Trinity Sunday- 1st Sunday after Pentecost

May 26, 2024

Lectionary Texts

Isaiah 6.1-8 — The prophet sees God in the Temple. “I am a man of unclean lips!” An angel sears his lips with a burning coal. “Whom shall I send?” “Send me.”

Psalm 29 — God’s voice flashes forth. God sits enthroned over the flood.

Romans 8. 12-17 — Live according to the spirit, not the flesh. We are heirs with Christ.

John 3. 1-17 — Jesus tells Nicodemu we must be born “again from above.” The Son of man will be “lifted up” like Moses’ bronze serpent.

Preaching Thoughts

       The Sunday after Pentecost is often focused on the gift and care of Creation. See Creation-Centered Resources.

Trinity Sunday
       The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. Now that the Holy Spirit has made her liturgical debut on Pentecost, the gang’s all here, and we can celebrate the Trinity. Of course the Spirit has been here since before Creation, but now she’s center stage.
       The image of the Trinity does not just describe three different jobs God has, but that God’s essence is in relationship; that God’s nature is beyond any one quality; that God exceeds all our understandings and categories. The Trinity is not a “doctrine” so much as an image. An icon. We diminish it when we turn it into a scientific formula. In fact what the “doctrine” of the Trinity means is that God is mystery and can’t be turned into a doctrine. The image of the Trinity is an icon of God as relationship, as community, as mystery and paradox, as loving energy, as what we think and also what we can’t imagine. See further reflection and worship materials related to the Trinity.

 Typical of Hebrew thought, Isaiah is aware he bears not only his own sin but his people’s. In The Brothers Karamazof Father Zosima says, “You should know, my dear ones, that every individual is undoubtedly responsible for everyone and everything on earth, not only with respect to general guilt, but each individual person is responsible for every single person and all mankind on earth.” Sounds a little like Jesus suffering for all of humanity… And it gives dimension to our being sent out (“Here am I; send me”), not just to be kind to our immediate neighbors but to care for the well-being of all living beings.

 Living according to the flesh is living according to the delusion that I am contained, defined, and limited to my physical body. But in fact, Paul says, we’re more than our individual bodies: we’re all cells of one living organism, each of us a part of the Body of Christ. “I” am not just this little individual, but “we,” made alive and made one by the one breath, the Spirit of God. To liv according to the flesh is to be compelled by our fears, wounds and desires. To live according to the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit, to live as part of the Body of Christ, accountable to, responsible for and compassionate toward the whole, not just ourselves.

       Metaphoric, not literal.
Nicodemus is a literalist: “climb back in my mother’s womb?” Of course Jesus will have none of it. All religious language, including all scripture, is metaphorical. “Take up your cross” is a metaphor. “Jesus died” is, too. Yes, it’s a historical fact—but its meaning for us lies in its metaphorical meaning, not just that it happened.
       Born from the top. Jesus tells Nicodemus that we must be born “from the top,” that is, both from God and also anew, over and over. We receive our life from God. It’s not a one-time thing, like “I was born again on November13…”) It’s every breath, a gift from God,. Every breath we die and are born again. To be born “from above” is to receive life from God, to let God be our life, because we’re receiving it from God, moment by moment, not just because our heart hasn’t stopped yet.
       Flesh and Spirit. As in Paul’s writings, Jesus isn’t saying the spiritual is separate from the physical, or that there’s something less holy about our bodies. It’s distinguishing between the little parts and the whole, between the illusion of our separateness and the reality of our connectedness. To be “born of the Spirit” is to live in relatedness to all living things, indeed, to all Creation, because we’re all breathed into life by the same one breath of God.
      So loved. Despite evangelists’ use of John 3.16 as a club to convert people, it’s about love, and salvation, not about condemnation. It’s about how much God loves the world, not about how much you need to convert. God sent the son so that the world wold be saved, not just Christian believers.
       Eternal life. This doesn’t mean a long afterlife. It doesn’t mean living for 15 billion years after you die. It means living life that is infinitely deep, flourishing and flowing with life from God that is timeless, that can’t be taken from you, life radiant with with joy and beauty.

Call to Worship

Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
You are holy, and we worship you.
We are your children, born of your Spirit.
What is within us is holy, for it is from you.
Help us to give our lives so that we may receive life.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: By water and the Spirit you create us.
In the womb of your love we are born anew, breath by breath.
In our worship give birth to us again
as your Beloved,
as your community,
as the Body of Christ. Amen.

Leader: God, like Nicodemus we come to you in the dark.
All: We do not understand; we only love you.
By your grace we are born from you, new, over and over.
Give us new life in your Spirit.
The world thinks we are separate,
but we are one in your love, one in your Spirit.
Awaken in us our prayers for one another
and for all the world.
In love for the world you have given us Jesus.
In love for the world you send us.
Fill us with your love, that in our lives
Christ may be lifted up,
for the sake of the wholeness of all Creation. Amen.

