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Weekly Bible Notes and Worship Resources

Pentecost


Picture of Pentecost by Michael Freeman Introduction

At Pentecost the church was born anew with the power of God. A lifeless, frightened bunch of disciples were changed into people bold enough to take the Gospel across the world, regardless of what dangers lay ahead. Today the same Holy Spirit empowers us to live as Christians and show in our lives that Jesus is alive today. 

Opening Verse of Scripture   Romans Chapter 5:5

The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Alleluia!)
 

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

God, who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by that same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen  Common Worship

Holy Spirit, sent by the father, ignite in us your holy fire; strengthen your children with the gift of faith, revive your Church with the breath of love, and renew the face of the earth through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Common Worship

Almighty God who on the day of Pentecost sent your Holy Spirit on the disciples with the wind from heaven and with tongues of flame, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel: send us out in the power of the same Spirit to witness to your truth and to draw everyone to the fire of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

Faithful God, you fulfilled the promise of Easter by sending your Holy Spirit and opening the way of eternal life to all the human race. Keep us in the unity of your Spirit, that every tongue may tell of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading Acts Chapter 2 v 1 – 21

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
 

Second Reading  1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Gospel Reading John 20: 19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Post Communion Sentence

Faithful God, who fulfilled the promise of Easter by sending us your Holy Spirit and opening to every race and nation the way of life eternal: open our lips by your Spirit, that every tongue may tell of your glory: through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Commentary

The events in John’s Gospel today happen in a room in Jerusalem on the evening of Easter Day, perhaps in the same Upper Room which was used for the Last Supper. On that previous occasion (John 14:18, 16:20), Jesus spoke with his disciples and he reassured them that he would come to them after the events of his death and turn their sorrow into joy. In the passage that we have from John’s Gospel  today we read that the disciples were ’overjoyed’ !  They were in the room together, with the doors locked, because they suspected the Jewish leaders who put Jesus to death would come back and arrest them. Then Jesus mysteriously appeared inside the room, showing his ability to materialize. Without wanting to sound disrespectful, imagine something like Star Trek where Captain Kirk is able to disappear and reappear in different places and the resurrection and ascension stories make much more sense ! As Jesus appears he says ’peace be with you,’ just as we wish each other peace at the start of our worship today. With the unexplained appearance of Jesus comes the very real demonstration of his wounds to prove that he is the ‘real’ Jesus and they are not just imagining something. Jesus is not an apparition or a ghost, he shows them his real hand and the place where the nails went through. (Note: If Romans nailed somebody to a cross they drove the nails through the wrist, it wouldn’t work if they nailed the hands as the body was too heavy! The Hebrew word for had (yad) and the Greek word (cheir) can include not just hands but wrists and forearm -problem solved).  The important message is that this is the real, blood and flesh Jesus who was killed on a cross and is now risen. No wonder that they are full of joy and that joy is God’s blessing to us as an Easter people for we live in the presence of a Lord who has passed through death and who reassures us of life in all of its fullness. I have no idea how Jesus can appear and disappear but I am attracted by the fact that the resurrection body of Jesus is not ‘healed.’ There is a reassuring message to all of us that Jesus is identified by scars.

A new time has now come for the disciples, they are to be sent by Jesus, out of the locked room and into the world. Just as God had entered the world in human form to be alongside humanity, so now the disciples were all to be sent with a mission and ministry by God. The work of Jesus is not complete in his death and resurrection, it must now be continued by the disciples who will be the ongoing heart, hands, feet, voice of Jesus in the world. It is important to appreciate that Jesus is not handing over the baton to the disciples and saying, ‘I have done my bit, now it is over to you’!  The disciples are to continue with the work of Jesus, not begin a new one. Rather Jesus is saying to them, ‘you need to be me in the world, when you are thinking and acting like me, then I will be working through you.’  This is what Jesus says meant when he told the disciples that he would not leave them as orphans. (John 14:18). He would come and be with them again and he would live in them (14:20).

