We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Lectionary, Pentecost1 Trinity Sunday, Year B

I. Theme – The Trinity points to the mystery of unity and diversity in God’s experience and in the ongoing creative process

 Holy Trinity– Anton Rublev (1430)

The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

First Reading – Isaiah 6:1-8
Old Testament – Psalm 29 Page 620, BCP
Epistle –Romans 8:12-17
Gospel – John 3:1-17 

Commentary by Rev. Mindi

The Call of Isaiah is dictated in chapter 6 with a glorious vision of God as a king seated on a throne surrounded by his attendants, the six-winged seraphs above the Lord. Even the seraphs seem not worthy of God, covering their feet and their faces, not daring to touch the holy space of heaven, not daring to look upon the face of God. Isaiah feels unworthy to speak in God’s presence, until the coal is pressed to his lips and Isaiah is purified. We are reminded through Isaiah’s vision that God is beyond our understanding, beyond our comprehension, but we do have a way of responding to God: through our answering God’s call, through our saying “yes” to God, to our saying, “Send me!” We may not understand God, but God understands us, and calls us into the world to carry God’s message.

Psalm 29 speaks of God as the Great Creator, whose voice carries the power of creation. God calls forth creation by speaking in Genesis 1 and the creative power of God’s voice is echoed here. It is God’s voice that calls creation out of the void, the deep, the darkness–and it is God’s voice that calls us out of the darkness of the world to witness to the light.

John 3:1-17 is the familiar story of Nicodemus which we read a portion of during Lent. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being born of the Spirit, and that God’s love for the whole world is so great that God has sent Jesus. We often read verse 16 without reading verse 17–that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Using the Father-Son language, we understand the relationship of Christ to the Creator to be intimate, close, indwelling, along with the Spirit–a hint at the Trinity. While the Trinity is a concept never named in the Bible, we have inferred the triune relationship of God through scriptures such as these, knowing that we can never fully understand God, the Trinity helps us understand how God has been made known to us.

Romans 8:12-17 also infers the triune relationship of God by tying in our relationship with Christ as also being children of God, who have a close relationship with God to where we also can call God Abba (the Aramaic word for Father that Christ used indicates closeness). And we are led by the Spirit of God, who guides us in this world to the way of life.

Reflection and Response

We stand on holy ground. That truth resonates throughout today’s readings, reminding us of the essential sacredness of our experience, throughout all times and seasons.

The sacred character of human life springs from our intimate connection with the triune deity. God’s self-identification to Moses is not that of some distant figure, aloof from human life. Instead, he is the God of people: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel. If we substitute the names of our own parents or loved ones, we get the message. God is part and parcel of that most close and frustrating human relationship.

To see our ordinary days in this divine light takes a special gift of the Spirit. Elusive as the wind, it inspires and empowers us, enabling us to rise above our mortal limitations and place our lives in the context of the holy. The normal bounds of our thinking can be utterly shattered and expanded, just as Moses’ were when he saw a bush burning, yet not consumed.

The same irony is present as we realize that we are deeply human, yet somehow more than that. Redemption by Jesus implies that although we are doomed to die, we also inherit eternal life. The implications of that fact should brighten the dusty surface of our days.

We older folk become as skeptical as Nicodemus about the possibilities for rebirth. The noted teacher is quite willing to admit that the signs Jesus does mark him as one who lives in the presence of God. Yet the next step Jesus asks him to take is the difficult one: acknowledging that any person can see God’s kingdom as clearly, enter into this reign and be born of the Spirit.

In so doing, Paul says, we become joint heirs with Christ, suffering with him so that we can also share his glory. It is our union with Christ that makes all ground holy: our affections, our work, our suffering and triumphs.

Quietly consider:
If I am an heir of God, how then should I act?

II. Summary

First Reading –   Isaiah 6:1-8  

This reading recounts the call of the prophet Isaiah. He has a vision of the lord enthroned amidst the divine council in the setting of the temple at Jerusalem. The throne is the ark of the covenant. Above the lord are the seraphs, literally “burning ones.” Here, like the cherubim in the first chapter of Ezekiel, they indicate the heavenly creatures who give God worship.

The triple repetition of holy emphasizes the mysterious, unapproachable quality of the divine. Isaiah responds to the vision of God’s holiness with a sense of profound sinfulness before God’s perfection, not only for himself, but for all the people. He is granted cleansing through the coal from the altar so that he may proclaim God’s word to the people.

Psalm –   Psalm 29 Page 620, BCP

Psalm 29 is a hymn to Yahweh as the God of storm that may have been written as an objection to the pagan assertion of Baal as the thunder-god. The “glory” of the lord gives God dominion over nature and over all gods. Thus Yahweh alone is the source of strength and blessing for the people.

Epistle –   Romans 8:12-17

The presentation of the Trinity in the scriptures is not a matter of formal definition but of the living experience of God revealed in creation, redemption and sanctification. For example, in 1 Thessalonians, our earliest New Testament document, Paul speaks of God as Father, of Jesus as lord and of the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:1-5).

Here in Romans 8, Paul mentions, within the space of one chapter, the Spirit as being the Spirit of God (8:9), the Spirit of Christ (8:9) and the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (8:2). Paul seems neither to intend nor to feel the need for any particular distinction among these phrases. He emphasizes that the source of the Spirit is God, that the Spirit’s full manifestation is in Christ and that Christians experience the Spirit communally in the body of Christ, the Church.

The Spirit gives to Christians “the spirit of adoption” (v. 15). While Jesus is the Son by proper relationship, Christians are offspring of God by adoption. We are to call upon God as “Abba! Father!” (v. 15) as did Jesus. Adoption was rare among Jews, but more common in the Hellenistic world. Its primary importance was to establish inheritance rights. Christians are “joint heirs with Christ” (v. 17), sharing in the redemptive act of Christ’s passion and resurrection and looking forward to sharing in his glorification.

Gospel –   John 3:1-17 

This discourse as a whole (3:1-21) moves from the work of the Spirit (3:3-8) to that of the Son (3:10-15) to that of the Father (3:16-21). Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, explains his interest as being caused by the signs Jesus has performed. Jesus seeks to draw him past these outward manifestations to a recognition of the inward significance of his activity.

The discussion begins on the meaning of being born, or “begotten,” “from above” (v. 3). In Greek, this phrase has two meanings. The first is “anew, again”—temporally—which is what Nicodemus understands on the physical level; the second is “from above”—spatially—which is what Jesus seems to intend.

Jesus contrasts the realm of the Spirit, which is eternal and heavenly, with the realm of flesh, which is earthly, weak and mortal (but not necessarily sinful). Both flesh and spirit constitute human existence, but the Spirit is life itself. The life that the Spirit gives is not under human control, not anthropocentric, but theocentric, as shown by the illustration of the wind blowing where it will. Both the Greek and the Hebrew words for wind also mean spirit and ¬breath.

III. Articles for this week in WorkingPreacher:

First ReadingIsaiah 6:1-8 

Psalm – Psalm 29

Epistle  –  Romans 8:12-17

Gospel  – John 3:1-17