I am offering a separate video if you would like to participate in Holy Communion. Please watch the worship service first, then if you choose to have communion, click this link next.
Holy Communion .
SERVICE FOR THE LORD’S DAY
May 31, 2020
WORDS OF WORSHIP (Joel 2:26-29, NLT)
26 Once again you will have all the food you want,
and you will praise the Lord your God,
who does these miracles for you.
Never again will my people be disgraced.
27 Then you will know that I am among my people Israel,
that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other.
Never again will my people be disgraced.
28 “Then, after doing all those things,
I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your old men will dream dreams,
and your young men will see visions.
Lord Jesus, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us once more. Restore us to health not only as individuals but through this whole world, to all your children of every nation. May we know as we are healed globally, that you are still God, that you are still here with your people. May we no longer be disgraced, but may more and more come to believe that you are God. Once again, Lord, may we receive your Spirit. Grant us dreams and visions that pull us into your kingdom, into your mission, into your future intended for us all. Inspire us as we worship and fill us anew. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION (from Acts 2:37-39, NLT)
As Peter preached to the crowds that first Pentecost, 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”
Let us join then in making our confession to God.
Lord God, we confess that like generations of Biblical heroes and other saints who have gone before us, we grow weary and anxious as we wait for your kingdom to come upon this earth. As the Hebrews longed for your presence and to arrive in the Promised Land, as the exiles longed to return to their homes and their Temple, as those between times longed for a prophetic voice to be heard once again and as they waited for the coming of Messiah, as the disciples waited for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, so too we wait.
We wait for it to be safe to return to our sanctuary. We wait for the sickness of COVID-19 to be healed. We wait to be together once again with our friends and family. We wait for life to return to doing things the way we once knew.
Lord, we confess to you our impatience.
We don’t like waiting. We want this pandemic to be over. We are tired of wearing masks and gloves, and many of us are tired of staying home. We are annoyed that we could not gather to celebrate graduations or Memorial Services. We are fearful of what it is okay to do and when. Lord, we confess our frustrations to you.
But, Lord, you are the God of Hope and Wholeness. So, we plead with you to restore us, to keep us mindful of appropriate cautions, to give us patience and endurance to see this through, to renew our spirits with Your Spirit, and to forgive our human weakness. Amen.
PARDON (from Romans 8:1-4, NCV)
So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. 2 Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free from the law that brings sin and death. 3 The law was without power, because the law was made weak by our sinful selves. But God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son to earth with the same human life that others use for sin. By sending his Son to be an offering for sin, God used a human life to destroy sin.
In the name of Jesus the Christ you are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of Christ be with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Lord Jesus, as we listen to familiar stories and passages from your Word once again, may we find hope and healing in the midst of them.
SCRIPTURE LESSONS Exodus 19:3-19, GW
Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, “This is what you must say to the descendants of Jacob. Tell the Israelites, 4 ‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to my mountain. 5 If you carefully obey me and are faithful to the terms of my promise, then out of all the nations you will be my own special possession, even though the whole world is mine. 6 You will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words you must speak to the Israelites.”
7 So Moses went down and called for the leaders of the people. He repeated to them all the words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am coming to you in a storm cloud so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always believe you.” Moses told the Lord what the people had said.
10 So the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people, and tell them they have two days to get ready. They must set themselves apart as holy. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the day after tomorrow. On that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. 12 Mark off a boundary around the mountain for the people, and tell them not to go up the mountain or even touch it. Those who touch the mountain must be put to death. 13 No one should touch them. They must be stoned or shot with arrows. No matter whether it’s an animal or a person, it must not live. The people may go up the mountain only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast.”
14 After Moses went down the mountain to the people, he had them get ready, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then Moses said to the people, “Be ready two days from now. Don’t disqualify yourselves by having sexual intercourse.”
16 On the morning of the second day, there was thunder and lightning with a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud blast from a ram’s horn was heard. All the people in the camp shook with fear. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had come down on it in fire. Smoke rose from the mountain like the smoke from a kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. 19 As the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking, and the voice of God answered him.
When Jews gather now or in the first century to celebrate what we call Pentecost from the Greek word or Shavo’ut in Hebrew, this is the story they are celebrating. This is the prelude to Moses going up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. On Pentecost, Jews celebrate the gift of the Law as found in Exodus 19-20. On Pentecost, Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit as found in Acts 2.
Acts 2 selected verses, NLT
On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!
14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike--
and they will prophesy.
32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
Paul wrote of the importance of the Spirit filled life made possible for all of us at Pentecost.
