Sunday May 28, 2023 – Pentecost
Come, O Spirit, dwell among us, come with Pentecostal power;
Give the church a stronger vision, help us face each crucial hour.
© 1979 Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Onelicense#723756
Acknowledging the Territory As we gather here today, we acknowledge that the land upon which we live, work and worship is the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. We offer our deep gratitude for this land and we commit ourselves to use and share it wisely.
Lighting the Christ Candle
As we light our Christ Candle this morning, we see reflected the light of Christ. And as it shines for us, it reminds us that we too must shine with the light of Christ wherever we go.
Call to Worship
To live with the Spirit of God is to become a listener. It is to embrace the silent mystery that cannot be explained.
We learn to catch the stirring of the Spirit, strange as the wind’s will.
To live with the Spirit of God is to become a follower. It is to feel the winds of the Spirit moving and directing us.
We learn to trust the stirring of the Spirit, to show us the way.
To live with the Spirit of God is to become a prophet. It is to speak with words and lives ignited by the fire of God.
We learn to answer the stirring of the Spirit, vibrant as tongues of fire.
To live with the Spirit of God is to become a lover. It is to become love itself reflecting the Divine Love of the Spirit.
We learn to embrace the stirring of the Spirit, silent, vibrant, calling.
And so, in response to the stirring of the Spirit of God, we gather to worship.
Divine Spirit of power and persuasions, just as you sent your Spirit on those who gathered long ago, we ask that your Spirit fill us today. Just as the flame of your passion touched those who gathered long ago, we ask that your flame ignite our passions today. Igniting our passion for justice that it may blaze into commitment. Ignite our passion for peacemaking that we may build your peace. Ignite our passion for you, that we may truly be your children, worshiping you with courage, hope and passion in all that we do. Amen
Gift of Music On Pentecost They Gathered #195
Normally on Pentecost Sunday we read the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. But we read not only about the Spirit descending on the disciples but also about their reaction and the sermon that Peter then goes out and preaches to all those gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. Today, however, we read only the first 4 verses of the story from Acts and then continue with a section of Paul’s letter to the Romans in which he talks about the Spirit and how the gift of the Spirit affects our lives.
Acts 2:1-4 & Romans 8:14-39
When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!” God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children. Since we are his children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him; for if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory.
I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. All of creation waits with eager longing for God to reveal his children. For creation was condemned to lose its purpose, not of its own will, but because God willed it to be so. Yet there was the hope that creation itself would one day be set free from its slavery to decay and would share the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth. But it is not just creation alone which groans; we who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts also groan within ourselves as we wait for God to make us his children and set our whole being free. For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For who of us hopes for something we see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will.
We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son would be the first among many believers. And so those whom God set apart, he called; and those he called, he put right with himself, and he shared his glory with them.
In view of all this, what can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us? Certainly not God, who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son—will he not also freely give us all things? Who will accuse God’s chosen people? God himself declares them not guilty! Who, then, will condemn them? Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life and is at the right side of God, pleading with him for us! Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? As the scripture says, “For your sake we are in danger of death at all times; we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Favorite Hymn Request My Faith Looks Up to Thee #663
Touched by the Spirit
Pentecost is celebrated within the Christian Church as a time when the Spirit touched the followers of Jesus in a very powerful and life-changing way. But it is important for us to remember that this is not the only time the Spirit has touched those who are open and receptive to that touch.
The Spirit has been present since the beginning of time. In the very opening of the Book of Genesis we are reminded that, “the Spirit of God, moved over the waters.” God’s Spirit called Abram to leave his home, not knowing where God would lead, and Moses hear God’s voice speak from a burning bush. Throughout all of human history, God’s Spirit has touched, called and inspired people in ways we may never know.
But today we read how, “When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place … and … They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is not the end of the story, only the beginning. Paul wasn’t there with those disciples, but I’m sure that no one would question whether or not Paul was touched by God’s Spirit. And Paul affirms for us that Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. If we claim to follow Christ or if we claim to believe in a God who continues to be a part of our lives today, then we are claiming our status as Children of God. By claiming that status, we are also affirming that we are being led by God’s Spirit as we attempt to follow God through the example we see in Christ.
So if we are touched by God’s Spirit, what does that mean in our ordinary lives? Well, first of all, it means we have a hope that can sustain us even in the most difficult of time. It is a hope that cannot be explained or proven, but it is a hope that goes to the very heart of our being, assuring us that there is a loving, caring Divine Presence that connects us to the Divine and to one another. And yes, that hope is the same thing that Paul talks about over and over. It is called faith.
But being touched by the Spirit is more than simply a vague, distant feeling that offers us some sort of hope for something beyond human understanding or human existence. It is something that can be experienced and felt within our everyday lives. One of my favorite phrases from this scripture is found in verse 26, which tells us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we ought to pray, but that very Spirit intercedes for us, with groanings too deep for words.”
I know there have been times in my own life when I felt so completely overwhelmed or helpless in a situation where I didn’t even know what I needed in order to deal with things. It is at those times when I have found immense comfort and reassurance in the idea that the Spirit intercedes for me “with groans too deep for words.” Sometimes the Spirit within me can reach out in ways that I never could.
But Paul reminds us that we are not the only ones whose sorrow and concern cannot be express in words. For we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth. I don’t think that anyone would argue that creation is not suffering today or that we, as human beings, are the main cause of that suffering.
