Acknowledging the Territory
As we gather here, each in our own homes, we take a moment to give thanks for the land on which we gather and to recognize how those who inhabited this land long before our ancestors arrived, cared for that land and held in it sacred trust. And so we offer our gratitude for this land which is, by law, the unseeded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.
Lighting the Christ Candle
As we light our Christ candle this morning, we open our hearts and our lives to the light of Christ. And we commit ourselves to allow that light shine through us in all that we do.
Call to Worship
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit poured down upon the gathered disciples.
As we gather here today, God’s Spirit is with us.
The winds of the Spirit swept through that upper room, blowing away the past and bring fresh new possibilities.
The winds of the Spirit blow through us challenging us to embrace the future.
The fire of the Spirit rushed through that upper room, igniting the imaginations of those first disciples and kindling in them a passion for God.
The fire of the Spirit ignites in us a deep passion to follow the way of Christ.
And so we gather today in anticipation, ready for whatever surprises and whatever challenges God’s Spirit may bring.
We gather to worship God.
Opening Prayer (in unison) *adapted from material written by Rev Nancy J.
Come, Holy Spirit, the one who sang a new melody as God’s Creation rose from Chaos, who wept at the dark shadow of a cross, and who danced early in the morning, at the opening of an empty tomb. Come, Holy Spirit, the one who could not be contained by wind, or flame, or breath, the one who blesses the Church with courage, peace, and love. Come, Holy Spirit, come to us as we gather here today.
Teach us to sing a new song and to dance with reckless abandon. Teach us to be courage finders, peace makers and love bearers. Here in this gathering of believers, as you did with those so long ago, breathe on us now, blowing away our fears and our hesitations, transforming our lives and reshaping us as your people. Amen.
Gift of Music On Pentecost They Gathered #195
In the book of the Acts of the Apostles we read the story of the first Pentecost after Jesus resurrection, when the gathered disciples experienced the power of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 104 reminds us that Wisdom was part of the creative power, creating “at God’s side”.
In the letter to the church in Rome, we are told creation still waits for the completion of God’s plan and that we, as humans, still wait to fully understand that we are accepted as God’s children. It also tells us that it is the Spirit that who pleads with God for us “in groans that words cannot express” or as it is worded in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, “with sighs too deep for words”.
John 15:26-27, 16:4-15
Before his death, John tells us that Jesus tried to prepare his disciples. He tried to explain that he would not be with them forever, but that when he was gone, he would send another, a helper or an advocate, that would be with them always. This helper would be the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God.
I’m Glad I Wasn’t There
You know, I’m actually glad I wasn’t there. I’m glad I wasn’t there with the others in that upper room on Pentecost. Ever since Jesus death, we had been meeting in secret, wherever we could find a place safe from the authorities. That morning we had all agreed to meet, but I wasn’t able to get away. My family was scared. At first, when I came home and told them I had met Jesus and that I was sure he was the Messiah they were as excited as I was, but when things started going bad, when the authorities started warning people against him and started plotting to destroy him, they were frightened, for themselves and for me. They warned me not to get involved. I had to sneak out whenever I could. That day, that Pentecost, the family was keeping an extra close eye on me. I couldn’t get away. But after what happened that day, part of me is glad I wasn’t there.
Now I have to admit that’s not the way I felt at the time. I was part of the crowd that was heading toward the temple to celebrate Pentecost. That had been the plan all along. We were to join the crowds and then sneak away when no one was looking and meet in the upper room. But as I said, my family was keeping watch and I never got the chance, so I simply remained with them as part of the crowd.
That’s when I saw Peter. He and some of the others disciples appeared out of nowhere and began talking to anyone who would listen, telling them about Jesus. I was sure that with all the news we were hearing about how the Romans were trying to wipe out all the followers of Jesus that they would be arrested or even killed.
But then something strange happened. People stopped to listen. But these people were from all over. They had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost Festival, but they were from many different places and spoke many different languages, and yet all of them seemed to understand what the disciples were saying. At first people were just amazed. But then they realized who the disciples were talking about and some of them became very frightened. Someone shouted, “Ignore them. They’re drunk!”
