Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

John (8:56-59) 10:22-42

For the second time within the space of three months Jesus is in Jerusalem for a festival and he is again found at the temple teaching. The first occasion is recorded in John 8. It was October and Jesus was in the city for the Feast of Booths and was teaching in the Temple treasury. In the context of a discussion about Abraham he made one of his strongest statements yet about his divinity. When questioned as to how he could know anything about Abraham, for Jesus spoke of him as if he knew him personally, he responded by saying; ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’  ‘I am’ was the name that God revealed to Moses when he asked his name. Jesus knew Abraham because before Abraham ever lived, Jesus was the one true and living God, the ‘I am’. And this is certainly how the Jewish authorities and the crowds interpreted him because they picked up stones to stone him (a brutal form of execution practiced at that time, but Jesus slipped away.

Now it is December, early winter, and Jesus is back in Jerusalem for another festival, the Festival of the Dedication of the Temple, known today as Hanukkah. This time he is teaching in a different part of the Temple complex, in the portico or colonnade of Solomon. In effect, it was a massive covered walkway that ran along the entire eastern side of the Temple and could hold at least 30,000 people. So it was a great place for big gatherings, or big speeches.  In today’s text, which takes place in Solomon’s colonnade, we find a very close parallel to what happened during Jesus’ October visit to Jerusalem. Again, he there for a festival, again he is teaching in the Temple, again he is asked about his identity, again he makes a very strong statement about his divinity, again the crowds and authorities take up stones to kill him, and again he somehow slips away.

As we have seen, John likes to revisit themes to make a point. In this second similar story we have the same sequence of events but a more detailed account of what takes place.

A representative of the crowd, likely one of the religious leaders, interrupts Jesus to ask: ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? Just tell us plainly whether you are the Messiah or not.’

Of course, the reader of John’s Gospel will be scratching their head at this request, because Jesus has been telling them plainly who he is from the beginning. And John presents this more clearly than the other Gospels. There is no secret to Jesus’ identity in John’s Gospel.

So we a little amused when Jesus gives the obvious response. ‘I have been telling you, and you do not believe.’ Then Jesus goes on to explain that not only has he told them that he is the promised Messiah, but that he has showed them. He has shown them who is his by his deeds. He has done the things that it was long prophesied the Messiah would do. And while many had begun to believe in him, few among the religious leaders and authorities had – at least not openly.

So Jesus loses patience. He tells them that they have not understood because they are not his sheep. He has just finished telling the story of the shepherd and  the sheep, and how the sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and follow the shepherd. So they would have immediately understood what Jesus was saying to them: that they, the leaders of the people, not only didn’t understand, but never would. Because they did not belong to the Messiah’s flock.

This comment would have made no friends about the religious authorities amongst the crowd gathered around Jesus. But things were about to get worse.

They did not understand that Jesus was the Messiah, even though Jesus had been telling them and showing them plainly. Now Jesus repeats that he is more than simply the Messiah. He is God come to them in human flesh. The last time he had said this to them plainly, during his visit two months earlier, they had tried to kill him. So at this point, everyone knows where this conversation is going. But Jesus goes there nonetheless. No one would be able to say later that he never told them exactly who he was.

‘I and the Father are one,’ he says to them bluntly. It is as clear and bold a statement as what he had said during his exchange with them in October at the Festival of Booths: ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’

Jesus did not leave any doubt as to his true and full identity. The Messiah was never meant to be just a great prophet, or another great king. The gulf between God and humans had become too great to healed by a great prophet or king. Something more was needed, much more. God himself needed to come among his people. And that was the big surprise about identity of the long-awaited Messiah. If the religious leaders had read carefully the texts about the Messiah they would have noticed the time that God said that he himself would come to his people, that he himself would be their shepherd and their king. (For instance, Exekiel 34)

So here is Jesus telling the religious leaders, once more, just who he is. And they respond the same way as they did the last time. And it is important that John records this. In both cases some might say that Jesus never meant to claim to be God. But the reaction of crowds and the authorities show that this is exactly what Jesus meant, and that they understood him very well.

In this account from today’s Gospel text Jesus engages the crowd before he slips away. He stops them, stones in hand, and asks if they can tell him for which of his good deeds, which of his healings, they are going to put him to death. This slows them for a moment, but not long. Soon someone retorts that they are not going to put him to death for any of his miracles, but for claiming to be God.

There is a clear dig here at the religious leaders, for in the previous chapter they were very upset that Jesus had healed a blind man on the wrong day, on the Sabbath. They were even angry at the man who had been born blind. And they wanted to arrest Jesus and put him on trial for his crime. So the truth was that they were, in fact, upset that he was healing people. But they were not about to admit as much in front of a crowd of witnesses. So they jump to the bigger, more serious charge of blasphemy, of claiming to be God.

But Jesus continues to engage them, quoting  Psalm 82:6 that would have been well-known and regularly sung in Temple and synagogue worship. It says that God says to his people, ‘I have called you gods, children of the most high, all of you.’ So if God can call people gods, how can the one who is sent by the Father, and in fact is one and the same as the Father, be accused of blasphemy. Then Jesus reiterates the point he made about his relationship with the Father, explaining further that, ‘the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’

This gave his listeners quite a bit to think about it. And as they were discussing a response, and trying to organise themselves to arrest Jesus, he once again slipped away. And he left the city and went to the countryside, on the other side of the Jordan, officially outside of Israel, to the rural area where John the Baptist had preached. And there many ordinary people believed in him.  So John ends this story with a contrast between the religious leaders and experts gathered in the temple in the capital city, who should be the first to recognise the Messiah when he comes, and the simple people of the country-side who first heard about Jesus from John the Baptist. This contrast not only puts the religious leaders to shame, but it demonstrate that it is neither impossible nor even hard to grasp the truth of who Jesus is and to accept it – that is, for those who had ears to hear, for those who were a part of his flock.

Now, in looking at this account and similar ones, you might be wondering why the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were so reluctant to accept that he was the promised Messiah? It seemed that there was nothing he could so or say that would convince them. Were they not, after all, the ones who made their whole lives and careers out of leading the people as they waited for the Messiah to come?

