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Sermon and Liturgy For Trinity Sunday - Year B
Isaiah 6:1-9; Romans 8:12-17; Psalm 29; and John 3:1-17
"Unnatural Birth"

READING:  Isaiah 6:1-9; Romans 8:12-17; Psalm 29; and John 3:1-17 
SERMON :  "Unnatural Birth"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-trinsu 550887

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

   Sources: All of our prayers today are based upon traditional Celtic
   prayers, such as those of St. Patrick, in honour of the fact that
   Celtic Christianity has, throughout the ages - been deeply rooted and
   grounded in the mystery of God and has long celebrated and affirmed
   God's threefold nature.  

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
P  We come before you to give you thanks and praise.
L  God of Abraham and of Sarah, of Joseph and of Mary,
P  We come before you to learn and to do your will.
L  God of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire,
P  We come before you in wonder and in awe.
L  Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit.
P  We worship and adore you.

* INTROIT:  "Spirit Of The Living God" (verse 1)                   - VU 376

Lord God, we bind unto ourselves today your holy and living reality.  We
invoke your presence in the way you have revealed yourself to us - Father,
Son and Holy Spirit - Three in One and One in Three.  We invoke you by the
name you have given us - the strong name of the Trinity.  We pray your power
to hold and lead us, your eye to watch, your might to stay, your ear to hear,
your wisdom to teach, your hand to guide, and your word to give us speech. 
Help us celebrate your love and to proclaim your majesty, your glory, and
your awe - both now and evermore.  Amen.

* HYMN:  "All Creatures Of Our God and King"                       - Vu 217

- Announcements
- Sharing Joys and Concerns
- Birthdays and Anniversaries

ST. ANDREW'S THIS WEEK                                      - Chris Kennedy

CHILDREN'S TIME: "The Mystery of God"
Theme:  The Trinitarian Mystery
Object: Illusion Drawing of Lady-Old Hag"
Source: Self  

Good morning - today I want to show you a picture and have you tell me what
it is of.  What is it???   (Prompt for Old Lady - Prompt for Young Lady)

This drawing is a special example of how people see the same thing
differently - and what is very interesting about it - is that no one can see
both things at the same time - you see either the old woman - or the young

I showed you this picture today so you could think about God - God is one -
like this picture is one picture - but we see God in three different ways -
as Creator and Father - as Jesus, the Redeemer - and as the Holy Spirit, the
breath of God and our comforter and sustainer.  God is three things - but God
is also only one thing. 

Sometimes when we pray to God we say - Father, or Lord God - or Creator - 
Other times we pray - Dear Jesus -
Still other times we pray to the Holy Spirit - as in our song - Spirit of the
Living God - fall afresh on me.
But we are always praying to the same God when we do it.

It seems mixed up - but it isn't - just like this picture isn't really mixed
up - - it is one thing - as is God - but we know it in two ways.

   Let us pray --- Dear Lord God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we thank
   you for the wonder of seeing and knowing you in different ways.  We
   ask it in Jesus' name, saying together his prayer -- 


* HYMN: "Faith of Our Fathers"                                     - Vu 580

   (NIV)  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a
   throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. {2}
   Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered
   their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were
   flying. {3} And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the
   LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." {4} At the sound of
   their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled
   with smoke. {5} "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of
   unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have
   seen the King, the LORD Almighty." {6} Then one of the seraphs flew to me
   with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the
   altar. {7} With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched
   your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." {8} Then I
   heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go
   for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

L  This is the word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 29 (Voices United 756 - without refrain) 

   (NIV)  Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the
   sinful nature, to live according to it. {13} For if you live according to
   the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the
   misdeeds of the body, you will live, {14} because those who are led by the
   Spirit of God are sons of God. {15} For you did not receive a spirit that
   makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.
   And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." {16} The Spirit himself testifies with
   our spirit that we are God's children. {17} Now if we are children, then
   we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share
   in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

L  This is the word of the Lord.
P  Thanks be to God.

FAVOURITE HYMN "In Christ There Is No East or West"                - VU 606

A READING FROM John 3:1-17      
   (NIV)  Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of
   the Jewish ruling council. {2} He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi,
   we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform
   the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." {3} In reply
   Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God
   unless he is born again." {4} "How can a man be born when he is old?"
   Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's
   womb to be born!" {5} Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can
   enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. {6}
   Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. {7} You
   should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' {8} 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." {9} "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. {10} "You are
   Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?
   {11} I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to
   what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. {12}
   I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then
   will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? {13} No one has ever gone
   into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. {14} Just
   as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be
   lifted up, {15} that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
   {16} "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. {17} For
   God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save
   the world through him.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

* HYMN:  "God, Whose Almighty Word                                 - VU 313

SERMON: "Unnatural Birth"

   Let us Pray - O God, light of the minds that know you, life of the
   souls that love you, and strength of the thoughts that seek you -
   bless the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts.  Breath
   your life into us that we may live in the manner you have appointed
   unto us and better love and serve you and one another.  Amen

A story is told of a little girl who was asked to write an essay on "birth"

   She went home and asked her mother how she had been born.  Her
   mother, who was busy at the time, said 'the stork brought you
   darling, and left you on the doorstep.'

