4th June 2023 10.30am – Trinity Sunday Eucharist

The Readings

2 Corinthians 13.11-end

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Matthew 28.16-end

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By the Revd Dr Alan Billings.

When we begin our services we often do so, ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. When I begin a sermon I pray that I may preach, ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Last Sunday I baptised a baby into the Christian faith, ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. And at the end of the service I ask that we may be blessed by God Almighty, ‘the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’
I don’t think we can be in any doubt that the Christian faith is what we call Trinitarian. God is understood in a particular way. And its very different from the way our Jewish and Muslim friends think about God.
So how did we Christians come to think like this and does it matter? Does it make a difference?
I think we can say that the first Christians came to a Trinitarian faith gradually, as they started to think long and hard about their experiences.
The very first Christians, the very first followers of Jesus, after his death and resurrection, were Jews, like Jesus himself. As Jews they believed in the reality of one God.
When the Jews looked around them at other people who lived in their part of the world, they saw the temples of the Romans, the Greeks and the Egyptians – all dedicated to any number of gods. If you went inside their temples you would find images and statues of numerous gods and goddesses.
We are familiar with some of their names: The gods and goddesses of Rome: Jupiter, Juno, Diana and Janus. The Greek: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Pluto, Mars. The Egyptian: Isis, Anubis, Horus, Osiris, Sekhmet.... We could go on and on because the number of these gods goes on and on – they were polytheistic – not one God but many...... and their temples were full of their images.
But if you went into the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, something that Jesus did many times during the course of his life, and if you had gone right into the heart of the temple, into the holy of holies, where only the High Priest could go, what would you see? You would see nothing. No image, no statue. No attempt to represent God. You would see nothing. Because for Jews the reality that was God could not be captured or confined in any way, and could certainly not be reduced to an image. The reality they called God had brought all things into being, the creator of all that is, present in all times and places; he could not be reduced to an image or trapped in a building made by human hands.
So the first follower of Jesus were very clear. Their Jewish experience had taught them to believe in the reality of one God.
But that reality had collided with another. They found themselves turning to Jesus as if he were God. He had taught them with the authority that properly belonged to God. They had listened to him as they would listen to God. And they had given him the love and devotion that they would give to God.
And so a second reality had made them think again.
And then, as we heard last week, after the risen Lord told them they would no longer see him, the time of his visible appearances was over, they experienced what he promised them, the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. And they could not deny the reality of the Spirit in their lives.
Three realities.  Yet one God.
We can see how the Christian understanding of God came to be. They had encountered three realities and could not deny any of them. But not three gods. Three realities but one God.
Does it matter that we know God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three realities, three persons, in one God?
It certainly makes a difference to how we think about God. At the heart of godhead in our way of thinking, there is not alone-ness but sociability, community, mutuality. At the heart of godhead in our way of thinking there is already before the creation of the world, the love between Father, Son and Spirit. We can only really say God is love if God is Trinity because love is what happens between beings.
And if we are made in the image of God, as our faith also teaches us, then we are made in the image of the God who is love, who is sociability, community, mutuality. Our purpose, our happiness lies that way too.
It could not have been easy for the first Christians to realise what had happened to their understanding of God. But they could not deny the reality of their experience, and we cannot deny the reality of ours: there is one God but we meet him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Prayers
Prepared by Joe

On this Trinity Sunday we have come before you Lord to offer our praise and adoration. You are God the creator, giving us richly all things to enjoy. You are Christ the Saviour of the world, made flesh to set us free. You are the Spirit of truth and love, willing to dwell in us. You are holy and blessed. One god, eternal Trinity, be near to us the people formed in your image, and close to the world your love brings to life..
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We pray for the Church of Christ, for Bishop Pete and Bishop Sophie, our Archbishops Justin and Stephen, all here who lead us in worship and prayer, and all those whose time and talents are given to St Mary’s, St John’s and St Mark’s.  We pray for your Church throughout the world on this special day.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Creator God, we pray that we can properly steward your creation, respecting the environment and not destroying it through war.
Christ the saviour, we pray to you to bring peace and healing to our world.
Holy Spirit, we ask for your wisdom, truth and love to fill all of us, particularly our leaders and those who have influence and power in our world.
We pray for our community here in Walkley, and for the city of Sheffield, and for our neighbours and friends.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We pray for the aged and infirm, and those sick in mind, body or spirit, and those who find life especially difficult at this time. We pray that you strengthen them and bring them the healing and peace that belong to your kingdom.  In a few moments of silence, we bring to mind those we know who need your healing presence.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We pray for those currently close to death, and those accompanying them on this final part of their Earthly journey.  We pray for those who have died, recently and in the past, especially during Eastertide, and those who mourn.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Finally, Lord, we silently bring before you those special to us, and also those issues and concerns that we have in our own lives.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Rejoicing in the communion of Mary, Mark, John and of all the Saints, let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our life, to God. Let us go forth full of the blessings of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to bring your Kingdom closer to hand.
Merciful Father:
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ. 



Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is used here, is copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council 2000.