Well, that was perhaps a big part of the problem. Fyodor Dostoeysky, in a story within a story in his last novel, The Brothers Karamazov, imagines Jesus coming to earth again. But this time to Spain during the period of the Inquisition. Of course, Jesus is arrested and tortured by the Inquisition on behalf of the church that is supposedly waiting for Jesus’ return. Finally the Grand Inquisitor himself comes to meet Jesus. And what he says is a surprise.

‘It is You! … You!’ … Receiving no reply, the Inquisitor rapidly continues: ‘No, do not give an answer; be silent! … And what could you say? … I know but too well your answer…. Besides, you have no right to add one syllable to that which was already uttered by you before…. Why should you now return, to impede us in our work? For you have surely come for that purpose alone. But be aware of what awaits you in the morning? I do not know how or in what from you have returned; but tomorrow I will condemn and burn you on the stake, as the most wicked of all the heretics …’

The Grand Inquisitor in Dostoeysky’s story knows exactly who Jesus is. And that is why Jesus needs to be stopped. His coming again would ruin everything. It would put him and his team and the whole church out of business. So the problem of the Grand Inquisitor isn’t that he doesn’t recognize who Jesus is, but he cannot afford to accept who he is.

I think something similar was a play on the part of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They made much about sharing their peoples’ hope for the coming of the Messiah. But deep down they knew that if the Messiah did actually come, they would be out of business.

Another question that arises from this text has to do with the identity of Jesus. Just who is Jesus, anyway? He is clearly the Messiah, the promised one. But he is also more than that. Remember how John began his Gospel with the big spoiler? ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … and the Word came and made his home among us.’ Perhaps we had nearly forgotten this extraordinary claim at the beginning of John’s Gospel, as we became engrossed in the story of Jesus that unfolded. But now, it comes up again. The mystery of the Messiah isn’t just that he is the shepherd and king who comes to rescue the lost of all nations, but he is God in human flesh. God has been walking and serving among his own creation in the person of Jesus. And now Jesus has told the Jewish leaders bluntly, for yet a second time in as many months, who he is.

For the Christian community that was gathered and empowered by the Holy Spirit after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, this required a bit of thought. They had worshiped God as Father, but now Jesus tells them clearly that he himself is the ‘I AM’ who existed before Abraham was born, that he and the Father are one., that they dwell within one another. And then the Spirit of God is sent by the Father and Son (as we saw Jesus explain in last week’s text) on the day of Pentecost.

This led the church to confess that there is indeed only one true God, but that this God has manifested himself to us in three persons who are distinct yet remains one God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This ‘tri-unity’ of Father, Son and Spirit came to be known simply as the Trinity (which is short for tri-unity). It is in large part because of the statement of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading, and what we saw of the coming of God’s Spirit when we celebrated Pentecost Sunday last week, that the church came to celebrate on the very next Sunday, the Trinity – the fact that our very complex God comes to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – yet remains one God. A tri-unity of persons.

So Jesus reveals himself plainly as both the Messiah and God in flesh. But the religious leaders cannot understand or accept who he is. But Jesus’ sheep, who he calls and gathers by the power of the Holy Spirit from all the world, hear his voice. We recognise who Jesus is and follow him: Jesus the Messiah, God himself come to us in human flesh to make us one with him.


Pastor Mark Worthing.
Port Macquarie.

In the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit


Text: Matthew 28:16-20

It’s common for us to begin our worship services in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. When we do that, we’re dealing with the overflowing love, life and faithfulness of God. This familiar Trinitarian opening to our public worship echoes the name that was spoken together with our name when we were baptised. Following the words of Jesus, which we heard in today’s gospel lesson, we baptise people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.

Whenever we join together for public worship, we are gathered as the people of the Triune God, people linked by God to the gracious will and works of God. This is a profound reality.

We’re people who belong to the Triune God as the result of God’s wonderful choice. That’s who we are. We remember who we are when we say our morning and evening prayers, making the sign of the cross and saying ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit’. We remember who we are when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. We remember who we are when we praise God through the words of the Apostles’ Creed, or the Nicene Creed.

These regular reminders of who we are and whose we are very helpful for us. That’s because there’s a lot going on in and around us that works to contradict the truth of our identity. The current circumstances of our lives might challenge our relationship as God’s children. The truth is that God has lovingly and graciously claimed us and made us part of the body of Christ through baptism into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.

That joyful state of affairs provides us with a good way of approaching the subject of the Trinity. We can tell our story.

Today, Trinity Sunday, is not really a day to get all caught up in fanciful explanations and half-baked philosophy about God. We will never come up with words that can explain the Trinity. We don’t really have the words, or the experience, or the ideas to talk about the Triune God in an abstract way. That would be something like an earthbound creature like an ant trying to explain and describe the flight of a magpie. We won’t try to do any explaining.

Does that mean that we have nothing to say about the Trinity then? On the contrary, we have a great deal to say. What we have to say is not philosophical explanations, but rather we simply retell the story of God’s boundless love.

We can retell the story of God’s boundless love, which has always nourished and cared for us and has also sought us out and claimed us. Since we’re baptised people of God, we’re part of the story and have the story to tell.

We can tell the story of God’s boundless, overflowing love. That’s what the Trinity is about. We can tell the story of God’s faithfulness and patience. We can tell of God’s reluctance to punish and overwhelming desire to forgive and save people, who are hell-bent on their own destruction. We can tell about Jesus, our Saviour. This is all part of our story, and we can tell our story, which is in reality talking about and praising the Trinity.

Telling the story of God’s love is fantastic. The story of God’s love is so fantastic that it’s most of the reason why the author of this sermon became a pastor. He writes:

“You might know that I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very good home. All my life I’ve had the joyful blessing of loving parents. During my childhood, we said grace before each meal and said a prayer of thanks afterwards as well. We had regular devotions. We joined with our local congregation for worship each Sunday. You could note that I had a very good grounding in the faith. I knew the Small Catechism by heart. I must have known a lot of the story.