Leader: Holy One, your Spirit blows where it will.
All: Spirit of love, breathe in us.
By water and the Spirit we are born of you, new every moment.
Spirit of life, give us new birth.
Breathe your strength and beauty into us.
Wind of grace, blow us out into the world to serve you in love. Amen

Collect / Prayer of the Day

Holy One, you so love the world that you give us your Beloved, your Only Begotten, that we may be made whole. By your Spirit in us, may we be born again and again from you grace; may we be readily blown where the wind of your Spirit blows us, in the name and the company of Jesus. Amen.

Loving God, you make us your children and you call us to help you to love the world. Stir up your Spirit in us so that as we read your scriptures and proclaim your Word we might hear what you are saying to us, and be transformed and enabled to sing more freely and beautifully the song of your grace. Amen.

Holy Mystery of Love, you have loved the world so much as to give us yourself in Christ. BY water and the Spirit you have made us, your church. To your love, beyond our comprehension, we turn in awe. To your love, made real among us, we open our hearts. To your love, birthed within us, we give ourselves. By your grace may we be born anew, breath by breath, in your love. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to intercessions)

God of Love,
we are born anew from you, breath by breath.
We breathe deeply of your Spirit.
We open our hearts to your love.
We wait for your Living Word.
Come to us.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
Gentle God, you have created us by your Spirit and filled us with your gifts.
You have placed within us the fruits of your good news to share with the world.
But we have kept them to ourselves. We have held on to our goods;
we have withheld our love; we have stilled your Word within us.
Forgive our sin. Heal our fear. Break open our self-centeredness.
Let our self-limited selves die, and give us new life instead,
abundant with your grace and generous in love and service.
                   Silent prayer… The word of grace


  1. Romans 8.12-17, a paraphrase.

Dearly Beloved, siblings in Christ, we are not isolated bodies,
constrained by their needs and limitations.
When we live that way, as separate units, we die.
But when by the breath flowing from God
we leave behind mere survival, we live deeply.
All who are led by the Spirit are children of God.
The Spirit doesn’t leave you in slavery, leashed to fear:
the Spirit is your adoption as God’s own.
When we cry out to God it is God in us making it clear
that we are God’s children—who inherit from God what Christ does,
invited as Christ’s siblings to share in Christ’s sufferings,
and also in Christ’s glory.

Because you are God’s child, you are like God.
You have God’s Spirit.
You are filled with God’s gifts.
Though you may feel inadequate,
the gifts God has given you are holy, beautiful, and powerful.
But they are not for you. They are for the world.
If you hold onto them, they have no beauty, purpose or power.
Only when you let them go, give them away, do they become true gifts.
Like a seed, your gifts will only become apparent if you “die,”
if you give of yourself. Then beautiful things will happen.
The only reason we withhold our gifts,
our time and talent, our money or our passion,
is that we are afraid.
But since we are God’s and God’s Spirit is in us,
we are not afraid. We are free.
So we give generously. We give our best.
We give joyfully.
In this way we fulfill the purpose of our lives,
glorify God, and participate in the healing of the world.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

       We love you and trust you, God, Mother of all things, by whom we are born anew, breath by breath. You so loved the whole world that you gave us yourself to us in Christ, so that we might know the depth of life.
       We love you and trust you, Jesus, the Begotten One of God, who came among us to free us from condemnation and open to us the way of life that is infinitely deep, that is loving, that is eternal. You were lifted up on a cross—and lifted up again, raised from death to life. And so you welcome us into the realm of God.
       We love you and trust you, Holy Spirit, by whom we are born again and again from God. By water and the Spirit you have created us, and created your church, born of both flesh and spirit, to serve you, to embody you, to bear your love, do justice, and live in your joy and beauty, for the sake of your love for the world. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Holy Love, Holy One, blessed are you, for in the beginning
over the swirling darkness your Spirit brooded,
and by your Word you created the world.
The wind of your Holy Spirit blows where it will,
and we cannot see where it comes from, or where it goes.
Yet we know it moves in love, and with thanksgiving
we can trace your works of justice and mercy.

By your grace you transform all things:
you free us from slavery to sin and death,
and overthrow the powers of oppression.
You call us to new lives in Christ,
that being born of water and the Spirit,
we may know eternal life in the Realm of your presence.
In your Spirit we gather at your table to be made new.
Feasting on your grace, we join all Creation as we sing your praise:

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
For you so loved the world that you gave us yourself,
embodying your love in your Only Begotten.

He fed and taught and forgave and blessed.
He healed the broken and raised up the downtrodden,
and created a new community of justice and love.
He called us to live by your Spirit
and offered us the mystery of salvation, the gift of new life.
He was lifted up on the cross and died;
but you lifted him up in glory, raising him from death.