This all sounds very weird, how could Jesus be working inside his disciples? Well, we are then told that Jesus ‘breathed’ on them and gave them the Holy Spirit. Again in a strange spiritual way Jesus enters them  and energizes them giving them strength and abilities which are not of themselves. Think back to when God first did this to humans. In Genesis (2:7) God ‘breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life’ and humankind was created. John wants to show us a new creation which is taking place, just  as Jesus appearance as the gardener (20:15) reminds us of the original Garden of Eden and the recreation for the world from the death and resurrection of Jesus. Some of you may also be reminded of the dry bones of Ezekiel which were revived by breath, symbolic of resurrection and the giving of life.

You may be wondering now what is going on, because in Luke we read that the Spirit was given at Pentecost but here in John’s account it is Jesus who gives the disciples the Spirit directly at Easter. Theologians have struggled with too many different explanations, we do know that John doesn’t seem to worry about putting events in chronological order, but many believe that this is an accurate presentation of events, not a making up of history to support a theological truth. It really doesn’t matter that Christians disagree over this, because what is important is not the timing of the first event. The giving of the Holy Spirit is not something which happened a long time ago and we remember every year at a certain time. Each one of us is called to know our own willingness to receive God’s Spirit day by day. The disciples met behind closed doors, afraid of the Jews, possibly even afraid of Jesus who they had betrayed and who some believed they had seen. In their fear they heard Jesus speak forgiveness to them and an opportunity to let bygones be bygones.          

It is really important for us to see that this passage is a ‘sending story.’  Jesus tells the disciples that just as he was sent by the father, so now he is sending them. The disciples are not given the Spirit so that they can have a special time of worship! The Holy Spirit is there to empower them to be not just workers for Jesus in the world, but more accurately for them to be Jesus in the world. That might sound amazing but it makes sense of the statement at the end of the passage in which Jesus tells his disciples that they too can forgive sins. They can do so because when they are living authentic obedient lives to the teaching of Jesus,  Jesus is acting and speaking through them.

Those beautiful words, "Peace be with you" are words from God which we are called to share. We together with the first disciples know that the past, with all its regrets has been forgiven. We are set at peace with God and one another. We are recreated, new creatures, through the Word of God. Where once there was sin, compromise, half-hearted discipleship, cowardice and blindness, now there is forgiveness and a chance to begin again. We are called now to live a new life, strengthened by a transforming Spirit. We need to be recreated. And that is what Jesus does, he breathes his Spirit upon us so that we too can practice forgiveness and reconciliation in our conflicted and divided world.

Seeing the risen Christ was a cause for the disciples to know joy. However we are reminded that our work is not easy, Jesus died in the process. As we serve Christ in the world, like those first disciples we concentrate on the wounds of Jesus, his nailed hands and pierced side. Peacemaking and reconciliation is dangerous work, may we find courage like the disciples to come out from behind our locked doors to go out in to God's world with his message of love.  Charles Royden

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Meditation

Rather than "lifting us up" above others into a group that is somehow favoured by God, Pentecost "pulls us down" to connect with those that we would never naturally have the strength or inclination to relate to. Rather than leading us out of the world, Pentecost drives us back into it to proclaim and live the prophetic message of God’s reign, as Christ did. In what ways is your church community tempted to separate itself from the world around it? In what ways do you sense the Spirit driving you out to proclaim God’s grace and glory to those who are different from you? In what ways are you being equipped and called by the Spirit to bring people together and to serve those who need to experience God’s presence and activity through human hands?

Hymns

  1. O breath of life (Spiritus Vitae)

  2. Spirit of God unseen as the wind (Tune Skye Boat song)

  3. Spirit of Holiness (Tune Blow the wind Southerly)

  4. Come down O love divine (Tune Down Ampney)

  5. Head of thy church (Tune Fulda)

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead


Prayers for Sunday and the Week Ahead
God of power, may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us, may the gifts of your Spirit be our goal and our strength, now and always. Amen

O consuming fire, O Spirit of love, descend into the depth of my heart and there transform me until I am fire of your fire, love of your love, and Christ himself is formed in me. Amen Elizabeth of Schonau, d.1184