Yet, in an odd way, I hadn’t really heard the story. There was some kind of gap, and I thought being a Christian was mostly about obeying the commandments, doing the right thing, and being quick in my heart to judge people who weren’t. As I recall, my thinking was roughly along the lines that God forgave my sins so that I could continue trying to keep the commandments. The focus was largely on myself and my efforts.

Now, I’m sure that the gospel was being preached to me repeatedly. I’m sure that I was told the story of God’s boundless love many, many times.

However, it’s funny how long it can be before it takes hold, before we dare to trust it. It’s so easy for people to slip back into trusting self. That’s why the church’s main agenda item is to tell the story. We teach that what makes church ‘church’ is the proclamation of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. It’s about telling the story of God’s boundless love and allowing it to do its work in people.

One day the penny dropped for me. The holy Spirit had clearly been working long and hard. By the grace of God I realised that the story of God’s boundless love is my story. I think it was a retelling of, and some teaching around, the parable we usually call the prodigal son, when that happened.

It was as though I heard something fresh and new. I realised my story is not about me being good enough or faithful enough for God, but rather it’s about God, who is unswervingly faithful, gracious and merciful to me. Now that’s something that’s really worth talking about. That’s when being a Pastor made any sense at all. In truth, I have no desire to be a moral policeman, and my heart for people is still very much a work in progress, but the story of God’s unfailing love is so worth telling.”

We all have stories that tell God’s story. The holy Spirit is at work in us so we can tell it in our own way. We will always be talking about the Trinity although we may seldom, if ever, use that word. I suspect we never need to use the word ‘Trinity’ when we’re telling the story of God’s saving love. That’s because we’ll be talking about Jesus.

We can tell people that we’re baptised, that we’re rebellious sinners, whom Jesus has saved and redeemed and made his very own at the cost of his life. We can tell people that God loved us, and the world, so much that he sent his only Son to save us. Jesus died for me, and for you, to set us free so that we can live with him forever.

We really have stories to tell. We can tell people about how close and personal God is. Jesus is with us always and we’re especially aware of his good and gracious presence when he makes himself known in word and sacrament. The holy Spirit prays with us and for us, so that we can pray as if we’re conversing with a dear parent. We can tell of the hope and joy that we have, which is the work of the holy Spirit in us.

When Jesus sent the disciples to make disciples, he sent them with God’s story and their own. Even though some doubted they were sent to make disciples by baptising in God’s name and teaching. That was able to work, the church was able continue through history, because God is here. Jesus is graciously and mercifully present with his church, always ready to forgive and restore according to his promise.

We’re not alone when we live our lives and tell our story. We have each other and we have God. In holy baptism God has brought us together so that we all live, and have our identity, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. We tell the stories of dearly loved children of God. We have much to tell about the Father, Son and holy Spirit who embraces people with such wondrous, faithful and boundless love.

The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

All working together

Text: John 16:12-15.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all 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. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

All working together

Here today in just these few verses we are given an insight into the workings of God and that which is important to him; and this then has an impact on who we are and what we are on about as well.

Now here in this reading we are reminded of how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the three members of the Trinity are at work in our world today. The thing that strikes us very strongly is that they are all working together, from their different positions and roles within the Godhead. That is they are at work making known to us that which is of God and which is important for us: that which is all truth. Very clearly, however the point is made that this knowledge has to do with Jesus and what he has said and done for us as he lived on this earth.

Now here Jesus begins by telling us that The Spirit of truth is come to guide us into the things that are important for us to know: the truth. This Spirit, we are told elsewhere, proceeds from the Father and the Son, and will make known to us only that which he hears from them. His sole purpose is to lead us to faith in Jesus Christ, which in turn brings glory to Jesus. He therefore, is sent to us, to make known to us all that Jesus said and did through his life, death and resurrection. The things yet to come, are a reference to Jesus death and resurrection which was yet to come, and which were of great importance for our salvation.

In that regard the Holy Spirit has often been regarded as the shy member of the Trinity. His focus is not on himself and what he does, but has come simply in order to make salvation through Christ, by grace through faith, known to us: to bring us to this knowledge and to help us to trust in this message, so that glory may in turn go to Jesus Christ and from there to the Father. He does not speak or act on his own behalf; as an independent agent, but only of that which he has received from the Father through the Son.

This then highlights the work of Jesus whilst he was here on this earth. God himself come to us, so that he might save us from the hell we have brought on ourselves through our rejection of God and our failing to live under his authority and Word. He took the punishment we deserve, on himself, so that we in turn might be forgiven and assured of life and salvation. Then he was raised from the dead so that we can be assured that he is for real and that eternal life is now there for all who are in Christ.

All this is from the Father. Everything Jesus had and gave he had in common with his Father. The divine love and power is reflected from the Father through the Son, and then made know by the Holy Spirit. All are working together to bring forgiveness, life and salvation to us all. There we have the greatness of our God, and that which we truly thank and praise him for.

But this work and cooperation has continued on from there. This Good News of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed year after year ever since. It has brought life and salvation down through the ages to many, many people. Through the Word and Sacraments, the Spirit has made known all the truth that surrounds Jesus’ death and resurrection that we need to know. Around the world, people have come to faith in Jesus Christ. And glory is going to the Father for all the goodness that he has extended to us.

This goodness and work even now goes on here. The Spirit of truth is still at work, seeking to guide us into all truth. Salvation by grace through faith is still being proclaimed. The emphasis of Christ alone, grace alone, scripture alone and faith alone are still held up in some quarters as vital. Jesus death and resurrection is still the focus in preaching and teaching. The Triune God is continuing to work together to ensure that this message of Jesus continues to go on.

This is surely then also where we join in this important work of God. As we allow the Spirit of truth to work in our lives we too will be focussing all that we say and do on Jesus Christ and the importance of his death and resurrection for our salvation and life. Like the Spirit, we will not act as independent agents, but will act under the guidance of the Spirit and under the authority of God himself. We too will only speak of what has been passed on from Christ as of first importance. As we do, we can be sure that God’s work will go on and continue to bear fruit.

So today, we are reminded again that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all working together with one purpose in mind: Each in their different roles and priorities, all with the same end in mind.

