Pentecost Sunday

Today is Pentecost, the third biggest and major event in the Christian calendar. This is the culmination of Gods plan for redeeming his people. We celebrate the events of that day when the Holy Spirit came down and filled God's people.


The outpouring of His Spirit into each and every person who asks for it, is God’s presence that dwells within us, we are now bound together with Him, He's always with us, just as he wanted in the beginning. This gift is the greatest gift of all, for it is God living in us.


Opening Words:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.


Hymn 67 Breathe on me breathe of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG7i2SDe-kE

Prayers:

Come as God’s Spirit calls us. Lord, we come. Come as God’s spirit calls us in gentleness. Lord, we come. Come as God’s spirit calls us to worship. Lord, we come. Come as God’s spirit calls us to action. Lord, we come.

We praise you, God of all time, for speaking to us through the tongues of Pentecost, for stirring our longings with the excitement of Pentecost, for uniting our communities with the inclusiveness of Pentecost. Fill our lives, we pray, with the enormity of Pentecost, until they overflow with compassion and commitment to care for and celebrate all creation to the glory of your name. Amen.

We praise you, God of all time, for speaking to us through the tongues of Pentecost, for stirring our longings with the excitement of Pentecost, for uniting our communities with the inclusiveness of Pentecost. Fill our lives, we pray, with the enormity of Pentecost, until they overflow with compassion and commitment to care for and celebrate all creation to the glory of your name. Amen.


Bible Readings: Acts 2.1-21, Ezekiel 37.1-14

Psalm 104.24-34,35b

Romans 8.22-27

John 15.26-27; John 16.4b-15


Hymn: Holy spirit come and fill this place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqU_32v0R_I


Comments on Readings

Look at the image what do you see?

A modernist painting of a black cross with coloured shapes flowing from it.
Can you see the cross?

Jesus on the cross, life drawn out of Him, life which was restored to Him on Easter Sunday and which was given to those who believe in Him at Pentecost.

Today is Pentecost, the third big and major event in the Christian calendar. This is the culmination of Gods plan for redeeming his people. the Old Testament is the story of Gods relationship with his people. He created a world where he and humans would live together in perfect harmony. The garden of Eden was that place. but women and men rejected that and as a consequence of sin was banished from the garden. The moment that man left the garden God was formulating a plan to bring us back into that garden. His plan involved sending prophets, judges, people who would guide and lead and try and explain, just how much God loved his people and wanted them to come back to him.


Eventually, or maybe God always knew this, He sent his Son, in the words of the parable of the vineyard owner that Jesus shared ‘they will listen to my son’. But as in the parable, Jesus said they killed the Son and took the vineyard for themselves, the reality was the same, the Jews killed Jesus, the Son of God. But death as we know from Easter was not the end, rather it was the beginning, it was the turning point between the Old Testament and the New Testament.


God raised Jesus to life again, an act we celebrate at Easter, but that is not the end of the story for there was still more that God wanted to do. Remember His cause was to draw people to Himself to have that intimate friendship with each one of His people, and the way He does that is through Pentecost. The outpouring of His Spirit into each and every person who asks for it. It is God’s presence that dwells within us, we are now bound together with Him, He's always with us, just as he wanted in the beginning.


We are bound to him through His spirit which dwells within us. This gift is the greatest gift of all, for it is God living in us. It is freely given to all those who ask for it, the choice is still ours to make, but when we run to the father, there He is arms wide open, as in the parable of the prodigal son. He has been watching and waiting for us to return to him, the gift is not the fatted calf, as it was in that parable, it is His presence.


Quite early on in John’s gospel we see a Pharisee visiting Jesus, he is torn between that which he knows and that he sees in Jesus. He wants to understand what it is about Jesus that makes his heart flutter in a way that the laws of the land didn't. Afraid of being seen with Jesus, He went at night, under cover, but there is no doubt that his encounter with Jesus, changed His life. Jesus spoke about the wind, blowing where it would, and a man being born again. Still unsure of what this really meant, he returned to his own life and world, but changed in some way. We know that when the Sanhedrin wanted to kill Jesus, Nicodemus stood up for Jesus, and we know that when Jesus had died it was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who had the courage to go to Pilate and ask for the body. Nicodemus’ heart was already being re-born and was from the first encounter with Jesus. Like us, when we encounter Jesus we will never be the same again, He will gradually change us from the inside. ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock’ says John in Revelation, our hearts are the door, He stands there gently knocking, will you let Him in? Will you let the Holy Spirit into your life, to lead and guide and inspire you? To fill with the fruits of His spirit, as Paul says in Galatians, ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


Our Old Testament reading was the Valley of dry bones Ezekiel’s vision. and as Ezekiel watched so the bones began to stand and clatter and formed themselves into people that then God put muscles and sinews and skin on top, this might mighty army of people came together from the dry bones and then God breathed life into them.This vision was a full taste of what God would do at Pentecost.


