Pentecost (June 5, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

Today it’s all about the Holy Spirit. (In Easter readings from Acts replace the Hebrew Bible reading)
In Acts 2.1-21 on Pentecost (a Jewish harvest festival), the Spirit enables the disciples to tell of God’s mighty deeds to people in many different languages. In explaining the event to the crowd, Peter quotes the prophet Joel, concerning how God’s Spirit will be poured out on all people: men and women, old and young, rich and poor.

Psalm 104 celebrates how God creates all things through God’s Spirit, and that the Spirit gives living beings their life.

In Romans 8.14-17 Paul says that we are God’s children and God’s Spirit is in us.

In John 14. 8-17, 25-27 Jesus says that he is in God, and God in him. He promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, which will be in us.

Preaching Thoughts

Speaking in tongues
I’m intrigued that the Pentecost story of “speaking in tongues” is about communication—the disciples speaking in other people’s languages (“tongues”) to communicate the gospel they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to communicate—and yet within twenty years “speaking in tongues” was understood not as speaking in known languages for the purpose of communication but in ecstatic utterances that were meaningless, even to the speaker, with out interpretation. I wonder how that reversal came about? I think the pentecostal challenge is not to experience ecstasy but to communicate the good news in ways people understand—which is not in our religious language, or even in words, but in love and justice.

That involves more listening than talking: paying attention to people and their lives, their context, their needs, and listening to them, to what they experience and need and ask for—what I call “listening in tongues.” Pentecost invites us to check our desire that others “speak our language,” our temptation to impose our own values on them. Sometimes the most pentecostal thing we can do is affirm people as they are, rather than ask them to conform to our standards and expectations. Pentecost invites us to assume God has been with them in their journey, even if it’s very different from ours.

The Holy Spirit
It’s helpful for us to personify the Spirit, to imagine the Holy Spirit as, well, a spirit—a sort of invisible “someone” who comes to us and acts upon us. That’s cool, as long as we remember we’re anthropomorphizing a member of the Holy Trinity, that is, God, who is not a god, but beyond all gods—the Mystery of Love that is Being itself. The Holy Spirit is not some ghost, but God in us. In both Greek and Hebrew the word for wind, spirit and breath (and hence life) is the same: ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek. The Holy Spirit is the living energy of God (which is love) in us. When we love, that’s God doing God’s thing.

Jesus says “I am in God, and you in me, and I in you (Jn. 14.20). Sounds a little spacey, but it’s literally true. God is infinite; we are within God. The Holy Spirit is our inter-penetration, our inter-being. Jesus was both human and divine; so are we.

We speak of the disciples “receiving “ the Spirit at Pentecost, but they already had it. They were born with it. (Joel says the Spirit is poured out on all flesh.) And just to make sure, Jesus has breathed on them in John 20. But Pentecost is the moment when the spark catches fire and they burn with it, overcoming their fear and grief. Acting in the power of the Holy Spirit isn’t some ecstatic experience, but simply being a vessel for love. It’s not our love, our effort, but God’s. We let the Spirit, God’s love in us, do its thing. That’s what enables us to do things that seem beyond our capacity or expectations—like communicating love in languages we haven’t studied.

Baptism
Pentecost is a great day for baptisms, baptismal renewal, Confirmation, and receiving new members. People often conflate baptism and confirmation. Those who believe in “adult baptism” see it as a way to affirm one’s faith. But baptism, like birth, isn’t something you do; it’s something you receive. Baptism is a symbol of God’s unconditional love of the person being baptized—whether or not they like it, or understand it, or even know it. (That’s why we baptize babies.) Confirmation is the act in which we respond—we confirm our baptism; we accept our divine belovedness and vow to live in harmony with it. We are only baptized once, since our belovedness is permanent, eternal and unchanging, and isn’t dependent on the pastor or church or denomination that pours the water, nor on the person receiving it. But we do need to continually re-affirm our baptism, to re-commit ourselves to the vows that were made at our baptism. Pentecost is a great time for baptismal renewal services. See a service of Baptism/ Baptismal Renewal/ Confirmation here.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: God, in the beginning your Spirit brooded over the water and you created everything.
All: By your Spirit you create us anew, and we praise you.
Loving Christ, when you rose from the dead you breathed your Spirit into us.
By your Spirit you raise us up from death, and we thank you.
Holy Spirit, you breathe your love into us and give us your beauty and your courage.
In your Spirit you make us one body, the Body of Christ, the Body of Love.
In your Spirit we bear your love to the world.
We love you; we worship you; we serve you. Alleluia!