The Spirit of truth is sent to lead us into all truth: The truth and importance of Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us through his death and resurrection. In this, the love and power of the Father is extended to all people.

So also then, when we focus on that same message we know that we too are being joined into that work of God himself. We also know that where that message is, and is proclaimed, that it will bring blessing. But more importantly, glory will go to our Lord Jesus Christ. That in turn will bring glory to the Father. Here again as I conclude this message let us remember that to God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, belongs all glory and honour, now and always.


‘Participation with the one who saves all Creation’?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Romans 8:17
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if perhaps we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

            To participate with the Trinity, to have a relationship with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that is what it is to be a Christian. It’s similar to any other relationship, I’m a Woolies customer if I shop at Woolies, and I fail as a Woolies customer if I go to IGA. If I never take time to spend with my wife I hurt our relationship, if I neglect to teach my children I fail as a father, if I insult my father I sin. This is part of what Paul is getting at today, and Isaiah certainly felt his failure, ‘I am a man of unclean lips.’ So a question on this Trinity Sunday is, how is your relationship with our Triune God?

            Do you fail to care for our Father’s creation? To follow in His steps, to create beauty like the sunset and cultivate life in the world around you; to take charge of what God has put under your care, like the Garden to Adam? Do you look to the work of God’s hands to save you, your mind, wealth, government, medicine, all these good gifts. Do you look to them to save you instead of our Father who created them? Child of God, how is your relationship with God our Father?

            And with His Son? Jesus came down from heaven, conceived, born of Mary, escaped to Egypt, grew up in a poor, rough area, saw His adoptive father die, preached, healed, brought light to this dark world, yet rejected by His people, family and friends, flogged, crucified and died for you; then rose to glory and now rules for your salvation. Every breath He breaths for you, and how do you receive it? Do you thank Him for His love, praise His Almighty work of salvation every moment He lives for you? He freed you from slavery to sin, and the desires of your body; do you live in that freedom, or do you run back to the cage?

            My dad had a budgie before I was born, it lived in a cage. This budgie was so used to the cage, felt so safe there, even when dad took him out and put him on top, he’d fly straight back in. Good for a bird owner, good for a slave owner, but also too often a sad reflection of our relationship with Jesus who freed us.

            As Paul wrote, if you live according to the flesh, the old sinful ways, you die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the practises/habits of the body, you will live. And so how is your relationship with the Holy Spirit? Do you breath together with Him, do you walk in step? Or do you walk your own way, following after some other goal, some other god? You know the gifts the Spirit brings, forgiveness/separation from your sin, your guilt and the peace that comes with, love not just of God, also from us, the truth of this broken world, the truth of you and of God’s work for you. How The Triune God relates to you, as we confess as one in the Creed, simplistically in creating, saving and transforming you. And that wonderful transformation from a slave to sin, to a child of God, it is not painless, like hard exercise, like puberty, like pregnancy, we suffer when we change.

            We suffer as we leave the way of life under sin, as we die daily to our flesh and rise to new Life to God in Christ. To kill those desires and thoughts that lead us astray, those habits, those hurtful reactions. Yes we suffer from others too, from those who don’t understand, those who hate Jesus, and those who have been hurt by the sins of the Church. And we also suffer in ourselves. It hurts to reject the desires of our bodies for the sake of others, and yet the Holy Spirit rewards us with peace and contentment, knowing we showed God’s love to another and walked in step with Jesus. It hurts to break old habits and form new ones, especially when we fail; yet we hear Jesus again declare, ‘I forgive you’ the Holy Spirit giving us strength to live our New Life and our Father smiling on us and sustaining us. It hurts to let God be God, in charge of my life, to give and take all things; to rely fully on the mercy of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit. And yet as we do, living in this wonderful relationship with our Triune God, we have life.

            That life created by the Father, won by the Son, and given by the Holy Spirit; so that I can say with Him, you are children of God, co-heirs with Jesus, and have received the Holy Spirit. Live with Him together, suffer with Him together in this broken world, so that we may all be glorified with Him together in the Revelation of the New Creation.

            The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto His glorious Coming. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

Trinity Sunday

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.

Trinity Sunday ( 1st after Pentecost )


Genesis 1:1- 2:4a

Dear heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit on us so that as you speak to us, your creative and redeeming Word may have power in our lives, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

We all know the 8th commandment: you shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. We would probably also know the old saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ isn’t true. Words can be very destructive to our self-esteem, our sense of worth, and once said, they can’t be taken back. God encourages us not to use words to injure, kill or destroy, but to build up, encourage and defend.

Although we might hear many words during the day that often seem to go in through one ear and out the other, some words can have a life-changing impact on us. Consider these examples:

I no longer love you.

We’re moving.

You’re fired.

You have cancer.

She’s dead.

Will you marry me?

You’re pregnant.

These words and many like them can literally change your life. Of course the words themselves don’t change your life, but rather confirm or announce a change in your life has just occurred, whether you’re ready for it or not.

Knowing the power some words can have on our lives when spoken by humans, how much more powerful are the words spoken by God! Rather than just confirming or announcing a change in our lives, his words actually have power to do what they say. Unlike so many of our destructive human words, his words can create, transform and renew.

Take for example the creation account. The Triune God said “light” and it happened as he said it, even though the sun wasn’t created until day 4. The same happened every day during the account of the creation. God spoke and things happened as he said them. His words did (and do) what they say.

Note also that as God spoke, a division or a separation occurred. As soon as he said “light”, there was also the exact opposite: “dark”. The light no longer mixed with darkness, but was separate from it. The sky no longer mixed with the sea, but was separate from it. The water no longer mixed with the land, but was separate from it. God ordered things and set them right, and brought order out of chaos.

Note that he first set the structures in place and then filled those structures. For example, he separated light from darkness on day one, but on day four filled the light and darkness with sun and moon and stars. On day two he separated the waters above and the waters below, and filled them on day five with birds and fish. On day three he separated the land and put plants on it, while he filled it with animals and humans on day six.

