[Below is the talk I gave this morning in our family service, with a few of the powerpoint slides added. I have to confess that I got the talk from another blog and edited it down to make it more ‘family friendly’. The original is brilliant, but I didn’t have time to do all of it. It goes into explaining the Trinity in much more detail. You can see it here: http://christthetruth.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/a-trinity-sunday-jubilee-sermon/
Thank you to whoever wrote it. You are blessed with a great gift of communication. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing and adjusting it, it brought encouragement to our congregation too!]
Jubilee Talk – 3rd June 2012
The year is 1947 and The United Kingdom has come through one of the most severe winters on record. The first episode of what is now ‘Gardeners’ Question time’ is broadcast on BBC Radio (there are no TVs yet!). Alan Sugar and Elton John are born in the Spring and in the FA Cup Final, Charlton Athletic beats Burnley 1-nil!
George the sixth, the one from the recent film ‘The King’s Speech’, is King and the Royal Family are holidaying in Cape Town on the occasion of Princess Elizabeth’s 21st Birthday.
To mark that occasion she gives a speech to the whole British Empire, during which she says this:
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.”
And as we look back on her 60 years as Queen, one of the main words we might use to describe her long reign is “service.” What an incredible marker for a monarch! Not power, or wealth, or prestige, but “service.”
The Queen is not simply just Head of State, Head of the Commonwealth, the Fount of Justice, Head of the Armed Forces, the Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. She is also patron of over 600 organisations and charities. And, routinely, Queen Elizabeth II is referred to as this country’s greatest public servant.
She is ‘A Sovereign who serves‘
The Queen herself has said that she is following the example of Christ: the ultimate Sovereign who serves.
John’s Gospel begins with these famous words:
Jesus is the Word of God the Father from before the world began. So John introduces his story of Jesus by affirming that Jesus did not merely found a religion… He founded the universe.
Jesus, “the Word”, existed before the world began, with God His Father and with the Holy Spirit. This is what we call the Trinity, and incidentally today is also Trinity Sunday. John gives us a picture of “the beginning” that is unlike any the world has imagined.
“In the beginning there was love.”
In the beginning there was the loving relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Before there were people or planets or protons, there was love. Love is the one thing God didn’t need to create because God is love. The Father has always loved His eternal Son in the joy of the Holy Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity relate to each other. Their life is a life of caring, sharing, give and take, back and forth.
Before God’s life was a life of ruling over the creation, God’s life was a life of service among the Persons. The Father pours His love and life into the Son in the power of the Spirit. The Son offers up His love and life in the power of the Spirit. The very essence of our Sovereign IS service. God’s life is a life of mutual self-giving.
Imagine if God were just a solitary individual, all on his own. Think of him there “in the beginning”, with no-one and nothing besides him, just his own thoughts for company. Such a god could not be a god of service. There’s no-one and nothing for this god to serve. There’s no caring or sharing. But God is love. And this love was too good to keep to themselves. In John 1 verse 3, we see that the God of love wanted to share.
John writes: ‘Through the Word all things were made.’
This is where we’ve come from. From the overflowing life of the Father, through the Word – the Lord Jesus – in the power of the Spirit, the world was born. It was as if the Father, Son and Spirit had said “This thing is too good to keep to ourselves.” And so a world is made, that we might share in their love. The Trinity tells us: “God is love and you’re invited.” We’re invited to come home and become a member of the ultimate Royal Family.
Some of you might have actually met the Queen. Some of you might have been honoured by the Queen. One of her titles is “The Fount of Honours”. For one thing, she writes to those who make it to 100. She also congratulates couples on their diamond wedding anniversaries. My Grandparents were very proud of their card from the Queen, sent by special delivery, on their 60th Wedding Anniversary a few years ago! They had to have that card in every photo; they were so excited about it!
Yet however wonderful it is to be honoured by the Queen, there’s something much greater. The Queen can bestow honours on you, she can even make you a Lord or a Baron or a Knight. But she can’t make you her child. She can’t give you her inheritance. She won’t adopt you into her family and take you home to the Palace. That’s not how it works.
