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May 27, 2002

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God our Father, dwelling in majesty and mystery, renewing and fulfilling creation by your eternal Spirit, and revealing your glory through our Lord, Jesus Christ: Cleanse us from doubt and fear, and enable us to worship your, with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, living and reigning, now and forever.


Almighty and ever-living God, you have given us grace, by the confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and, in the power of your divine majesty, to worship the unity. Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your eternal glory, one God, now and forever.

Genesis 1:1-2:4a
{1:1}In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, {2} the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. {3} Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. {4} And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. {5} God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. {6} And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." {7} So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. {8} God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. {9} And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. {10} God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. {11} Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so. {12} The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. {13} And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. {14} And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, {15} and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so. {16} God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. {17} God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, {18} to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. {19} And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. {20} And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." {21} So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. {22} God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." {23} And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. {24} And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. {25} God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. {26} Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." {27} So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. {28} God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." {29} God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. {30} And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. {31} God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. {2:1} Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. {2} And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. {3} So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. {4} These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. With respect to the meaning of "day," one should note that in 2:4 the whole week (at least six days of it) are referred to as "the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." To become embroiled in a creation/science debate is surely not appropriate on this festival. Rather we celebrate the creative power of our God.
26-27. in our image…according to our likeness…in the image of God…male and female: "The context suggests that humanity is the image of God in the dominion it exercises over the rest of creation…. In the imageless religious tradition of Israel, the only acceptable image of God is the human being." [1] Daniel 3:25; Ezekiel 1:26; Revelation 1:13 are three places where God appears in a form that is described as human. The God of creation has no consort. Both male and female reflect the divine image and likeness, though neither of them completely, alone.
     Edwin Firmage explores "the possibility that the author was a member of the Holiness School and that his purpose was to establish the philosophical foundation of the Holiness Code (H) by declaring that man is God’s image, and therefore has the potential to become holy. The creation narrative sets the stage for the centerpiece of H, the dietary law of Leviticus 11. Usually attributed to P, this law shows itself to belong to H, and in fact to be one of the cornerstones of H’s ideology." [2]
29. I have given you every plant yielding seed…and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food: In Genesis 9:1-4, God specifically permits human beings to eat the flesh of all creatures excepting only their blood. Later this general permission is qualified, and only "clean" animals, birds, fish and insects are allowed for human food.

Psalm 8
{1} O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. {2} Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. {3} When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; {4} what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? {5} Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. {6} You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, {7} all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, {8} the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. {9} O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

1, 9. our Sovereign: Adonai. Yahweh is called "the Lord of all the earth" in Psalm 97:5; "the Lord is above all gods," Psalm 135:5; his understanding and power are great, Psalm 147:5.
your name: Yahweh’s name embodies his honor, and reputation and character. "In its majestic greatness the name of the Lord of Israel comes into prominence in all the world." [3]
your glory above the heavens: Parallel to Yahweh’s name on earth, Yahweh’s glory illumines the heavens.
2. Out of the mouths of babes and infants: The wisest and most powerful human beings are as children in the hands of Yahweh, who uses them to silence his enemies, or simplicity and weakness in the hands of God are more powerful and wise than earthly strength and wisdom. The statement is unique in the Old Testament; it is quoted in Matthew 21:16 with respect to praise.
3-4: The singer ponders the insignificance of human beings in comparison with the wonders of the heavens created by Yahweh.
5-8: But human beings are created in Yahweh’s image and likeness and have been given "dominion" over the creation (Genesis 1:27-28).

2 Corinthians 13:11-13
{11} Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. {12} Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. {13} The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

