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Weekly Bible Notes for Pentecost

Year C, Colour = Red


Pentecost ArtPentecost

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 prepared and 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?

 

 

Opening Verse of 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 for 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

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

God who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by the 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 for ever.  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

stained glass dove descends

First Bible Reading Acts 2:1-21

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." Peter addresses the crowd

Peter addresses the crowd

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  Revelation Chapter 8:14-17

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Gospel Reading   John 14:8-17

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

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.


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 appoint 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.


Picture of the disciples at Pentecost

 

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

  • Come down O love divine 89

  • Lord the light of your love is shining 445

  • Breathe on me breath of God fill me with life anew 67

  • Broken for me, broken for you (pre- communion) 66

  • Head of thy church Hymns and Psalms 316 (On page 8 of Partnership News)

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

God, who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by the 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 for ever.

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

 

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 Easter.
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

 

  • Come down O love divine (89 MP)

  • We are one in the Spirit

  • Spirit of holiness (611 MP)

  • O thou who camest from above (525 MP)

  • Spirit of God unseen as the wind (Glory to God 98)

Meditation

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?

 

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