Guide for Worship
June 7, 2020

Trinity Sunday

Welcome to worship! Today, the Sunday after Pentecost, is kept as Trinity Sunday. “Trinity” names the Christian belief that God is a fellowship, a community of giving and receiving love. The Triune God has much to say to us, if we are listen. As we begin worship today, begin with a time of silent reflection on these words by the late Ravi Zacharias:

“There is both unity and diversity in the Trinity, the first cause of all life, and until we find that communion with God, we can have no real unity within ourselves or with our fellow human beings.”

Hymn of Petition

Teach Us Your Ways – Danny Steis, Jess Gaul, Anna Moxley

Click on this text to view the lyrics of the hymn and sing along.

 

Teach us Your ways, teach us Your ways
As we learn from one another
Learn to love each other
Teach us Your ways

Teach us to give, teach us to give
Give ourselves for one another
Learn to love each other
Teach us to give

Teach us to weep, teach us to weep
Let us weep with one another
Learn to love each other
Teach us to weep

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Let us learn from one another
Learn to love each other
Teach us Your ways

 

Scripture – 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.

14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

Meditation

How God Is – Christopher Ingram

Listen to the sermon using the player above, or click this summary to read the complete text. An archive of this and other sermons is found on the Yates sermon page.

The words we read today conclude Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. These words endure most often in worship as concluding words of blessing and sending as the congregation disperses. Along with the comfort of these words, there is challenge: “Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace.

Paul’s blessing extends to us those things in short supply these days, living in isolation, amidst the ongoing violence, outrage, protest, conflict and division.

  • “Put things in order.” That is, be about the work of mending, restoring and completing.
  • “Listen to my appeal.” That is, be comforted and be a comfort.
  • “Agree with one another.” That is, overcome your self-interest by aligning yourself in relationships beyond your self-interest.
  • “Live in peace.” That is, seek the deep satisfaction of resting in God’s shalom, to trust God’s presence and provision, where there is enough for all.

I like the King James Version’s snappy and direct rendering of it: “Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace.” Whatever your translation, it is a tall order. It is an alternative to the self-serving way of the world.

As children, we learned to pledge to be one nation under God. Here, the blessing calls for us to live as one church under God. When the church can do that faithfully, we might show our nation what it might mean to live as one nation under God, too. The bold assurance of this blessing is that the God of peace will be with us as we work toward restoration, reconciliation and rest for ourselves and our neighbor.

In our physical distance-keeping and our mask wearing, let’s revisit the holy kiss at another time!

But “the God of peace will be with us in our work.” That’s what I want us to remember. What do we mean when we say “God” at all? You might want to protest and say we talk about God all the time as a church. Yes, we do talk a lot about what God wants of us. Though we should do it more often, we also talk about what God has done for us and is doing for us by sharing the Gospel.

But we don’t talk very much about who God is. I think this is because talking about God can be very difficult, because when we do, we must speak in the way God has shown us. It’s shared as the final verse of the letter: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” This is the identity of the God of peace with whom all that holy work will be done.

God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God. I’m talking now about the Trinity, of course. Try to define the Trinity and you end up with nonsensical math where 1+1+1=1. Try to draw the Trinity and you end up with very difficult geometry, an impossible Venn diagram that somehow tries to show that Jesus is God, the Father is God, the Spirit is God – but Jesus is not the Father, the Father is not the Spirit and so forth.

Maybe it is helpful today not to try and visualize God in this way. Instead, Duke Divinity School’s Jeremy Begbie taught me a different way to expand my imagination of the Triune God. After all, our eyes teach us that only one thing can occupy a space at one time. And this is very helpful, because it keeps us from running into trees while taking a walk outside. But it’s very difficult to envision one God who is three persons by that same visual reliance.

So what happens if you close your eyes and open your ears? Imagine yourself in front of a piano, and you strike one note. That one note, with its unique tone and texture, fills all of your heard space, your mind and heart are all subject to the work of that one note.

Add another note, and that note fills the same space, yet you hear it as distinct – undeniably two notes. In our heard world, things can be in and through each other. They sound in and through each other. They can inter-penetrate. Maybe we can now understand more deeply what Jesus means in Scriptures like John 14:11 when he says, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” You might not be able to draw that, but in a sense, you might hear it!

Now add another note and you have a three-note chord. Three distinct notes fill your heard space all together in one unity. In your mind’s eye, all three fill your heard space, but you never lose the capacity to discern the individual personality of the notes.

I want you to notice, too, how the importance of each note is not diminished by adding another. If anything, the uniqueness is enhanced by the relationship that comes by the presence of others. The notes work together, dwelling within one another, resonating with one another and enhance each other. There are many ways their interrelationship can move with joy, sadness, tension or resolution.

