* Please join us in Calvin Hall following worship today for a time of fellowship. Would you like to bring cookies or treats? Sign up sheet is in Calvin Hall.
* THE GATHERING PLACE will be Thursday. Please invite a friend and join us from 1:00 to 4:00!
* We will continue to receive the Pentecost Offering which goes to benefit youth. 40% of our receipts will go to The Vince Jetter Center here in Clinton.
* Find the address for Rich and Lois Lewis posted on the bulletin board.
* Please sign up for the Ladies Lunch Bunch for Wed. June 14 at 11:30. We will dine at Candlelight
· JoAnn Grimm who struggles with health problems.
· Arlene Pawlik who is recovering from a broken leg.
· Joan Pinkston, on hospice.
*CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 8, Genesis 1)
O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth.
Your glory is higher than the heavens. “We gather this day to praise you!
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...”.
“O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.”
We gather to celebrate our God!
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... And God saw that is was good…”
We gather to praise our God!
“O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.”
We gather to give thanks to our God!
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...
And God saw that is was very good…”
We gather to worship our God! Holy, Holy, Holy is our Lord God Almighty!
God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity, we know that you are present here in this place and we come before you with grateful praise and adoration on this holy day that you have given us.
Father and Creator, Son and Redeemer, Spirit and Advocate, we call upon you to fill our hearts and our minds with your Spirit as we gather together in our worship. We long to know you, Lord. Teach us to pray. Teach us to love. Teach us to be one, as you are one, merciful, mighty, most Holy Lord. Amen
*HYMN Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty #138
(you may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
Friends, by the sacrifice of Jesus, we are reconciled and united with God and with one another and we are transformed to a new life through the Holy Spirit.
Let us now come to God in shared confession:
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Triune God, you protect and care for us, giving us all that we need through your Word and Spirit. Yet we so often miss your gifts and your blessings in our lives. We do not always see you, hear your voice, or follow your ways. Have mercy upon us and forgive us for sinning against you and one another. We have not loved one another as you have loved us. We have not shared the gospel as you commanded. We have hurt others, intentionally and unintentionally through our thoughtlessness, our selfishness, and our inattention to the needs of others. Restore us, Lord. Forgive us our sins and help us to set aside the hurt and disappointments and wrongs of the past to willingly and joyfully move forward in your will and be a blessing to one another in ways that show the world your love and grace Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
18 Then Jesus came to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Amen.
The Old Testament
Genesis 1:2 – 2:4
2 The earth didn’t have any shape. And it was empty. There was darkness over the surface of the waves. At that time, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good. He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day.” He called the darkness “night.” There was evening, and there was morning. It was day one. 6 God said, “Let there be a huge space between the waters. Let it separate water from water.” 7 And that’s exactly what happened. God made the huge space between the waters. He separated the water under the space from the water above it. 8 God called the huge space “sky.” There was evening, and there was morning. It was day two. 9 God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place. Let dry ground appear.” And that’s exactly what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land.” He called all the water that was gathered together “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce plants. Let them produce their own seeds. And let there be trees on the land that grow fruit with seeds in it. Let each kind of plant or tree have its own kind of seeds.” And that’s exactly what happened. 12 So the land produced plants. Each kind of plant had its own kind of seeds. And the land produced trees that grew fruit with seeds in it. Each kind of tree had its own kind of seeds. God saw that it was good. 13 There was evening, and there was morning. It was day three. 14 God said, “Let there be lights in the huge space of the sky. Let them separate the day from the night. Let the lights set the times for the holy celebrations and the days and the years. 15 Let them be lights in the huge space of the sky to give light on the earth.” And that’s exactly what happened. 16 God made two great lights. He made the larger light to rule over the day and the smaller light to rule over the night. He also made the stars. 17 God put the lights in the huge space of the sky to give light on the earth. 18 He put them there to rule over the day and the night. He put them there to separate light from darkness. God saw that it was good. 19 There was evening, and there was morning. It was day four. 20 God said, “Let the seas be filled with living things. Let birds fly above the earth across the huge space of the sky.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures. He created every kind of living thing that fills the seas and moves about in them. He created every kind of bird that flies. And God saw that it was good.