Romans 8, selected verses,
6 If people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, there is death. But if their thinking is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace. 7 When people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, they are against God, because they refuse to obey God’s law and really are not even able to obey God’s law. 8 Those people who are ruled by their sinful selves cannot please God.
9 But you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But the person who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. 10 Your body will always be dead because of sin. But if Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life, because Christ made you right with God.
14 The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them. 15 The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us children of God. With that Spirit we cry out, “Father.” 16 And the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say we are God’s children. 17 If we are God’s children, we will receive blessings from God together with Christ. But we must suffer as Christ suffered so that we will have glory as Christ has glory.
22 We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain, like a woman ready to give birth. 23 Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of God’s promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children, which means our bodies will be made free. 24 We were saved, and we have this hope. If we see what we are waiting for, that is not really hope. People do not hope for something they already have. 25 But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently.
26 Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. 27 God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants.
SERMON The Pentecost Story & What It Means
Today, to get at the message of Pentecost: past, present, and future, I’m going to use the approach of considering three related questions.
First, What are the four connected holy days (Jewish and Christian) of this extended season and how does Pentecost complete them?
- As we learn more about these traditions, I think this statement by Dr. Mitch Glaser is significant. “The festivals of Israel were designed by God to focus the hearts and minds of the Jewish people on the redemptive message of God’s person and plan.”[i] I think what he says for Jews is equally true for Christians.
- The four Spring festivals in Judaism are Passover, The Festival of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Shavu’ot (or The Festival of Weeks).
- The four Christian Holy Days that come together here are Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost.
- Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread take us back to the stories of the Exodus. These same events are celebrated in the Last Supper and recognized in the Crucifixion with new layers of meaning added. What has been a celebration of deliverance from slavery becomes a celebration of our liberation from sin and death. The unleavened bread becomes for us the body of Christ. Jesus becomes the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, the sacrificed lamb for atonement and forgiveness.
- First Fruits is when the first sheaths of grain are waved before the altar, acknowledging God as the giver of the harvest. This becomes our Easter, when Jesus is raised as the first fruits of those who have died.
- Shavu’ot is a designated time of 7 sabbaths plus 1 day, as commanded in Leviticus 23:15-21. This count begins with the day of First Fruits, our Easter. Seven sabbaths would mean seven weeks, Sabbath being sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. The next day, the 50th day is Shavu’ot meaning weeks in Hebrew. In Greek it is Pentecost meaning 50. The offering for Shavu’ot in Bible times was two loves of leavened bread made with the first flour ground from the barley harvest. The Spring Festivals began with unleavened bread. Now the yeast is added; there is time for the bread to rise. From waving the first sheaf of barley to bringing the first bread makes a complete cycle.
- The time of waiting between First Fruits and Shavu’ot is called in Jewish tradition “Counting the Omer.” Omer is a unit of measuring dry grain or other goods. Counting through this time period, I see God giving us a means to work on our patience, to trust God’s timing rather than the rush we humans tend to feel necessary. I think waiting is itself a spiritual discipline to which God invites us throughout the liturgical calendars of both Judaism and Christianity.
- Pentecost is the culmination of a waiting time for the disciples. Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit he would send to empower them. Between Easter’s resurrection appearances and the Ascension, the disciples continued to have some interaction with their risen Lord. They received more teaching and commissioning. But with the Ascension, Jesus’ presence was no longer experienced. There came the realization that they would be on their own. So, they waited together for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
- Paula Gooder has another take on how these four Christian holidays fit together to tell one story. She writes, “Jesus’ death destroyed all the disciples’ expectations about who he was. The resurrection put these expectations back together again in a different order and helped them to understand who Jesus really was. The ascension opened up a space that required them to act and finally, the coming of the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to do so.”[ii]
- She said earlier, “Pentecost is the final – but vital – link in the chain that moves us from a terrified, timid group of disciples before Jesus’ death to the powerful, confident proclaimers of good news throughout the whole world.”[iii]
- When the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, that was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, but it was also a new beginning for the disciples, and as many more came to believe in Jesus through Peter’s words, it was also the beginning for what would become the Church. Pentecost completed one Chapter, and turned the page for the next.
We come to our second question, what were the Jewish traditions of Pentecost and what are the parallels to the Christian celebration of Pentecost?
- There are three festivals in Judaism that required Jewish men to come to Jerusalem, the holy city, and to the Temple. The first was Passover. The second was Pentecost; that is the reason there were Jews from so many regions in Jerusalem that day. The third was the Festival of Booths in the Fall.
