The assigned Scripture readings for Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021, are Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17 and John 3:1-17.
The following is excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
“We are blessed this week with two of the ‘classic’ Biblical verses, which could easily be repeated by many within the church: Isaiah 6:8 and John 3:16. Not only do both the Isaiah and John passages have Trinitarian overtones and references, they can lead beyond consideration of the Trinity in many directions.”
“The fundamental dogma, on which everything in Christianity is based, is that of the Blessed Trinity in whose name all Christians are baptized. The feast of the Blessed Trinity needs to be understood and celebrated as a prolongation of the mysteries of Christ and as the solemn expression of our faith in this triune life of the Divine Persons, to which we have been given access by Baptism and by the Redemption won for us by Christ.”
“The feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced in the ninth century and was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the fourteenth century by Pope John XXII. But the cultus of the Trinity is, of course, to be found throughout the liturgy. Constantly the Church causes us to praise and adore the thrice-holy God who has so shown His mercy towards us and has given us to share in His life.”
“Trinity Sunday The dogma of faith which forms the object of the feast is this: There is one God and in this one God there are three Divine Persons; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three Gods, but one, eternal, incomprehensible God! The Father is not more God than the Son, neither is the Son more God than the Holy Spirit. The Father is the first Divine Person; the Son is the second Divine Person, begotten from the nature of the Father from eternity; the Holy Spirit is the third Divine Person, proceeding from the Father and the Son.” “Why is this feast celebrated at this particular time? It may be interpreted as a finale to all the preceding feasts. All three Persons contributed to and shared in the work of redemption. The Father sent His Son to earth, for "God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son." The Father called us to the faith. The Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, became man and died for us. He redeemed us and made us children of God. He ever remains the liturgist par excellence to whom we are united in all sacred functions. After Christ's ascension the Holy Spirit, however, became our Teacher, our Leader, our Guide, our Consoler.”
“This feast, which falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, should make us mindful that actually every Sunday is devoted to the honor of the Most Holy Trinity, that every Sunday is sanctified and consecrated to the triune God. Sunday after Sunday we should recall in a spirit of gratitude the gifts which the Blessed Trinity is bestowing upon us. The Father created us; on the first day of the week He began the work of creation. The Son redeemed us; Sunday is the "Day of the Lord," the day of His resurrection. The Holy Spirit sanctified us, made us His temple; on Sunday the Holy Spirit descended upon the infant Church. Sunday, therefore, is the day of the Most Holy Trinity.”
Thanksgiving and Confession shared by Rev Dr Sandy Forsyth, Minister of Mayfield Minister of Mayfield Salisbury, Edinburgh, Scotland.
“Loving God, this time, these moments are precious – set apart from all that we have to do in our lives,
A haven where we can seek together the grace you freely give, God the Father,
The peace of Jesus your Son,
And unity amongst each other, to draw near as brothers and sisters in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
God our Father, as You bring light into darkness
And hope to our world.
As Your son Jesus bring comforts to those suffering
And a full life for all.
As the Holy Spirit brings joy to our hearts
And everyday miracles of change in our world.
We come to worship You and to offer our praise.
As we look towards a life where we can live more openly as restrictions ease from the pandemic, we offer our gratitude for the strength You have given us to persevere through all the hardships of the past year, and praise You for the prospect of new beginnings.
We thank You, Lord God, that You have always come to Your people in the past, for Your presence and guidance through centuries of faithful worship and service in the churches of Scotland:
You have led generations through the wilderness that life can be,
When they have been lost, You have searched for them,
When they have been in deepest struggle and exile, You have brought them back home,
For Your love and commitment to all people which stays so close, we praise You, God.
We thank You, God, that You come to us now in our lives as we look ahead once more,
In worship, You speak to us,
In our journey through life, You go with us,
When we look for a way, we can see it in Your son Jesus,
For Your love which calls us to follow, we praise You, God.
We give thanks, God, for the times when You will come to us in the future,
When our lives are troubled, You will be there for us,
Your promises will remain, You will hold us fast,
Your son Jesus will give us the strength, peace and comfort to go on,
For Your love which holds us forever, we praise You God.
Lord, for the times when we have ignored the path that You have laid for us, when we have rejected Your promises of change, forgiveness and hope, when we have spurned Your generous hospitality,
For the times when we have been too busy to do the right thing, in Your name, even though we know we should have,
For the times when we’ve made excuses rather than act,
Forgive us Lord.
We are but sometime sinners and ragged saints,
Help us to be renewed and refreshed once more, to rejoice again in You,
To live every day as a step forward,
Living our lives always in Your light,
And to spark that light to shine again in church and nation.
We offer You these prayers in the name of Jesus, our saviour who lived and died for us, Amen.”
The assigned scripture readings for this Pentecost Sunday are Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:22-27 and John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15.