2.
Leader: Holy Spirit, you breathed over the waters and brought forth Creation.
All: You create us anew each day, each breath.
Holy Spirit, you live and move in all of us.
You make us one, your living body
Holy Spirit, you enflame us with your love.
We are the love song you sing to the world.
And so we sing our love to you. Alleluia!


3.
Leader: Spirit of God, you breathe life into us.
All: Breath of Life, you fill us with glory.
Glory of God, you call us to your love.
Fire of Love, we burn with your presence.
Wind of Compassion, blow through us to all the world.
Word of God, live in us by your grace. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Spirit of Life, you create all things.All: Alleluia! We praise you for your great love!
Leader: Spirit of Christ, you join us in one body.
All: Alleluia! We thank you for your great love!
Leader: Spirit of love, you fill us so we are able to love others.
All: Alleluia! We ask you for your great love!
Help us to become more loving,
to continually receive and give your love in Jesus’ name. Alleluia!


5.
Leader: You have promised to pour out your Spirit on all flesh,
on male and female, young and old, rich and poor alike.
All: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may proclaim your great works and live by your great love.

Help us, by the power of your Spirit, to prophecy in your name.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Light our hearts on fire with your love.
Alleluia! Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us! Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of our living breath, you poured out your Spirit on Jesus’ followers long ago, and created the church. Pour out your Spirit on us now, and make us once again the Body of Christ, breathing your love, on fire with your courage, carried on the winds of your joy. Speak your Word to us, and set our heart aflame with your love. Amen.

2.
God of Creation, in the beginning your Spirit breathed over the waters and you brought forth life. Re-create us by your Word. Baptize us in your grace. Bring us to new life, and kindle in us your love for all your people, in the name of Christ. Amen.

4.
Holy Spirit, Spirit of love, you live in us and give us life. Help us to listen to you now. Help us to take in your word like breath and let it give us life. Help us to take in your word like food and let it give us strength. Help us to take in your love so that we can give your love to others. We pray in the name and in the presence of Jesus. Amen.

5.
Holy Spirit, we breathe in, and you enter us. You fill us. You give us life and energy. We breathe out and you give us voice and song, and we speak your truth. Breath of God, breathe in us now. Speak to us, and in us, and through us. Amen.

6.
Eternal God, spring of life in us and in all Creation, we open our hearts to your grace. As spring turns to summer and life burgeons around us, so may the sap of your love run in us, your love blossom in us. We listen for your living Word. Speak to us and awaken your Spirit in us. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Spirit of God, you breathe your love in us.
We give thanks for those times
when we have lived by your love, your Spirit in us….

(Silence…)
Spirit of God, you breathe your love in us.
We confess those times
when we have lived by fear or selfishness, not by your Spirit,
and we open ourselves to your grace…

(Silence…)
We breathe in your grace.. and we breathe out your grace.
Thanks be to you, God of our breath.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1. (Romans 8. 11-14 ; Galatians 5.22-26)
We give thanks, for the Spirit of God lives in us. Since the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, then the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies also, through that Spirit that lives in us. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Since we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Amen.

