THROUGH CHRIST WE HAVE ACCESS TO THE FATHER BY ONE SPIRIT. (Ephesians 2: 18)
Welcome to our Sunday morning web-worship!
…I WAS FILLED WITH DELIGHT DAY AFTER DAY, REJOICING ALWAYS IN HIS PRESENCE, REJOICING IN HIS WHOLE WORLD AND DELIGHTING IN MANKIND. (Proverbs 8: 22 – 31)
THEREFORE, SINCE WE HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED THROUGH FAITH, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THROUGH WHOM WE HAVE GAINED ACCESS BY FAITH INTO THIS GRACE IN WHICH WE NOW STAND. AND WE REJOICE IN THE HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD. NOT ONLY SO, BUT WE ALSO REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS, BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT SUFFERING PRODUCES PERSEVERENCE; PERSEVERENCE, CHARACTER; AND CHARACTER, HOPE. AND HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT US, BECAUSE GOD HAS POURED OUT HIS LOVE INTO OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHOM HE HAS GIVEN US.
(Romans 5: 1 – 5)
Peace and Joy: this is what we are really missing in these tragic times of theCovid-19 Pandemic, and I hope and pray that we may regain them soon. Nevertheless, during the terrible Christian persecutions of the first century, Peace and Joy had to become the heart of God’s comforting message to the believers in Rome. In these verses from Chapter 5 of his Epistle to the Romans, Paul confesses how God remains present even in tragic circumstances of our lives.
I will always remember that once, during a “bumpy” flight somewhere above Asia, an old missionary friend of mine quietly said: – God never promises calm passages but safe landings. It was the most practical explanation I’ve ever heard on the theology of the RealPresence of God. The word TRINITY is never mentioned in the Bible, but it became unavoidable for the Church to define somehow God’s ever-present NATURE. In His last words before Ascension, Jesus said to His disciples: …surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28: 20). Here lies the importance of Trinity Sunday. It is a reminder of the three-fold way of God’s presence in our lives, that despite the worst of situations we might face, the godly Peace and Joy can always remain ours.
John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the finest pieces of Christian literature ever composed. The allegory tells of Christian, who is on the journey of a lifetime, on his way from this world to the Celestial City. Along the way, he stumbles into the “slough of despondency”, and is almost overcome by the troubles that bog him down. But by God’s hand, he is lifted and set back on the road. He comes to a city named “Vanity Fair” and is almost captured in the superficiality and frivolity of that town. But again, God took him onward and set him on the road. Time and time again hardship arose, but God saw him always through. Finally, he comes to face the greatest test of all – the frightening “River of Death”. Across the dark and murky waters, he could see the Celestial City. But in order to get there, he had to cross the river. Fearfully he looked for other ways to cross, but there were no other ways. Finally, his companion traveller, Hopeful, gets into the water, first ankle deep, then knees deep, then waist deep. From midway of the river, he turns and shouts back to Christian on the shore: – Be of good hope, brother Christian, I have found the bottom – and it is good.
Tragedy in some form comes to all people. Sooner or later, in some way, we all taste some tragic moments. Some great sacrifice, even as with Christ, will be required of us. There will be a lonely road, a steep mountain, a dream unfulfilled, physical or spiritual hurt, an unavoidable human experience. The question is: when they come, how do we respond? The option is always there, the way of faith or the way of no-faith. The Gospel of John tells us (Chapter 6), that after feeding the five thousand, Jesus taught them about being saved through faith in Him and at that point many walked away, until finally Jesus was left alone with the Twelve. To them He asked, – You do not want to leave too, do you? There was the option. And Simon Peter responded: – Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6: 68).
We live in an uncertain world, full of life-threatening dangers and tragedies, as God’s people always have. If nothing else, then even a tiny invisible virus can bring us to this reality. We do not choose tragedy, but we can learn to live with a healthy attitude toward tragic events whenever they come. Look again to our New Testament text: we are justified through faith, made right with God. There is Peace. There is Grace. There is Perseverance. There is Character. There is Hope. There is Love.
Here we have it: the Christian way of life that makes all the difference because God never disappoints us. God the Creator became our Saviour, Whose Holy Power poured out into our lives testifies with us to whom we belong : THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT, ONE ETERNAL GOD, – for ever.
ALL PRAISE AND THANKS TO GOD The Father now be given, The Son, and Him who reigns With them in highest heaven, – The One, eternal God, Whom earth and heaven adore; For thus it was, is now, And shall be ever more. Amen. (Church Hymnary, 659.)
UNTO GOD BE PRAISE AND HONOUR; To the Father, to the Son, To the mighty Spirit, glory – Ever Three and ever One: Power and glory in the highest While eternal ages run. Amen. (Church Hymnary, 660.)
LET US PRAY:
God, the Father, who has delivered us from darkness and transferred us to be saved by Your beloved Son, we worship You. God, the Son, Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, who makes us new creatures, we worship You. God, the Holy Spirit, who leads us so that we are sons of God, fellow-heirs with Christ, we worship you. God, most holy, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, eternally One God in Three Persons, and Three Persons in One God, we worship and adore You, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Bless us Lord God with the vision of Your Glory: that we may know You as the Father who created us, rejoice in You as the Son who redeemed us, and gain peace in You, the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies us to worship and glorify You, Holy Trinity, One, Eternal God. (part of a 5th Century prayer). Loving God, we recognize our need of You; help us to acknowledge everything You have given us as demonstrations of the wonder of Your love, the constancy of Your care and the greatness of Your grace. Teach us to trust in You, and so fill us again with peace, joy and hope.
We bring before You, O God, the particular problems of our age: poverty, hunger, insecurity, greed, complacency, faithlessness. We continue to pray for everyone affected in any way by this Covid-19 virus here in Skye, Scotland, Britain and the world; for those who work, heal, serve, lead in these difficult times, or just simply make life a little bit easier for others. Bless us Lord God with all our loved ones, and reveal to us Your RealPresence in our lives, Holy Trinity, One Eternal God.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN…
MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THE LOVE OF GOD AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH US ALL, NOW AND FOR EVER MORE. AMEN.
Sandor, your Minister.