Holy Spirit of God, descend on us with the power of a mighty rushing wind, and overturn our prejudices; descend on us as tongues of fire, and set us ablaze with the desire to speak for you; descend on us as a dove, that our hearts may be filled with the message of peace. For you are alive in the hearts of those who accept you as their guide, and you reign with the Creator and the Eternal Word, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

O God, your eye is over all your people, and you have called them to a kingdom not of this world; send forth your Holy Spirit into all the dark places of life, to still the noise of our strife and the tumult of the people; carry faith to the doubting, hope to the fearful, strength to the weak, light to the mourners, and more and more increase the pure in heart who see their God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Blessed Lord God, be to me at all times my unending joy, my eternal bliss and my enduring comfort. Be to me light in the darkness, strength in temptation and refreshment in the desert. Grant that, penitent for my sins, I may never be separated from you and, longing for your face, I may behold you in heaven; for your own name's sake. Amen Margery Kempe, c.1373-c.1433



 

Additional Material

Commentary

After Easter and Christmas, Pentecost is the most important celebration of the Christian calendar. The term comes from the Greek word ‘pentekostos’, meaning fiftieth. This is because Pentecost occurs fifty days after Passover when Jews celebrated the "Feast of Harvest" (Exodus 23:16) or "Feast of Weeks" (Leviticus 23:15–21). Pentecost became one of the great pilgrimage feasts of Judaism after the exile to Babylon, when Diaspora Jews returned to Jerusalem to worship. It was also an occasion which had become associated with remembering the law given by God to Moses on Mt Sinai.

Imagine that we are back with the disciples as reported in the account in Acts Chapter 2. We are told that on this Pentecost "God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5) clogged the streets of Jerusalem. People were in town from all over the Roman Empire, the entire known world, huge crowds of people, and, even though they had the same religion, they spoke many different languages.

They had been instructed by Jesus, before he ascended, to go back to Jerusalem and wait there for the promise to be fulfilled. So they got themselves together, filled Judas's empty spot in the roster of the twelve apostles, and then they went into an upper room, behind closed doors, and they prayed while they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In spite of everything they had witnessed, we suspect that they still had not the slightest idea what they were in for.

The day of Pentecost came and the Spirit of God descended upon the first followers of Jesus. Luke compares it to "the blowing of a violent wind" and "tongues of fire." We are told that as a result of the coming of the Spirit the disciples were empowered to communicate with everybody present. The differences of nationality and language were crossed. This is a reversal of the Tower of Babel story in which different languages effectively divided the peoples, one from another.

In the Old Testament in Genesis Chapter 11 there is the story of the story of the Tower of Babel or Babylon. Babel stood for all that was evil in the Jewish tradition and this was because the people of that city had dared to build a tower which reached up towards the heavens. Of course, there is a play on words here, because the word Babel has connotations of confusion, and the punishment for thinking that they could build such a tall tower was the confusion of their language. The Acts story reverses this judgement, and tells us how the Spirit of God now brought people from different countries, normally separated by their language together, and then enabled each of them to hear what being said in their own language. This meant that all the visitors to Jerusalem heard the disciples speaking in their own tongue. Luke's theological creativity has brought these two stories together and makes a point about the significance of language and speech, especially with regard to the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ.
By the end of the day, and despite the mockery of critics, three thousand people joined the new movement committed to following Jesus. This was the start of the world's first fully globalized institution, the church. Luke repeatedly inserts summaries of the numeric growth and geographic expansion of the newborn church. The movement burgeoned to over 5,000 "men" (Acts 4:4). In Acts 6:7 he describes how “the Word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” A few pages later he says that "the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (9:31). As Paul and Barnabas ministered in Antioch, "the word of the Lord spread through the whole region" (13:49).
Luke's story ends with the apostle Paul imprisoned in Rome, where tradition says he was martyred — but not before he had trekked 10,000 miles across Asia Minor preaching about Jesus and planting churches. In its first decades the early church fulfilled what Jesus had promised, that the presence of the Spirit meant witnessing with power — “in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Today, about a third of the world identifies itself as Christian, and no religion can claim more adherents.

