Crowd Support – Trinity Sunday
Sunday, 11th June, 2017 – Pastor Adrian Kitson
2 Corinthians 13:11-1411 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.http://stpetri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/20170611_message56.mp3
Friends, have you ever heard of a thing called “Crowd Support”? It appears in the world of computers, internet and telephones. Apparently there is now a whole crowd of people who can support you. “Crowd support” is there for you to help you fix your problems and give you advice as you navigate your way through the unseen mysterious digital world.
When pondering our God – the Holy Trinity, would it be fair to say that that God, the One and yet Three, who is one and yet “a crowd”; that God the Holy Trinity is our “crowd support”? God is our crowd support not merely for digital issues but for human life and death and relationships? I think so.
We can say we are indeed living in God’s crowd support. This is because of all the God has done for us already. He made us part of the holy community of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our own baptism and every day we gather and live in his holy name, Father Son and Spirit. .
If we are happy to go with God as our crowd support, as we go about the journey of living in the grace of our baptism together, we will be confident that we are not alone, not without help and support ever.
How can we be sure of his support? Well, he tells us we have it. He has included us in his crowd, his support, his table, his family. We have been baptised into this holy crowd. We are forever attached to God and each other – all by God’s grace.
Big or small, thriving or struggling, in complete unity or in conflict, feeling positive or weighed down with doom and gloom, in freedom or under persecution, in the right or in the wrong, we are in holy community with God, a mission outpost of the Holy Trinity.
This is the grand vision St Paul has for his people in the city of Corinth as he writes his second letter to them from the other great Roman trading city of Ephesus. In Paul’s estimation, these people are
“made holy in Christ Jesus, called to be holy people, together with holy people in every place who call on the of our Lord Jesus Christ….” (1Corinthians 1:1).
What a vision of church this is. It is God’s vision of us and for us and it matters because it makes us a community of hope and life where there often is little of both around us!
But the vision can be easily shattered. It is our doing too. We limit God’s vision when we ignore his crowd support.
We can be like a lot of blokes when they get that flat-pack furniture home from the shop or that new part for the car engine. “I’ll be right” we say. “Instruction, support, help? Who do they think I am? I don’t need support. I do things my way. I do things alone … But why are there six screws left? I wonder where they were meant to go? Why is this thing not quite straight, not quite connected properly ..?”
We have a natural human tendency to do our life’s project on our terms believing that it is all up to us. And it usually does not go well. The Corinthian Christians show us that.
This is the second time Paul has written to this local crowd.
Paul has already said to them that there is division in their community. “Some follow Paul, some Apollos, some Peter, some Christ” (1Cor 1:12). Power driven division is death for the community called church.
There is public and persistent immorality among this church. This immorality is of a sexual kind (1 Cor 5:9-10). People get hurt. Relationships get destroyed. Paul urges them again to make immediate changes to their behaviour (1Cor 5:3,13).
There are Christians who have taken their fellow Christians to court over petty issues. There is disorderliness concerning public worship. There are people publicly raising doubt about the resurrection of Jesus, and there is a decided lack of love among people.
Still, somebody must still be seeking God’s support. Some ask the apostle who founded this church about all this. They ask about marriage, what to do about eating food that has already been offered to pagan idols and about spiritual gifts. Paul says that this congregation is richly blessed by God in every way but remains spiritually immature (1Cor 3:1-4).
But we discover that this local church is still not seeking God’s crowd support – not from Paul anyway. Paul needs to send another letter. 2 Corinthians is a response to those in this congregation who openly treat Paul’s word with disdain. They are calling into question his apostleship and authority to teach and preach and lead.
Some are now running him down personally. This always ends in tears. It hurts and it is not on for Christians.
But what happens at the end of this second letter to this crowd is truly beautiful because it is truly gospel. God, the One in Three still speaks to and calls his isolated people to himself. He still offers his crowd support even after they have destroyed their computer and their furniture as a result of ignoring his support!
How so? This man Paul, who has received painful and vindictive words from these people who have questioned him as a Minister and as a person; this man can still give his full support to them because he has Jesus’ full support. He is baptised and called, made holy by Jesus’ blood and he trusts that.
Pauls speaks words of the unconditional love of God to this community.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit BE WITH YOU ALL”, he declares.
Grace – that is the nature of God’s crowd support. Grace for life and death, for doubt and faith, for fear and trust, for human pride and true repentance of heart. God’s support is grace and it reaches to everyone when no one deserves it or has earned it.
When we are graceless and mean – our Father still graces us.
When you are hurt and dismissed, the love of the Saviour still affirms you and upholds you.
When you are feeling alone and without much help or hope, the Spirit breathes and offers power to overcome and God’s preferred future to be yours again.
Friends, we the imperfect crowd in this community called St Petri have hope. We are part of God’s crowd. As such we have a future in God’s grace. We have his ‘crowd support’ available 24/7 and it is actually a real crowd, not digital. It is God Father, Son and Holy Spirit himself and the ‘great crowd of witnesses” (Hebrews 10) to his grace in their lives and in our Christian story. They are urging us on toward our goal in God’s holy life.
Seeking his ‘Crowd Support” will give us all we need to truly live this life graciously, confidently. joyfully – in suffering and in ease. But you have to seek it. You got to press that ‘Crowd Support” button.
The Trinity calls us today, “Press the button!”
As we receive his support in word, in holy gifts, in each other’s company, in prayer alone and together, spoken or sung, we will know the deep peace of belonging and being supported always in everything we face.
We will know quiet or sometimes loud joy in life. We will have real ways to give and receive forgiveness in relationships. We will find a confidence in bringing Jesus into our relationships. We will possess a will to seek and love the stranger, and share a desire to give and live in the gospel mission we have been given. We will be living in that vision of church that our One in Three God has begun in us and will bring to its completion.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit BE WITH YOU ALL”.
Name your favourite childhood illustration (if you have one) of God being The Holy Trinity. Explain the illustration to the group.
Share about a time when you did not read the instructions on a new thing and got in a bit of trouble because of that …
Read 1 Corinthians 13 from verse one to the text we have (v 11-14 ) …
The Corinthian church had many issues and Paul patiently writes two letters to try and deal with them. It does not seem to help as much as Paul would have liked. Problems persist and even deepen. This last part of the second letter needs to be stern. How is it stern and how is it still gentle?
In our text Paul is still able to be their support and friend. He says God is the still their supportive Saviour. He says that they still belong to the ‘great cloud of witness – the one holy Christian church, despite their troubled and their less than helpful behaviour. We call this grace – unconditional love on God’s part!
What hope does this give you for your own problems at the moment? Share your thoughts.
What hope does this grace in the face if human weakness and bad behaviour give for your local church community?
What hope does this give you for the place of the Christian church in the world?
I suggest that God the Holy Trinity is like the ‘Crowd Support” button on your computer (if you have one – might be called “Help” button….). It is a button you press to gain the advice and assistance you need to navigate your way through the tricky world of the internet. Our problem is being either unaware or too proud to seek that support. How do you find yourself rejecting God’s support?
When you have sought help and support from Christian friends, how has it gone?
When you have sought support from your church, how has that gone?
When you have been sought out by someone else for some help, how did you respond?
What other reasons might people have for not ‘pressing the crowd support” button in their lives? How can we help them seek God’s community and compassion for their life?
God, the Holy Trinity, One in Three, help me trust you support. Keep my pride as nay. Be my support and help me assist other people in seeking your support and direction for their lives, in Jesus’ name. Amen.