Trinity Sunday C (12-06-2022)

This service was streamed live from the Ocean Grove church via Zoom on June 12th at 10:30am

Below is the entire text for a service of worship for home use for those who are not able to attend public gatherings.   Even though the service is streamed live, those who are unable to participate online may use this material at any time for their private devotions.  If ‘two or three’ are gathered with you, you may choose a ‘leader’ in order to use the responsive prayers and readings as you would in church. 

The usual audio files are not included this week due to technical difficulties, but these will return next week. There  are also links to YouTube files for music.  [I’m sorry about the commercials that sometimes come with YouTube clips. Be sure to click on the “Skip Ad” box if and when it appears in the lower right of the YouTube clip]   When a YouTube clip has finished, simply click on the ‘back’ button of  your browser to return to this page. Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

-oOo-

“I am concerned with a way of looking at life, which was created in me by the fairy tales, but has since been meekly ratified by mere facts.”
(G. K. Chesterton)

CALL TO CELEBRATION

‘Today is a day the Lord has made’, says an old religious writer, ‘let us therefore rejoice and be glad in it’.  It is indeed!  It is also good to be together again! For it is a sacred time, this. And a sacred place.  So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life in the presentness of God.

OPENING SENTENCES

L: We live at mystery’s edge watching for a startling luminescence or a word to guide us.

R: In fragile occurrence the Holy One presents oneself and we must pause.

L: Daily, there are glimmers, reflections of a seamless mercy revealed in common intricacies.

R: These circles of grace spill out around us and announce that we are part of this mystery. 

PRAYER OF APPROACH

Holy One of many names, whose presence we most often recognise only in retrospect, bless us this day. Amen.

HYMN 132 –  “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Click here to listen)

JOURNEY INTO SILENCE

     Meditation  

 “The one who brings life out of barrenness”  by J & N Brown

Sarah, Rachel, Ruth, Elizabeth, carried within them – nothing. Women of worth, women of faith, empty, hopeful, hopeless. Then God spoke, and barren wombs swelled with life. Out of darkness new life sprang into the light of day. Moans of lament became shouts of joy to God who brings life out of death. It is ever so. God’s promises of life come to us in our barrenness and our deaths, calling us to a faith that waits in hope, that acts on God’s promises, that empowers with love for the world… faith in the one who rolled away the stone and released into the world eternal life.

     Call to Silence

In this time of silence may we move from busy-ness to quietness...( 30 seconds of silence)….God of life, God of peace, God of wonders that will not cease: present with us now.

WE REFLECT UPON OUR RELATIONSHIPS

My friends, led by the Spirit, let us seek the love of God through the grace of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Spirit of truth, something in our hearts say: “We are made for light and truth’. But our anxieties and doubts divert us back into the lies and prejudices of the world:  Create in us a clean heart, O God,/and renew a right spirit within me.

Prince of peace, something in us whispers: “We are intended for concord.” But our inner conflict reacts with the world’s strife and leaves us suspicious and aggressive.  Create in us a clean heart, O God,/ and renew a right spirit within me..

Father of love, something within us wants to sing: “We are created for love.” But a discordant self-interest allies with the world’s greed and inhibits our will to love others. Create in us a clean heart, O God,/ and renew a right spirit within me.

God of Jesus and our God, forgive us and straighten us out. You are truth: Help us to really trust you. You are peace. Overcome our disharmony. You are love. Fill us with compassion. Amen.

THE ASSURANCE    

L: Sisters and brothers, though I am just another sinner being saved by God, by the authority of Christ Jesus I tell you plainly: Your sins are forgiven. Receive Christ’s grace, and accept the enabling power of the Spirit, that you may not make the same mistakes again, and so I declare to you, the door to life has been opened to us.

R: With great joy we are made alive.  Thanks be to God!

FROM THE GOSPELS  – John 16:12-15

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make know n to you.”

HYMN 101 – “Come You People, and Adore Him” (click here to listen)
[accompaniment only; you have to do your own singing 🙂 ]

A CONTEMPORARY WITNESS       “In Search of Truth”

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”  (Jn.15:13)

The 18th century playwright, Goethold Lessing, who wrote Nathan the Wise, said, “If an angel were to appear to me and in one hand he would hold  the Truth and in the other hand the Pursuit of Truth, and if he offered me a choice, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to choose The Pursuit of Truth.  Know-it-alls learn nothing more.  Pursuers of Truth have most of the fun in life.”

This is a lesson I try to impress upon my more fundamentalist friends who like to believe that the Bible contains all truth and that you don’t need anything more from God than has already been given between its covers.  It is self-evident, I think, that Truth is an on-going, unfolding revelation.  We are, as the saying goes, “running after the truth.”  It marches on.  To think Truth is static and can be captured is to suffer what might be called “Truth decay.”

Today’s gospel conveys this truth about Truth when Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit of truth “will guide them into all the truth.”  All four gospels writers make it clear that the disciples did not understand the words and works of Jesus at the time, and the whole of their testimony about Jesus is given in the light of their later faith.  The Christian message is an unfolding one.  The work of the Spirit will be to guide them – and us – along the road which they must – like Israel of old – travel toward fulfilment of the promise.

As we travel this road we will meet wholly new situations, new people, new cultures, new structures.  In these new situations it will be of little avail merely to repeat the words of the Bible spoken in some other, quite different situation.  The Spirit of Truth will show us the way to go by speaking to us the word of God in that situation.  Perhaps you remember the bumper sticker of a few years ago which zealous Christians liked so well: I’VE FOUND IT!   A more accurate statement would be: I’M FINDING IT.