The feast of Pentecost marks the birth of the Christian church, however Pentecost not only birthed the church, it also produced an institution and bureaucracy. The Spirit produced inspired people, but those people had to be organised. Then there was the whole business of authority and making decisions about things like worship, creed and traditions. They had to arrange the practicalities of collecting money to feed the poor, pay for missionary trips. The problem is one of trying to work out how to contain the spirit within the institution of the church without either extinguishing the flame or blowing up the church

 

 

Commentary

Come Holy Spirit
The Jews were commanded to appear before God in the Holy temple in Jerusalem three times a year, Passover, celebrating the deliverance from Egypt; Pentecost, also called The feast of Weeks, celebrating the first fruits of the harvest (Israel was an agricultural economy); and tabernacles, commemorating the wandering in the wilderness and the entry into the promised land. Indeed, Pentecost is the anglicised form of the Greek word for 50th and refers to the 50th day after Passover, now the 50th day after Good Friday. For Luke, writing in Acts the coming of the Spirit, the feast of the Spirit, is about harvest! The feast of the Law has become the feast of the Spirit.

And the passage in Acts tells us that same Holy Spirit is available to all, to empower and equip us for the tasks God has planned for each one of us. As we stand in the world, so God stands with us through the Holy Spirit, to help us make sense of our society and culture, to help us speak out in His name, to guide us in all truth, and to encourage, comfort and help us in our times of need. The inauguration of the new era of the Spirit equips us for the job Christ has appointed of each one of us, namely to take our place in the harvesting process.

But like the first disciples we have a choice. We can decide not to let the Spirit influence our lives or we can open ourselves to the Spirit’s promptings. When the Spirit came the more rational disciples could have dismissed what was happening to the people gathered together in the upper room as some kind of mass hysteria and decided not to go out to the crowd. Perhaps some of them could have thought that the outpouring was only for a chosen few, not really to be shared with those outside the upper room. Perhaps others may have thought it was a kind of encouragement for the early believers but that over a short period of time the effects would wear off and that the gifts which seemed to accompany the Holy Spirit’s appearance would die out over time (and certainly not last into the 21st century!). Some may have wanted to ignore what was happening, merely because it was not part of their own spiritual or religious experience up to that time. In fact, perhaps all of the early disciples could have decided that they did not want to be part of the harvesting process for any number of reasons.
But they did, caught up in the Spirit (of the moment) they went out where others could see and hear them. And as they went out, people were drawn to them to find out what was happening, what was going on and the growth of the church was started. For when the Spirit came at Pentecost it was not just a case of what He could do for the believers, but also what He could do through them with others. Others who we see had very different beliefs to their own, or even no faith at all. But through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit He would begin to draw all people to the Father, through the cross and resurrection of the Son, and to empower them for the work he had ordained for them since the beginning of time.

God’s church is an order where all are included, drawn to Him, and empowered by Him, even some of the ones we don’t expect. The first Pentecost for the disciples graphically demonstrated that fact. Does the Pentecost in our lives demonstrate the same? Sam Cappleman

Meditation

There is a phrase "God has no grandchildren."  It means that our faith is about something which happened long ago and which is passed down the generations. It is true that we all pass on to our children our best understanding of what our faith is about, but ultimately it is down to each one of us to know afresh what it means to born of God. Each generation is to come to know the presence of the same Holy Spirit which empowered those first disciples. We are all God's children.

This is important, for as Jesus came to those first disciples and forgave their weaknesses and failures, so we must know afresh that we have a saviour who does not accuse us or remember our betrayals. As we meet with the risen Christ, so we too hear those beautiful words, "Peace be with you." The past, with all its regrets and missteps, has been forgiven. We are set at peace with God and one another. We are recreated, new creatures, through the Word of God. Where once there was sin, compromise, half-hearted discipleship, cowardice and blindness, now there is forgiveness and a chance to begin again.

