First Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Ordinary Time
Be Born of Water and Spirit
Isaiah 6:1–8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12–17; Alma 5:33–36; Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a–d, 164:9b
For the worship center, use a fountain or small waterfall to represent water. Alternatively, fill glass containers with varying amounts of water. Each person will need a piece of paper and something to write with for the Focus Moment.
Call to Worship
I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs (or angels) were in attendance above him; 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 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!”
—Isaiah 6:1–8, adapted
“I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” CCS 640
OR “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” CCS 31
OR “At the Heart of Sacred Calling” CCS 509
Congregational Mission Prayer
Print or project this prayer so all in the congregation can share it.
God, where will your Spirit lead today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
O God, we are ready. We are here waiting for your direction, your love to flow through us and show us the way of peace. May you work through us to pursue peace in our world. We hold the world’s poor, the world’s hungry in our hearts, we hold all those who yearn to know peace in our prayers; and at this moment, we reach out to them hoping to spread your love a little farther. I pray O Lord that your love spreads like wildfire in the hearts of those around the world who also are ready, that they may be instruments of your peace. God, we know the struggle and hard work that peace will take and we are ready.
Hymn of Peace
“O God of Love, Grant Us Your Peace” CCS 316
OR “My Peace” CCS 149
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.cofchrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Ask the congregation, “Where is God leading you today, at this moment?” Project or print the question for all to see. Have people write their responses on the paper distributed earlier. Play meditation music in the background as you give them time to write. Invite them to bring their responses to the worship center. Offer a prayer over their ministry and callings.
Hymn of Mission
“Lord, Make Us Instruments” CCS 364
OR “The City Is Alive, O God” CCS 365
Based on John 3:1–17
Ministry of Music
“For Jesus Loved Me/To Ietu Here” CCS 594
A soloist or choir
Disciples’ Generous Response
Statement on Generosity
Six principles of A Disciples’ Generous Response guide us in managing and sharing our resources: Receive God’s Gifts, Respond Faithfully, Align Heart and Money, Share Generously, Save Wisely, and Spend Responsibly (www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response).
When we consider the ways each principle applies in our lives, we respond faithfully and begin to align our priorities with God’s priorities, align our hearts with God’s heart.
When we faithfully respond to the ministry of Jesus Christ we become accountable to one another, God, and ourselves. Our response to God’s gifts of love and grace is to serve others and let generosity become part of our nature.
Question for Reflection
- How have you faithfully responded to God’s unconditional love and grace? Pause for a moment of silent reflection.
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b
A community garden offered through Stone Church Congregation in Independence, Missouri, USA, has blessed the neighborhood and larger community with opportunities for healthy food, volunteering, and community building.
A portion of your contributions to Worldwide Mission Tithes goes to fund the World Hunger and Tangible Love grant. Projects such as the Stone Church community garden are able to bless communities because of the dedication of members and the generous contributions gifted out as grants.
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Hymn of Generosity
“What Is the World Like” CCS 385
OR “View the Present through the Promise” CCS 401
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
“Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love” CCS 367
OR “I Have Called You by Your Name” CCS 636
First Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Sunday, Ordinary Time
Exploring the Scripture
“Born again!” This discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus tempts us to let conversations and marketing today of “born again” Christians influence our thinking and miss the richness of what Jesus intended for us to understand. This scripture story is about God’s generosity. God is the giver of this precious Gift, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. And when we are “born again,” it is “of the Spirit.”
On Trinity Sunday, the experience of Nicodemus illuminates the idea that “God is a community of three persons and one eternal being” (Of Water and Spirit, 11) “…The being of God [is] revealed in the threefold name…God who is ever the Giver, the Gift, and the Giving: The Divine Community whose essence is love.” (Understanding the Way, 37–38).
The act of being “born again” is not a catchphrase to grant support to a particular definition of Christianity. In Jesus, God reveals God’s very nature. God’s love for us has no boundary. If we are willing to receive this love, receive eternal life, our lives each day will have new purpose and love that shape the “being” God intends for us.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus like many of us— alone and at night. How do we approach our loving God? Nicodemus knows there is something about Jesus he can’t explain. He calls him “rabbi” and recognizes him as a “teacher from God.” What do we think about this Jesus? Teacher, preacher, or savior in our lives?
