( Three parts one God) The Word of God becomes flesh, living among us, so St John tells us. This was Jesus, who became the slaughtered Lamb of God, who was crucified to take our sins away.
Then right at the end of the golden thread there we have the throne of the same Lamb and of God, and the Spirit speaking to the churches. (Three parts, one God)
In between all of this we have the saying of Jesus, (the Messiah, the chosen one, the anointed one) ...such explosive statements such as :-
Before Abraham was I AM, and how the Jews wanted to stone him for saying that...
‘I and the Father are One!’
‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!’
When Thomas addressed Jesus as,’ My Lord and my God’, he was not corrected by the risen Jesus, but rebuked for being so slow to believe.
Jesus they say was either mad bad or God?
Jesus own disciples’ later described Jesus as someone who did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself and became a servant. They called him ‘The image of the unseen God!
St John said, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’
We also hear in the NT of a couple called Ananias and Sapphira, who in lying to the Holy Spirit, were actually lying to God.
These were the kind of things that came into the debate in Hyde Park that day as he two opponents discussed God and these two drew quite a huge crowd who simply gathered round to listen!
It’s easy to witness about your faith when you are convinced you know what you are talking about, not so when you feel out of your depth!
After she left this man, she was followed by another man, who was obviously Jewish, and he began hurling Jewish history at her, as they walked away from the crowd.
So she stopped and listened to him, and she felt...overwhelmed and out of her depth, out of her comfort zone as he spoke very forcibly about a different Messiah to the Jews...a man called Cyrus...
Now Cyrus was a great conqueror, a King of the Medes and the Persians 559-529 BC, who actually gave the captive Jews permission to return from exile and rebuild their temple. He befriended them, and had all their temple wealth returned to them. Seemingly Jews believe that this was the shepherd Isaiah spoke of, but she didn’t know all this.
She felt helpless, she knew nothing of this Cyrus, so she quietly prayed to God, ‘Lord what can I say to this man that is relevant?’ He in full flow, continued talking of worshipping to God who is One.
Then the lady suddenly found herself saying to him, ‘Yes, but do you LOVE God?’
‘LOVE HIM? He snarled at her, ‘I don’t have to love him!
Well that’s strange,’ she replied, ‘because in your most important prayer, the SHEMA, it commands you,
‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength!’
There was silence, and he shuffled away from her, looking back from time to time to scowl at her.
There was a great thirst in the hearts of people that day, they were eager to hear, o try and find out about God, if he existed, if he was real in people’s experience....whether this life was all there was to hope for.
I know this story was true, because I was that woman.
That day I learned more about outreach and sharing good news, than at any other time in my life up until then. Perhaps learning more from the second man, than I did from my discussion with the first man.
1) I learned first of all that we need to have an answer ready, we need to know what we believe and how to express it. It says in the epistle of St Peter ‘always be prepared, to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’
People may want to test out weird and wonderful theories and chat about writers whose works are openly hostile to the Christian Church. ? But are we aware of the various arguments in the books that challenge our beliefs? Sharing our testimonies, our stories, our perspectives, can be quite powerful. But we must know our bibles?
What do they mean to us? Are they full of colour, or black and white to us, or are they blank, just like this trick bible I showed to you earlier?
2) This experience taught me that we need to listen before we speak. People want to talk of issues that really matter to them, and we should listen to their concerns and their questions...and let people know that they’re very much our concerns too, when they ask . . .
‘What about this earthquake in China, and the cyclone in Burma, where is God? What about the violence in our world, how can God allow it? What about wars in the name of religion?” But as well as listening to these thoughts and opinions, it’s good to be ready and follow through with a challenge to help them see the same train of thought from a scriptural point of view. e.g. Could the violence and sorrow in our world not have more to do with us and our failings, rather than point at God and heap all the blame upon him?
3) I learnt that day to be honest, I told this second man I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. It OK to say that! We don’t have to have all the answers, and we shouldn’t try to shoot our way out of an argument using clichés instead of bullets. But we can enlighten ourselves later, so next time we’ll be more knowledgeable. And we mustn’t be afraid of being vulnerable, Jesus made himself vulnerable, but if we pray to God and trust him for the right words, we just might find that he does give them to us!
We have a responsibility to share the good news. When Jesus said to his disciples,
‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’... Was he speaking only to those disciples? Was he speaking just to those who would be elected to leadership roles through the ages?
Or have we our calling already...all of us our Great Commission too... to pass on to ALL people, ALL that Jesus taught... and to let people know that he is with us for ALL time, working in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We each have a unique social sphere that no-one else shares. Our own circle of friends, relatives, neighbours is a whole world that can be reached by very few other Christians. Let’s not forget we are the only bible some people will ever read!
Or have we been educated to think that evangelism is best left to the clergy? Do we believe it’s someone else’s calling, not ours?
Our great, wonderful and unfathomable God EXISTS, and others need to know about him, and what he has done in our lies, why we believe.
We were never meant to sit and pick daisies on a hill, while a world in chaos hurtles over the cliff like lemmings! There’s a world out there that needs saving.
We were never meant to believe in God for ourselves alone; for our comfort alone; for our benefits, for our own hopes of eternity alone?
God, still wants to make himself known to his world, and through us he wants to change and renew it, and bring it new life; it’s never too late for us to reach out to those who are in darkness, or imprisoned, to the outcast, the oppressed, the poor and needy, just as Jesus did.
Would that we could be obedient, prayerful, united, and open to the working of God the Holy Spirit, as were those disciples who were filled by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Then we would soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint taking his message to the world.
Will we reach the end of our lives wishing we had done more to make God known and His presence felt in our world?
“What plans have you made for carrying on the great work of Salvation,” said the angel Gabriel to Jesus when he entered heaven after his Ascension.