But more accurate or not˛there is something in us that finds the lack of certainty and completeness uncomfortable.  We like things tied up in neat parcels which we can tuck away in the appropriate pigeon holes so that we no longer perplexed and compelled to think.  This discomfort we feel leads to a temptation to grasp on to what appears to be the truth, and this includes the fundamentalists’ zeal to cling to the words of the Bible.

In August 1835 the New York Sun newspaper began running a series of articles that would, in the space of two months, increase its circulation very significantly.  The first article described a new telescope so powerful that the surface of the moon appeared to be only five miles away.  Fourteen species of animal life had been observed on the moon, the inventor, a British astronomer, reported.  They resembled buffalo, goats, pelicans, cranes and bears.

The final article in the series proved to be the most sensational.  The inventor of this huge telescope claimed that he had adjusted his instrument so that the surface of the moon appeared to less than 300 feet away.  He said he could see creatures standing four feet tall, with faces like apes and wings that extended from their shoulders to the calves of their legs.

The articles were so well written that they were reprinted in pamphlet form, and 60,000 copies were sold in one month.  Even the New York Times was taken in and declared the information to be plausible.  A women’s club began raising money to send missionaries to the moon.  Soon the hoax was discovered and the series of articles denounced, but not before thousands of people had accepted their revelations as scientific fact.  

Now…everyone has been duped in one way or another in the pursuit of truth, but our salvation lies in our willingness to remain open to the real truth, because as long as we remain open, truth will win out in the end. Sometimes, as in a fox hunt, the trail is lost or the dogs follow a rabbit instead of the fox, but in time the true object of the hunt is found and the right pursuit regained.

I conduct an on-going computer conference at Deakin using the internet and one of the participants asked me how I, a minister, could possibly believe that the Bible was not the complete and infallible word of God, and if it wasn’t how could the church possibly know what was right.  I explained to him that the church’s position has always been that the Bible is only one of three sources of God’s word to the church, the other two being the experience of the church which is passed on through its tradition and the Spirit of God speaking in people’s lives today.  The church does not possess all the truth.  The truth marches on and the Church must keep up with it and ever discover it in fresh situations. 

Aristotle said: “The search for truth is in one way hard and in another easy.  For it is evident that no one can master it fully nor miss it wholly.  But each adds a little to our knowledge of nature, and from all the facts assembled there arises a certain grandeur”

Along the way, the Church has the promise of the Spirit of truth to guide it into all truth.  The Church can only abide in the truth if it is a learning church.  Truth is something like a distant star with can be gazed at, and whose illumination reaches us in the minutest fraction of its actual strength, but can never be reached or seen in its entirety.  Nonetheless this twinkling truth reaches us and influences us.   

Emil Brunner declared that truth is encounter.  Those who claim the revelation and promise of Scripture find it so.  Along some Emmaus Road, in some personal “either/or” wilderness, in dark intervals of uncertainty and loneliness, when we are trudging through a daily routine, when we are reaching out to help a stranger in need, or when joy in us is like the shiver of trees at daybreak; suddenly we are joined, just for a moment, by Another:the Spirit of Truth guiding us into a new truth on the long journey to all truth.

To the questions which arise from the ambiguities of life only two answers are possible.  The first is “I don’t know,” and the second is “I believe.”  

HYMN 453 – “We Limit Not the Truth of God” (click here to listen)

A CELEBRATION OF FAITH

L: In response to the word reflected on, let us share a celebration of faith. We celebrate that where people are gathered together in love

R: God is present and good things happen and life is full.

L: We celebrate that we are immersed in mystery that our lives are more than they seem

R: that we belong to each other and to a universe of great creative energies, whose source and destiny is God.

L: We celebrate that the spirit of God beat in the heart of Jesus of Nazareth

R: and God’s good news was heard by the broken and wounded.

L: We are glad that the spirit of peace is present with us, the church,

R: as we gather to celebrate our common existence, and the fidelity of God.

L: And most deeply we believe that in our struggle to love,

R: we incarnate God in the world.

L: And so aware of mystery and wonder, caught in friendship and laughter,

R: we become speechless before the joy in our hearts as we celebrate the sacredness of life.  

INTERCESSIONS

Loving, three-personed Friend, please enlarge our awareness and stretch our compassion to include those people who are edged by circumstances or personality into an isolation that they do not really want.

Make us aware of the people in our neighbourhood who are feeling forgotten and isolated. Please stretch our compassion and show us the best ways to assist.

Make us aware of those living in remote places, or those who are lost in big cities, whose need for friendship and support is not being met.  Please stretch our compassion and give us the will to make a difference.

Make us aware of refugees and migrants who are finding it difficult feel included in our community and nation. Please stretch our compassion to reach beyond race, skin colour and culture.

Make us aware of folk who are hungry for a community of faith but are anxious and tentative when visiting our congregation.Please stretch our compassion to include strangers in our midst.

Make us aware of any in our regular membership who float around the edges of our fellowship without feeling they really belong. Please stretch our compassion until all are valued as our sisters and brothers in Christ.

We know loving Friend, that you are already working in the lives of these for whom we have prayed. We dedicate these prayers, and whatever talents we have, to cooperate with your work of gathering into your love all the lonely and unwanted people of the world. Through Jesus Christ our Saviour. who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”

LORD’S PRAYER

HYMN 125 – “The God of Abraham Praise” (click here to listen)

WORDS OF MISSION

L: The God we worship is never confined to this holy place. So go and travel with the God who is found in ordinary and surprising places…The community candle is extinguished…Go in faith, for there is God riding in the light on the water, singing in the songs of the birds, sitting in the midst of the feasts of life.

R: We go in faith to live in joyous freedom, to play in the creation, and to drink deeply of the gracious cup of life. 

BENEDICTION

May the mystery of God be found along the road.
The wonder of the costly love of Jesus embrace you.
And the Spirit bless and keep you, always.

An open, virtual door to the world