22 God blessed them. He said, “Have little ones so that there will be many of you. Fill the water in the seas. Let there be more and more birds on the earth.” 23 There was evening, and there was morning. It was day five. 24 God said, “Let the land produce every kind of living creature. Let there be livestock, and creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals.” And that’s exactly what happened. 25 God made every kind of wild animal. He made every kind of livestock. He made every kind of creature that moves along the ground. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings so that they are like us. Let them rule over the fish in the seas and the birds in the sky. Let them rule over the livestock and all the wild animals. And let them rule over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created human beings in his own likeness. He created them to be like himself. He created them as male and female. 28 God blessed them. He said to them, “Have children so that there will be many of you. Fill the earth and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the seas and the birds in the sky. Rule over every living creature that moves along the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I am giving you every plant on the face of the whole earth that produces its own seeds. I am giving you every tree that has fruit with seeds in it. All of them will be given to you for food. 30 I am giving every green plant as food for all the land animals and for all the birds in the sky. I am also giving the plants to all the creatures that move along the ground. I am giving them to every living thing that breathes.” And that’s exactly what happened. 31 God saw everything he had made. And it was very good. There was evening, and there was morning. It was day six. 2 So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing. So on that day he rested from all his work. 3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. He blessed it because on that day he rested from all the work he had done.4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Matthew 28: 16-20
16 Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee. They went to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him. But some still had their doubts. 18 Then Jesus came to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”
SERMON In the Beginning to the End of the Age
Today is Trinity Sunday --- and for me, at least, it is a somewhat difficult Sunday to preach. Last week I was fortunate to visit another church in our Presbytery and I was happy to preach on Pentecost Sunday --- the Holy Spirit coming down in tongues of fire, empowering Jesus’ followers in such a real and tangible way --- that’s a pretty easy sermon, right?
The concept of the trinity --- three in one, three distinct persons of God, all one but still three separate persons? That is not quite so easy to talk about. When I don’t really think about it, it makes perfect sense to me … but when I do really try to think about or describe what that actually means, it doesn’t make quite as much sense to me.
Our scriptures today point us to all three persons of the Trinity --- all three with their separate roles but also as one. In Genesis, the first 2 verses of the entire Bible tell us that In the beginning, God created and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. And Jesus is very clear in the persons of the trinity in Matthew when he commands us to baptize in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit. If we also look at John’s “in the beginning” passage in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, we also know that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus and God are one, yet two. Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are one, yet three. It’s confusing at best, and maybe one of those things that is “more than we can now bear, or understand,” as Jesus says in John 16:12.
In the beginning, God ---- that is quite a statement on it’s own. Especially knowing as we do that the Holy Spirit was right there hovering over the waters and Jesus, the Word of God was with and of God. In the beginning God is the trinity.
Science has always been fascinated with the beginning --- actually with both the cosmic beginning and ending. Both involve some speculation – although at least with the beginning of the universe there is some distinct tangible evidence to be considered. We have the evolution concept and more commonly in the realm of science, the Big Bang theory.
Interestingly, the Big Bang theory it was first proposed in 1927 by an astronomer named George Lemaitre. His idea was that a very long time ago, the universe started as just a single point. He said the universe stretched and expanded to get as big as it is now, and that it could keep on stretching. Now I realize I’m simplifying this a lot, but doesn’t that sound a lot like God?
Since the end has not yet come, of course, theory and speculation are all we have through science. The general idea, though is that the enormous amount of energy that came from the Big Bang and formed all of the universe will eventually end up being too much to sustain life, and the same rush of energy that created life will eventually result in extinction of the universe as we know it.
Of course, even if this scenario were to be true, it would millions – actually trillions – of years away, so we don’t need to worry about that today. But scientists are saying that the same energy that will be the end of the universe is essentially the energy of the beginning of the universe.
In reality, isn’t that what the Bible has said all along, way before science expressed that thought. And from our perspective of faith, this is all good news!
