For those who like to see the finished article - because these notes were quite short I probably went 'off piste' more than usual! In particular I was struck by the great unasked question from Nicodemus 'What do I have to do to be in a relationship with Go?' - and Jesus' amazing answer 'be born!' - this works for me on three levels. Just as we can't choose to be born, we don't choose to be loved by God - it just happens! The qualification from being loved by God is to be born - ie God loves everyone. Becoming aware of God's love and our status as God's children is like a re-birth - it changes evrything. I hope the inclusion of some of this made it a better sermon!
Trinity (Isaiah 6: 1-8, Romans 8: 12-17, John 3: 1-17)
All over the country - indeed all over the world - preachers are wrestling today with the idea of the Trinity. How can we possibly condense all our wonderings about the mystery of the God who is one and yet three in Trinity, into a manageable length of sermon? And to help us we have heard three readings any one of which is a big 'chew' theologically speaking...
Perhaps the easiest way is to focus on just one of the many things that the concept of the Trinity teaches us about God. The idea of God – Father Son & Holy Spirit tells us of the God who is relationship. The God who can only properly be expressed in a loving relationship - both within the Trinity & reaching out to include us.
On the face of it the Isaiah reading is just rather terrifying glimpse of the awe and wonder of God.
Isaiah sees the Lord in the temple, on a throne, surrounded and attended by amazing seraphim. Isaiah’s response to this sight is entirely understandable – he cries out ‘woe is me’ – faced with the awe of God he is very aware of his own sinfulness. Yet one of the seraphim cleanses Isaiah & then God seeks him out ‘Whom shall I send & who will go for us?’ – this insignificant mortal is called into the service of the almighty God. God is always seeking out ways of relating to humanity: the God of relationship within himself also longs to include people in that relationship.
So how do we relate to God, as servants and as those to whom God speaks?
In the gospel reading we heard a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus makes it clear to Nicodemus that being holy, being part of the kingdom of God is about being a child of God, and that this is a gift, not an earned right. The phrase we usually translate 'you must be born again' can also be translated 'you must be born from above' – but in either case, this re-birth, this being born as God’s child, is not a work of our doing. It is God's will that we should know God: not only as mighty God but also as loving Father, as Saviour and as Comforter.
Jesus tells Nicodemus 'God so loved the world he sent the only son...' - God in Trinity reaches out to embrace and love the whole world. Our job is only to accept it. And so today at Pampisford we were baptizing children, because we were remembering God’s gift of love poured out to us before we are even old enough to understand it.
We do not earn baptism, we cannot demand a relationship with God, we do not deserve it in some way. God’s love is there – we have only to become aware of it & claim it for ourselves.
The letter to the Romans says ‘those who are led by the Spirit are sons (and I want to say daughters) of God. Paul, who wrote this letter, writes of the spirit of adoption. The Spirit, the power of God moving in us, leads us more deeply into a pre-existing truth, that which is already true, even if we do not know it – the fact that we are children of God.
God is made of a relationship of Father, Son & Holy Spirit. We are included in the relationship at the heart of God in Trinity, to be loved and cherished and to grow as God’s children.
And so we come to the Lord’s table.
Here God the Father send us God the Son, so that inspired by the Spirit we might know God’s gift of love to us here.
As daughters and sons of God let us all celebrate our place in God’s family, accept God’s love for us, and pray that we might grow in that love of God and of others, all our lives long.