A nervous laugh went through the crowd as if they were relieved to have a way out. If they were questioned by the authorities, they could say they had just stayed to listen out of amusement and they had never believed what the disciples had been saying.
And then Peter stood up. Peter, who had always just said whatever came to his mind and often ended up regretting it, Peter, stood up and spoke with a calm and an eloquence that I have never seen in him before. He spoke in a way that reminded me of the first time I had heard Jesus speak. And this time, the people really did listen. They couldn’t help it. There was something in the way he spoke that, that had power in it. You couldn’t help but listen.
I could never do that! I could never stand up in front of a whole crowd of people and tell them about Jesus. I have enough trouble just trying to convince my own family. If I knew someone was interested and they asked me about him, I could talk to people one on one, but even that was hard. How could I be sure they were really interested in Jesus and weren’t just trying to trick me so that they could report me to the authorities?
That’s the way most of us felt. At least I thought it was. We had talked about how hard it was to let people know about Jesus without ending up being arrested. Everybody was scared. And yet here they were, openly preaching about Jesus.
I learned later what happened in that upper room and what happened there made all the difference. That’s what made it possible for Peter to speak so eloquently and for James and Philip and Matthew and Thadeus to have the courage to speak up and to be understood by everyone. I learned later that in that upper room, they were touched by the Spirit. But I wasn’t there
Andrew told me about it. He told me that they heard a sound like a great wind, the kind of wind that stirs up sand storms in the desert. He said it was frightening, and yet it wasn’t. He said it was more like that feeling of breathless anticipation when you’re not sure what’s happening, but you know that something amazing is going on. Then he told me that he felt like he was like being touched by fire, by a flame that somehow ignited something inside him. They all felt it. And it left them with a burning desire to go out and tell everyone what had happened, to tell everyone about Jesus.
Oh, how I wanted to feel that! How I wanted to be touched by that fire. How I wanted to feel the passion that they felt. I knew what it meant. Jesus had promised that we would be touched by the Spirit, and that that Spirit would give us the power to teach, to heal and to carry on the mission that Jesus had started. That is what happened in that upper room. That’s what happened to the ones who were gathered there. They were touched by the Holy Spirit.
But then I saw what happened next. Within days Peter and John were arrested. It’s true that they were released the next day, but I knew even then that the authorities weren’t finished with them. When they were released, Peter and John were warned not to speak about Jesus any more, or they would be punished. I think if they could have gotten away with it, the authorities would have thrown them right back in prison and never let them out, but the people were so worked up by hearing Peter speak and by seeing him heal that crippled beggar, that Annas, Caiaphas, and all the rest of them were terrified of what the crowd would do. So, they let them go… for now anyway.
But Peter and John and the others didn’t keep quiet. They kept preaching. They kept telling people all the things Jesus had done and all the things he had taught us. They talked about how he said that everyone was loved and everyone was welcome. They talked about how God loves us like a kind and gentle parent and how God longs for our love in return. And they talked about how loving God wasn’t enough. We have to love each other as well, regardless of what nationality we are, what class we come from, what we may have done in the past even regardless of whether or not we are Jews.
They kept preaching, no matter how many times they were warned. They never stopped. It got more and more dangerous but they still went on telling everyone about Jesus, even when they knew, without any doubt, that if they weren’t silent, it would cost them their lives. And eventually it did. They were all killed, well, almost all of them!
So now maybe you understand why I say, I’m glad I wasn’t there. If I had been there, if I had been touched by the Holy Spirit, I would have had no choice but to talk about it. I would have had to go around telling people about Jesus and about all that he has done and said and about all that he meant to so many of us. I would have had to share the incredible feeling of joy that comes from knowing that God loves me. I would have had to do everything in my power to pass that love on and to help people come to understand who Jesus was and who he continues to be for me and for many others today.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, I guess it’s because no matter what may have happened to the others and no matter how much of a risk it might be, I just can’t let the story die. All the things Jesus taught us, all the things we learned from him and yes, the way he changed our lives, has to be told. It’s like … it’s like a fire burning inside me that I can’t deny. Because of Jesus, I know that God love me and that nothing can ever change that, not even death.