Nicodemus is confused with Jesus’ statement about being “born again.” He can relate this only to the physical way of being born. Jesus, however, challenges Nicodemus to be “born again” into a spiritual way of life that shows God’s deep and enduring love for him.
Nicodemus approaching Jesus is an act of discipleship. Jesus asks each of us daily (as he did with Peter), “Do you love me? Will you seek me and receive God’s love that I have for you?” And then, “Will you feed my sheep?”
Nicodemus’ act of discipleship provides a pattern for us. We daily approach our loving and generous God, seeking to understand and feel the transforming grace that comes from being a disciple of Jesus Christ. We are grateful for the Spirit’s presence in our lives. As disciples connected to this holy Triune Community, we inevitably feel led beyond the walls of the church into the world to pursue Christ’s mission.
- The Triune God is generous.
- As a community of three persons, the Trinity relationship exemplifies a community of boundless love.
- Jesus calls for us to be “born again.” But he does so from a spiritual understanding and not from the actual physical experience of being “born again.”
Questions to Consider
- How is your journey on the path of the disciple like that of Nicodemus?
- What are your understandings of who Jesus is as God reveals him in the world?
- What does it mean to be “born again”?
- How has God been generous in your life?
- How easy or difficult is it to receive God’s gift of grace through Jesus Christ every day?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
Trinity Sunday; First Sunday of Ordinary Time
John 3:1–17 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
O God, We are ready. We are here waiting for your direction, your love to flow through us and show us the way of peace. May you work through us to pursue peace in our world. We hold the world’s poor, the world’s hungry in our hearts. We hold all those who yearn to know peace in our prayers. At this moment, we reach out to them, hoping to spread your love a little further. I pray, O Lord, that your love spreads like wildfire in the hearts of those around the world who also are ready, that they may be instruments of your peace. God, we know the struggle and hard work that peace will take, and we are ready.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. May you bless my every step. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Prayer of Examen
The Prayer of Examen was developed by Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556).
It is often a prayer for the end of the day, but it may be used any time as a way of reviewing the day with God. The prayer helps us recognize where we need forgiveness and healing, reconciliation and recommitment. The following is an adapted Prayer of Examen:
Lead the group through the prayer, line by line. Take your time, inviting people to pray and meditate with each statement.
Thank you God for the gifts of life and this day. Allow us to see the day as we have lived it and in light of your will. Let us reflect on the events, interactions, and emotions of the day. Give us insight into the ways our responses were good, life-giving, or healing. Give us insight into the ways our responses may have been insensitive, unloving, or damaging to others, creation, or self.
May we find in your grace and mercy, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and release. God, we give our tomorrow to you. May you be present in our thoughts, actions, and relationships as we move on to live a new day in the presence of Christ. Amen.
Invite people to share the thoughts and feelings experienced during the Prayer of Examen.
Sharing Around the Table
John 3:1–17 NRSV
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.’ The 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.”
On Trinity Sunday, we give thanks for what God the Creator, Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, or the Sustainer, have done on behalf of all creation. When we speak of the Trinity we refer to the idea that “God is a community of three persons and one eternal being” (Of Water and Spirit, p. 11).
The scripture text today is the story of Nicodemus. He recognizes God’s presence in Jesus and seeks him out. In this encounter Nicodemus becomes confused with Jesus’ statement about being “born again.” He can relate this only to the physical way of being born. Jesus challenges Nicodemus to be “born again” into a spiritual way of life that shows God’s deep and enduring love for him and for the world.
Being “born again” of water and Spirit is to open oneself to the generosity of God expressed in the life of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God’s loving nature is revealed. God’s love has no boundary and is for all the world. When we open ourselves to receiving this boundless love, we open ourselves to receive eternal life.
Like Nicodemus we recognize God’s presence in the ministry and message of Jesus. We seek to more fully understand and model what it means to follow Jesus as loving, generous disciples. As we journey in discipleship we are grateful for the Spirit’s continued presence.
- How have you experienced God the Creator? Jesus the Redeemer? Holy Spirit the Sustainer?
- How is your journey on the path of the disciple similar to that of Nicodemus?
- How have you been open to the generosity of God?
“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f).
We receive God’s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
Pray with me:
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Three who are One, may we offer our resources to you that they may be used to share loving community with those seeking respite, connection, purpose, and love. May our generosity bring blessing and further the mission of Christ. Amen.
Invitation to Next Meeting
CCS 53, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”