We are called now to live a new life, strengthened by a transforming Spirit. We need to be recreated. And that is what Jesus does, he breathes his Spirit upon us so that we too can practice forgiveness and reconciliation in our conflicted and divided world.

Seeing the risen Christ was a cause for the disciples' rejoicing. However we are reminded that our work is not easy, Jesus died in the process. As we serve Christ in the world, like those first disciples we concentrate on the wounds of Jesus, his nailed hands and pierced side. Peacemaking and reconciliation is dangerous work, may we find courage like the disciples to come out from behind our locked doors to go out in to God's world with his message of love.

 

Introduction

The crucifixion of Jesus was a most dreadful and frightening event for the disciples. They had seen the Jews and the Romans join forces to kill their Lord, no wonder that we read they were gathered together behind locked doors 'for fear of the Jews' John 20:19.

It is at this time of defeat and apparent weakness that Jesus appears and asks them to have courage and continue his mission. They are to proclaim the Gospel without fear in the face of the hostility which will present itself. Such a task would not be achievable by human endeavour. It would require the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit would empower the disciples to proclaim the good news of Jesus to all people who come to the city. Inspired by the Holy Spirit the disciples find the right language to use to communicate the faith to many different people.

Are we ready, willing and able to be used by the Spirit to communicate the message of Jesus to many people in ways which make sense to them ?

 

Verse from Scripture Romans 5:5

The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
 

Collect Prayer or the Day—Before we read we pray

Almighty God, who on the day of Pentecost sent your Holy Spirit on the disciples with the wind from heaven and with tongues of flame, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the Gospel: send us out in the power of the same Spirit to witness to your truth and to draw everyone to the fire of your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  Methodist Worship

Post Communion Prayer

Faithful God, who fulfilled the promises of Easter by sending us your Holy Spirit and opening to every race and nation the way of life eternal: open our lips by your Spirit, that every tongue may tell of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Meditation

The Holy Spirit gives life to the people of God. This is challenging for us. The life to animate us as Christians and as churches is a power which is beyond our controlling. The picture of the tongues of fire, leaping around, is a good way of stressing that the Spirit is uncontrollable. The fire was not constrained within a grate, it was a fire which rendered the disciples powerless to control it. We do not like loosing control, we like to manage and legislate but the Holy Spirit is not to be controlled but to fill us and take us over.
At Pentecost we remind ourselves that we must not be too busy, too tired, too poor, too spiritually apathetic —to face up to the task which God has called us to do. We must open ourselves to the Spirit of God to move us.

  • What gifts do I have?

  • With whom do I share them?

  • What are the gifts that I don't share as freely as I could or should?

  • Why am I reluctant to get involved in sharing those gifts?

  • How can God help take away any fear that might hold me back?

Charles Royden

Hymns

    1. Come down O love divine (Tune Down Ampney)

    2. O breath of God

    3. Spirit of the living God

    4. Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire

    5. Breathe on me breath of God

    6. O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us

    7. There's a spirit in the air

    8. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

    9. Spirit of Holiness

    10. Spirit of God unseen as the wind

    11. Born of the Holy Spirit's breath

    12. Head of thy church - Tune Fulda
       

     

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

 

Blessed be the love which chose us before the foundation of the world. Blessed be the grace that saved us before the world began. Blessed be the glory prepared for us from all eternity. Blessed be God for ever and blessed be his glorious Name! Amen  Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892

May Christ inflame the desires of all people to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through Christ’s power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers and sisters, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them."Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, #171

Faithful God, you fulfilled the promise of Easter by sending your Holy Spirit and opening the way of eternal life to all the human race. Keep us in the unity of your Spirit, that every tongue may tell of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty God, we your children pray: let your glory come down.
Let the Fire fall as on that first Day of Pentecost.
Revive our spirits, fill us with new excitement,
with joy unspeakable and faith for a dying world.
Empower us to speak your Word; to utter the words of Life;
using a variety of languages to bring the good news to the poor.
LORD, let your fire fall once again on this church, on this community,
on this country, and to the ends of the earth.
In Jesus name and in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Additional Resources


Commentary

Pentecost reminds us of the relationship which exists between God and Jesus. It would have been so much easier and more convenient if Jesus had been more specific and told us precisely all we needed to know in words of one syllable. But of course, it is never made that simple: we have to do some of the work ourselves. We have to commit ourselves first to the loving lifestyle of the God who is known to us in Jesus:

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father, and he will give another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the spirit of truth..."