But with Jesus, there’s an honour that is out of this world. He can and He does invite us home. Jesus invites us to be adopted by Him INTO His loving Family life. John chapter 1 verse 10 says this:
‘10 Christ was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God‘
The Son of God offers Himself to us. All who receive Him are invited into His life. We receive His Father as our Father and His Spirit as our Spirit. God is love and Jesus invites us INTO the God of love. John chapter 1 verse 14 says:
‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, we have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son who came from the Father full of grace and truth.’
How do we enter into Christ’s life? Well, he entered into ours. The Word became flesh. Our Maker became a man. It’s the ultimate riches to rags story. We all know the fairy-tales of Princes becoming paupers.
Well the myth is a reality. The true King did empty Himself. As Philippians chapter 2 says:
We love to hear stories of Royals who climb down off their thrones. The Queen likes to get out anonymously – sometimes visiting a West End show with Prince Philip. Only rarely are they spotted. If I saw them I’d definitely be putting it immediately onto Twitter! We like to hear about our Royals moving among us as commoners.
But Jesus was the ultimate Royal becoming the ultimate commoner! From heaven to earth, and not just to earth…
He became a wriggling baby on the straw.
And then a defenceless refugee, on the run from Herod.
And then a carpenter.
And then a penniless preacher.
Then a victim of cruelty and injustice.
And finally a human sacrifice – dying a godforsaken death on the cross.
Never has anyone so Mighty become so meek. Jesus is not just an example of human service. He is God the Son. He is our Maker. His arms outstretched to the world are God’s arms – and they are opened for you.
When we think Majesty, we think Palaces and Crowns and Thrones. Christ traded His palace for a manger. His crown was made of thorns. His throne was His cross. The Great Prince became a Pauper. More than a Pauper – a Sacrifice.
And He did it for us. For almost 2000 years the church has used a simple phrase to describe the Christian message.
It just says this: He became what we are, so that we might become what He is.
He – the Son of God – became a man. He knew all about our sufferings and sins. But that didn’t put Him off.
He entered in and became what we are.
Why did He do it?
So that we might become what He is – a child of God. The Son of God became human so that we humans can become children of God. These are the Royal Honours that Jesus wants to bestow. He is the true ‘Fount of Honours’ and He can bring you in to the ultimate Royal Family.
But His invitation requires a response.
It means a reality check for each of us. We must realize that we live in a broken world with broken hearts and broken lives. We need to acknowledge that our lives, naturally, are cut off from God’s Family. That we need the forgiveness which Christ offers through His death. We need Jesus in order to be reconnected to the love of God.
Do you recognize that need?
It’s something the Queen articulated so beautifully last Christmas. Her televised message was, surely, the greatest Christmas sermon preached that day. (It was certainly much better than mine!) She spoke of our need for Jesus – our need for forgiveness. She said this:
‘Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin And enter in. Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this [Christmas] day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.’
Do you have room in your life for the love of God through Christ our Lord?
He is offered to you, to forgive all your sins, to reconnect you to the Father, to give you His Spirit, to adopt you into the life and love of God. The Ultimate Sovereign became the Ultimate Servant for you. Our Queen trusts Him as her Saviour. Do you?
John writes: ‘To all who receive Jesus, to those who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)’
Thank you Father God for this Diamond Jubilee, thank you for the Queen’s example of service throughout her long reign. Thank you that she trusts in You.
Thank you that in Jesus you came to earth to make a way for us to be right with you and for his sacrifice that made it possible.
As we celebrate over these next few days, we also celebrate your faithfulness.
We celebrate the life of our Queen but she points us to celebrate that you Jesus are the King of Kings, and only You are worthy of all our Praise and worship this morning.
Thank you that you invite us to become children of God. Fill us with your love this morning and equip us, by your Holy Spirit’s power, to live as your children in this world and to offer ourselves as your servants to those around us.
In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.