- There are three high holy days in the Christian calendar. Most people know and celebrate Christmas and Easter even if they don’t attend worship regularly. We call them C & E members if they are more likely to come to church on these days, but I think that has also declined significantly over my 30 + years in ministry. I consider Pentecost the third high holy day, and I wish it were celebrated as well as the other two, not secularly as they have become, but with a faithfulness to worship.
- We have added to our celebration of Pentecost the tradition of wearing red, the liturgical color that is reserved for this one day of the calendar. But did you know that red is also the liturgical color for every aspect of the baptism covenant? Red is traditionally the color for baptism, confirmation, ordination, marriage and funerals, but for some of these we have substituted white, which is technically reserved for celebration of Christ’s special days. Red goes with the Holy Spirit, and these celebrations in the Christian life are also marked by a request for the blessings of the Holy Spirit. It is more obvious in the liturgy for baptism, confirmation, and ordination, but it is also present in liturgy for weddings and for memorial celebrations.
- As a harvest festival, Shavu’ot celebrates with a reading of Ruth’s story. We can appreciate it as a beautiful love story that takes place at harvest time, but there is more for Christians to glean from the short book of Ruth. It is a story of restoration and redemption, as Naomi returns to her home after many hardships, as Ruth takes on not just a new homeland, but a new faith heritage accepting the God of the Jews as her own God. In this story, Boaz becomes the kinsman redeemer who buys back Naomi’s property and asks Ruth to be his bride.
- Ruth and Boaz are the ancestors of Jesus who is our Redeemer, the one who buys us back, restoring us to a relationship with God. Pentecost is the beginnings of the church which would be called the Bride of Christ, and would soon after Pentecost welcome not only Jews, but those outside the faith who chose to accept God as Ruth once did.
- The celebration of Shavu’ot is not only about the harvest, it is also about the giving of the Torah and the Law. This is why we read the scene from Exodus 19 with the elders among the Hebrews gathering to wait while Moses would go up Mount Sinai to meet with God and receive the commandments.
- Both at Sinai that day and in Jerusalem on the Pentecost after the first Easter, there were audible and visible signs of God’s presence with the people. At Sinai it was the blast of a trumpet, the rams horn used for Jewish festivals, and there was lightning and smoke as fire descended on the mountain. At Pentecost the sound was the rush of a mighty wind and what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared above the disciple’s heads.
- While we often think of a dove as the gentle symbol for the Holy Spirit from the appearance like a dove at Jesus’ baptism, these symbols of a mighty wind and of fire remind us that the Holy Spirit is also filled with power! The Spirit known as ru’ah in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek is also wind and breath. One way to think of the Holy Spirit is the breath of God. Fire can destroy, but it can also complete. Think of a refiner’s fire for metal and a kiln for pottery. Both are necessary to complete the usefulness of what is being made. In the same way, the Holy Spirit prepares and completes us that we might be of use in God’s service.
- Toward this end, Gooder points out one important difference between the gathering at Sinai and the gathering in Jerusalem. “When Moses went up Mount Sinai the people were warned twice not to come near…The revelation of God in the Old Testament was kept for only a few, special people like Moses, Elijah and Isaiah.”[iv] However, “The Holy Spirit does not just descend on Peter, or on Peter, James and John but upon all of the people who were gathered there and then, subsequently, on all those who heard and responded to the message.”[v] You can see how this also relates to Joel’s prophecy. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on everyone willing to receive it.
- There is a Jewish tradition that every Jew was present at Mount Sinai when the Law was given, and that every Jew agreed to keep the covenant, not only those physically present, but future believers spiritually as well. From this comes the possibility that “every Jew present at Mount Sinai that day actually heard the giving of the Law in their own native tongue…the Jewish tradition is ancient and could very well have been known by Jesus and His disciples” whether or not it is actually true.[vi] Do you see the parallel to the Pentecost tradition that everyone heard Peter’s words in their own native tongue?
- This phenomenon is the opposite of the passage in Genesis 11 we know as the Tower of Babel. In that story the people worked together to build a tower that was not a monument to God, but a monument to their own greatness and an attempt to reach heaven by their own power and talents. God’s response to their arrogance was to scatter them and confuse their languages, so they could not cooperate again on such foolishness. On Pentecost, God reversed this, bringing people back together, letting them understand beyond the differences in their language, so that they could cooperate not to build their own kingdom, but so they could hear and share the message of Jesus and begin to build the kingdom of God. Gooder writes, “Humanity becomes unified once more not so that we can glory in our own strength, but in God’s, not so that we can make a name for ourselves but so that God’s name might be made known throughout the world.”[vii]
Now we can move on to a most important question. What does the giving of the Holy Spirit mean for us today, and how will it help us move forward from here?
