Father, we praise you: through your Word and Holy Spirit you created all things. You reveal your salvation in all the world by sending to us Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Through your Holy Spirit you gave us a share in your life and love. Fill us with the vision of your glory, that we may always serve and praise you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Matthew 28: 16 – 20
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.’
One of the things I have absolutely loved about coming to Christ Church in Lanark is that I’ve had the chance, once again, to form and direct a church choir. This was something I did way back in the dim and distant days of my youth and always really enjoyed! It gives me such pleasure to take practices on Tuesday evenings and to watch as previously unknown choral pieces reach the point of being “performable”. My small but perfectly formed choir at Christ Church is an inspiration to Me – musically and homiletically – because understanding how a choir works has helped me, over the years, to make some sense of the mystery of today’s feast – the feast of The Most Blessed and Holy Trinity. First – The Trinity! I’ll come back to the choir later!
The word Trinity never appears in the Bible. Check it out for yourselves. Nowhere does that word crop up. So, why do we use the term? If it’s not in Bible, is it right to employ it? Well, the term may not appear in the scriptures, but, from the earliest days of the Christian church, believers seemed to experience God in a trinity of different ways, that is in “three” different ways. They experienced God as Creator of the universe, the maker of all that is, seen and unseen. They experienced God as Redeemer, the one who set them free from the sin that separated them from God and from others. And they experienced God as Sustainer, the force, the power, the presence that accompanied them, lived within them, comforted and guided them, moved and motivated them. God, for those early believers, was one – absolutely and utterly – of that there was no doubt in their minds. But these three persons, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, with their individual qualities, were also very much in evidence to them.
They noticed, for example, that when they were surveying the grandeur of nature in all its vast and rugged beauty, the Creator came more readily to mind. They noticed that when they were painfully aware of their waywardness, their need to be saved from whatever was defiling them, it was to the Redeemer that they felt drawn to confess and to pray. They noticed that when they found themselves wondering about what to do next on their scary, tortuous pilgrimage through life, they couldn’t resist calling upon the Sustainer to be with them, to encourage them, to show them the way.
We are the very same as those early believers. Like them, we too believe that God is one, absolutely and utterly. But, at various times in our lives, we are more aware of one of the different persons of God than we are of the other two.
I hope you are all still awake out there, by the way?! Just thought I’d check! Because this is where I want to bring the choir back in again!
Each choir member and each choir section – whether it be soprano, alto, tenor and bass – has its own role to play in the making of choral music. When you are standing up close to them, as I am at choir practices, you can hear each part singing individually. Sometimes they are actually singing different words to one another, depending on the piece of music. And yet, what you hear from out front as the congregation, as the audience, is a seamless work, unified at its core. And it is beautiful because of all of the parts. If one of the parts is missing – (if Joyce, or Bryn, or Peter, or Alison happen to be having a Sunday off) – the music just isn’t complete. Together my group of choristers are able to make music they could never make alone. Specific and unified at the same time; they are many and yet they are one!
There are ways in which ALL of us can reflect this Trinitarian theology in our lives. We can keep our individual characteristics, our personalities and our gifts, but, in community, we can meld and blend them together into something new and beautiful either at work, in the family, in the neighbourhood or in the congregation. In the battle against Covid19, we can all, whoever we are, keep curbing our individual desires and inclinations to go out and mix with others and instead stay “in” and “apart” to ensure the health and safety of the many. To stamp out the kind of racism seen in the murder of George Floyd in America, we can all, whatever our colour or race, look beyond our physical differences and treat our common humanity with the respect it is due. Collaborating and cooperating with one another, acting in conjunction with each other for everyone’s good, individuals become one body. And as one body we can achieve great things, like a choir we can make beautiful music, God’s kind of music. The music of one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, three in one, yet one in three. Amen.
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we worship and praise you for creating, redeeming and sustaining all that is. Hear us now as we offer you our prayers for those whom we know to be in need of your recreating, redeeming and sustaining power.
God the Father, the Creator, the ground and source of all being, we pray for the peoples of The Holy Land, of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, whom we know to be living in times of conflict, danger, fear and uncertainty. Extend to them your peace, pardoning love, mercy and grace.
Lord, hear us…
God the Son, incarnate Word, our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, we pray for your Church throughout the world, but particularly today for our Anglican brothers and sisters in United States of America, and for our friends and colleagues in charges across this Diocese dedicated to the Holy Trinity at Ayr, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Paisley. Extend to all who follow you your salvation, growth, mercy and grace.
Lord, hear us…
God the Holy Spirit, the giver and sustainer of life, we pray for the sick and anxious of our community: Christine, Ian, Richard, Ros, Chris, Bill, Joyce, Louyse, John, Avril, Helga, Karen, Colin, Margaret, Stuart and any known privately to us Breathe on them the breath of life and bring them to health and wholeness.
Lord, hear us…
Mysterious Godhead, three in one, we commend to you the soul of Susan, Jane, Lorna and Douglas who have died recently, and give thanks for the lives of Amy and Thomas, whose years minds fall this week. Bring us, with them, to bow before your throne in heaven, to receive life and pardon, mercy and grace for all eternity.
Lord, hear us…
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Amen.