Message from the Minister Letter 47 – Sunday 31st May 2021

Dear all,

I hope and pray this letter finds you well.  Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This is one of the most difficult Sundays for preachers and the easiest of the entire church calendar to fall into heresy.  Heresy is effectively false teaching which goes against the true teaching of the church.  Todays reading from John 3 and the first seventeen verses is a familiar one in which the saintly Nicodemus goes under the cover of darkness to speak to Jesus.  If there was one person, dead or alive, you could meet who would it be?  A famous sportsperson, celebrity, writer, leader and if you could go and meet them like Nicodemus did, what would you ask them or talk to them about?  Of course, you cannot choose Jesus in this exercise, that is not allowed!  Have you decided yet?  For me it would have to be John Wesley and I would seek his advice about the present state of the Methodist and wider Church, it would be a long conversation! 

Nicodemus, was of course, as the reading tells us a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, which meant that he had a seat on the Jewish ruling council which arbitrated on Jewish rules and regulations but sort of acted as a kind of Jewish Supreme Court.  For such a man to even contemplate going to see Jesus would cause him to get into trouble.  So, for him to do this, he is literally risking his livelihood, reputation, and his position in society.  If he were caught, he would be cut off from the Jewish community forever, leaving him unable to trade, socialise, worship, or seek help from Jewish public services.   You could say that the stakes could not be higher! 

Nicodemus, comes asking, what he must do to receive salvation.  He asks how someone can be born again when they have already been born once and are advanced in years.  Jesus carefully explains that it is about committing one’s life to God totally, and then by God forgiving your sins, the slate is wiped clean, and you are born again.  Then and only then do you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, as I was talking about last week.  Now why has this passage been selected for Trinity Sunday; I hear you ask?  Well, because it covers the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus explains that for a person to enter the kingdom of God, they must be born again.  Nicodemus acknowledges at the start of the chapter that Jesus is sent from God, which is correct.  God the Father sent Jesus to take on the sin of the world in order that no one should perish but have eternal life (verse 16).  But when someone commits their life to following Jesus, they receive His Spirit to help them grow, mature, and develop as a Christian (verses 5 to 6).  Again, as outlined last week.  So here we see a direct causal link between the three members of the Trinity.  However, there are a few important caveats to note here in our brief examination of the doctrine of the Trinity.  Each is a Person and not an object and needs to be treated as such.  Each is equal in importance and there is no ranking system of importance.  Each member of the Trinity co-exists and compliments each other.  And most importantly all the Three members are One together to be God but are Three distinct Persons.  If you feel confused at this point please do not worry because it is confusing.  The Trinity remains one of those mysteries which we shall only fully understand when we get to Heaven.  For now, we need to celebrate our great God, God in three Persons, blessed Trinity. 

May our Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless us now and always,

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