2 Corinthians 13:11-13: Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
There is an unweaving in our worship today. In the spirit of story of Noah, there is a regret which suggests a desire to undo what we have done. Slowly, and threaded through our worship, we rewind the story of Genesis 1:1-2:4a, back towards the formless void, and the darkness which covered the face of the deep. So we start at the seventh day, and move backwards towards the first day, and then we come together in communion.
Rewind 7: These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.
An uneasy rest When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Let us pray: We gather together on this seventh day, Trinity Sunday, moved to sing of the momentous beauty of the earth around us, and the universe extending in every direction beyond the sky. And yet so conscious of the trouble which we as human beings have brought to the planet, and the injustices that we have created through our actions towards each other. We exclaim with the psalmist: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? We sing together but apart; our own Union Chapel Music Group leading us.
Hymn: God is our strength and refuge
Rewind 6: And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness… So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them.
Remember George Floyd
We remember George Floyd, and the sickening violence towards young Black men, of which his death is one horrifying example. We feel how this has energised people, especially young people, across the world, to call for change to the systems which still discriminate and divide and destroy.
Prayer of Confession
In everything we touch, in everyone we meet, your presence is around us, and we give you thanks.
But when we have not touched but trampled you in creation,
when we have not met but missed you in one another,
when we have not received but rejected you in the poor,
Rewind 6b: … and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.
Dominion has gone wrong picture of destruction of the forests…
But we can now see that our dominion is not turning out well. We can see all too clearly: the forests being cut down, the birds losing their habitats, so that cattle can be raised in huge quantities, treated with hormones to make them grow faster, releasing vast clouds of methane. The fruits of the earth are transported at the expense of air miles and so much carbon dioxide. The fish of the earth compete with vast amounts of plastic waste.
We pray for the broken and torn fabric of the earth as it yearns for healing,
And for a new arrangement, a new order, a new set of priorities.
Rewind 5: And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
The call of the wild
Picture the great wealth of created things… the abundance of the planet. All that Steve has showed us flourishing around us.
Rewind 4: And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
The kind old sun
See the earth, spinning in space, moving around the sun, the sun giving it’s light. The beauty and healing power of the sun which we take for granted. ‘Move him into the sun…’ (‘Futility’, by Wilfred Owen).
Rewind 3: And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
On the shoreline video from Belfast
Rewind 2: And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky.
Rewind 1: In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Darkness covered the face of the deep
In the darkness, there is energy, but no form. No human beings. No Katachurian. What is that formless void? Feel free to close your eyes and follow the dance of the music, and imagine. (extract from Khachaturian’s Third Violin Concerto, Allegro vivace)
This is a turning point in our service.
The Gospel Our gospel reading invites us to contemplate a new order, in which authority rests not with human beings and human power, but with the person of Jesus. And then it sets up what sadly has been taken as the justification for a new structure of power, based on that authority.
Matthew 28:16-20: Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The dance of the Trinity – releasing each other from our grip
But let’s release the gospel writers from our judgement, and focus now on the dance of the Trinity.
Andrei Rublev’s Trinity icon from ~1430 – the circle, the dance, the conversation
In this mystery of communion with Christ
we pray for the Church throughout the world.
Inspire your church to action, to stand up for justice – social and environmental – to be part of the work of reconciliation.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We remember all those who suffer ignorance and prejudice against them, thinking especially of those Black men and women and children who see in the murder of George Floyd a reflection of what they fear and what they experience.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We pray for the sick, the bereaved,
We pray particularly for people known to us who are struggling or worried or in trouble or in pain.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
We join the figures of the painting at the table, in communion.
It is the table of company with Jesus, and all who love him.
It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world, with whom Jesus identified himself.
It is the table of communion with the earth, in which the Spirit walks.
It is Christ who invites us to meet him here.
Let us pray.
Loving God, through your goodness
we have this food and drink to share,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
May we know your presence in the sharing of this food and drink,
so that we may know your touch in all bread, all drink, all matter.
We celebrate the life that Jesus has shared and shares with us now.
Blessed is our brother Jesus,
who walks with us the road of our world’s suffering,
and who is known to us in the breaking of bread.
On the night of his arrest Jesus took bread
and having blessed it he broke the bread
and gave it to his disciples, saying,
This is my body, given to you.
In the same way he took wine
and having given thanks for it, he poured it out
and gave the cup to his disciples, saying,
This cup is the new relationship with God,
sealed with my blood.
Take this and share it.
I shall drink wine with you next
in the coming Kingdom of God.
Hear us, O Christ,
and breathe your Spirit upon us,
and upon this bread and wine.
May they become for us your body,
vibrant with your life,
healing, renewing, and make us whole.
He whose word welcomed friend and stranger, offers friendship through our tea and coffee, and juice and wine and beer.
With people everywhere we affirm God’s goodness at the heart of humanity,
planted more deeply than all that is wrong.
We eat and drink together.
Living God, in this sacrament we have shared in your kingdom. May
we who taste this mystery forever serve you in faith, hope, and love. We ask
this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
Not an easy peace,
not an insignificant peace,
not a halfhearted peace,
but the peace of God in Jesus Christ
be with us all.
Music: Mendelssohn, Staffa and Iona