While chapter one of Genesis clearly shows us the power of his words, chapter two shows a more intimate story of God playing in the mud to personally bring humans into being. Rather than just words, he reached out to and personally interacted with the pinnacle of his creation – human beings. He then graciously gave humans governing authority over his wonderful and awesome creation before we had the chance to prove that we were up to the job. Of course sometimes we get this job right, but too many times we stuff up what God has made. Thankfully he never stopped his creating word and still preserves what he has made despite our best attempts to neglect, abuse, and destroy it.

From the creation account we see how God’s word is all powerful and does what it says. His words never return to him empty.

If we think about it, most of what we know about God is also revealed to us through his Word and through his voice. For example, he not only spoke creation into being out of nothing, but he spoke to Noah of his plans for salvation in the time of flood, he spoke of his saving plan to Moses from a bush that wouldn’t burn, he spoke his instructions for life from a mountaintop, and he gave his word to prophets so that his people would hear him. No-one has seen God face to face, yet he came to his people through his word. His word was enough because his word did what he said.

This is why John begins his gospel account ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God at the beginning’ (John 1:1-2). God speaks – things happen. Like chapter 2 of Genesis, God also chose to interact with us more personally once again when his Word came to us in the human flesh of Jesus Christ – the Word made flesh. The Word of God lived and breathed and walked and died in the flesh of Jesus Christ. God and humans touched and interacted with each other. The Word was more than a voice: it was God coming to his people through physical means.

The Word of God created and still upholds the whole universe. At the same time, he still maintains his intimate contact with humans – through his word, through the Word made flesh in the man Jesus Christ, and now through the power of the Holy Spirit, giving the Church the authority to speak God’s word of forgiveness.

What is totally surprising is what God did when he finished his six days of creating: God rested. The bible didn’t say he got tired or exhausted from his work; after all, he spoke creation into being. Speaking can be tiring, but not for someone as powerful as God. He doesn’t need any rest!

But again his creative process was continuing, bringing order out of chaos. He separates work – no matter how creative and beneficial – from rest. Rest isn’t an add-on or an afterthought to his creation, but an integral part of it. Rest is as vital as light and water and land are vital for us. Farmers know their land needs to rest so that it can produce its fruit more efficiently. We all know rest is vital for us too, but all too often neglect it or misunderstand the benefits of it.

Through rest God wants to bless us. Through rest God renews us, recreates us and sustains us. Rest is the climax of a work pattern created by God. In the same way, the climax of our week shouldn’t necessarily be our work, but our rest. Humans don’t receive the best of God’s blessings by working, but by resting with him.

This is very relevant to worship. Worship, if understood properly, isn’t work, but rest. Worship isn’t a ritual of work for God as if we can make God greater by our praise or worship, but rather worship is resting with God. Pagan people and non-Christians work for their gods, but as Christians we understand we rest for God. We bring honour and praise to God, not by working for him, but by resting in him and with him.

Worship, then, is when we rest and God works on us through his Word; his creative, redeeming, and sanctifying words of peace, forgiveness, love, mercy and grace.

So how does this all relate back to those words you hear that literally change your life, whether you’re ready for them or not?

When God created the world, he didn’t get rid of the chaos that existed beforehand, but rather he ordered it and ruled over it. Chaos, death and destruction will still happen in our lives and sometimes will seem to overwhelm us. Bad things will still happen in our lives and aren’t sent as punishment or to see how much we can handle. We live in a world that was created perfect, but is now corrupted by sin with all its pain and destructiveness. As we hear of natural disasters around the globe, we’re reminded the whole of creation groans in pain from the corruption of sin.

Yet despite the cyclones of destructive words and the earthquakes of changed health and security that affect our own lives, we put our trust in the one who has power to order and rule over the chaos in our lives. He is the one who spoke the words of creation. He is the one who spoke to his people in many ways through his prophets and ultimately through his Son Jesus Christ. He is the one who continues to speak through his written and oral word in the Bible and sends us the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith.

He is the same one who spoke his words of love and intimacy to us as he adopted us as his precious children through baptism by the power of his holy name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the same one who says ‘this is my body…this is my blood…given for you for the forgiveness of your sins’. He is the same one who says, ‘Come to me, all who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest’.

Sometimes there is nothing we can do to change the circumstances of our lives. At these times we’re encouraged to rest: rest in God’s word and in his promises. They won’t necessarily change our lives back again the way we want them to be, but his words have power to bring us peace in the midst of war, comfort in the midst of grief and loss, patience in the face of sickness and suffering, forgiveness in the face of guilt and shame, and life in the face of death.

May the living and powerful Word of Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – continue to do what he sends it to do, to work his miracles of life, peace, forgiveness and love in our lives. Amen.

The Spirit Himself testifies.

Trinity Sunday

Romans 8:12-17

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Family is a very important thing for us. We want to belong, indeed we need to; and if we don’t have anyone we hurt. Many of us have moved away from family to be here, or family has moved away from us, but we still have those connections, they’re not gone and they are still very important. These family connections are very important, but there are still people who are cutt off from their families, even from birth. They become lost until a time when they are accepted into a different family, until they are adopted. But even then their ties to there first family are strong and later in life many try to find the people who gave birth to them, and some even reject that family that adopted them, chose them and nurtured them when their biological parents couldn’t. Many children are taken away from their first family because it is dangerous for them, maybe there is physical violence, drug abuse, a lack of care for the child, or maybe even the parents just don’t have the ability or resources to support the child. Many children then are adopted into a family that is safer for them, where they do not need to grow up in fear and instead they grow up well supported and accept their new family and live good, healthy lives. But for others it doesn’t work that way.

Now, why have I spoken about these complicated situations? Because you and I are adopted. We have been adopted by God, who is now our heavenly Father, through the Holy Spirit and now we are family, brothers and sisters with Jesus Christ. Now I think there are differences between Christian adoption and what I was talking about before, but there are enough similarities for some helpful analogies. We have been born into a sinful and suffering world, a sinful family if you will (Psalm 51:5; John 1:10-12; Romans 3:10-18) and we have been adopted into a new family and our sin has been taken away and replaced with the things of God. But still we are tempted to go back to our previous lives, to again become slaves to sin and fear. The similarities break down here because no family here on earth, no family of this world, is perfectly good and caring; and also God can do good through even the worst parents, even if it is just the gift of life which by itself is worth of honour and respect.

