Trinity Sunday

Steve Bell
Sunday 15th June, 2014

Some of you may be wondering what on earth I am doing standing here now.
Well, my name is Steve and I am about to enter the third year of training to become a licenced lay Reader within the Church of England. If all goes to plan, and it will be by the grace of God if it does, then from next September you will get to see me in a white dress and blue scarf on a Sunday morning.
Today is Trinity Sunday, they day that we celebrate the Holy Trinity. Today is also the day that in the Church of England we celebrate the life of Evelyn Underhill. Evelyn Underhill lived in the late 19th early 20th century and was born in Wolverhampton.

Which gives me chance to tell you a story that a friend of mine from Wolverhampton told me about two gentlemen from the area called Enoch and Eli.
“Enoch and Eli were fishing in the canal.
Enoch says to Ely, “ave yam catched owt yit?”
Ely replies, “Arr, I’ve caught a whale, but I’ve threw it back thou”
Enoch says, “A WHALE? Why’ve yum threwn it back?”
“I were missin arf its spokes!”

Evelyn Underhill was a writer and Christian mystic who wrote on many subjects including the trinity and I would encourage you to look her up.
Now, the church has spent centuries and to be fair, the majority of the last two millennia discussing the trinity and trying to come up with an adequate explanation for it. So I’ll leave my thoughts on the trinity to be covered by the Creed that we will read shortly.
As you say the creed this morning, I urge you to really think about the words and what they mean.
So, I’m going to focus on the passages that we had read to us in particular, one of my favourite parts of the Gospels.

The Famous Last Words of:
Humphrey Bogart
“I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis”
John Sedgewick Union Army Commander American Civil War
“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”

If you knew that the next thing you said, would be the very last thing that your loved ones would hear from you, what would you say?
Would you try to think of something funny to say? A joke perhaps?
Or would you want it to be the most important thing you could hope to impart to them?
In our Gospel Reading we see that Jesus’ last words on this earth to those, whom he loved most dearly, were almost certainly given serious consideration.
Jesus clearly chose to pass on what he considered to be the most important thing that he could leave his disciples with.
Verse 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,”
He doesn’t say “for heaven’s sake, don’t let women run the church!”
He doesn’t even say anything about homosexuality, or any other issue which are on occasion elevated to seemingly the NUMBER ONE issue for Christians.
He tells them to GO! And Make Disciples!
All the other issues pale into triviality if we aren’t living up to THIS “Great Commission”.
We are therefore ALL, each and every one of us, called nay, charged, directly by Jesus to make disciples of all nations.
In his “The Message”, Eugene Peterson paraphrases this as…
“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life”
Now not everyone is given the gift of evangelism. I’m sure we can cover Spiritual Gifts another day, but we each have a role to play in mission, evangelism and outreach.

What Jesus really wants for His church, is for it to be filled with His disciples, and that doesn’t mean that if you don’t consider yourself His disciple that there you are not welcome, it means that He hopes that you will become His disciples.
Why are we all here?
You might be here because you want your children to go to the school?
You might be here because it’s a nice social function in the village?
You might be here because there’s not much on telly on a Sunday morning?
You might be here to listen to your banns being read?
You might be hoping to get married here or have your child Christened?
You might have been invited by a friend or family member?
You may not know why you’re here.
You might be here because you believe and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour?
Whatever your reason for being here, it’s great to see you. I’m delighted that you’re here, Mark is delighted that you’re here and most importantly, God, in the form of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is delighted that you are here.
But what is a disciple?
Well, every disciple of Jesus is a Christian, but being a Christian, doesn’t necessarily mean that one is a disciple.
Before we can make disciples, we must first make sure that we ARE disciples.
A disciple is devoted to their master’s teaching, they want to learn from their teacher and to become like their teacher.
If you aren’t a disciple and would like to become one, then please do come and speak to myself or Mark, or someone you feel comfortable speaking to.
Please remember that it doesn’t matter if you’ve never been here before, or you’ve been coming for over 40 years, if you would like to be a disciple, we would LOVE to speak to you about it and nobody is going to be judging anyone for it.
If you are already a disciple then we need to talk about how to make other disciples.
Firstly, we are commanded to GO and make disciples.
That GO, isn’t necessarily to a far flung corner of the world, it can be right here in Berkswell the surrounding areas.
You may feel called to the other side of the world, and if you do, then please discuss it with someone like Mark before jumping in with both feet. Such calls need to be tested to make sure that they are from God.
But whether your “GO” is local, national or international, we can’t do it by standing still. We must commit ourselves to doing our very best for God at all times and allow ourselves to be led by His Holy Spirit.
I mentioned before that not everyone is a gifted evangelist, but every single Christian CAN be a witness.
St Francis of Assisi was quoted as saying
“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
Zoe and I became Christians at the same time, and there were a great many people involved.
Firstly, there was the gentleman who was making tea in a church in the middle of Rugby at 10pm on a Friday night who rather than telling us to go away, because the church was closed, took a couple of minutes to find out about us and invite us to come back on Sunday.
There was the welcome team when we arrived on that Sunday, who made us feel welcome and at home.
There was the gentleman who invited us to sit with him so he could show us when to stand and when to sit, and answered my questions, however stupid they must have sounded to him. For instance,
“Why aren’t they taking the collection now? It says COLLECT in the service book?”
There were the people who helped us to feel part of a community over tea at the end of the service, rather than grouping into little Cliques that exclude outsiders.
There was the chap who suggested we might like to join his house group, and all the members of that house group who despite being a very board spectrum of backgrounds and ages, ALL felt like family.
So, even if you don’t fancy going door to door asking strangers if they’d like to know about Jesus, maybe you could be one of the people I mentioned. Or maybe there’s another role that you could play.
You don’t have to be a solo artist. Even Elvis Pressley had a team without whom he couldn’t have performed.
We don’t have to be brash “know it all” Christians. If there are things you are unsure of, that is absolutely fine. In verse 17 we see that some of the Apostles doubted.
These guys had spent three years with Jesus, seen Him die and were now talking to Him in His risen form and STILL the doubted!
Doubt is an integral part of faith. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, but certainty.
So much of our faith is a mystery, we celebrate the mystery during our Eucharist.
One of the authorised responsorial elements of the Eucharistic prayer the priest will say “Great is the Mystery of faith”.
An example of doubt was evident yesterday as some of us were packing away the gazebos from the fete.
We knew that they came out of the bags, we had seen it with our own eyes! BUT we had some doubts as to whether they would go back in or not. But they did and it was ok in the end.
So don’t let your doubts be a barrier to sharing your faith. Stick to what you know and don’t be afraid to say “to be honest I’m not really sure about that, but I’d be happy to do some research with you on the subject?”
And, above all, remember Jesus’ promise at the end of the Gospel reading…
“I am with you always, to the end of the age”
Jesus is there with us. When it doesn’t feel like he is, it is almost certainly ourselves who have cut ourselves off from him. Not the other way around. All we need to do is ask Him for His help and He will be there. We just need to trust in Him and He will walk with us.
So, what are you going to do next?
Maybe you’d like to join a house group? Maybe you’d like to lead a house group? Maybe you’d like to know what a House Group is? Maybe you feel called to become a priest or a Reader?
Maybe you want to go to the deepest jungle tribe and tell them about Jesus? Maybe you’d just like to be a little more comfortable talking about Jesus? Maybe there’s something else?
Either way, if you would like to do anything about Jesus’ commission to us all, then please come and speak to myself or Mark.
And remember, it doesn’t matter if you catch a wheel with half its spokes missing; the key is to have your line in the water.
Amen.

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