Yet again, it appears, we are being told that to know God is to act like God in love and compassion; we shall discover the Spirit of truth as we live by the truth.
In the Old Testament in Genesis Chapter 11 there is the story of the story of the Tower of Babel or Babylon. Babel stood for all that was evil in the Jewish tradition and this was because the people of that city had dared to build a tower which reached up towards the heavens. Of course, there is a play on words here, because the word Babel has connotations of confusion, and the punishment for thinking that they could build such a tall tower was the confusion of their language. The Acts story reverses this judgement, and tells us how the Spirit of God now brought people from different countries, normally separated by their language together, and then enabled each of them to hear what being said in their own language. This meant that all the visitors to Jerusalem heard the disciples speaking in their own tongue. Luke's theological creativity has brought these two stories together and makes a point about the significance of language and speech, especially with regard to the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ.
A passage which has been omitted from today's readings, but which is included in the Lectionary readings for today is Romans 8: 14-17 where Paul writes about the gift of the Holy Spirit which is given to all believers. He goes on to say that this Spirit is God at his creative work. He continues by saying that there are no distinctions to be drawn between the various works of God. Thus, God creates, God judges, God reconciles; all is the work of the one God. It is the Spirit of God which undertakes all that God wills, and it is the grace of God which underlies all God's actions. This Spirit makes us the children, the inheritors, of the estate of God. The one proviso is that we remember the cost of this grace to God, bearing in mind that what we suffer is also to be offered to the Father to be made holy, just as was the offering of Christ himself.
 

What is Pentecost ?

Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Passover.
Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church's mission to the world.
The Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is the way Christians understand God.
Celebrating Pentecost
Pentecost is a happy festival. Ministers in church often wear robes with red in the design as a symbol of the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth.

Hymns sung at Pentecost take the Holy Spirit as their theme, and include: Come down O Love Divine, Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire, Breathe on me breath of God, O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us, There's a spirit in the air and Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

Pentecost Symbols
The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include: flames, wind, the breath of God and a Dove.

The first Pentecost
Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot.
The apostles were celebrating this festival when the Holy Spirit descended on them.
It sounded like a very strong wind, and it looked like tongues of fire.
The apostles then found themselves speaking in foreign languages, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
People passing by at first thought that they must be drunk, but the apostle Peter told the crowd that the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Almighty and Everlasting God look with favour upon your people. As on this day you sent upon the first disciples the gift of your Holy Spirit, so pour that Spirit out upon us this day. Open our hearts to your living power. Cleanse us from every impurity and forgive our sin as you have promised. Lead us and teach us and grace us with your presence. Grant us the dreams and visions you have promised and make us messengers of the good news of Christ Jesus our Lord. Indeed, unite us through the power of your Spirit so that all people may be moved by the witness we make and so that songs of praise may rise to you here and everywhere, both now and for ever more.
Lord, lead us to be peace-makers, building connections between individuals, focusing on what unites people rather than on what separates us and highlights our differences. Lord, it's easy to harm relationships; forgive us the divisions and bitterness which we have created in our homes and families with friends and colleagues at work. Enable us to seek for a fresh start and give us the power of your Spirit to use opportunities to build up and make new the bonds between people.
Gracious God, Spirit of Life, surging freely, loving generously, seeking endlessly, move upon the face of our world and embrace all its creatures with grace. Startle the powerful and the humble with your power and tenderness, your purpose and determination, your patience and mercy. Hear our prayers of thankfulness and our requests for your intercession.

