Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
2 Corinthians 13:14
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Time marches on and worry with it. Think back to the beginning of the church year. Drought and fire across our state and country, and now we’re trying to combat a viral pandemic. From the worries of organising a Carols night, fear of a bash at the BBQ, now to the worries of sanitation around our fellowship and Holy Communion. And yet today marks a shift in the year of the church, in the focus of what God tells us through His Word. We awaited Christ’s coming, Advent, celebrated the incarnation, Christmas, His baptism, His ministry, His preparation, Lent, and suffering, death and resurrection, Holy Week, and during the season of Easter His preparing the disciples to go out into the world. Then the Holy Spirit came in power and drove the Good News of Christ for the first time into that public square last Sunday at Pentecost. Now the time and worry has changed, now God’s church is at work.
Just as we are getting ready to return to the church building, though in a limited capacity, you have been and are being prepared for your new life in Christ. And what is our new life? Paul writes after rebuking the Corinthians for their division and pride: finally brothers, rejoice, be completed, be encouraged and comforted, thinking the same, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. After teaching, rebuking and training (2 Timothy 3:16) he calls them back to what matters in Jesus, what our life is because of what God has done. You have been joined with Jesus in Baptism, by the Holy Spirit. The Father has made you a new creation, you are no longer trapped by the desires of this world, you are dead to them, now you live with the one true and Triune God by your side (Romans 6). The Holy Spirit comes alongside you, to encourage, to comfort, to bring you peace and guide us together with all saints in this New Life we have been given. And in a very real sense we don’t need to worry about the things of this world, as Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all you need will be provided (Matthew 6:33).
The kingdom of the Triune God, life in and with the Trinity. I suppose if we seek that, it makes sense that we begin this time remembering this foundational doctrine of our faith; that there is one true God in three persons. But rather than trying to perceive the true internal nature of the one who created us, like a sandcastle trying to understand the kid who made it, I’m going to ask, how does the Triune God relate to us individually and together, as the three persons of Father, Son and Spirit. For this is the foundation of our faith, our relationship together with the one who created us, restores us and loves us.
Just for the moment, step out of the nitty-gritty, look not at the tree-bark in front of your face but the beautiful forest around us. Remember the church year, the creeds, recall what you have heard God say over the last 6 months, and over the last thousand, 2000, and more years. And remember what Paul tells us of life with God.
The Lord’s grace, God’s love, the Spirit’s fellowship. The Trinity created all, the Father spoke the Word, who is Jesus, and breathed life by the Holy Spirit, breath and Spirit the same in the ancient languages; as it is written, in Him we live and move and have our being. This love of God our Father is shown in this relationship, He creates you and sustains you, provides you with all that you have, both other people you love and the things you have. He set up the world and, in His rest, sustains all things from the beginning until His new work of the new creation.
That New Creation began the day after His rest, Sunday after Saturday our ancient Sabbath, when Jesus the Son rose from the dead opening the way in Himself to eternal restored life. This free gift, this grace, He gives of Himself to you and me, all Christians, and freely offers to all, that in Him, united with His humanity, our humanity is victorious of sin, death and the devil, by His grace you are saved, renewed, made righteous and clean as He unites you to Himself in love. Yet He gave His last testament and ascended, how can we be united to Him now?
By the Holy Spirit of course, the breath of God, who Jesus gave to the disciples, who came on the disciples together at Pentecost, who baptised you according to the promise: Water united with God’s Word, by the breath, the Spirit; creation united with creator; you united, together with all Christians, you united with Jesus by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who draws us together to Jesus Christ, who unites us as a family, who walks alongside us through all our journeys, who shares life with us. This is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, my common union with you, your communion with all the saints, and our Holy Communion with Jesus, who by grace reconciles, repairs completely, our relationship with our Heavenly Father, that we all together might live in the love of God. Or put more simply, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.
Yes we need to recognise the truth of our sin, but in the end your sin has been taken away by the Triune God, so finally the only things left for us are what our merciful God gives, an everlasting life together with Him in peace, joy, and love overflowing.
Now as you live with the God of love and peace, His peace and love which surpasses all human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Rev Joseph Graham.