- Gooder writes, “When we gather to proclaim God’s deeds of power and to pray, we have a deep and lasting unity grounded in God. The action of the Holy Spirit draws us together in unity – sometimes even despite our words.”[viii]
- It occurs to me that while we continue to speak in a variety of languages, we have a new kind of unity making use of the world wide web. I remember my mom once saying she thought this was going to contribute to God’s goal of making the Word known everywhere around the world. For those who use the internet, it has allowed us to communicate and even worship together in spite of stay home quarantines during COVID-19. It allows people from many nations to attend the same worship service, listen to the same music, watch the same videos, etc. The use of translators and subtitles adds to this, but sometimes we can just enjoy music or dance without needing the words. I think God does allow us to use this as a gift.
- Glaser noted in his article, that so many Jews of the Diaspora (the dispersion of the Jews from the years of exile) gathered in Jerusalem for that Pentecost, and many came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ. God used this to help them work through their differences as diverse Jews in preparation for the differences they would need to work through as Gentiles from different faith traditions also came to believe in the same God, in Jesus as God’s Son, and in the Holy Spirit as part of that Holy Trinity. I think about the differences I watched First United Presbyterian work through as First Presbyterian and Riverside Presbyterian became one. This prepared you for accepting the Lutherans and Methodists and Catholics and others who have come to worship and study with you. It has opened you up to share in ministry with U.C.C.s and others you may choose to work with in the future. It is the Holy Spirit who binds us with that unity in Christ. As the letter to the Ephesians notes, “You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way.” (Ephesians 4:3, NCV) This is what the Holy Spirit began at Pentecost and continues to do in the world today. Wherever Christians are able to set aside the differences they have developed to work together continuing the mission and message of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is at work in our midst.
- In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit empowered creation, breathed life into humanity, brought God’s teaching and God’s presence to God’s people. The Spirit worked through the people inspiring artisans, guiding leadership, and enabling communication.[ix] We see the same enabling and empowering as the Holy Spirit is with Jesus, then the apostles, and the budding Church of believers in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit continues to work the same way in us today.
- The Holy Spirit transforms us to be more like Jesus by developing Christlike characteristics in us and prepares us for ministry by endowing us with gifts to be used in Christ’s service. Paul Stroble sums it up this way, “The Spirit is both the daily presence of God and the way by which we grow as Christians.”[x]
- Pentecost was seen as the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel. It’s interesting to me that the opening of Joel 2 is our first reading on Ash Wednesday, as we begin this cycle of Lent/Easter/Pentecost that takes up one quarter of each year. Then the later verses from that same chapter are part of Pentecost. Even if you skip that Old Testament reading with which we began our worship service today, you hear it again if you read all of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. Peter is the one who realized, as the Holy Spirit revealed it to him, that this phenomenon he and the others experienced that day was indeed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Joel had proclaimed.
- What does it mean to say that the Holy Spirit dwells in you? What Paul tried to explain in his letter to the Romans still holds true for us and for future generations. We read some of these verses from the much-loved chapter, Romans 8. Here are some of the significant points. The Holy Spirit within us enables us to live for Christ rather than for our own selfish fleshly desires. It helps us overcome the temptations we still experience. The Holy Spirit is God’s evidence within us reminding us that we belong to God; we are claimed as God’s children, making us brothers and sisters who share in the inheritance of Jesus. The Holy Spirit sustains us and gives us hope in the midst of suffering and adversity. The Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak and when our faith is weak. The Holy Spirit prays for us and with us, and when we have no words of our own, the Holy Spirit conveys our concerns to God.
- Paula Gooder suggests, “We live now in a reality that reveals glimmers of a world newly created by God. This reality is…the realm of the Spirit…At the resurrection and at Pentecost, God’s realm – the realm of the Spirit – broke into our world and calls us to live ‘spiritwise’. This describes…the whole of our existence.”[xi] In other words, once we have accepted the presence of the Holy Spirit into our lives, it defines our existence for the rest of our lives.
- But notice we are still human. We will not live this spiritual life perfectly. We live between our old life and our future life in which we will be fully reconciled and restored to God through Christ. In the same way the Church lives between the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom when Christ returns as promised at the Ascension. One way I look at this is that the Holy Spirit hangs onto us while this earthly life pushes and pulls us along a stormy path.
