Thursday, June 4, 2020

June 7, 2020 Trinity Sunday

At Home Worship
First Presbyterian Churches of
Paris and Deport, Texas
June 7, 2020

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,            2 Cor. 13:13
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.

Before we begin today we would like to take a minute to thank two friends who have helped us advance our ministry in the last two weeks.  Armel and Jane are learning how to put together a worship service but in this time of Covid-19 we are also having to face the challenges of doing a lot of electronics that we don't have a clue about.  We want you to meet the Winnsboro High School students who helped us with the videos:  Gunner and Hannah: They did all the video and posting to One Drive so Jane could post it all to our blog.  Thanks a million!

And now let us worship God:

Trusting in the word of life given in baptism, we are gathered in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

OPENING SENTENCES                                                                 
Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord:                              Ps. 130:1–2
Hear our voice and answer our prayers!
The word of the Lord is like fire in my bones;                      Jer. 20:9
I am weary with holding it in.
 What does the Holy One require of us?                                Mic. 6:8
To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

How majestic is God’s name in all the earth!
We see God’s glory in the expanse of the heavens.
            All plants and animals are God’s creation.
            All that God has made reflects God’s goodness.
We are created in God’s image, to relate to God.
We receive great abundance and care from our Creator
            God blesses us day by day with good things.
            We are given dominion over the works of God.
Gather to praise God and greet one another.
Celebrate all the ways God is revealed to us.
            We worship the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
            We rejoice in Christ’s promise of the Holy Spirit.

Mighty and merciful God, lover of justice and equity, you call us to support the weak, to help those who suffer, and to honor all people. By the power of your Holy Spirit, make us advocates for your justice and instruments of your peace, so that all may be reconciled in your beloved community; through Jesus Christ our Savior.

All that God has created is labeled “very good.” Life in all forms is complex and interrelated. Human life is precious and marvelously linked. Let us confess our neglect and irresponsibility in relation to all creation and to one another.

Amazing God, the more we learn of you creation, the more we are filled with awe and wonder. Yet, our vision narrows to our limited concerns, and we forget the immense reaches of the stewardship to which you appoint us. We have not taken good care of this tiny spaceship        , Earth, which is our home. We have not cared well for one another as sisters and brothers. Our doubts outweigh our obedience. O God, help us fulfill our baptism and claim our discipleship, as forgiving sinners.

We are created in the image of God and are blessed with the capacity to reflect God’ will in our daily lives. God cares for us and invest us with responsibility. Thus God honors us with hight expectations and confidence in our willingness to seek out life’s best for all people. We are loved. We are forgiven. Our baptism is renewed.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Amen. Amen. enlarge this video from YouTube click on the arrow on the picture then look for the box at the bottom right of the video.  This should make the video fill your screen.  After watching the video you can return to the page by clicking on the similar icon at the bottom right again and it should minimize the video.

Let us pray:
God of all creation, whose attention focused on the earth in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and whose gift of the Holy Spirit has empowered Christ’s disciples through the years, may our worship unite the saints in mutual caring, that our witness to the world may reflect the grace of Jesus Christ, your love for all humankind, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.       Amen.


OLD TESTAMENT READING                    GENESIS 1:1-2:4a

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

THE PSALMIST                                                        PSALM 8

8:1 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

8:2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

8:3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

8:4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

8:5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

8:6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

8:7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8:8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

8:9 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

NEW TESTAMENT READING                              2 CORINTHIANS 13: 11-13

13:11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

13:13 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 word of the Lord.      Thanks be to God.

Our first sermon is from Jane Els:

(Here is the text of the video in case you'd rather read it.)

Let us start with our gospel reading from:
Matthew 28:16-20
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Did you catch it? It was sandwiched in there almost like a footnote and I even miss it myself sometimes.  Unless you happened to know that today is Trinity Sunday and went looking for it you probably would not have noticed it.  We caught the main part easily enough:  “Go therefore ….  make disciples of all nations...baptizing them.”  All that is easy enough to remember.  That’s what we’re supposed to do.   We’re supposed to
1. Go 
2. Make disciples
3. Baptize. 
Then the last part is easy enough to remember also:  teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded.  And we are sustained by the knowledge that Jesus is with us always to the end of the age, meaning forever and ever.  (That includes the year 2020, thankfully.)
But let’s go back to the middle part that I skipped over, the part about “baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Because today is the day we focus on the Holy Trinity.  Today is Trinity Sunday. Today is the day we look at that footnote.
Why would Jesus invoke the name of three entities?  Isn’t it kind of like saying , “Tell them your Aunt Ethel and Uncle Frank and I send our regards?” And who are these three that we are baptized in their names? What difference does this make in our baptism? Does it make our baptism better somehow? If we are baptized in the name of the Big Three does that make it better somehow?   What difference does it make that I’ve been baptized this way?
Isn’t just the baptizing part enough? Does it matter in whose name we do it?
If you are someone who misses watching the sports on TV with the pandemic let me suggest an exercise:  Try watching the Trinity at work in the grocery store. 
Yes, the Trinity can be found working at the grocery store just as much as you could find it on TV in a professional football game.  The Trinity is actually a well-honed team act and you can find examples of it all around us.
Get a good look at the person sacking your groceries.  Really look at them.  God the Creator put that person here on earth and gave them a body, a brain, a heart and a soul.  The Creator gave this person a smile.  Then like a quarterback throws the ball to another player down the field or the batter hits the ball, Christ stepped in to give that person a reason to smile, to connect him to the Creator in love to form a bond with God that helps him want to work a job that is sometimes thankless but nonetheless gives him an identity of pride in his work.  Then, at some point during the day, here comes the Holy Spirit for the touchdown or the homerun to cross the finish line to either keep that person going or give them the idea they need or the strength to keep going or the extra burst of energy needed to finish out the day when they are tired or discouraged, when they think that being a grocery store clerk is a thankless job.
The Trinity works this way--as a team, like a great football or baseball play.
Now, if we go back and ask the question again, "why does it matter that we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?" we can see that without the Trinity our baptism would be as flat as a Coca Cola left sitting out in the sun on a hot summer day. Our baptism would be as lifeless as a rag doll with no stuffing. 
This is why the church needs committees.  I am convinced God invented church committees because God is a Trinitarian God, God understands that you can’t work alone.  Sometimes you need to come at a solution from another angle. Sometimes you need someone else to set the situation up for you to come in and further it along and then someone else different to finish it out.  Who says God doesn’t love sports? God is the ultimate team player.And this is why it matters: because God sends in a whole team to have a relationship with us.  Theologians call this perichoresis, the holy dance. Sometimes it’s also called the Dance of Love.
Folks, we have been baptized in the Dance of Love.