11. brothers and sisters: "literally ‘brothers.’ But like the term ‘beloved’...adelphoi is used quite inclusively by Paul when he addresses a congregation; he is thinking of all those, female as well as male, who are in Christ." [4] The distinction between male and female as well as that between Jew and Greek and slave and free is rendered meaningless in Paul’s anthropology.
12. Greet one another with a holy kiss: In Paul’s letters see Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; also 1 Peter 5:14, "Greet one another with a kiss of love." "It may be that the holy kiss to which Paul refers was no more than a kiss of greeting bestowed upon another member of one’s particular religious association,...but it is also possible...that the kiss had already become a feature of the Christian liturgy, associated perhaps with the eucharist (see especially 1 Cor 16:20, followed closely in v. 22 by the formulas ‘Anathema’ and ‘Maranatha’). And—it may be noted in support of the latter—in the mid-second century Justin can attest that those gathered for the eucharist ‘salute one another with a kiss’ following the prayers an immediately preceding the offertory of bread and wine (Apology I, 65)." [5]
All the saints greet you: In Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, Philippians 4:21-22 and 1 Peter 5:13 greetings between those present at the reading of the letter are accompanied by greetings from others transmitted by the letter, so that the whole body of the church is present. The sense of the unity of the church is also indicated by Paul’s appeal for peace and harmony in verse 11.
13. The trinitarian benediction is the focus of this lesson on this Sunday. The qualities of the Godhead, grace, love and unity are constitutive of the Christian community. "...the sequence Christ...God...Holy Spirit should in itself be a warning about too quickly reading the church’s later Trinitarian theology into this benediction. Unlike the clearly Trinitarian baptismal formula of Matt 28:19, this benediction does not refer to Christ as ‘the Son’ nor to God as ‘the Father.’ It neither presupposes nor teaches anything specific about the relationship of Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. Rather it focuses attention only on the grace and the love which characterize God’s dealings with humanity, and on the believers’ joint participation in the Holy Spirit. All three themes are at home in Paul’s theology, and the three are always closely related." [6]

Matthew 28:16-20
{16} Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. {17} When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. {18} And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. {19} Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

16. the eleven disciples went to Galilee: As early as Matthew 26:32 Jesus told his disciples that he would meet them in Galilee. The angel at the tomb told the women that they would see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:7) and the risen Jesus instructed the women to tell his "brothers" that they would see him in Galilee (Matthew 28:10).
to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them: The mountain is a metaphor for a place of revelation, like the mountain of Jesus’ sermon and the mountain of the transfiguration.
17. but some doubted: Doubt among the believers is a common theme. Thomas, John 20:25; the disciples, Mark 16:11; the apostles, Matthew 14:31.
18. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. God created the heavens and the earth. Now Jesus has received authority from the Creator to send the disciples out to make more disciples, to baptize and teach. "All" implies the absolute sovereignty of the creator. Jesus’ authority is qualitatively superior to the devil’s offer of the splendor of all the kingdoms of the world.
19. all nations: The word translated "nations" is often translated "Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15; 6:32; 10:5, 18; 12:18, 21; 20:19, 25). Jesus’ earlier instruction, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans" (Matthew 10:5), is now reversed. The scene is set for a mission to the whole world. At the end of the age all nations will be gathered before the Son of Man to be judged, not on the basis of their ethnic identity, or their self-identification, but instead on the basis of their compassionate treatment of "the least of these who are members of my family" (Matthew 25:32).
baptizing them: "In the earliest Palestinian church, baptism was administered in the name of Jesus (cf. Acts [2:28], Paul [Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27]). The triple formula arose only toward the end of the first century and then outside of Palestine (cf. Didache). Yet from the earliest days baptism was understood to mean translation into the eschatological existence made possible by the Christ event and participation in the gifts of the Spirit. In a completely Jewish environment it would have gone without saying that if Jesus was the Messiah he was the one in whom God acted eschatologically, and if God had inaugurated the messianic age in Jesus Christ, this involved also the gift of the Spirit. Thus baptism was always implicitly trinitarian." [7]
teaching them: "—the teaching which they are to give to their converts is not primarily doctrinal, but ethical. It consists of commandments which are to be kept." [8]
20. I am with you always: Jesus’ promise is a restatement of the words of the angel of the Lord in Matthew 1:23. What was promised at the beginning of the Gospel is renewed after the resurrection.

     The Festival of Holy Trinity was established by Pope John XXII (d. 1334). It "provides a fitting climax to the first half of the year and lends a dogmatic foundation for the Sundays in the second half with their messages concerning the teaching of our Lord as exemplified in the life of the church." [9] Only the Gospel remains the same as in the Lutheran historic lectionary, and even the Gospel is different from that in the Book of Common Prayer.
     "We need to guard against the notion that the Holy Trinity is a mysterious formula or still more a perplexing and complicated dogma, intelligible only to theologians. We must therefore interpret the experience of the believers, particularly their prayer and sacramental experiences, in such a way that they see that they are themselves constantly involved thereby in the life of the Blessed Trinity. ‘Thus the rudest man or woman who cannot reason about the Trinity may know the Trinity more perfectly than some acute theologian who has by heart all the writings of St. Athanasius or St. Augustine, and all the controversies of the first six centuries’ (Thomas Hancock, 19th century Anglican divine)." [10]
     The Priestly Account of the Creation describes the orderliness of the process of creation. There are many details that could be looked at, but the point of the lesson in its use in the lectionary is not in the details, but in the assertion that our existence, indeed the existence of whatever exists, has its source in God’s creative activity. I am reminded of the quotation in Acts 17:28 (second lesson for Easter 6 C), "In him we live and move and have our being."
     Jesus’ statement, "I am with you always to the end of the age" is a good place to start our homiletical thinking. Jesus is with us because the Father sent him; he died for us in obedience to the Father’s will. He was raised from death by the Father, and has been given a name that is above every name. He did not speak on his own, but he spoke what the Father gave him to say. By baptism we have been born anew by the Spirit. Now Jesus is with us through the power of that Spirit, who will take what is his and declare it to us. By his Spirit we are able to bring the Gospel to all, and by his Spirit we are able to use what the Father has given us for the well-being of others.

