Worship Service for Holy Trinity Sunday

Hi everyone,

Welcome to worship on this Holy Trinity Sunday, landing on May 26, 2024!

The bulletin for this service can be found here. In it are the order and words of worship, and the full sermon manuscript, which you can use to follow along with the service. Alternatively, the words that you need to know will show up on your screen, and the sermon is found on this page below the video.

For a fuller online worship experience, you are invited to have a candle in your space, lit at the beginning of worship and extinguished near the end after the sending hymn along with the altar candles. You are also welcomed to participate in communion if you feel comfortable doing so, by having something small to eat and drink nearby ready for the appropriate time. More instructions will be given during the service.

May God’s unchanging love renew your hearts and minds, this day and always!

Holy God, giver of life, breathe your Spirit into us that we might hear you speak, see you present, and feel you loving us until the end of time, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Saviour.  Amen.

This past week an old classmate of mine reminded me that this year is a high school reunion year for us.  And while he wasn’t really telling me anything I didn’t already know, it still felt kind of weird.  Mind you, I never really had any desire to go to these things anyway, nor did it ever seem like many in our class did either, we were just that kind of class.  But what made it feel weird I guess was just the sheer number of years that has already passed since we graduated… it’s been 30 years.  That’s three zero years.  I know, right?

And you’re probably thinking that I must be a genius child prodigy to have graduated high school as a toddler, because there’s no way that I’m that old.  But as much as I would want to say nothing and leave my age as a mystery, the fact of the matter is that I’m a lot older than the toys in my office would lead you to believe. 

Time waits for no one, I guess.  The seconds keep ticking and they turn into hours, which turn into days, which turn into months.  And before you know it, 30 years have passed.  I mean, I can feel my body aging especially when I try to stand up after sitting on the floor for too long.  It’s apparent that my eyesight is going every time I try to read anything smaller than a 10 point font.  More and more often I find myself in front of the mirror with tweezers in my hand plucking out these greys that never seem to stop sprouting.    

Last week we talked a bit about change, and let me tell you, I’ve changed a lot over the years.  Maybe not much in my taste in music or preference in the different iterations of the Transformers universe, but I’m definitely not that newly graduated kid ready to take on the world from 30 years ago anymore.  I’ve grown, I’ve matured believe it or not, I’ve been, in my own way, renewed.

Wait, what?  You’re trying to tell me that this old man is feeling renewed?  I’ve just confessed to you all how I can’t stop my aging body from aging, so how on earth can I say that I’ve been renewed?

Well, again last week we talked about how change will inevitably happen regardless of how much we resist it, and how scary and uncomfortable that can be.  But today, I’m saying that change doesn’t have to be bad, rather it can be for the good, for the better, for renewal.  I mean 30 years ago I wasn’t as financially independent as I am now, I wasn’t married, and I most certainly didn’t have kids.  I wasn’t as charming, as cool, or as good looking… I was this humble though.  But seriously and more importantly, I wasn’t as sure and confident as I am in my vocation, in my theology, or who I am as a child of God. 

And this isn’t to say that I’ve reached perfection and totality in knowledge, but when I say that I’m sure and confident in these things, what I mean is that I’m sure and confident that I can never be completely sure or confident.  What I mean with those very confusing words is that I know that as a child of God, I am not just called to but also empowered to continually learn, grow, and be changed and renewed.

So what once was might no longer be, and that’s ok.  What once was alive might have to die to make room for new life, and that is alright.  What we once knew and believed to be true might be reinterpreted into a new truth, and that might not be a bad change but rather a renewal.

I think this is what Jesus was trying to tell Nicodemus in today’s gospel lesson.  Nicodemus, this Pharisee, would have been like the epitome of knowledge and certainty, and would have held the respect of anyone who had the privilege to learn from him.  If anyone would have reason to be confident in those times, it’d be a Pharisee.  After all their years of study and discipline, they would have been the human examples for all to follow.  So it’s no wonder that Nicodemus would approach Jesus under the cover of night, it wouldn’t be a good look for a noble and proper Pharisee to be seen colluding with backwater hick that spoke so against the tried, true, and established ways, customs, and traditions like Jesus did. 

And what happens in this encounter?  Jesus baffles Nicodemus with his words of wisdom and theological truths.  Jesus say to him that he needed to be born again from above, and that stopped Nicodemus in his tracks.  I mean Nicodemus would have known his stuff, but this stuff was a bit beyond his expertise.  How could this be?  Where would such a crazy notion even come from?

Of course, Jesus wasn’t talking about actually going back into his mom’s womb to be literally born again, that would be physically impossible and frankly kind of gross.  But Jesus was talking about a change in mindset, a renewal of heart, a new birth in who we are, and recognize whose we are and the gift of life that truly is life.  But in all of his learned wisdom and training, Nicodemus couldn’t understand.  In all of his confidence and surety in himself and his education and knowledge, he wasn’t didn’t have the vulnerability to learn.  Nicodemus, at this point, was too proud to be Jesus for all that he is and taught.

I mean, I get that Nicodemus would be resistant to change, much like how many if not all of us would be.  I get that Nicodemus doesn’t want to throw away everything he already knows for the sake of this random person that he just met, regardless of how much respect he might have for him.  I get that Nicodemus was proud of his elite knowledge, patriotic toward his upstanding citizenship, and protective of his religion and culture that he loved.  But all of this was just standing in his way, blocking his view from all that could be, limiting his faith and ability to understand the gospel.

The gospel that was hard for a legalistic, highly educated bureaucrat to understand.  The gospel that didn’t line up with the traditions and disciplines that emphasized obedience and order.  The gospel of a Messiah who came not to condemn but to save, not to abolish but to fulfill, not to change for the sake of change, but to renew all people of all time, including this Pharisee named Nicodemus.

Renew him in how he sees himself not only as a wise and disciplined righteous Pharisee, but also as a fallen sinner in need of a Saviour.  Not just as a respected member of the elite, but also a welcomed citizen of the kingdom and community infused with the Spirit.  Not just as a descent of Abraham part of the chosen human ethnicity, but as a beloved child of God, called by name, and empowered to learn, grow, and contribute to and participate in relationship.

Relationship with God of course, but also with others in and outside of his circle, and with himself.

As it is with us.  It’s in this relationship where we can see God most present.  It’s in this relationship where we can learn most about ourselves and each other.  It’s in this relationship that we can be renewed in this ever changing world. 

And so we see this on this Holy Trinity Sunday, this one peculiar day of the church calendar that isn’t dedicated to commemorate a notable event in church history, but rather to a doctrine of theology.  We see that we remain baffled by God’s wisdom, but in that we can continue learning.  We are made vulnerable by God’s might but in that vulnerability we are strengthened and empowered by grace.  We are humbled by God’s mercy and forgiveness, but in that change of paradigm of God, each other, and ourselves, we are renewed and restored and blessed with the love and peace that surpasses understanding. 

The thing is that I don’t think we’re created to understand, but we are created to learn.  We aren’t called to “make it” but we’re called to grow.  We aren’t commanded to know it all, but we are commended to care about our community, love our neighbour, and be renewed by the Spirit in fellowship and relationship.

On this Holy Trinity Sunday, may we have the strength and humility to be taught by the wisdom of our Creator, saved by the grace of Christ, and renewed by the love that is revealed to us through the Communion of the Spirit.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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