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May 31, 2020
"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came
a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:1-2).
Entering Into Worship
We enter with a spirit of reverence and praise,
as we prepare our hearts and minds for
worship of Almighty God.
Today's scriptures are from The New Revised Common Lectionary:
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 7:37-39
The Music to Prepare for Worship
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind.
There appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.
All were amazed and perplexed, asking, "What does this mean?"
It shall be, on that great and manifest day, that whoever calls on God shall be saved.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray together.
We call on you, gracious God, to pour out your Spirit on all flesh,
that old and young may see visions and dream dreams. Lead us out of slavery
to our fears and undue focus on our troubles. Prepare us here to do those greater
works to which Christ calls us. May our worship be found pleasing in your sight.
In a couple of weeks, our churches will transform. They will feature blazing red colors. Various artworks depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit will be on display. Clergy will don their red vestments. Acts 2 will be read once more, and hymns featuring the Holy Spirit will be sung. Finally, the long Easter celebration is over. Let’s move onto something different – for an hour on a Sunday morning at least. All of the brouhaha that is Lent and Easter is over, and thus begins the long season excitingly dubbed The Season after Pentecost. Wow. Two millennia of Christian tradition, and after is the best we could come up with?
I always wondered why the Christian Church only celebrated Pentecost one day out of the entire year. Why did the Church not see fit to give Pentecost a season to call its own? It’s the birthday of the Church. It marks a day when the unleashed Spirit of God empowered 120 people to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and turn the known world upside down. In less than twenty years, the message of salvation had spread from a band of followers in Jerusalem to the Emperor of Rome hearing about it. It had reached the entire Mediterranean world. God was up to something amazing, and alas, we only get to celebrate it one day out of the entire year.
A couple of years ago, I sat in my office, preparing a sermon for Pentecost. The sunlight was streaming through the Tiffany stained glass windows, and I was reflecting on the meaning of Pentecost. And then it hit me:
Pentecost is a lifestyle.
Pentecost is much more than a day on the calendar. It is much more than a feast day in the liturgical year. Pentecost is a lifestyle. Every day is Pentecost, because every day, Christians are empowered by God’s Spirit to bear witness to God’s Kingdom in the world. We are empowered to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. We are empowered to reduce world hunger. We are empowered to provide opportunities for education and literacy. We are empowered to strive for justice and peace among all people.
Unfortunately, I have all too often seen many Christians treat the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives much like the Church liturgical life – a tiny blip only to be consumed by other things we deem more important. Yet, it is the Holy Spirit who made Pentecost what it was. Had the Spirit not descended that morning in Jerusalem, everyone around would have considered the disciples nothing more than a bunch of drunk insurrectionists who sought to disturb the peace and push an agenda. The Holy Spirit brought empowerment to the Church, and the Spirit still brings empowerment to the Church. We would not be where we are today had God the Holy Spirit not been residing with God’s people over these two thousand years, turning the world upside down…with each new generation arising to say, “We are God’s people!” If the Church started treating Pentecost as a lifestyle rather than just a day on the Church calendar, then our future would be as unlimited as God’s Spirit.
So, I invite you not only to celebrate the Day of Pentecost but also to live Pentecost. Live in the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who breathed life into God’s people, birthing the Church, is the same Spirit who is breathed onto us and breathes flame into our hearts with the same message Jesus gave to his disciples so long ago: “You shall be my witnesses.”
The Lord's Prayer
A Prayer for Our Offerings
May these gifts carry forward the ministry you intend here in our church, our community, and wherever people are
scattered abroad over the face of the earth. May our open hands share your gifts, our open hearts reach out in
love and peace, and our open doors welcome any that might wish to learn the truth of your Gospel.
Show us how to use this offering to accomplish your loving purposes for humankind. Amen.
God sends us out to do greater works than we have yet accomplished.
We follow in faith where Christ leads, knowing the water of life will be available to us.
The promises of God go with us every day, and the love of God dwells among us.
God wipes away the tears from our eyes and grants us rest when we are weary.
God offers us eternal life, beginning now, inviting us daily to accept God's goodness and mercy.
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God.
Let us go forth in peace, to love and to serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!
"One man wakes, awakens another
Second one wakes his next door brother
Three awake can rouse a town
And turn the whole place upside down
"Many awake will cause such a fuss
It finally awakes all of us
One man wakes with dawn in his eyes
Surely then it multiplies
Surely then it multiplies"
~ January 5, 2020: About the UMC and the Wesley Covenant Service and
the Essential Wesley Covenant. Rev. Amy Sarah Lewis-Rill