O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 105.6-10, 41-44
O seed of Abraham his servant,
O children of Jacob his chosen.
He is the Lord our God;
his judgements are in all the earth.
He has always been mindful of his covenant,
the promise that he made for a thousand generations:
The covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath that he swore to Isaac,
Which he established as a statute for Jacob,
an everlasting covenant for Israel.
He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out
and ran in the dry places like a river.
For he remembered his holy word
and Abraham, his servant.
So he brought forth his people with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
He gave them the lands of the nations
and they took possession of the fruit of their toil.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples ‘I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’
Our faith is a Trinitarian faith. We believe in One God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Every time we attend a public act of worship we declare that belief. But, what does it mean to us? And, why does Jesus consider blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to be unforgiveable?
Down the centuries preachers have devised many ingenious ways of trying to bring the reality of the Holy Trinity to life for their congregations. Clover leaves and the various physical states of water are just two that seem to recur on a regular basis. However we might rationalize the doctrine of the Holy Trinity for our own ease of understanding, it remains the solid foundation upon which our faith is built.
The relationship between God the Father and God the Son is explicit in the gospel narrative. Jesus is constantly described as praying to his Father in heaven. Similarly, God the Father publicly declares that this is my Son. Things become more complicated when we come to realize that the Father and the Son are, in fact, one being … as we declare in the Creed. Then comes the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells us that after his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension he will send an advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will be with us always. This advocate is one who will intercede for us with God, and will also defend us when confronted with the dangers of living out the life of faith in this world. The use of the word ‘advocate’ is interesting because such a person is also one who pleads the cause of another, and one who urges us on to reform and change. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. Our God … our one and only God … is also three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is, of course, a great spiritual mystery, one that we ignore at our peril. We know that God the Father resides in heaven and that Jesus, who we identify as the Son of God, after experiencing the totality of human existence, returned to his rightful place with the Father. But, God the Father and God the Son have not abandoned this world. Instead, they remain present in the Holy Spirit. To blaspheme, that is to speak contemptuously of the Holy Spirit, is to deny the existence of God. The Holy Trinity is not a pick and mix, rather the Holy Trinity is One all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God. A God who wants us to be in the closest of relationships with Him. A God who models the closeness of that relationship by revealing himself to us in the Trinity.
Jesus understands the folly of humanity in its rejection of himself, but he goes on to say: whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Let us pray that our faith might be both inspired and brought to life by the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that however far we may stray from the teachings of Jesus, we might never forget that there is a way back … the path that is illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that we might never speak contemptuously of the Advocate who is God’s very real presence among us every moment of our lives.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, that he will bring to fruition all that he desires for his creation.
You have created the universe by your eternal Word, and have blessed humankind in making us stewards of the earth. We pray for your world, that we may share and conserve its resources, and live in reverence for the creation and in harmony with one another.
You have given the human race a rich land, a land of streams and springs, wheat and barley, vines and oil and honey. We have made by sin a world of suffering and sorrow. We pray for those who bear the weight of affliction, that they may come to share the life of wholeness and plenty.
In Christ you call us to a new way of life, loving our neighbours before ourselves. Help us to treat with care and respect the world as it is as we live in hope and anticipation of the world as it will be when your kingdom comes and your will is done.
Thank you for those, living and departed, who have shown a true respect for your creation. Help us to follow in their footsteps, until, with them, we see you face to face, where all is made new in Christ our Lord.
Prayer for the week
Give peace in our time, O Lord:
peace and reconciliation among the nations;
peace and unity within the churches;
peace and harmony in our communities and homes;
peace and love in all our hearts;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
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