2.
We believe in God, Creator of all,
whose Spirit in the beginning breathed over the waters of chaos.
We believe in Jesus Christ, son of God,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and to whom the Spirit gave power to teach and to heal,
to make known God’s infinite love.
He was crucified, gave up his Spirit, and died;
yet he was raised from the dead,
and breathed his spirit into us,
and lives and reigns forever with God.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God’s presence within and among us,
by whose power we, the Church, are made the Body of Christ,
one with one another and one with Christ,
empowered to love and to bless, to do the very deeds of Christ.
We believe in the love of God and neighbor,
the forgiveness of sin, the life of death and resurrection,
and the reality of eternal life. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Spirit of Love,
we breathe deeply of your grace.
Your breath fills us;
your Word gives us life;
your light creates us;
your breath transforms our bodies
into the Body of Christ.
As we open our lungs,
we open our hearts to you.

Reading

Psalm 104. 1, 24-35 My paraphrase


O God, I bless you!
May my soul be my blessing and thanks,
for you are infinitely good;
you are the perfect heart of all things.

Your working unfolds richly with grace
and layers upon layers of your poetry.
Earth abounds with your presence—
all these living things, your creatures!

Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
teeming with innumerable beings,
small and great in the hidden waters.
Beneath our confident ships, deeper
than our understanding, swims
a great secret creature whom you made,
at home in the depths.

Your creatures live in faith,
looking to you for their sustenance
from moment to moment.
So simple, the way of life!:
you provide, and they gather.
You open your hand
and fill them with good things.
These “dumb creatures” who do not understand
cannot imagine life without you.

When you withhold their breath, they are once again only dust.
You give of your Spirit,
and create them anew with each breath.
In each breath of every creature
you make a new Creation altogether.

This glory is eternal!
God, may it give you joy,
you whose mere look trembles the earth,
whose simple touch ignites mountains!

Let this awe fill me as long as I live.
Let this song be the breath of my being.
May my mindfulness delight you
as much as you delight me.

Let all that is sinful in me be consumed;
let all my evil be no more,
so that all of me is a blessing to you,
so that I may be your Alleluia!

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Holy One, in the beginning your wind brooded over the waters
and you created the world.
You breathed into the clay of the earth
and it became a living human being.

The strong east wind of your breath
parted the Red Sea and led the slaves to freedom.
Your breath entered the dry bones in the valley
and they rose to life again.
Therefore with your holy breath in us we sing your praise.

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
At his baptism your Spirit descended on him as a dove.
He embodied your love, he breathed your grace.
By your Spirit he healed and taught and nourished your people.
The powers of evil opposed him and crucified him;
but the Spirit of Life raised him.
Risen from the dead, he came to us and breathed his spirit into us,
his promise to be with us always.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,

one in your Spirit, breathing deeply of your grace,
on fire with your love, for the healing of the world.
     
(Amen.)

____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

1.
Gracious God, we give you our gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Anoint us with your Spirit, unite us with all who love you, give us the language of grace, and send us into the world aflame with your love, in the name of Christ, for the sake of the blessing of the world. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and on these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. In your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with all who follow Christ, and one with all whom we serve in your name. Send us into the world, bright with the spirit of your love, alive, even to eternal life, with the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have created us by your Spirit, you have made us one in your Spirit, you have filled us with your Spirit, and now you send us into the world in the power of your Spirit, to show forth your love and grace to those who are hungry to hear and see. Bless us, that we may continually do your will. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Bearers of Light (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

God, how you love us, hold us and bless us,
reign from above us, lead us by hand
Call us to healing, bound by your Promise,
your Word revealing, by your command.

Great holy giver of life and wonder,
deep like a river your blessings flow.
Gladly we give you praise and thanksgiving:
gifts we will give wherever we go.

Baptized, anointed, filled with your Spirit,
we are appointed bearers of light:
for liberation, servants of justice,
bringing the nations joy and delight.