In the beginning, God --- God, the three persons of the trinity --- present in the beginning and promised to be with us to the end of the age. We don’t actually need to understand much more than this --- we don’t need to understand the hows of what happened at the beginning or what will happen at the end … and no matter how hard science tries to understand and explain, we serve a much bigger God than any human mind, no matter how intelligent, educated, creative or informed, can explain or understand. In our very limited human understanding, we simply cannot comprehend all of the details of the wheres and whens and hows of something as complex as creation and the start and end of the universe.
There are some things we do understand though, so let’s concentrate on those. On this Holy Trinity Sunday, right after the celebration of Pentecost, we look at the work all three persons of the Trinity in our lives.
Of the work of God, our Father and the master creator in our lives … of the work of Jesus as our savior and redeemer in our lives, and of the work of the Holy Spirit our comforter, our advocate, who brings God’s presence, who brings God himself into our lives.
I feel like we sometimes take the Holy Spirit for granted as the third person of the Trinity. We are quite familiar with the work of God the creator and our Father. We look all around us, and we can visibly see God’s creating work. God is still creating, still molding, still forming his creation.
Our scripture from Psalm today that we said together in our call to worship is a good example of our understanding of the pure majesty of God our creator --- “O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.” And so it is.
We fully acknowledge and know Jesus as our savior, teacher and the redeemer in our lives. We have the Bible as a tangible historical record of Jesus walking on earth. We have Jesus’ teachings written down. We have no difficulty understanding and trusting in the saving work of Jesus. We know Jesus as the Son of God. We know Jesus --- What a Friend we have in Jesus, right?
Sometimes though, we may get so focused on Jesus and his redeeming love for us, and God the Father, the creator, that we forget about the Holy Spirit, who is also at work, and actually at work constantly, in our lives.
Scripture gives us much insight into the Holy Spirit, and to the three persons of the Trinity.
Today, we read a passage known as the Great Commission from Matthew 28 --- Jesus tells us to “Go 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,” Jesus says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Each of the gospels has this same command – the Great Commission – where Jesus tells his disciples – then and now – that we need to go and make disciples. If we look at this Great Commission passage in the gospel of John, we can very clearly see the triune God at work in this commission – Jesus says “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” --- and then Jesus breathes on his disciples and says “receive the Holy Spirit.”
From Matthew, we hear Jesus say we need to go and baptize and make disciples in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From John, we know that the Father has sent us and Spirit comes to us and will guide us into all the truth through Jesus. We learn that all that belongs to the Father, God, all that is God, is Jesus, that Jesus has all authority just as God has, and we learn that the Spirit will glorify Jesus. The Spirit receives from Jesus what he makes known to us. It’s complicated, isn’t it, all of that working together, being together as the three in one. It’s complicated, but it’s also very clear that all three persons of the trinity work together in us, for us and through us.
A year or so ago, I completed my CRE education through the University of Dubuque, and as part of that process I was required to write a statement of faith, both for the program at Dubuque and for the Presbytery. Although there certainly was not an exact format required, there were topics that should be covered, and of course those included my beliefs about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity.
Being required to write these things down made me really think about how I view the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I’m going to share part of that with you today, as these are my own my beliefs about the three persons of the Trinity, and I would imagine at least some of these are similar to your own thoughts.
I believe in God the Father, maker of all things, master of the universe, who is bigger than I can imagine, more powerful than I can comprehend, and who loves me and guides me and protects me as my heavenly Father in ways that far exceed even the very best examples of fatherhood here on earth. I believe that God is in total control of my life and of the world, even when I, and the world, turn away from Him and stop listening, going our own way instead of following His way.
I believe that God has chosen me and knows me intimately and completely, and that nothing can separate me from the love of God my Father.