I’m not afraid like I once was. The love I learned about through Jesus is stronger than any fear I might feel. I know deep inside, that no matter what I do that love will always be there. And I can’t keep it to myself. God’s love doesn’t work that way. Jesus once told us that it wasn’t enough to just say we love God, we have to love others as well and we have to put our love into action. I can’t think of any better way to do that right now then to share my story with you, to pass on the message that I received from Jesus. God loves us and wants us to love each other, no matter what the cost.
It’s strange. I never thought that I could stand up in front of people and talk about my faith. I certainly never imagined that I could explain it in a way that others would understand, in a way that would make sense to anyone but me. Yet here I am.
I wasn’t in that upper room, but somehow, I feel like the ability I have to speak to you today, is a gift that has been given to me. It’s like the gift that was given to the disciples that were gathered in that upper room.
You don’t suppose it’s possible that the Holy Spirit could actually touch someone who wasn’t there, in that room on that Pentecost? Do you think that maybe the Spirit could reach out beyond the walls of that one room? Is it possible? Is that why I’m able to speak to you today? Is it possible that someone like me could actually be touched by the Spirit? And if it is possible for me, do you suppose that maybe it’s also possible for you?
Gift of Music Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among Us #198
We Offer Our Gifts
At this time in our worship, we are reminded that our commitment to God also includes the gifts we offer. Normally we would be asking God’s blessing on the gifts that we place in our offering plates as well as the gifts we offer through PAR or through online donations. But today there are no offering plates so instead we remind people that as well as PAR and online donations, people can also drop donations off at the church by using the mail slot to the left of the office entry. As always, however, we need to remember that our financial contributions are only one of the many things that we have to offer. We offer our time, our talents, our abilities, our commitment and our prayers. And so, whatever it is we offer today, let us ask God’s blessing upon it.
Let us pray; Loving God, as your spirit touched and blessed those disciples long ago, bless the gifts that we offer you today that they may be your grace and your power and that through your spirit they may be a blessing to others. Amen.
We Offer Our Prayers
And now, although we may not have a prayer jar in which to place our prayers, we take a moment of silence to offer our personal prayers for all those named in our hearts, thoughts, and minds as well as those who are on the hearts and minds of all those gathered here … Amen.
Minute for Mission
Prayers of the People
Our Prayers of the People today is A Litany of Solidarity: With and Through the Spirit. It actually comes from an Aids Candlelight Memorial Service offered by the Christian Aids Bureau of South Africa, but it speaks of the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit that we celebrate at Pentecost. Let us Pray.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill us.
Come, Holy Breath, live in us.
Come, Holy Wind, move through us.
When we are led by impulses other than your Spirit, we become slaves to our own desires and our way of being is guided by fear.
Where we are guided by prejudice, fill us with love.
Where we are guided by pessimism, fill us with joy.
Where we are guided by misunderstanding, fill us with peace.
Where we are guided by superficial quick-fixes, fill us with patience.
Where we are guided by self-interest, fill us with kindness.
Where we are guided by apathy, fill us with goodness.
Where we are guided by convenience, fill us with faithfulness.
Where we are guided by complacency, fill us with meekness.
Where we are guided by temptation, fill us with self-control.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill us.
Come, Holy Breath, live in us.
Come, Holy Wind, move through us.
Closing Hymn Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow #196
Our Benediction today is a Pentecost Benediction written by Richard Bott and Shannon Tennant In our moments of chaos… God is with us.In our moments of calm… God is with us. In our moments of life… God is with us. Alleluia! Wherever we go we are a Pentecost people, touched by fire, stirred by wind, called by God to help mend the world by sharing God’s love with all. Alleluia! Amen!