O living God, come and make our souls temples of thy Spirit.
Sanctify us, O Lord. Baptise thy whole Church with fire, that the divisions soon may cease, and that it may stand before the world as a pillar and buttress of thy truth.
Sanctify us, O Lord.
Grant us all the fruits of thy Holy Spirit: brotherly love, joy, peace, patience, goodwill and faithfulness.
Sanctify us, O Lord.
May the Holy Spirit speak by the voice of thy servants, here and everywhere, as they preach thy word.
Sanctify us, O Lord.
Send thy Holy Spirit, the comforter, to all who face adversity, or who are the victims of men's wickedness.
Sanctify us, O Lord.
Preserve all nations and their leaders from hatred and war, and build up a > community among nations, through the power of thy Spirit.
Sanctify us, O Lord.
Holy Spirit, Lord and source of life, giver of the seven gifts,
Sanctify us, O Comforter.
Spirit of wisdom and understanding, Spirit of counsel and strength,
Sanctify us, O Comforter.
Spirit of knowledge and devotion, Spirit of obedience to the Lord.
Sanctify us, O Comforter.
 

Prayer of Taize Community

Meditation
 

In 1863, the "Football Association" was founded, to set out clear rules for the game and to distinguish it from rugby football and other similar games. With the foundation of the Football Association, the game began to be called "association" or "assoc", giving the word "soccer". In May each year the Cup Final is held at Wembley. After the First World War it became a tradition for community singing to take place at the Football Cup Final at Wembley. King George V suggested that a hymn be included, and "Abide with me" was chosen. It is still sung before the Cup Final every May.
The words were written by Henry Lyte in the fishing village of Brixham in Devon, where he had been the Vicar since the age of 30. His words are particularly touching because he wrote them whilst dying of tuberculosis. On the 4th September 1847 he said goodbye to the congregation of his church. He had been given early retirement because of his chronic health. In his last sermon he preached about the time when two disciples were walking along a road towards a village called Emmaus. Jesus had been killed a few days before, but now he joins them and walks beside them. He is risen from the dead. At last they recognise him and say to him: "Stay with us. It is nearly evening." Henry Lyte took this theme and wrote his hymn as he walked by the sea. He heard the ebb and flow of the tide and, for the last time there, he watched the sun set. The following day he was to go abroad on the advice of his doctor, who had told him that in a drier climate he might live a little longer. And so he wrote "Abide with me" (meaning "stay with me"), "it is fast becoming evening." As he wrote his words, Henry Lyte also thought of his own life coming to a swift end. No earthly helpers or comforts could make much difference to him. 2 months later, on his way to sunny Italy, he died in Nice, France. His last words were "Peace, joy," as he pointed his hand towards the sky. We can use our imagination and place ourselves on the seashore as the sun is setting. We listen to the words of his hymn as the prayer of this sick man who knew he was at the "evening" of his life, about to die from tuberculosis - but at peace with himself and God.


Abide with me, fast falls the eventide; 
the darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, 
help of the helpless, O abide with me.
 
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; 
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see; 
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
 
I need thy presence every passing hour; 
what but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be? 
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

Hymns

  1. Come down O love divine
  2. We are one in the Spirit
  3. Spirit of holiness
  4. O thou who camest from above
  5. Spirit of God unseen as the wind
     

Meditation

1. What is our experience of living the Christian faith and noting that our desires are being conformed to the will of God?
2. How do we experience the power of language to create a world?
3. How does our increasing awareness of God's world affect our behaviour towards that world?

Hymn

Tune Fulda

1 Born by the Holy Spirit's breath,
loosed from the law of sin and death,
now cleared in Christ from every claim
no judgment stands against our name.

2 In us the Spirit makes his home
that we in him may overcome;
Christ's risen life, in all its powers,
its all-prevailing strength, is ours.

3 Children and heirs of God most high,
we by his Spirit 'Father' cry;
that Spirit with our spirit shares
to frame and breathe our wordless prayers.

4 One is his love, his purpose one:
to form the likeness of his Son
in all who, called and justified,
shall reign in glory at his side.

5 Nor death nor life, nor powers unseen,
nor height nor depth can come between;
we know through peril, pain and sword,
the love of God in Christ our Lord.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b.1926) from Romans 8