“I left Peter and James and John and Martha and Mary to tell their friends, and their friends to tell their friends, till all the world should know,” he replied.
“But,” said the Gabriel, “suppose Peter is too busy mending his nets, or Martha with her housework, or their friends are too occupied, or they forget to tell their friends ~ what then?
The Lord Jesus did not answer at once; then He said in a quiet, wonderful voice,
“I have not made any other plans. I am counting on them!”
(Story from Wild Goose Publication)
Drama: There’s a fire approaching
The fire represents urgency, the need to be on the move for God today.
All characters are lounging on chairs, “busy doing nothing”. There’s a great need in the outside world, and no-one is really bothered about outreach..
Number 1: There’s a fire outside and the wind is blowing it this way!
Number 2: Flaming nuisance!
Number 3: Before we do anything, should we not confront this situation with a word of prayer. (Others moan ‘Saints preserve us’)
Number 4: Ah but we’ve not brought this matter before the committee (or the P.C.C.) We need directives from the top.
Number 5: But if we act, won’t all of this involve self-sacrifice and the giving of our time, talents and money to help fight the fire!
Number 6: There you go again, bring up the subject of money. Money, money, money that’s all we ever hear!
Number 7: Well I think this calls for action here and now. Perhaps this is the time to work all together as a team for a change.
Number 8: Who on earth does he think he is, some prophet, a modern day saint? Sit down and leave this to the experts.
Number 9: Well, being leader her, I can see how you all feel tense and disorientated as this terrible fire approaches. I know what should be done, and there’s bound to be problems, least of all how to get us all to work together. But please don’t feel I’m taking sides here. I don’t want to alienate anyone. I’ll just sit here on the fence and once everyone has come to a firm decision, I’ll gladly come to the fore.
Number 10: My it’s getting hot in here now. (All look uncomfortable).
Number 1: Well I’ve got a burning desire to share a song with you that's on my heart at the moment, a song the Lord gave me recently! I feel so much that this is the right song for this moment. I hope you all don’t mind. (Sings “Call the Fire Brigade”).
Number 2: Heard it! Heard it! Heard it all before!
Number 3: No, it was absolutely wonderful, and hasn't s/he got a beautiful voice?
Number 4: And boy does s/he know it? Will someone open a window please it is getting a bit hot in here.
Number 5: Well I’m not volunteering this time; it’s always me that gets landed with the dirty jobs.
Youth: I’m going to call 999. Someone’s got to do something or we’ll all burn!
Number 6: Bit outspoken for a kid ain’t ya.
Number 7: Oooh my! Look I’m getting blisters and some third degree burns!
Number 8: Dangnab it, so am I (Ambulance sirens)
Number 9: So? What we gonna do? (no answer)
Number 10:Don’t ask me!
Youth: Well I know where I’m going! (he leaves)
THE NEED TO REACH OUT TO A NEEDY WORLD WITH GOD’S MESSAGE OF LOVE, JUSTICE AND PEACE, TO PUT THAT LOVE INTO ACTION, AND TO CARE FOR THE WORLD GOD HAS CREATED, IS SO IMPORTANT, DON’T YOU THINK?
BUT LIKE A FIRE WHICH IS SPREADING ~ IS ANYONE TAKING MATTHEW 28.16-20 SERIOUSLY?
Drama: (shorter version)
No 1) (hurries in proclaiming)
There's a fire! There's a fire !
And it's heading this way!
There are 'souls to be won!
There are jobs to be done!
Will you leave or will you stay? (freezes, hand in the air)
Well I hope you're not expecting
there'll be things for me to do!
My time is precious! And time can't wait.
I'll not be helping you! (turns around)
Well if she's not helping, then nor am I,
do you take me for a clown?
It's always me that does it all.
It really gets me down. (also turns his back)
Well before you go, I think
The situation calls for prayer!
And offer this dangerous fire to the Lord!
We can't just leave it there! (kneels in prayer)
Well whatever we decide to do,
we'll have to wait and see!
We need a firm decision!
Let’s consult the P.C.C. (gets diary out)
This is a 'kingdom' moment!
And I know it may be wrong!
But may I go and get my guitar
and share my latest song? (picks up guitar and sings:
‘Get the fire brigade,
before the building
really starts to burn)
That fire's a worry, it's getting near,
can't you all just see?
I only hope it doesn't interfere with
my programmes on T.V. (sits and watches into space)
We're really not getting anywhere
and the fire is fast approaching
Let's look lively or we all will burn,
do you want to take a roasting. (looks horrified)
All we really have to do,
is leave and be on our way.
THIS IS THE MOMENT
And we must grasp it today!
Joke to follow drama:
A church once went up in flames in a village, and everyone formed a human chain, along which to pass the buckets.
When the vicar saw a local man in the chaos running to the fire with a bucket he said to him,
"John, John that's the first time I've seen you running to church before.
The man replied,
Yes vicar, but this is the first time I've seen the church ON FIRE!"
Are we on fire for God.
What is it that does fire us up?
ARE WE IN THE BUSINESS OF BRINGING OTHERS ALONG TO DISCOVER GOD.
Rather like the man who told his friend that he must belong to a really boring church.
The other man was quite annoyed . 'Why do you say that?'
To which he replied. 'I've been begging you to come to my golf club for years1 You've never once, in all that time, invited me to your church.
Is there anyone you would care to invite along to your church?
They say that the most important way to introduce people to faith, is from a one to one friendship. Percentage of success is really high, whereas no amount of Billy Graham style meetings will ever bring such numbers in.
Why don't we begin today to pray for three people we'd like to share our faith with in one year.
Even one, would increase our congregation by 10% if we took seriously proclaiming the word
Prayers to follow