A Service for Pentecost Sunday

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HYMN - Breathe on me breath of God - Carlisle

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

The Spirit of the Lord fills the world and knows our every word and deed.
Let us then open ourselves to the Lord and confess our sins in penitence and faith.

We confess to you our selfishness and lack of love:
fill us with your Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

We confess to you our fear and failure to live our faith:
fill us with your Spirit. 
Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

We confess to you our stubbornness and lack of trust:
fill us with your Spirit. 
Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord.

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

FIRST READING - Acts 2.1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

HYMN Spirit of God unseen as the wind

GOSPEL - John 7.37-39
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Sermon - from Myra Wilkinson

At Pentecost we celebrate the birth of the early church  and the gift of the Holy Spirit. This momentous act of God occurred about ten days after Jesus’ ascension to be with his father in Heaven. The disciples were together, waiting and praying in an upper room in Jerusalem, as Jesus had told them to do, ‘I am sending upon you what my father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ We remember that Jesus himself had received the Holy Spirit at his baptism and in the gospel reading he promises that same gift to his believers, after his return to heaven. Where the gospel writers vividly retell the story of Jesus’ life on earth, his death, resurrection and ascension, Luke continues in Acts to recount the life of the early church, post ascension, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We know that the disciples were in an upper room and that Jerusalem was extremely busy. Pentecost was one of the major Jewish festivals, a pilgrimage event, a holiday, a celebration where Jews came from across the empire, hence the multitude of people and different languages. Pentecost is also known as the Jewish feast of weeks, festival of the first fruits of the harvest, Shavuot. It is the second of the three major Jewish festivals, collectively the shalosh regalim,  the first being Passover, in March/April,  and the third the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles in September or October, all according to Jewish law laid out in Leviticus. Pentecost takes place 50 days after Passover, and also celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai. 

What happened next was dramatic, awe inspiring, and probably terrifying, starting in the upper room and then spilling outside. A sound like a rushing wind filled the entire house; divided tongues, as of fire, appeared and rested on the disciples. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and were given the ability to communicate with the people in the streets in their own languages. Understandably, their actions were met with incredulity and cynicism, were they drunk with new wine, after all these simple Galileans were not thought to be gifted linguists. Peter, emboldened and empowered by the Spirit, as were all the disciples, addressed the crowd. He quoted Joel who prophesied a time when the spirit would be poured out upon all flesh, a time we believe was ushered in by Jesus of Nazareth. How compelling to hear the testimony of the disciples, speaking of Jesus, and to hear it in their own language. We are told later that some 3000 people present at that time were baptised in the name of the father Son and Holy Spirit, as we are today.

The wind and fire as signs of the Holy Spirit are both highly significant in the Jewish faith, the wind being the power of God to breathe new life, think of the dry bones, Hebrew ruah, Greek pneuma, wind or breath. Fire represented the presence of God, in the burning bush, the pillar of fire, and now at Pentecost, the powerful presence of God and the gift of his spirit.

The significance of that gift is that the Holy Spirit is freely given to all who believe, allowing us to experience Jesus, over 2000 years later. He lives in us in a way that would never have been possible without his death, resurrection and ascension.  We are able to go beyond reading about his life and teaching in the Gospels to developing a relationship with him, based on his total sacrificial love for us and our love for him, through prayer and experiencing his presence in our lives. We know that the relationship is never a panacea for all pain, suffering, anxiety and fear, but we do feel his transforming love and peace, and through him we can live by the principles of his Kingdom.  Importantly we know that we are never alone and that each of us is loved, forgiven and accepted. 

Since that day of Pentecost, the message and knowledge of Jesus has spread beyond the Jewish nation to the whole world.  Members of the early church travelled abroad to gentile areas, and we have their accounts in the journeys and letters of the early Christians. Jesus’ commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel clearly says, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything that I have commanded of you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.’   Finally, a few words from one of my favourite prayers, ‘May we who share Christ’s risen life, bring life to others.  We,whom the Spirit lights, give light to the world’. Amen

ANTHEM    Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
and lighten with celestial fire;
thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy seven-fold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life, and fire of love;
enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our mortal sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face 
with the abundance of thy grace. 
Keep far our foes, give peace at home: 
where thou art guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both, to be but one,
that through the ages all along
this may be our endless song:

Praise to thine eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let us declare our faith in God:
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.
We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

INTERCESSIONS - Lindsay Dolphin

Let us pray.

Lord, the all revealing light of your love is shining at this time of Pentecost. Today we give special thanks for the gift of your Holy Spirit as we are challenged to make a difference in the name of Jesus. Give us the faith to have confidence in the power of your Spirit to change and renew. Teach us to trust in your transforming power.

Listen to the Spirit calling you.

Lord in your mercy……..hear our prayer.

At this time of social distancing, when many are fearful and anxious we give you thanks that your love for us continues. Even though we cannot meet to pray in our benefice churches, the work of William and his team ensures that we can all share in a weekly service one way or another. We thank you for the guiding presence of your Spirit and for all those who have helped us on our Christian journey. We offer you ourselves to be a light for others. May we burn bright with your holy fire.

Listen to the Spirit calling you.

Lord in your mercy…….hear our prayer.

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the whole world. For many countries this has added to the terrible hardship of war, disease, famine and starvation already in existence. Let us ask that you guide all leaders as they take on the challenge of building a new future for all peoples throughout the world.

Listen to the Spirit calling you.

Lord in your mercy……..hear our prayer.

We pray for all those suffering from the effects of coronavirus whether in hospital, at home or in a care home. We pray for all those caring for them. We also pray for all non-coronavirus patients and those who care for them. We pray especially for those known to us in this benefice.

Listen to the Spirit calling you.

Lord in your mercy……..hear our prayer.

As our country takes tentative steps to open up once again let us pray for school children about to return to school next week. Guide them and guard them in what will be a familiar yet unfamiliar environment. Let us remember the teachers and support staff many of whom have been working throughout the lockdown to keep schools open for key workers.

Listen to the Spirit calling you.

Lord in your mercy……..hear our prayer.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, 

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, 

your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. 

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive 

those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation 

but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, 

and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

The power of God be about you,
the love of Christ enfold you,
the joy of the Spirit be within you;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always. Amen

HYMN Come down O love divine - Down Ampney


'Rinascero, Rinascerai’ - ‘I will be reborn, you will be reborn’ - Roby Facchinetti

Do switch on subtitles/closed captions (cc), bottom right on the YouTube screen.

“A song born in support of the emergency from the virus, especially for the city of Bergamo seriously affected by Covid-19, all proceeds from downloads, copyrights and editorial rights (Facchinetti / D'Orazio) will be totally donated in favour of the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo for the purchase of medical equipment.”

I watch the sunshine

I watch the sunrise lighting the sky
Casting its shadows near
And on this morning, bright though it be,
I feel those shadows near me.
But you are always close to me,
Following all my ways.
May I be always close to you,
Following all your ways, Lord.

I watch the sunlight shine through the clouds,
Warming the earth below
And at the midday, life seems to say:
I feel your brightness near me.
For you are always close to me,
Following all my ways, all my ways,
May I be always, close to you,
Following all, all your ways, Lord.

I watch the sunset fading away,
Lighting the clouds with sleep.
And as the evening closes its eyes,
I feel your presence near me.
For you are always close to me,
Following all my ways,
May I be always close to you,
Following all your ways, Lord.

I watch the moonlight guarding the night,
Waiting till morning comes.
The air is silent, earth is at rest
Only your peace is near me.
Yes, you are always close to me,
Following all my ways.
May I be always close to you, 
Following all your ways, Lord.