- Another aspect of this for me from my Wesleyan background is that the Holy Spirit works to perfect us along the way. This is the work of God’s grace. The Holy Spirit calls us toward God, reconciles us to God when we accept the redemptive work of Jesus who forgives us, and then the Spirit continues to work in us, shaping us to be more like Christ in all we say and do.
- I am very aware that I rely on the Holy Spirit in my work as teacher and preacher. But I rely on the Holy Spirit in my daily life as well. That trust built up over many years, is why I trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in and through you.
- I have already begun to see people step up and take on new roles in the congregation. Over the years, whenever there was a gap, someone came to fill it. Sometimes it was a member already there but ready to take on something new. Sometimes it was a new person who walked through the door. Actually, I was once that person, too. So, I encourage you, rather than hold too tightly to how it has always been, put your faith in God’s plans for your future whatever that may be. Not much right now is exactly how it was when I walked through the door 15 years ago. You have already demonstrated your ability to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to adapt and change as needed. That is certainly true as we have celebrated Palm/Passion Sunday, Easter, Ascension, and now Pentecost online or by mail rather than in the sanctuary. It may not be how you would prefer, but we are still together in the Spirit and able to worship God who is stronger than COVID-19!
- So, continue to listen for the nudging and the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit of God guide you into your future as individuals and as part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Trust that the Holy Spirit will still grant visions and dreams to you and to others, so that the message and mission of Jesus will continue. On that Pentecost celebrated in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit pulled a band of disillusioned disciples into their future with gifts and power beyond their imagination. What then can the Holy Spirit do in and through you?
*AFFIRMATION Apostle’s Creed, Ecumenical Version p. 14
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
God of Power and Might,
As we recall the ways you have reached out
To and through your people in the past,
We humbly ask you to send your Holy Spirit
upon your world and your people yet again.
We pray for an end to violence of all kinds
And for people to treat one another
With kindness and respect without regard to
Age or gender or background,
Ethnicity or nationality, health or abilities, economics or status.
We trust that your Spirit can come upon all people
And the all people are your children.
We pray for those who are struggling around the world,
Since COVID-19 cares not for the things that too often divide us.
We mourn the loss of too many lives to this pandemic
And pray for the families grieving in every nation.
We pray for the ongoing task of seeking both prevention and cure.
We pray for calm and wise heads to prevail
As decisions are made regarding reopening
And what each of us will choose is right for us within these guidelines.
We continue to pray for those serving the needs of others
In the midst of such stressful conditions.
We pray for an easing of tensions between peoples,
Between governments, between nations.
We pray for your Holy Spirit to move among us
Encouraging us to work together toward peaceful solutions,
Toward healthy environments and respectful working conditions.
We pray for inspiration as we seek the possibilities for our future.
May we find ways to respect our heritage,
Yet creatively work within current conditions,
and move toward a tomorrow that encompasses both.
Lord, in particular, I pray for the congregation at First United Presbyterian
That you will inspire, equip, and empower them
To make wise decisions, to take up the leadership mantel as needed,
And continue to be in ministry as you direct them.
May they be encouraged by your Word and teachings.
May they be assured of your presence in their midst.
May they see how you are working through them.
May they continue to Receive Christ, Reach Out, and Share Love.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
In honor of Pentecost, and the multi-lingual aspect of that day,
In this prayer of Thanksgiving to God our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.
I share words of thanks from different languages.
For our daily bread and for water, for all food that sustains us,
For health and healing, but also for the promise of life beyond death,
For the beauty of nature and the inspiration of the arts,
For family and friends, for coworkers and neighbors with whom we share this life.
For the air we breathe into our lungs, and for your Spirit that breathes through us.
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 debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power
And the glory forever. Amen.
CHARGE & BLESSING
Messages this season are based on This Risen Existence by Paula Gooder.
[i] (Glaser, online article “What Holiday Do Jews and Christians Have in Common?” from Chosen People Ministries, https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/shavuot/)
[ii] (Paula Gooder, This Risen Existence, p. 110)
[iv] (Gooder, p. 112)
[v] (Gooder, p. 113)
[vi] (Glaser, https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/shavuot/)
[vii] (Gooder, p. 115)
[ix] (summary of Paul Strobel’s list in Ministry Matters, “The Power of Pentecost,” https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/10342/the-power-of-pentecost?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=The%20power%20of%20Pentecost&utm_campaign=MM-Newsletter-02-19-20
[xi] (Gooder, p. 122)
For the Easter Season video will be available of Kolleen leading worship, reading scripture, and sharing a message based on the resurrection passages throughout the New Testament, based on the devotional book This Risen Existence by Paula Gooder. Thanks to our tech, Mike, for setting up recording and editing to video