However, for us our first family is of this world, is sinful and corrupt, sick and turned in on itself. That is how the world teaches us to live, but that life leads only to death. Unlike our biological parents, whom we are in debt to and God Himself tells us to respect, unlike them we are not in debt to this world, we do not need to live to make amends, we do not need to live according to this sick world, if you do God tells us through Paul, you are about to die (verse 13). Those who try to live according to this world, to climb the corporate ladder, to become a respected individual, to have fun at any expense, to get rich, to follow their own sinful desires, those who live like this are about to die. Our first family cannot give us life as The Triune God can, it cannot give us lasting peace, joy or life. The promises of this world we are born in turn out to be lies.

But brothers and sisters, whose promises do you believe? Are you trying to find that first family again? To be enslaved to the world and your desires in fear? Or have you heard that promise of God, ‘You are my child’, ‘you have received the spirit of adoption and call God Almighty dad’, ‘you are inheritors with Jesus’?

You have been joined to Jesus Christ in baptism and so in Him you are all sons, or children and heirs, of God (Galatians 3:26-27). Because you are children of God, He sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts and now we call Him Father (Galatians 4:4-7). You are part of a new family, you have been adopted. In Christ you call The Almighty God, Creator of all, Father by the power and gift of the Holy Spirit. We pray with Jesus, ‘Our Father in Heaven’ (Matthew 6:9).

So you are a member together with all of us, of a new family, a holy and just family, a family different from the family of this world. That family lies saying, ‘it’s all good/fine, it’s just the way things are, you need to do good and then good will happen for you’, leading you into sin, ‘if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, you deserve it or they deserve it, you’re just gonna screw up anyway’, and can only promise you suffering and turmoil underneath that veil of happiness and peace, one just needs to go to a non-Christian funeral. And that is where that family takes you, to death. So why would you reject your new family in Jesus and go back to your sinful ways? Why do you return to that slavery under fear, like a dog to vomit? Why turn away from the peace and love of God and His Spirit and live again in disobedience, darkness and death?

We struggle here in our lives, because sin still lives in this body and just like Paul tells us earlier, it feels like we are at war with ourselves (Romans 7:15-25). We try to change ourselves, to be holy as our heavenly Father is, to truly act as part of His family. We try to put to death our sinful self, the old Adam. And we suffer because of this war within us. Sometimes our old self gets the upper hand, and sometimes we truly do rely on the Holy Spirit, but we surely need help. Paul in the next paragraph writes that we are groaning with all creation in pain like childbirth, waiting eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-23). We are God’s children, He has promised us this and He keeps His promises, but we are also waiting for the time when it is obvious, waiting for our hope to be fulfilled. When Christ comes again in glory, we will share in that glory; but today we are sharing in His earthly suffering.

You are a child of God, taken from this world of death, slavery and fear. We have God’s promises and even heavenly blessings in this life, peace and joy, certainly the great love of God. You know where you are headed, to be with Jesus and your Father and the Spirit and all the saints throughout all time. But now, here you suffer, The Holy Spirit beside you, Jesus who has gone before you and your Heavenly Father who loves and cares for you, sustaining you through all things.

The peace of God which passes all our understanding guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, and our Father in Heaven, The Triune God now and forever. Amen.

  • Joseph Grahm

A Creation Community

After half a church year today we arrive at Trinity Sunday. Last week we heard how the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost; ten days before that the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ; another forty days again and it was Easter Sunday, Good Friday, and Lent. These days introduced the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus after the proclamation of his divinity in Epiphany, his humanity at Christmas, and his coming into the world at Advent, way back in the four weeks of December.

Now from today we focus on the Christian life in God’s fallen creation, redeemed and being redeemed by the blood of Christ who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, three persons in one God.

However, there is a tendency for us to believe if Jesus is at the right hand of God, in heaven, he is no longer here with us. That perhaps we have been, more or less, left to our own devices to fend for ourselves. Or we might recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power to escape this world so we might ascend with our hearts and minds to a place were we see God. Since he is not attainable by our natural senses anymore! Right? Well no it’s not! God’s written word from Genesis one to Revelation twenty-two tells us otherwise!

In fact the thought that God is not with us in our creation, is a thematic thread right the way through the bible demonstrating the sinfulness and faithlessness of humanity. But rather, the Trinity is present in creation, giving us God’s creation, so we might dwell with God in his threefold holy community of being and love.

Atheism and atheists, mock us because of our confession of an unseen Triune God and our hidden communion with him in his creation. However, these western infidels and scoffers of the Christian faith only exist because of Christianity. The Romans, who believed in a pantheon of gods, scoffed at the Jews after bursting into their temple in Jerusalem some two-thousand years ago, finding no visual God in the Holy of Holies. Go to a Hindu or a Buddhist country today and atheism is basically nonexistent.

Yet in the Christian world where God is hidden and there are no idol images of gods, it’s not a big step to believe there is nothing. So today the modern cynical athiest claims there is no God and the word of God is just “pie in the sky, for those who are going to die”.

On the other hand, we in the church in the second half of the church year celebrate the victory of Christ in his creation. However, neither the victory in creation, nor the God of this creation, is seen in the normal sense. God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, is not seen, and our world still seems to be spiralling out of control into greater and greater turmoil. Perhaps we might be tempted into the epitome of negativity with the atheist, and believe there is no God and therefore lose hope.

But God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit calls us back into his word, and today especially his “word of beginnings”. His victory calls us to see creation as it was at the beginning and as it will be at the end. And we’re called to see what it is today with the eyes of faith in a world that would rather look into the misery and darkness of the hopeless self with human reason.

When we look at the creation account in Genesis one, God reminds us he loves us. He created the heavens and the earth for one purpose; for an environment where we might be with him in a threefold community peace. In his creation he created a paradise garden so that he might rest in it with us. However since the fall, it’s been lost to our sin, but now since the cross access has been won by Christ’s bloody death and glorious resurrection. And all creation now rejoices and looks forward in hope to the full restoration of creation.