But once again, Paul also reminds us that there is hope, hope that creation itself [will] one day be set free from its slavery to decay and …share the glorious freedom of the children of God. That hope, however, and that freedom are deeply connected to our own. If we truly deeply listen to the call of the Divine to be caregivers of creation, we cannot continue to destroy and abuse it. Our hope is linked with the hope of creation. It is clear from everything that we have learned about the connections between humanity and environment, that human choices have cosmic implications. In his book titled Creation Healed, Howard Snider suggests that salvation itself, in the deepest sense, is Creation Healed. We cannot achieve “salvation” for ourselves without also healing all of creation to which we are so intimately connected.
Paul ends his reflection on God’s Spirit with what is one of the most well-known passages of this entire letter. It touches not only my own heart but the hearts of many people, with the hope and reassurance that is offered through faith. It is often uses in times of mourning to bring comfort and peace. But this passage begins with a question. If God is for us, who can be against us? Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death?
Paul then goes on to answer his own question in one of the most beautiful affirmations of faith found anywhere in scripture. I am certain that nothing can separate us from [God’s] love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is in this affirmation of faith that, for me, the connection between faith and Spirit becomes clear. We are able to have faith and to trust that faith because that Spirit is part of who we are as Children of God. Paul puts it this way. God’s Spirit joins itself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children.
In that joining of Spirit, we become whole. In that joining of Spirit, we are touched and the flame of our faith is ignited. And in that Spirit we experience the presence of God in our lives. We see this Spirit revealed in Christ and we come to realize that it is only through the Spirit with us that we are able to follow his example.
We may not do it perfectly, in fact none of us ever does. But when we trust that Spirit, when we are willing to open ourselves to it, and when we are willing to
act on the inspiration and passion that that Spirit ignites within us, then we become the Children of God not only in name, but in action.
As we celebrate Pentecost today, and as we share in the Sacrament of Communion, a Sacrament that links us to the one we claim to follow, let us open ourselves to the touch, the movement, the passion and the inspiration of the Spirit, to the very presence of God in our lives. Amen
We Offer Our Gifts
Offertory Response VU#549
For all your goodness, God, we give you thanks.
And so, we offer you, all that we have and do,
to serve and honour you and give you thanks.
© Daryl Nixon 1987. All rights reserved. Used with permission OneLicense #A7323756
We Offer Our Prayers
Communion Hymn When At This Table MV#199
Service of Communion
The celebration of communion joins us together in love, in hope and in faith. It is here, where bread is broken and the cup is shared that we are free to be who we truly are and to see others as they truly are, beloved children of the living God. All are welcome to share in this celebration.
God is with us
We are not alone.
Let us open our hearts to God’s Spirit.
We open them to God and to one another.
Let us offer God our thanks.
We joyfully offer our thanks and praise.
Holy God of Pentecost, your Spirit renews the face of the earth and warms the hearts of your people. We give you thanks for your gifts of your Spirit: tongues that utter prophetic words of truth and justice; flames that kindle new visions of compassion and peace; fresh breezes that blow down the walls which separate us from you and from one another. And so it is that we join with every voice and every tongue on earth and in the heavens to give you praise:
Holy, holy, holy, God of all creation! Heaven and earth are full of your glory!
Heaven and earth praise you, O God most high!
God of wind and fire, as we gather at this table, we open ourselves to your Spirit so that you might blow new life and vision into our lives and into our church. For years, O God, people have gathered around this table in your name seeking to find new hope and new meaning. For this we give you thanks. In a world of doubt and uncertainty help us to create a community of faith, where it is a safe place to ask the tough questions of our lives, so that in our sharing, our questioning and our questing, we may find your Spirit dwelling among us. Mighty and tender God, in Jesus of Nazareth we recognize the fullness of your Spirit: light, life, and love, revealed in words that confront and comfort us, in teachings that challenge and change us, in compassion that heals and frees us.
And so, as we gather at this table, celebrating your presence with us, we remember another table. We remember how, on the night before he died, Jesus gathered around a table with his closest friends to share a meal. We remember that he took a loaf of bread, and after offering you thanks, he broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “Like this bread, my body will be broken for you. Every time you break bread together, remember me.” Then, he took a cup, and after again offering you thanks, he shared it with them, saying: “Like this wine, my blood will be poured out for you and for all people. Drink this, and every time you taste the fruit of the vine, remember me.” Through this loaf and through this cup, Jesus lives within us. Through our word and in our deed, Jesus lives among us.
Holy God, pour out your Spirit upon us and upon these gifts, that we may know Christ through the breaking of this bread, and the sharing of this cup. Amen.
Bread broken, that our lives may be made whole.
Wine poured out that our lives may be filled.
All are welcomed to share this bread and this cup regardless of your membership or affiliation with this or any church. If you long for a closer connection with Christ and with one another, this bread and this cup are for you. In order to ensure that all may be included, our bread is gluten free and our juice is preservative free. As you come forward, you will be handed a cup and a piece the bread. You are asked to carry the elements back to your seat and when everyone has been served, we will share the elements together. If you are unable to come forward, please raise your hand and we will bring the elements to you.
So now, let us share in this sacred meal together.
Sharing of Bread and Cup
The bread of life
The cup of blessing
Prayer After Communion:
Life-giving God, you have welcomed us to this table and nourished us with your spirit. Grant that we may go out from here so filled with your love, that where ever we go in whatever we do, we may reflect the love, peace and joy of Christ to all those we meet. Amen.
Gift of Music There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy #271
Choral Blessing VU#198
Built upon a firm foundation, Jesus Christ, the cornerstone,
Still the church is called to mission that God’s love shall be made known.
© 1979 Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Onelicense#723756