   Continuing her research she asked her dad how he'd been born.  Being
   in the middle of something, her father similarly deflected the
   question by saying, 'I was found at the bottom of the garden.  The
   fairies brought me.'

   Then the girl went and asked her grandmother how she had arrived. 
   'I was picked from a gooseberry bush', said grandma. 

   With this information the girl wrote her essay.  When the teacher
   asked her later to read it in front of the class, she stood up and
   began, "There has not been a natural birth in our family for three

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus of being born from above - or being born anew
- he was not talking of a natural birth.  As he explained to Nicodemus, he
was talking of a spiritual birth - a birth that was, and is, somehow,

   "Very truly, I tell you", Jesus said, "no one can enter the kingdom
   of God without being born of water and Spirit.  What is born of the
   flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is Spirit.."

I want us to think about this today - I want us to think about our
unnatural birth - and about the mystery that is involved in it - the
mystery of God - the God who made us and gave us our first birth - the God
who saves us, by becoming one with us, dying with us and for us - the God
who lives and works in us and gives us our second, our unnatural birth.

Our experience of God is a marvellous and mysterious experience.,
It is like looking at the picture of the old hag - and the young woman
there is one reality - yet there is more than one reality....

And so it is with God.

We have and we know the God of Isaiah -
the God who is high and lifted up in his temple 
the God who speaks and brings forth all of creation,
the God who is judge, lord, ruler, king - 
the God who is in light inaccessible hid from our eyes..

This God is strange to us 
this God is beyond us
this God we dare not touch
even though we know this God and he knows us,
even though we see this God's signs all around us in the earth, the wind,
the air, and the fire.

And then we have the God who is in Christ.
the God who is Christ - 
   the God whom is lowly, and humble
   the God who reaches out and touches others,
   the God who serves others, 
   the God who walks the earth with us, 
   and cries and laughs with us;
       the God who calls God Abba, Father, Daddy..
       the God who is tempted with us
       the God who hungers and thirsts with us
       the God who embraces us and encourages us
       the God who surrenders himself to death for us
having only the promise and the hope of being raised again.

And we have and know God the Spirit -
   God the bringer of visions and of dreams,
       God the source of strength and of hope,
God the supplier of healing words and of comfort filling prayer
   God the wind, the breath, the air we breath
       God the transformer, the one who gives new birth, new life,
God the presence within us and the presence all around us
   God calling to us - calling for us - calling through us,
       calling in us..

We are the children of God, says Paul, 

   When we cry Abba -, Father, it is the Spirit of God bearing witness
   with our Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then
   heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. - if in fact we
   suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

As a Christian I do not know all about God that there is to know -
God is always greater than my knowledge of him -
but I do know what God has shown about himself -
I do know God in three different ways,
I know him in three ways
I experience him in three ways. 
I love him in three ways.

CS Lewis - in his book Mere Christianity tries to describe part of this
experience - this three-fold knowing - this three-fold loving - in his
description of a Christian at prayer.

   "What I mean is this." he writes, "An ordinary simple Christian
   kneels down to say his prayers.  He is trying to get into touch with
   God.  But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him
   to pray is also God: God so to speak, inside him.  But he also knows
   that all real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was
   God - that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray,
   praying for him.  You see what is happening.  God is the thing to
   which he is praying - the goal he is trying to reach.  God is also
   the thing inside him which is pushing him on - the motive power. 
   God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to
   that goal.  The whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is
   actually going on in that ordinary act of prayer."


What so many people lack in their lives is a sense of the mystery of God
and of the mystery of the life that God gives to them.

We keep trying to develop one simple mental picture of God
one simple portrait of what our life in God is like or ought to be like.

Most of us like to think that things are either black or white -
   and we will go to incredible lengths to fit things around us into one
   or the other category -
but God is greater than any category - any system of thought or
   and so is our life in him.

God is just and holy - demanding perfect obedience -
yet God is merciful and forgiving - willing to forgive unto the seventh

I am a sinner - unworthy to touch the hem of the gown worn by Christ
yet I am a child of God - intimately acquainted with his Spirit,
a joint heir with his Son of all the riches of heaven.