So for us who believe in Christ’s incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; for us who believe the Holy Spirit has been sent to reveal Christ to us in this creation; and for us who believe the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ exist and work together so we might live in the presence of God the Father in peace — can turn back to the beginning and see the unseen reality of a hidden paradise won for us by Jesus Christ on the tree of life. Added to this we can examine the last chapters of Revelation and see the exact same reality, and continue in the same hope.

Many get caught out when looking at the creation account by falling into the debate on whether creation is seven literal days or perhaps something different. This argument only leads one away on a tangent from a correct emphasis on the creation text, regardless of what position one takes.

For us everything is a distant second from the little phrase in Genesis one, “And God said”. In fact in our search for answers to creation, this simple phrase is in danger of being overlooked. But the whole point of the creation account is to draw our faith to God’s word, in all its power and glory. God’s word needs not our proofs or reasoning, but rather it demands our trust. God said it, it happened — do you now believe it?

The other thing we need to take notice of is the order of creation, and in understanding its order, we soon come to realise its function.

First we hear, “In the beginning God created…” To imagine nothing in the beginning, is impossible, and added to it pondering the beginning as an eternal timelessness, will only make you go completely crazy. We are beings in time and place, and have not the capacity to contemplate boundless nothing. But having said that, God was there before any of it and this can only be believed by faith.

At the other end of the creation account, in Genesis 2, after all had been created by the word of God, God now rests in time and space in his creation.But God created this day of rest for a holy community – us and him together in peace.

All the events of creation fall between these two events in a very deliberate order, so this community of peace can exist in a perfect paradise with a thrice holy God. In fact creation’s order rolls along like a snow ball growing, or like an onion having its layers put on one after the other. In this way the first event of creation, serves the second, and so on until God rests in its completion.

The second last event God commanded in creation is the making of us, and in seeing the order of creation we learn that God created one thing after the other for you and me, in community. And at the very last he desires to be present with humanity in peace and perfect joy.

Now we know a lot has happened since God created the heavens and the earth. But he also calls us to now know that this reality has been restored in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So as we travel through the next half of the church year, we are called to see with the eyes of faith that the Triune God is present, although hidden.That we are called to peace with God, peace that passes all human understanding, peace that enables us to realise we are already in the arms of a loving God who calls us to rest with him, and trust that an eternity with him has been happening since our baptism and will continue on unto eternity.

We can all take stock from the last words in the bible from Revelation chapter twenty-two, where Jesus assures us that “Yes I am coming soon!” And we rest in response, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus come.” As we trust the ever-present reality of the last verse, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Rev 22:20-21)

Till death us do part

Romans 8:12-17

StMarksAfter the wedding, an invited guest after being asked how it went replied: “Oh they’re very much both in love, he with himself and she with herself.”

Hardly the recipe for a long life together when the “for better or worse, for richer or poorer” are realised as not some silly words put together to get a laugh from the crowd, but prophetic words of how relationships continue to remain strong when the rose tinted glasses are taken off.

The saying to “Burn one’s boats” alludes to certain famous incidents where a commander, having landed in a hostile country, ordered his men to destroy their ships, so that they would have to conquer the country or be killed.

No retreat and no surrender and in 1st Corinthians we are told to “Be on guard, stand firm in the faith: be courageous, be strong.”

Burn our boats and stand firm in the battles knowing that come what may be it for better or worse, that our relationship with our Lord will hold together strong and intact.

In the last verse of our Romans reading today Paul talks of suffering and ironically, we may just be at the pointy end of the wedge where we are heading into a time where the rules of society  stand in clear contradiction to that of the Word of God. A time where standing firm would be seen and felt in a tangible manner. A time where fence sitting is not a quantifiable response to the world or our Lord. A time to take a side and stand firm come what may.

Serious stuff that unless grounded on an absolute truth would see us drifting in oceans of despair like that of a refugee still hoping to find dry land.

The Word of God is that absolute truth and in his Word, though we may occasion to feel still at sea, God the Father gives us the solid ground that we can stand firm in our lives with Him of not that of a refugee looking for a home, but that of his child already home.

The Word of God like Jesus parables can cause wonder, debate and different perspectives while in our growth in Christ and that’s O.K. as it’s all in the growing of ourselves in His Kingdom.

In some of the things of God it is good that we ponder on them through our experiences and see them gradually unravel in a time that befits our situation.

Today’s message is not one for another time yet to come, it is for those times that have and will come.

The message not to the refugee that he seeks, but to his child he has found.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. For you not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons and daughters, by whom we cry “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”

These spirit filled Words of God through Paul were given very clearly in the context of the day to those present they stand firm for what may await them because in the Roman world, adoption like now was taken very seriously. When you are adopted into a family you truly become part of that family and this was true of the Roman emperors who frequently chose their successors not from the child born to them, but from the children whom they had adopted. The adoption into the family so real that an emperor could even pass the inheritance on to somebody who was adopted over the child of his own loins and similar, should it be a slave-that slave would no longer live under the bondage of his former master but as a free person able to serve not in fear, but in love. Living no longer as a slave but in being son or daughter.

Paul’s words and imagery were not imagined but from God himself. God’s words to us that don’t say “I will think of you as though you were my sons and daughters”, but his Words stressing that in Christ, “You are my sons and daughters in the fullest sense of the word.”

The first funeral I conducted was my Fathers and too this day I’m not sure how I got through it. But the fact is I did and so now when conducting similar work in God’s name and feeling vulnerable I think back to that time because though I don’t understand how, I do know it happened-it’s a fact that cannot be changed. A fact that I can draw on when situations of the like present themselves.

You too would have experienced times of past that once the dust settled you came to clearly see Jesus in it with you. Times that give you courage in the face of times of adversity since and to come.

That’s the faith that sees the words of Romans 5: 4 come alive for us  that that we trust “tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and (a)hope (that) does not disappoint.”

A faith as 1st Peter tells of as tested by fire.