Breath of God (Tune: Londonderry Air – Oh Danny Boy)

O Holy One, Creator of the stars of night,
whose dust we are, created with your light,
now breathe your spirit into us and give us life;
give us new hearts that beat with your delight.
Our dust and ashes, Love, we give in faith to you.
Receive our lives, our sin, our wounds, our death;
and raise us up with Christ from death to life by grace.
God, may we be your love and you our living breath.

Breathe into us the breath of your compassion, God,
the breath to sing your praise in all we do,
the breath to run the race of justice, long and far.
Breathe, holy breath: empower and renew.
O be the grace that fills our lungs, reviving us;
O be the wind on which our hearts can soar;
O be our life, our beauty and our living breath.
O Spirit, come breathe in us now and evermore.


Fire of Love (Tune: HOLY MANNA)

Holy Spirit, you have gathered us as on that Pentecost
when you gathered Christ’s disciples and their fears and doubts were lost:
breathing life into their souls, and shining out of every face,
you sent them into the streets to tell of God’s amazing grace.

Each aflame with your compassion, eager that your praise be sung,
fearlessly they filled the streets to tell your news in every tongue.
So we ask you, by your life within us, giving us new birth,
send us out to spread God’s love in Jesus’ name to all the earth.

Holy Spirit, you have granted gifts to each, in our own way,
so that we might serve you as we live and work and share and pray.
By your pow’r we love our neighbors, work for justice, act with peace,
reach the lost and serve the lowly: so your work will never cease.

Holy Spirit, energy of God that links us soul to soul,
by your grace we are the Body of the risen Christ, made whole.
Be the breath that lifts our singing; be the wind that fills our sails;
be the fire of love among us ‘till the Reign of God prevails.

Holy Spirit, Burn Within Us (Tune: BEECHER, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling)

Holy Spirit, Sun of Heaven, source of light and warmth and power,
fill us and transform us like a seed that turns into a flower.
Kindle in your willing people joy’s bright spark, compassion’s flame.
Set us all afire to bear your loving light in Jesus’ name.

Holy Spirit, burn within us, radiant with your healing grace.
Give us brand new ways to meet and love the stranger face to face.
Help us find new ways of caring. Help us set new, daring goals.
Give us brand new languages to speak your love to seeking souls.

Holy Spirit, let your fire consume us, changing us at last.
Let us rise like light emerging from the embers of the past.
May the star of pure compassion shine within and set us free.
Holy Spirit, make us all your flame that burns eternally.


Holy Spirit, Wind of Heaven (Tune: Joyful, Joyful)

Holy Spirit, Wind of Heaven, Breath of Life, our warmth and light,
Power of Creation, bringing hopeful dawn from darkest night:
you have birthed us, you have borne us; you have blessed us all our days,
now you fill our lungs with singing; how you fill our hearts with praise!

Holy Spirit, flame of passion, you who brought your Church to be,
re-create us as your Body, holy in our unity.
Fill us with your fierce compassion, gentle courage, trust and peace.
Lead us all to love each other; make our sad divisions cease.

Holy Spirit, Dove descending, mind of Christ within us all,
speak your wisdom, move among us, help us hear your inner call.
Be the only pow’r that moves us; be our life, O singing Dove!
Holy Spirit, come, revive us! Fill us with your heart of love!


Spirit of God (Original song)

Spirit of God, bright Wind, breath that bids life begin,
blow as you always do; create us anew.
Give us the breath to sing, lifted on soaring wing,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.

Spirit of God, bright Dove, grant us your peace and love,
healing upon your wings for all living things.
For when we live your peace captives will find release,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.

Spirit of God, bright Hands, even in far-off lands
you hold all the human race in one warm embrace.
No matter where we go you hold us together so,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.!…

Spirit of God, bright Flame, send us in your holy name,
with power to heal, to share your love everywhere.
We cannot fail or fall or know defeat at all,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.!…

Spirit of God in all, we gladly hear your call,
the life in our hands that sings, the power of your wings.
Born of your grace we rise, love shining in our eyes,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.!…