Acts 2:1-21 The Message
1 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force - no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. 3 Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, 4 and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. 5 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. 6 When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. 7 They couldn't for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, "Aren't these all Galileans? 8 How come we're hearing them talk in our various mother tongues? 9 Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene; 11 both Jews and proselytes; Even Cretans and Arabs! "They're speaking our languages, describing God's mighty works!" 12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn't make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: "What's going on here?" 13 Others joked, "They're drunk on cheap wine." 14 That's when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: "Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. 15 These people aren't drunk as some of you suspect. They haven't had time to get drunk - it's only nine o'clock in the morning.
16 This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen: 17 "In the Last Days," God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams. 18 When the time comes, I'll pour out my Spirit On those who serve me, men and women both, and they'll prophesy.
19 I'll set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, Blood and fire and billowing smoke, 20 the sun turning black and the moon blood-red, Before the Day of the Lord arrives, the Day tremendous and marvelous; 21 And whoever calls out for help to me, God, will be saved."
A Pentecost Prayer of Confession
“Awesome and disturbing God, you breathed life into us, and each day you fill us with the power of your Spirit. We are given your courage and yet act with caution and timidity. We know your intentions for justice, yet too often keep silent or yield to the complexity of issues and do nothing. We are over-whelmed with your love, yet are hesitant to mention your name to another. We have been forgiven much, yet we harbor old resentments, hold on to past hurts and turn away from reconciliation.
Wondrous God, restore us to clear thinking, give us compassionate hearts, and lead us to bold actions. Let your forgiving love cleanse fear and timidity from us. Set us on your path with your Spirit in our minds. In the name of Jesus. Amen.”
A Pentecost Prayer
“Holy Breath, Holy Spirit, you who move so lightly on wave and wind, you who can be as mighty as a hurricane, as strong as a tornado, as quiet as breath, draw near. Give us light. Give us hope. Give us spirit. Let us be strong and tender, simultaneously, even as you are. Let us be fierce in defending the gospel and humble in our understanding of its completeness.
Let us join your disciples in awe and wonder, and let us become the kind of people they were - real, awed, full and capable, despite weakness, of great witness.
When we lose our way, guide us. When we are winded, invigorate us. When we go too far on too little, befriend us. Never let us be far from our source in you. Amen.”
Prayers for Beth Green as she recovers from her fall.
Sunday, May 16, 2021 – Ascension Sunday
The assigned scripture readings for this the 7th Sunday of Easter and also Ascension Sunday are Acts 1:1-11, Psalm 47, Ephesians 1:15-23 and Luke 24:44-53.
Luke 24:44-53 The Message
44 Then he said, "Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled."
45 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way.
46 He said, "You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day,
47 and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations - starting from here, from Jerusalem!
48 You're the first to hear and see it. You're the witnesses.
49 What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high."
50 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them,
51 and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.
52 And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy.
53 They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.
A Prayer of Invocation for Ascension
“We come to celebrate Christ's ascension, our Father. We remember that his physical removal from earth made possible the coming of the Holy Spirit who is our companion at all times and in all places. We glorify God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One God in three manifestations. Therefore, we thank you, God, that you are ever-present and ever blessing us. In Christ's name. Amen.”
A Prayer of Confession for Ascension
“Almighty God: You accepted our Lord's sacrifice on the cross for our Salvation; by your infinite power you raised him from death on the third day, clothing him again with the flesh in which the disciples had known him, so that they might recognize him; and then you ordered him home, to rule with you in heaven until his final return to earth.
We humbly confess that, while we know the story and even believe it, we do not allow it to make much difference in our lives. We still fail to value each other’s lives. We still dread death as if we did not have his promise of life beyond this life. We still do not know how to respond rightly to the assurance of his ultimate return at the end of our time.
Enable us today, oh God, to reflect more deeply on the sacred story, that our discipleship may be enhanced and that our service to him may become more useful and effective. In the name of the risen and ascended Savior we pray. Amen.”
A Prayer for Ascension Sunday
“The time is now when Jesus departs from our sight, only to return in a new and different glory. Understand our griefs and our fears, O God, and transform them into hope. Let trust be ours - and help us manage to be your people despite our fears. When doubt moves into our room, chasten us. When we feel horribly alone, send us a sign of your presence. And when we compete for seats next to you, or at the table, remind us that, because of you, time has changed. Remind us that there is plenty for all. Amen.”
Day 410 | Monday, 3 May 2021
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 The Message
1 There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: 2 A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap, 3 A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct, 4 A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer, 5 A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part, 6 A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go, 7 A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up, 8 A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace. 9 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? 10 I've had a good look at what God has given us to do - busywork, mostly. 11 True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time - but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he's coming or going.
It was Friday, March 20, 2020 that the first of these daily messages was sent out to the neighbors at the Woodlands where Judy and I live. When I began these thoughts, the intent was to connect us together in our community after hearing about the Corona Virus and the shutting down of life as we had known it. We were in new territory. There was uncertainty, fear, worry and many questions. I wanted the daily thoughts to be a source of hope for all of us as well as bringing us a sense of togetherness even though we needed to be in isolation. It wasn’t long before the neighbors were referring to me as The Woodlands Shepherd. When I shared what I had started in the Woodlands with my pastor, she asked if I would send the daily messages to the church so they could be added to the church web site and face book page. Friends and family soon asked to be added to the email list to receive these daily offerings. Last fall I was asked if there was a way for me to record these offerings so that people with vision problems could hear them. That proved to be very meaningful to some.
As Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is a right time for every season. Even though we are not completely back to normal and out of the woods regarding the Corona Virus, I believe that we are no longer in crisis. Most of us have received our vaccines. Many are resuming activities and family gatherings. In fact, this coming Friday, we are traveling to West Virginia to meet our great grandson who was born Feb. 16th. We will also be visiting a couple daughters and families one of whom we have not seen since August 2019 and the other since December 2019. The need around which I started these daily messages is no longer there. With all that being said, today will be my last daily message to all of you. The Church Mouse and I have decided to refocus.
Periodically I will send out a similar email. I will probably focus my thoughts on the change of church seasons and when there seems to be a time of need. I might even focus on the Sunday messages. I thank you for reading, listening to or even passing along these messages.
We will continue our weekly meeting at Noon on Wednesday to pray the Lord’s Prayer and give strength to one another. God Bless everyone – stay healthy and stay safe.
The Woodlands Shepherd and The Church Mouse!
Day 409 Sunday, May 2, 2021
The assigned Scripture readings for this the fifth Sunday of Easter are Acts 8:25-40, Psalm 22:25-31, 1 John 4:7-21 and John 15:1-8.
I am sharing the gospel reading which is a reminder of how we are connected to Jesus. The imagery is one I have always found to be very powerful. I am a branch. Have I been producing, or have I started to dry up and be unproductive? Every now and then, I need to be trimmed to be productive.
The second reading is from 1 John. This week I have shared thoughts on trust and faith. This reading is just one that talks about love. It is challenging in today’s world to be loving of some people. What does this mean for me as a disciple? How do I show my love when there is so much hatred and evil?
John 15:1-8 CEB I am the true vine
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. 3 You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. 6 If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.
1 John 4:7-21 (The Message) Love and God
7 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. 8 The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love - so you can't know him if you don't love. 9 This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. 10 This is the kind of love we are talking about - not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. 11 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12 No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love! 13 This is how we know we're living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He's given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. 14 Also, we've seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. 15 Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God's Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. 16 We know it so well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. 17 This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day - our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. 18 There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgment - is one not yet fully formed in love. 19 We, though, are going to love - love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 20 If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? 21 The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both.
Today: How are you doing as a branch connected to the vine? How loving are you?
Day 408 | Saturday, 1 May 2021
Welcome May! We have had a wonderful rain to replenish the earth and fill up the pond.
We are still in the Easter season on our way to Pentecost.
An Easter Season Beginning:
“Let everything that breathes - Praise the Lord.
Babies, infants and loud purring cats, Praise the Lord.
Children on skateboards and towering waterfalls, Praise the Lord.
Coyotes howling at the moon and the crash of cymbals, Praise the Lord.
Sun, moon, stars and all living creation, Praise the Lord.
Easter voices, piano chord and drumbeats, Praise the Lord.”
An Easter Season Invocation:
“Awesome and loving God, in this morning light, open our eyes to the brightness of your resurrection. Open our ears to the call of our name. Open our hearts to the joy of forgiveness, the blessings of healing and the peace of believing. In Jesus' name. Amen.”
An Easter Season Prayer
“O radiant God, in the midst of crippled hopes and shattered dreams, you worked your brightest surprise- the shining glory of the risen Christ. Even now, you are birthing new hopes and prompting new dreams. Our eyes are open wide - seeing traces of your glory in the lemon blossom and the rosebud, noticing that your blessing leaves a calm in our hearts and a patience in our voices, sensing your presence in the breaking of bread, the embrace of a friend, the planting of the seed. O radiant God, with songs of praise and hearts of gladness, we serve you as beams of joy and candles of hope. In the name of our risen Lord Amen.”
An Easter Season Affirmation of Faith
“We believe in God- creator of shoreline and mountain range, who fashions a world of beauty, splashes it with color, renews it with rain and blesses it with sun; who made us to see and appreciate the variety around us and calls us to delight and cherish; who turns darkness into day, despair into hope and dead ends into living options.
We believe in the risen Christ- still present to each of us, turning our eyes from death to life, beckoning us to look up and out to see beauty in creation, to look into the eyes of another and know they too are God's beloved, to look into a mirror and see ourselves loved and cherished.
We believe in the Holy Spirit- mysterious yet as real as the wind, a force for good, for justice, for reconciliation, blowing away hatred and fear, stirring up the dull and the bored, kindling hope and joy.
This we believe. God, help us live as Easter people.”
An Easter Season Blessing:
“May the re-possessed life of our Lord comfort you in your grief over the death of loved ones and help you overcome your own fear of death. May the power of the risen Lord convince you that, with God, all things are possible. And may the love of the risen Lord spur you onto deeds of self- giving love, enabling you to accept and embrace all fellow humans as creatures of God and all fellow Christians as members of Christ body. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Go, celebrate God's gift of new life! Amen”
Today: Celebrate May day!