But what if the fires so hot its smoke clouds our vision and confuses us like that of the ambulance officer who when tending to a man hit by a car and asking him if he was comfortable, heard him reply “Yes I make quite a good living.”

Life can be confusing and we may wonder what’s next, but let us never wonder of God because God does not lie.

God who promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars, and though later when Abraham and Sarah were aged, it came to be through the birth of Isaac. God’s promise to Abraham of a homeland as resulting after his descendants release from Egypt, following Moses through the desert for forty years and eventually led home at God’s command by Joshua.

God does not lie as seen when the Jews were gathered together once again as a nation after World War 11.

God does not lie and so matter the circumstance, the spiritual attack or the physical attack: stand firm and rejoice that in Christ you are forgiven and saved, and rejoice that in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we know the truth of God the Father, our Father whose will cannot be changed nor contested by our opponents, but his Will and Testament written in the blood of his Son that declares his gift of eternal to all his sons and daughters. His unperishable gift to you and me that allows us to not be guided by earthly currents or the cry of societies whims, but to stand firm in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ who will not disappoint. Amen.

An offer too good to refuse

“An offer too good to refuse”

Matthew 28:16-20

Saturday morning, at the end of the Australia vs. Chile world cup soccer game in which we lost 3-1, an interviewer remarked to the Aussie goal scorer Tim Cahill that “though they had lost, he had played a great game.”

He responded “to play these games for Australia is a great honour” and then speaking metaphorically finished with “and when you’re invited, you have to turn up.”

What an honour it would be to represent our country, even if only just once in soccer, test cricket, rugby league or nik, nat, paddywhack.

To be invited and “turn up” as if our life depended on it.

What an honour it would be to soar to such heights and see all the hard work and the honing of skill had been worth it and be amongst the best of the best.

For most of us, those days have long gone and we never got to send back a RSVP and so slip back into our day to day “grind”.

If it was a dream, that’s all it was. Unlucky, didn’t want it hard enough or probably just not good enough.

Sounds like the story of my life. Maybe yours too. Not good enough, but seemingly to have been “good” enough to given an honour so much more greater and more precious than we can ever imagine when Christ tells us, that in him having been given “All authority in heaven and earth”, has turned to us and said so now you, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus him very self has sent out the invite and we need to “turn up as if our life depended on it.”

So we suit up and break from the huddle ready to break through the lines, don the baggy green of righteousness ready to take on the 150 plus kilometre thunderbolts of life and “turn up.”

And then ready to rock and roll we have our Luther moment where the powers of darkness come to us as they did to him mocking and ridiculing our aspirations with taunts of “who do you think you are,” “you’re not good enough-your nothing,” and worst “you yourself are just another hopeless sinner.”

1st Peter tells us that “our enemy the devil” with his tricks of the trade of deception and lies “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So Peter adds be alert, vigilant and of sober mind that we hold firm.

Deceit, trickery and lies-so be alert to fend off these false accusations. We can do that because we know the truth of how this plays out. The results are in and Christ has won and we can see the lies for what they are. Faced with lies through personal strength of character and in good conscience we can turn away and think say what you want. But it’s not so easy when the lies aren’t lies, but the hard faced gut wrenching truth and see that our character is not of strength, but at best a flawed and blurred imagine of what we wish we were.

We like Luther face the truth “who do you think you are you flawed sinner to think that you could ever possibly help God do his business,” and yet, we too like Luther have been given authority to not run, but to turn and rebut not the character assignation, but to rebut the result and respond, “yes it is true, but I’m a forgiven sinner baptised and saved by grace.

Martin Luther when still overwrought by his sins and failures found the Gospel of Jesus Christ for himself-because he had too, and having found it became a great servant for the Lord. Eleven disciples, having run from Christ in his time of need are gathered together, hiding and poor in spirit from knowing they had left Him, feeling inadequate, confused and doubting. Then Jesus comes to them and says peace be with you and sends these same men without phone, Facebook or the world wide web at their disposal to take His message of forgiveness that they came to known first hand that a Church be built. The Church that now touches virtually every nation on earth.

C.S. Lewis said that “Miracles are a retelling of the letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.”

In knowing of Christ’s great love and His gift to us of being saved through faith in Him, and through faith in Him alone without any prerequisites of our own goodness or abilities may not seem like miracle, but the faith to believe it most certainly is.

Martin Luther, eleven disciples, you and me have all been given the prerequisite to go and make disciples and to bring them to baptism. The prerequisite that yes it may be true that we may seem to have little to offer, but in knowing that we are forgiven sinners, baptised in Christ and saved by grace we have everything to offer and just need to turn up.

In 1994, led by the spirit a group of Christians did that in venturing to Russia to distribute Bibles. While there a local citizen led them to an old warehouse that held many boxes of Bibles. They had been confiscated in the 1930’s when Stalin was sending Christians to the labour camps as prisoners. Amazingly, they were still there. So the volunteers arranged to use them. Among those who showed up to help load the truck to earn some income was a young agnostic, being a person that neither believe or disbelieves. Soon though he slipped away from the job and when a team member went looking for him, he found him sitting in a corner with a Bible he had taken from the boxes. He was crying because Bible he had picked up from the hundreds that were there was signed by his grandmother who had been persecuted for her faith. No doubt she had prayed for her family and probably for this grandson, and now all the years later, the Holy Spirit was using her Bible to bring him to faith.

A group asked to turn up and give away Bibles, and the Lord who showed up and changed a life.

The Lord has invited us to teach and bring others to know Him in Word and Sacrament and we need only open our hand and be led to those awaiting His Word.

Our business houses, our jobs, our families, the pubs, the clubs, the Church and its work. To these we go, as we are. Maybe not great in speech. Maybe shy and reluctant. But still we can go because we have been groomed throughout our lives to come to know the miracle of faith and in that faith we can go and attest to the love of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. And in that faith we go knowing of His promise to great and small missionaries of the past, and now to us, “That behold, (as you go) I am with you always to the end of the age.”

“Miracles are a retelling of the letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.” So we go and tell the story of our Saviour and His love, not in our need to be seen to do so, but in their need that they see Him also.  Amen.