Worship for Sunday 30th May 2021, by Rev. Sue Williams

Opening Words:

Praise the God of creation:

Who made us to be in relationship.


Praise the Christ of love:

who calls us friends.


Praise the Spirit of peace:

who enables us to live in unity.

Simon Taylor (from ‘Summer’ by Ruth Burgess)

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.

Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!

God in three persons, blessed trinity!


Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,

casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,

which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.


Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,

though the eye of sinfulness thy glory may not see,

only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,

perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.


Holy, holy, holy! Lord God almighty!

All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea.

Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!

God in three persons, blessed trinity!

Public Domain


Prayer of Praise and Adoration

God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity,

we ask for your presence to enter this space.

We know that in self-giving love,

your very nature teaches us how to love one another.


Living Love,

beginning and end, love and hope:

life in all its goodness – we praise and adore you.

Jesus, wisdom and word;

one of us yet one with God; crucified and risen:

life in the midst of death – we praise and adore you.


Holy Spirit, storm and breath of love;

unseen and unexpected,

untameable energy of life – we praise and adore you.


Holy Trinity, forever one,

life in all its fullness,

making all things new: we praise and adore you.


and confession

Forgive us, Jesus Christ,

for even as we celebrate your unity

we know that sometimes we forget

the beauty of your three persons.


We hold to your transcendent life as Creator

and keep at a distance the challenges of Christ.

We bow before your glory

and keep your humanness away

from the reality of our own lives.

(Silent reflection)


Forgive us, Jesus Christ,

if we are tempted to think that we know

all that there is to know,

closing ourselves off from ideas which others offer

and neglecting to search for even deeper truths.


Forgive us, Jesus Christ,

Guide and guard us, Holy Spirit,

and go on creating within us, Creator God.


Prayer of praise written by Brian Wren, Christian Aid Prayers, 1980 (adptd)

There is a Redeemer

Jesus God’s own Son,

precious Lamb of God, Messiah,

Holy One.

Thank you, O my Father,

for giving us Your Son

and leaving Your Spirit

’til the work on earth is done.


Jesus, my Redeemer,

name above all names,

precious Lamb of God, Messiah,

O for sinners slain.

Thank you …


When I stand in glory,

I will see His face,

and there I’ll serve my King forever,

in that holy place.

Thank you …

 © words&music 1982 Birdwing Music


John 3:1-17 (NIV)

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.


Do you ever say yes to something – or someone – then check out later what it was you said yes to?   This happened to me when I volunteered to put together this act of worship and discovered that 30th May is Trinity Sunday – I got more than I bargained for!  In all my years as a local preacher and as a minister I’m not sure I’ve ever understood the doctrine of the Trinity or described it well enough.

I remember the very first time I was put on the plan for Trinity Sunday (I think it was at the old Edge Lane church) and feeling quite clever for coming up with the idea of a tricycle as an illustration for the Trinity.  I was soon put right as to why that didn’t hold water.  And yes,  another year, I did try the water illustration, you know the one, water can be liquid, ice, steam?  But they cannot each exist separately at the same time!    St. Ignatius of Loyola once had a revelation of the Trinity as a harmonic chord, with three notes being played at the same time but forming one sound. I’m still pondering this one but this revelation was so overwhelming for Ignatius that after receiving it, he wept tears of joy all day.  But then I read that Martin Luther himself wasn’t able to explain the Trinity even though he wrote volumes and volumes on the subject, so we’re in good company.  The doctrine of the Trinity is an ancient tradition that attempts to make sense of the mystery that we call God, and mysteries are, by definition, unexplainable.

I wonder if this was how Nicodemus felt as he left his midnight meeting with Jesus, after he said, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again’.   Now Nicodemus was an education man, and a spiritual man, and he’s been watching Jesus and has come to the conclusion that his teachings and actions are somehow the work of God.  But when he visits Jesus in secret under the cover of darkness to ask what seems to be a simple question, he get’s more than he bargained for with this talk of being born again.  How can this be?   Unless you are born of water and spirit …

What discussions this conversation has given rise to in the church!   I’ve had a few over my time and recall one with a really agitated young woman because she had never had an experience of this sort and doubted she really did have faith.   I don’t know what happened to her or what decisions she made in the future.

And we are left wondering what happened next with Nicodemus.  Jesus, we are told, went off with his disciples into the Judean countryside.  Did Nicodemus simply call it a night, go home, baffled by what Jesus has said?  Or did he continue to mull over what Jesus had said?    If like me you reached a point in your life when you felt it was time to make a fresh start, or to set out in a new direction, you’ll know it takes a lot of thinking, praying and talking until a decision reached.  So what did  Nicodemus decide?  Well, some time later,  when Jesus has been preaching in the temple courts and is nearly arrested, Nicodemus stands up for him.   And he is there again, when he helps Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus’s body for a proper burial (John 19:39).  So yes, he did ponder Jesus’s words, he did set out in a different direction.  His life was turned around.

And perhaps that is what Trinity Sunday is about, lives turned around by an encounter with the Living God in Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.  

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,

like the wideness of the sea;

there’s a kindness in his justice

which is more than liberty.


There is plentiful redemption

in the blood that has been shed;

there is joy for all the members

in the sorrows of the Head.


For the love of God is broader

than the measures of the mind;

and the heart of the Eternal

is most wonderfully kind.


But we make his love too narrow

by false limits of our own;

and we magnify his strictness

with a zeal he will not own.


If our love were but more simple

we should take him at his word;

and our lives would be illumined

by the presence of our Lord.

Our prayers for others:

God the Creator, we pray for the world,

brought to birth by your love;
where your children fight and kill,
die of hunger and disease,

oppress and exploit one another.

We pray for …


God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

We ask for new life in you.

God the Saviour, we pray for humankind,
whose joys and pains you came in love to share,

and who are still in need

of repentance and forgiveness,

of healing and comfort,
of faith and hope.

We pray for …

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

We ask for new life in you.


God among us, we pray for the Church,

created, sustained and filled with love by you,

asking that you will give us

vision and courage,
unity with one another,
the strength to serve you in the world.

We pray for …

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

We ask for new life in you.


God the Father, bless us,

God the Son, protect us,

God the Spirit, guide us,

now and evermore. Amen.

©Christine Odell (Sheasby) downloaded from web

Today I awake

and God is before me.

At night, as I dreamt,

God summoned the day;

For God never sleeps

but patterns the morning

with slithers of gold

or glory in grey.


Today I arise

and Christ is beside me.

He walked through the dark

to scatter new light,

Yes, Christ is alive,

and beckons his people

to hope and to heal,

resist and invite.


Today I affirm

the Spirit within me

at worship and work,

in struggle and rest.

The Spirit inspires

all life which is changing

from fearing to faith,

from broken to blest.


Today I enjoy

the Trinity round me,

above and beneath,

before and behind;

The Maker, the Son,

the Spirit together –

they called me to life

and call me their friend.

John L Bell & Graham Maule

© Words and Music: 1989 Iona Community


Sending and Blessing

Jesus said, the way to see God’s dream for

the world is to be born from above by the Spirit.

The way to take part in that dream, says Jesus,

is to be born of water and Spirit.

That gift is available this day.

May you receive

God’s Spirit,

be made whole,

and dwell more deeply in love divine.