I believe in Jesus Christ, son of God and son of man, and my personal Lord and Savior. I believe that God sent Jesus to the world to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and I believe that because I totally accept Jesus as my savior and redeemer and confess my sins, I have the amazing promise of eternal life through the saving grace and redemption of Jesus. I believe that by living in Christ, and Christ in me, there is a peace and calm and power in me and that there is nothing that the two of us cannot accomplish within the will of God.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, my comfort, my guide, my counselor, my ever-present help in times of trouble and in ordinary times. I have felt the Holy Spirit as a quiet presence in my life, guiding and directing me with a whisper, and I know the Spirit is with me always. I have also felt the Holy Spirit in a rush of almost tangible presence and emotion in a powerful worship service or a gathering of believers praying together or when hit by the meaning of the words of a hymn or praise song, or when viewing the amazing creation of God in rivers or mountains or a sunset, or simply when sitting alone in our beautiful sanctuary.
Those were the easy beliefs to define …. Then it came time to write down what I believe about the Trinity – the three in one. This part was much harder, and you’ll notice much shorter : )
I believe in the Trinity … the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … the three in one; one God with three distinct and equal persons in power and glory, in ways that I cannot fully comprehend or understand. Yet I believe.
And that’s it --- I wrote what I understand, and it was not a lot.
I don’t know everything. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know anything. The mystery about the three persons of God is something that I simply have to believe and accept, even though I do not and cannot fully comprehend or understand.
And that’s hard for me … I am someone who wants to understand things … who researches and figures things out … who likes to be in control. But the mystery of God, and the mystery of the Holy Trinity is something I simply have to believe in without understanding.
Isn’t that the very definition of faith? From Hebrews 11, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
God is bigger than my very limited understanding, than our understanding, and thank goodness he is.
One thing that I can understand, and that I feel the scriptures are clear about, is the relational nature of the three members of the trinity. The three members being deeply linked – intertwined - in a mutual relationship of love, service, sacrifice and dependence.
As Jesus prepared to leave this earth, he left his disciples some very specific instructions --- commandments – as a farewell message and as a commission --- a duty to continue the work of Jesus here on earth. Jesus’ farewell messages are in all of the gospels, in multiple chapters and verses, but they have a few things in common … we are to go and tell people about Jesus … we are to baptize and bring others into the family of God … and we are to love one another as Jesus loved us. And as Jesus is leaving, he is also sending the Holy Spirit to be with us always, to the end of the age.
This is important work, my friends --- to tell everyone, to all the ends of the earth, about Jesus, and not just to put the message out there, but to live out our faith by loving one another as Jesus loved us …
We must love one another so the world will know Jesus. as much as we strive to be like Jesus, we fall short --- even the best of us fall short. We are human, and just can’t be expected to love just like Jesus, or reach all the ends of the earth from Clinton Iowa, can we?
But Jesus knows we will fall short --- Jesus knows us and through the Father he sent the Spirit. And we are changed … we are empowered … we can do what we could not do on our own before. With the Holy Spirit, we can truly understand and give Jesus’ love and show the world God’s glory.
God created us and sent his only Son to the world to walk with us … Jesus came to earth to save us and to teach us and to love us, and he sent the Holy Spirit to help us and to comfort us and to guide us. And we are to share all of this with everyone we meet so that all the world will know Jesus.
I don’t know everything about the Trinity …. I don’t know exactly how three distinct persons, each one fully God, can also be one Triune God --- not separate parts of God, but fully one God. But I don’t have to know everything.
I know that God - our Triune God - has been with us since the very beginning and will be with us till the end of the age, bringing us power and love and understanding and glory to share with the world. And that, my friends, is more than enough.
*HYMN Lord Speak to Me, That I May Speak #426
(you may be seated.)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR GIFTS TO GOD
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Good and Gracious God, we pray that these our offerings, small and large, of money, gifts, and time, may be used to bring your kingdom here to earth. May our gifts strengthen this church and this congregation to be more faithful, more present, and more daring to be the hands and feet of Christ in our community, sharing your love with all as you have commanded to do. Amen.
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH from the Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, The Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
Of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, The only Son of God, Eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from true God, Begotten, not made, Of one being with the Father; Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven;
Was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary And became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again In accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven And is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, And his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, Who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen.
*HYMN God of Grace and God of Glory #420
(you may be seated.)
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.