Holy Trinity + MAY 30, 2021, Memorial Day Weekend
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Almighty, Unimaginable God: we worship your glory, eternal Three-in-One, and we praise your power, majestic One-in-Three. Keep us steadfast in this faith, defend us in all adversity, and bring us at last into the fullness of your presence, living in endless joy and love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH CHAPTER 6:1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 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!”
WE WILL PRAY PSALM 29 RESPONSIVELY
Ascribe to the LORD, you gods, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due God’s name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is upon the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice; the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon; the LORD makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD bursts forth in lightning flashes. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare. And in the temple of the LORD all are crying, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned above the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forevermore. O LORD, give strength to your people; give them, O LORD, the blessings of peace.
A READING FROM PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 8:12-17
Brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to
death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit 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.
THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN CHAPTER 3:1-7
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, 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. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Here he is! Our dear old friend, Nick at Night! Nicodemus is a good man. He lives by the Law, and he reads and ponders the Scriptures, and he tries so very hard to keep his life orderly and neat, above reproach and unquestionably orthodox. But the Spirit just won’t let him be….the dreams, the poking and prodding of God, the thoughts, dare he hope, of Messiah insinuating themselves into his meditation time, the wondering and fearful imaginings that this simple man, this fellow they call Rabbi, this Nazarene, might be the One?
Try as he did, valiantly, heroically, Nicodemus could ignore it no longer, he had to know! And so the secret meeting, in the shadow of darkness, Imagine, a man of his stature, a revered and respected priest, clothed in liturgical finery, and spiritual certainty, sneaking along the streets at this hour! What if someone saw him? What if he encountered a colleague, or a follower?
But he is driven, urged along by a force of which he is only dimly awere. Nicodemus searches in the shadows for the light already illuminating his soul. And then, the esoteric conversation! This Rabbi speaks in riddles! And yet, despite the tormented twisting of his comfortable convictions, he cannot turn away, cannot unhear that voice, those words so gently spoken, that half gently chide him and half tenderly entice him further and further away from his certitudes and absolutes, into who knows where!?
Ah Nicodemus, don’t you understand? Don’t you perceive? The Rabbi isn’t arguing with you! He’s telling you not to fear, he assuring you that what you are afraid to seek has already found you, that you are someone who is seeing the Kingdom of God, that you are one who is born from above, that you are being born of water and the Spirit, that the Spirit is breathing in you always. How can it be, dear Nicodemus, that you don’t know you stand in the Presence of the Holy One, just as Moses did? That this One would be lifted up?
He left that night, confused and confounded. He wandered home he knew not how. But when the time came, after the public execution on that Friday afternoon, in the midst of Passover and Sabbath preparations, Nicodemus joined those good and brave men, who took him away from the place of shame and death, took him to a new hewn grave in the rock, and washed and anointed him according to the law, albeit in haste. Finally he knew, knew beyond all he thought he knew, that this was, no, that this is, the Son of God!
And so it is, that the unknowable God becomes known to us all. In whispers of love, and in total surrender. Amen