Now, Armel is going to tell us what we can do with that dance:

Justice and Reconciliation                                              Armel Crocker

My sermon today comes directly from the Book of Order (W-5.0304). I cannot find the words to articulate what I want to say. Silence is acquiescence. We must do more. We must take action. I am outraged by the killing of yet another Black person at the hands of police officers. I am fed up and want to make my stance very clear. The systemic racism that has divided our country for decades is not a political issue - it’s a people issue - and we, as Reformed Christians, should fully condemn police brutality and the ongoing violent tactics we’ve seen used against peaceful protestors. 
We have a racial issue at hand. “The past 400 years of racial discrimination has erupted and the pendulum has swung once again. The house that is burning is that of the black community. Does this affect our other concerns, such as immigration and the treatment of innocent children? Absolutely! But right now, I focus my intention on this specific injustice.  
Any time we gather for worship, we are called to proclaim the righteousness and justice of God, seek the peace of Jesus Christ, and pray for the reconciling work of the Holy Spirit. Yet a particular event in the world calls for special times of prayer for justice, peace, and reconciliation. In the wake of acts of violence, denials of justice, bitter debates, or contested decisions, it is fitting for us to seek the abiding presence and transforming power of the liberating Lord.

Justice and Reconciliation
God sends the Church to work for justice in the world: exercising its power for the common good; dealing honestly in personal and public spheres; seeking dignity and freedom for all people; welcoming strangers in the land; promoting justice and fairness in the law; overcoming disparities between rich and poor; bearing witness against systems of violence and oppression; and redressing wrongs against individuals, groups, and peoples. God also sends the Church to seek peace: in the Church universal, within denominations, and at the congregational level; in the world, where nations and religious or ethnic groups make war against one another; and in local communities, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes. These acts of peacemaking and justice are established upon God’s gracious act of reconciliation with us in Jesus Christ, and are a way of participating in Christ’s priestly intercession or advocacy for the world.
In the Service for the Lord’s Day we proclaim, receive, and enact reconciliation with God in Christ. Through the proclamation of the Word we are given the assurance of freedom and peace in Christ and are inspired to share these gifts with others. Through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper we are united with Christ, made one in the Spirit, and empowered to break down the dividing walls of hostility that still separate us from one another. We confess our participation in unjust systems, pray for an end to violence and injustice, offer our gifts to support Christ’s liberating work, and commit ourselves to pursue peace and justice in Jesus’ name.
(BOOK OF ORDER 2019-2021, W-5.0304)

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

A Pentecost Prayer written by, the Rev. Karl Travis (who gave permission to share and use). Thanks, pastor.

The Spirit cries out,
In your streets and into your hearts, I yearn to blow free.
But you are a stiff-necked people, kneeling on my neck.
Where injustice stands over the downtrodden, let me breath.
When racism blinds you to others’ experience, let me breathe.
As bigotry finds voice in the high places, let me breathe.
When avoidance and convenience sanction unanswered wrongs,
let me breathe.
Each time privilege cloaks unseemly truth, let me breathe.
Every time inhumanity poses as righteousness, let me breathe.
Let me breathe “from Stone Mountain of Georgia,” from “Lookout Mountain of Tennessee,” from “every hill” and “molehill” and from every “mountain side.”
Let me breathe in YOU, for I am the Lord God, and I am choking, panting, gasping to be heard, in all languages, in all places, for all people.

We ask this through Christ our Lord who taught us to pray;

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 debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever.

Beloved people of God                                                                            Phil. 4:8–9
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable,
anything that is excellent and worthy of praise—
keep on doing these things,
and the God of peace will be with you.
Alleluia! Amen.

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