The Blessing & Covenant *

As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s sacrifice for us
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup.
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
Renew your living Holy Spirit within us,
that, receiving the body of Christ, we become the Body of Christ.

In the death and resurrection of Christ,
may we die to our old ways, and be born anew.
Here we are; send us as your people
to serve you for the sake of your love for the world,
in the name and the Spirit of Christ.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup.
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
Renew your living Holy Spirit within us,
that, receiving the body of Christ, we become the Body of Christ.

In the death and resurrection of Christ,
may we die to our old ways, and be born anew.
Here we are; send us as your people
to serve you for the sake of your love for the world,
in the name and the Spirit of Christ.

 [Spoken or sung]

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / After communion

Suitable for dedicating the offering of gifts, after communion, or sending forth at the end of the service. Adapt as needed.

Gracious God, we thank you for
the mystery that you give yourself to us.
/ this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.
Holy God, Three In One, send us in the love of Christ and the power of your Spirit for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for
the mystery that you give yourself to us.
/ this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.
As you have fed us in this meal, give new birth to us in every breath: continually make us new in love for you, for each other, and for the world, in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for
the mystery that you give yourself to us.
/ this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.
Gracious God, receive our lives and all our gifts, which we give to you in thanks and joy. Grateful for your Son, Jesus, and for the gift of salvation, we offer ourselves to you. Here are we, your people. Send us, to show your love to all Creation, in the name of Christ. Amen.

You have fed your children at your table. You have filed us with your gifts. Send us into the world now to share those gifts, to give freely of our selves, our hearts and resources, our time and attention, for the sake of your desire for the healing of all Creation. We pray in the name of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit within and among us. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Always New
(Tune: Gift of Love -“Water Is Wide”- or Tallis’ Canon)

O God, you make me always new.
Each breath I breathe is life from you,
a gift of love that sets me free.
Beloved, breathe new life in me.

O Christ, you call me to new birth
like God’s creation of the earth,
to leave the things I’m fastened on
and walk into the rising dawn.

O loving Spirit, live in me.
Forgive my sin and set me free.
Give me new birth, life from above,
that I may live in your deep love.

God of Creation, Birthing us Daily    (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

God of Creation, birthing us daily,
granting salvation, making things new,
thanks for your blessing gladly we give you,
freely confessing our love for you.

Healing, forgiving, Jesus you touch us.
Bless all our living; grant us delight.
Jesus our brother, help us live gently,
love one another, trust in God’s light.

Grant us our living, great Holy Spirit,
faithfully giving hearts made of praise:
baptized in glory, servants of Jesus,
living your story all of our days.

I Am Open      (Original song)

Dear gentle Jesus, I open to you
the deepest chambers of my soul.
My heart is open, wounded and broken.
Heal and forgive and make me whole.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Beloved Jesus, my eyes are open;
your healing touch restores my sight.
Like open windows, they shine, and in flows
your glory filling me with light.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

My wounded Jesus. Your arms are open,
our hurt and dying to embrace.
When I would close them, hold my arms open,
to be so loving by your grace.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Now risen Jesus, my life is open,
a flower unfolding in the sun:
by your light growing, and boldly showing
the love of God, as you have done.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Live by the Spirit (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)
[Romans 8.1-6]

God has now done what the law could not do:
God set you free and God reconciled you.
Live by the Spirit that God freely gives,
Spirit of Christ, by which each of us lives.

Setting your mind on the Spirit is peace:
rooted in grace, from our sin we’re released.
Live, then, by the Spirit that raised Christ from death,
Spirit that raises us in every new breath.

Go in God’s peace. Go in Christ’s gentle light.
Go in the Spirit that leads us aright.
Children of God, go in love as you do,
dying with Christ and arising anew.

Spirit of God    (Original song)

Spirit of God, bright Wind, breath that bids life begin,
blow as you always do; create us anew.
Give us the breath to sing, lifted on soaring wing,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.

Spirit of God, bright Dove, grant us your peace and love,
healing upon your wings for all living things.
For when we live your peace captives will find release,
held in your hands, borne on your wings. Alleluia!…

Spirit of God, bright Hands, even in far-off lands
you hold all the human race in one warm embrace.
No matter where we go you hold us together so,
held in your hands, borne on your wings. Alleluia!…

Spirit of God, bright Flame, send us in your holy name,
with power to heal, to share your love everywhere.
We cannot fail or fall or know defeat at all,
held in your hands, borne on your wings. Alleluia!…

Spirit of God in all, we gladly hear your call,
the life in our hands that sings, the power of your wings.
Born of your grace we rise, love shining in our eyes,
held in your hands, borne on your wings. Alleluia!…

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