The Jewish nation had become like dry bones, they had no real life inside them. They followed or tried to follow the rules and regulations, but their hearts were hard and God’s love was nowhere to be found. God was showing Ezekiel that he would literally breathe life into that nation.


At Pentecost that is exactly what God did, He breathed life into disciples that were afraid, that were cowering, that had no real purpose. But suddenly filled with the Spirit of God they burst open the doors of their upper room and couldn't stop speaking about God and Jesus. Their message was so powerful that 3000 people were added to their number on that one day alone. This one act is the start of the Christian faith, followers of Christ, filled with Christ, today is the birthday of the church and should be celebrated with parties and balloons and singing and dancing and things we can't do in COVID times!


On the day of Pentecost, the disciples experienced the Holy Spirit. It was, Luke says, like tongues of flames. It was like a great and rushing wind. They began to speak in other languages – and those who saw and heard all this were deeply affected too. That was 2,000 years ago. How do we experience Holy Spirit now? What words and expressions would we use to describe our experience?


Someone recently wrote this: "London’s Tate Modern gallery staged an exhibition of 20th-century paintings. One wall was just a blank painted surface. Directly opposite this wall was one of Monet’s paintings of water lilies. After staring at the Monet for ages, I turned around to look at the blank wall behind me – but it was no longer blank and plain. Monet’s vibrant, swirling colours changed what I saw from something flat and formless into something that had shade and texture. It may have been a trick of the light, or physical effect within my eye or something to do with perception in my brain, but I was reminded of Luke’s vivid and eye-opening picture of Pentecost, with its wind and fire and noise. And that in turn made me think about how praying with the Spirit can open our eyes to the life and energy of God in our world: to see new things; to see things differently; to begin to appreciate God’s concerns for the whole of creation rather than just my own, often rather petty, concerns for my life and world, and my little corner of creation."

Wouldn’t it be something if the Spirit of Pentecost could open all of our eyes to see the broader picture that is God’s perspective? Let us open ourselves to the Spirit and look around. Let us all ask God to fill us to overflowing with His Spirit, so that we too are compelled to speak about Jesus in our community in our time and place.


Amen.


Hymn 1351 Spirit of God unseen as the wind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozWAspk5Zcg


Prayers for the world

God of love, we pray for the poor. As Covid-19 continues to impact our world, we pray for those around the globe who don’t have the resources of the richer nations, for those countries struggling to afford vaccinations and basic health care. We think in particular of people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. May those who have the power to bring relief to others use their influence to ensure help and vaccines are directed to the people who need it most. May conversations and negotiations be filled with generosity and concern for the poor and powerless.

May those who have very little in this world be filled to overflowing with your Spirit.

God of love, we pray for those who mourn.

With the battles continuing to rage in the Middle East and the death toll rising, we pray for everyone who has lost friends and loved ones. It’s difficult to imagine how scared people must be living with bombs and violence. We pray for those caught in the middle of the chaos. Please bring an end to this war. We are also aware of rising tensions in our own communities as violence escalates between Israel and Gaza. We pray for wisdom for community leaders trying to bring calm; may they know the right words to use and be able to mediate problems with insight and skill.

May those who live with violence and pain be filled to overflowing with your Spirit.

God of love, we pray for those who hunger and thirst. Many people in our country have really suffered during this pandemic. As venues open and life resembles something more normal, we are aware that not everyone is able to feel hope for the future. Help us to continue to reach out to those who are hungry. Thank you for the network of foodbanks, so many operating out of the churches across the land. We pray that the volunteers would have renewed energy, we pray that the food donations would continue to flow, and we pray that those needing work would find jobs.

May those who need hope be filled to overflowing with your Spirit.

God of love, we pray for the poor in spirit. With so many people experiencing mental health issues we think of those we know who are struggling. We bring to mind family members, friends, neighbours and people in our congregations. Help us to be compassionate listeners and good friends to people who need us. We also think of the steep rise in teenage anxiety and issues such as anorexia; please help families trying to deal with young people who are suffering. Give the agencies and professionals working in mental health good judgement as they work with their patients.

May those who face the darkness be filled to overflowing with your Spirit.

God of love, we pray for the peacemakers. On this Pentecost Sunday thank you for the work of your Spirit bringing hope, joy and peace to us and to your world. On this Pentecost Sunday renew us in our faith, remind us of the outpouring of your Spirit and help us to be the agents of hope, joy and peace in our world.

May those who sow peace in our neighbourhoods be filled to overflowing with your Spirit.


Prayers for those on our prayer list


Hymn 983 Father of life draw me closer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqNiYlgdLlE


Grace