Hymns [11]
With One Voice (e.g. 762v), Hymnal Supplement 1991 (e.g. 725s) and LBW (e.g. 32).
E=Entrance; D=Hymn of the Day; I=First Lesson, P=Psalm; II=Second Lesson; G=Gospel

165 --E--Holy, Holy, Holy
169 --D--Father Most Holy
281 --I--God, Who Made
463 --I--God, Who Stretched
767v--I--All Things (827s)
757v--I--Creating God,
794v--I/P--Many and Great

726v--I--Oh, Sing to God
561 --P--For the Beauty
192 --G--Baptized into Your
712v --G--Listen, God Is
773v --G--Send Me, Jesus (812s)
748s/756v, 233, 379, 168, 717v,
757v, 787v, 769v

Prayers of the People [12]
P or A: As we confess and celebrate the mystery of the Triune God among us, let us pray to the Holy Trinity for blessing and provision for the needs of all people, saying "O Holy Trinity, hear us," and responding, "Our God will bless us."
A: For all who have been baptized in the Triune name, for our search to expand and enlarge our naming of God so that more and more people may recognize and praise the holy name with true joy. O Holy Trinity, hear us. Our God will bless us.
A: For the peoples of the earth, that the dynamic of love which is God may draw us in and incorporate us all into the ongoing work of God's praise. O Holy Trinity, hear us. Our God will bless us.
A: For the mystery of all creation, that as the Word of God is expressed good things come into being. Humankind is also part of that wonder. Do not allow us to destroy or misuse anything or anyone for whom you have given us responsibility. Teach us the honor and respect due to the earth and one another as your creations. O Holy Trinity, hear us. Our God will bless us.
A: For infants and children, out of whose mouths your praise is sung. Let them be cared for and cherished. Let no one's conscience rest, afflict all with broken hearts while children and their families are still afflicted with poverty and despair in this country and in all the world. O Holy Trinity, hear us. Our God will bless us.
A: For all who are sick or in need of any healing or grace that we may be in supportive and strengthening relationship to one another just as the persons of the Triune God. We pray in particular for _______. O Holy Trinity, hear us. Our God will bless us.
P: Remove all doubt and fear. Affirm in us the faith that you are always with us to the end of the age and provide for your people according to your mercy and loving kindness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or [13]

Presider or deacon
Bound together in Christ in the communion of the Holy Spirit, let us pray with one heart and mind to God our Father.
Deacon or other leader
For peace from on high and for our salvation.
For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all.
For this holy gathering and for those who enter with faith, reverence, and fear of God.
For N our bishop and the presbyters, the deacons and all who minister in Christ, and for all the holy people of God.
For the world and its leaders, our nation and its people.
For all those in need, the suffering and the oppressed, travelers and prisoners, the dying and the dead.
For ourselves, our families, and those we love.
Remembering our most glorious and blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, let us offer our-selves and one another to the living God through Christ. To you, O Lord.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who created all things by your eternal Word. Hear the prayers we offer this day and breathe upon us with your Spirit. Glory to you for ever and ever.

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U. S. A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] John S. Kselman, “Genesis,” Harper’s Bible Commentary. (ed. by James L. Mays), San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1988, p. 87.
[2] Edwin Firmage, Genesis 1 and the Priestly Agenda,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. 82(1999)114.
[3] Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1-59: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988, p. 180.
[4] Victor Paul Furnish, II Corinthians: Translated with Introduction, Notes and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1984, pp. 112-113.
[5] Ibid., p. 583.
[6] Ibid., p. 587.
[7] Reginald B. Fuller, Preaching the New Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1974, p.385.
[8] Francis Wright Beare, The Gospel according to Matthew: Translation, Introduction and Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1981, p. 545.
[9] Luther D. Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy: A Study of the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America. Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1947, p. 519.
[10] Fuller, loc. cit.