Our God is a mystery
and the life that our God gives to us is a mystery,
but because God, within that mystery, touches us,
it is mystery that we can experience and savour and know something of.

When I became a Christian,
when I yielded myself to the outrageous claims of Jesus
his claim to be the Son of God, 
his claim to be the way, the truth and the life,
his claim to be in the Father, and the Father in him,
something happened to my life.

My vision began to change.
I began to see new things in the world around me/
I began to see the hand of God in the lives of people around me - stirring
them up.
I began to sense that God was reaching out to people and calling them to
I began to sense that God was in people, 
   struggling to convince them of the beauty that is in them,
I began to see the world as a magical place, full of enchantment
   full of purpose and of meaning,
and I began to feel compulsions to do things that I had never done before,
   the compulsion to pray for others,
   the compulsion to tell others that God is all around them,
   the compulsion to suddenly stop in the midst of turmoil and to thank
God for little things,
   or simply to take a breath 
   and savour the fact that in it is some divine purpose too deep for words. 
and I began to experience within myself a growing peace,
   a peace that continues to grow,
and I began to experience in others - in their struggles and in their joys,
in their sufferings and in their triumphs, the working of the God that is
in my life.

My life is not natural - and I thank God for it.

What I experience now is not something that came to me as the result of my
first birth-
nor did I learn it somehow by going to this or that school,
nor did I earn it by living a better life than most other people around me,
it just happened 
- as a result of coming to believe in God, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and
asking him to be my God, my personal God - in the way Jesus taught.

All believers have this experience,
all who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
all who yearn for God, 
are satisfied.

All experience grace.
All sense the giftedness of their lives,
All know the incredible miracle of the indwelling God.
All know that they are born from above -
   and as in their first birth - the birth by water - they know it is
   totally miraculous, totally the work, the labour, of another.

And we believers - as a result of our experience,
   come to see the words of the bible about God as true in every respect,
we come to see that God has revealed himself, and reveals himself still, in
many ways,
and that the way that is written in the scriptures,
   the way that describes God as three, yet one,
   the way that shows God as creator, redeemer, and sustainer,
   the way that speaks of God as Father, and as Son and as Holy Spirit,
   the way that tells of God being a loving parent, a dear brother, and a
caring presence,
is a true way, a life giving way..

That my friends is part of the truth that Jesus spoke of when he spoke to

Nicodemus had a hard time grabbing hold of that truth,
he couldn't quite understand how one could be born anew
it didn't seem natural to him --
and it isn't natural - rather it is divine, 
it is the gift of the God - the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

So we preach, and so you believed - says the Apostle Paul
May it be so, both now and forevermore. -- Amen

Let us Pray -- Lord God of Hosts - God of Thunder and of Light - God of
quiet and calm - help us now to rest within you -- purify us - cleanse our
minds of all want and desire - our hearts of fear and anxiety - take our
cares and our burdens - and fill us with your presence........

Eternal God - maker of earth and sky and sea -
Saviour God - hope of sinners and deliverer of the afflicted
Present God - refreshing wind within,
against all false words of heresy
against the knowledge that defiles
against the hearts idolatry
against the world's evil craft,
against all Satan's spells and wiles
protect us till Christ's returning....

God of law and God of order
God of calling and God of persuasion
God of tenderness and God of healing,
lift our nations from their darkness,
guide our leaders and our teachers,
heal our sick and comfort our mourners,
feed our hungry and satisfy our thirsters...

God of light too bright to look upon
God of incarnation - present in human flesh
God of wind and air that refreshes 
You are the other who comes to us;
 in us, O God, come to others,
help us help those we hold before you now .....

O God - in every age people have prayed to you
even when they did not know you in your fullness and your glory -
We pray O God - with the Spirit you have given us -
the knowledge you have revealed to us -
the word that you have bestowed upon us -
we pray - even as you taught us through Christ Jesus your Son and our
brother, our friend, and our Lord.  Amen


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of

   Creator God - you have made us and all that we need and enjoy 
   Redeeming God -- you have given us new lives that we may serve you
   in wholeness and in joy.  Sustaining God - you guide us and support
   and lead us in your path.   We pray you, O God - receive and bless
   the gifts that we offer you in thankfulness  and use the words of
   our lips, and the actions of our bodies to bring glory and honour
   unto your most Holy Name.  Amen

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Teach Me, God, To Wonder"                      - VU 299

* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of

Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ;
and may the blessing of God, the Father, God The Son, and God the Holy
Spirit go with you all: 
- May God be within you and behind you, before you and beside you, beneath
you and above you. 
- May God be in quiet and in danger, in the mouths of friends and
- May he be with you to win you, to comfort and restore you 
- both now and forevermore.  Amen

* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964

copyright  - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2000 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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