From this point of view, the Trinitarian life of God is a love song; three equal persons, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each one dwelling in the other and enhancing each other by virtue of an unceasing song of mutual love. Never losing their individual personality, they move in unity of will and mutual communion.

I hope you believe with me that Anna and Nyssa, the choirs, the orchestra and bells have much to teach us even before the first word is sung!

Back to my original question – who is this God who is with us? It seems that to know who God is really to embrace how God is. God is an eternal relationship, an everlasting, perfect communion.

To be one church under God is to trust God’s life as our own and live it out here and now.

It is not easy – sometimes even risky – to live a Trinitarian faith. It means love, vulnerability, openness to another, self-giving, sharing and participating in each other’s lives – in order to lift another up. That is how Jesus lived, and died. That is the resurrected, ascended, and Pentecostal life he offers us. Our world neither recognizes nor rewards this kind of life. To the world it looks like weakness or dependency. But in God’s world, it looks like holiness.

Whenever we see the world through someone else’s eyes, whenever the joys and sorrows of another become our own, whenever we completely give ourselves to another holding nothing back, whenever we open ourselves to receive another unconditionally, whenever we both lose and find our life in the life of another – those are the times when we are most like God. Then we have moved from being created in the image, or the pattern, of God and we have begun living like the Triune God. We may not understand it exactly, but we can be a part of it – and we can show a watching nation, and watching world, who God is by living how God does.

Response Through Giving

Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer with Nearer, My God, To Thee – Nyssa Collins

We encourage you to give your offerings online through Pushpay here, through the Yates app, or by mail (2819 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, NC, 27707). We are growing into new ways to be the church together and your giving allows us to keep being the church, even in the absence of our physical presence.

Hymn of Adoration

Holy, Holy, Holy – Danny Steis, Jess Gaul, Anna Moxley

Click on this text to view the lyrics of the hymn and sing along.

Holy holy holy
Lord God, Almighty
Early in the morning
Our song shall rise to Thee
Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Holy holy holy
All the saints adore Thee
Casting down their golden crowns
Around the glassy sea
Cherubim and seraphim
Falling down before Thee
Which wert and art
And evermore shalt be

Holy holy holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye made dark with sin
Thy glory may not see
Only Thou art holy
There is none beside Thee
Perfect in power
In love and purity

Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name
In earth and sky and sea
Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Prayers of the People

Please continue to pray for the personal and social wounds from unjust racial discrimination that have been exposed in recent days. So many are suffering during this pandemic from deep medical, economic and emotional pains. We are now more aware than ever of the unhealed wounds in many lives and neighborhoods from racial injustice and discrimination. Today is a day for Yates to focus its prayers to lament over racism and intercede for this unsettled and divided moment in our nation.

Click here for prayers of lament over racial injustice and focused intercession for the nation in this time of grief, protest and unrest.

God of Justice,

In your wisdom you create all people in your image, without exception. Through your goodness, open our eyes to see the dignity, beauty and sacred worth of every human being. Open our minds to understand that all your children are brothers and sisters in the same human family. Open our hearts to turn away from racist attitudes, behaviors, and speech which demean others. Open our ears to hear the cries of those wounded by discrimination, and their passionate appeals for change. Strengthen our resolve to make amends for past injustices and to right the wrongs of history. And fill us with courage that we might seek to heal wounds, build bridges, forgive and be forgiven, and establish peace and equality for all in our communities. In hope that the arc of history bends toward justice, we lift up our prayers to you:

  • We pray for our church and the churches of the world, that their prophetic voices may proclaim to all the challenge to break the cycles of poverty, ignorance, prejudice, and despair which degrade the sacred dignity of humankind. May they not succumb to indifference or accept the status quo, but press on for transformation, we pray: Bind us together, O God of love.
  • We pray our country, that we might celebrate our racial diversity and the distinctive and rich contributions of every fiber of our cultural fabric, we pray: Bind us together, O God of love.
  • We pray for wise and decisive action on the part of local and national leaders, that the scandal of racism may be eradicated from our society, we pray: Bind us together, O God of love.
  • We pray for an end to the subtle racism that infects our lives, whether in education, health, economic, justice and family systems and resides in many hearts, we pray: Bind us together, O God of love.
  • We pray for the victims of racial discrimination, that they may be filled with healing from wounds received, hope for a more just future, courage to advocate for change and peace, and the grace to overcome by love, we pray: Bind us together, O God of love.
  • We pray for those who work for justice, that they may be sustained in hope, empowered with courage, and filled with the grace to persevere in love, we pray: Bind us together, O God of love.

The Lord’s Prayer

With the confidence you have given us as your children, we pray the prayer your Son, our risen Lord taught us (pray silently or aloud with Dana):

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. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Benediction

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.