Worship May 23, 2021
Call to Worship
Come, Holy Spirit,
The wind of God, the breath of Life.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Our Advocate, our Counselor.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Teacher of Wisdom, Reminder of Christ.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Granter of forgiveness, giver of peace.
Come, Holy Spirit.
May we feel God breathing through our worship.
May we receive the Holy Spirit in this place.
Almighty God, your Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ disciples, hidden in an upper room in Jerusalem. A violent wind and tongues of fire were the symbols of a new thing happening in their lives. May your Holy Spirit burst into our lives today, encouraging and inspiring us to proclaim boldly the good news of Jesus Christ who offers healing and hope to all people. AMEN.
Hymn UMH # 140 Great is Thy Faithfulness
Hymn UMH #347 Spirit Song
Scripture Acts 2:1-4, 36-41
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2 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.
3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
The First Converts
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
40 And he testified with many other arguments and urged them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added
So here we are – the day in the life of the church that we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The Mora UMC have the added honor of celebrating the baptisms of Taylor, Aubrey and Gracie.
Last week we celebrated graduation at the Ogilvie UMC and confirmation at the Mora UMC. I confess to you now that I learned a lot during the studying I did each week, in preparation for the confirmation class. One of the things I learned was the connection between baptism and confirmation. True confession, I had not realized that as a 15-year-old confirmand I was taking for myself vows that had been taken for me at my baptism.
This week I have been learning about Pentecost.
Pentecost was referred to in the Old Testament as the Feast of Weeks and is referenced in many places in Old Testament Scripture.
The Jewish holiday calendar in the Old Testament included solemn feasts that all Jewish males were required to attend each year in Jerusalem. The Feast of Weeks was the second of these events.
The Feast of Weeks commemorated the first fruits of the wheat harvest, a celebration of God’s provision. The Feast of Weeks took place seven full weeks (or the fiftieth day) following the Feast of First Fruits. It was also known as Pentecost, a word meaning fifty.
The Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection was certainly the most memorable. Acts 2 tells the account of the 120 early followers of Jesus praying in an upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them, enabling them to speak in many different languages. The Holy Spirit moved among the crowd with many being baptized and scripture says that 3,000 were added as believers of Christ in that one day.
I guess we could say that overnight, the Christian movement increased from a house church to a megachurch!
Pentecost is one of the most important days in the history of Christianity.
Jesus liked to celebrate and so do we! Just this last week we celebrated our high school senior at Ogilvie and our Confirmands at Mora.
In the Bible, we read about Jesus going to weddings and big dinners at other people’s houses.
Celebrating is a time to feel joy and happiness with the people and blessings around us! We all experience “God moments.” Let’s celebrate them!
Today May 23 is Pentecost, a time we in the Christian Church celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Pentecost is one of the most important days in the history of Christianity.
It is, quite literally, the birthday of the Jesus’ Church.
In importance, it is right up there with Christmas and Easter.
That being said, a lot of people know very little about it.
Why do you suppose that is?
It was spectacular event, filled with lots of drama and even special effects.
But, there is no Pentecost Bunny or Pentecost Santa leaving plastic eggs in baskets for the children or gifts under a tree.
Grocery Stores and big box aren’t filled with Pentecost candy for months before-hand.
Hallmark doesn’t have rows upon rows of “Happy Pentecost” cards.
The radio doesn’t play Pentecost music from April through June.
People don’t spend months and months–not to mention–tons of money Pentecost shopping.
And when the church service is over, if we did go to church that morning, that’s usually it. We don’t tend to go home to our Pentecost celebrations. I wonder why that is.
Before Pentecost there was no church, just a group of about 120 frightened and confused people who had watched Jesus be Crucified, Resurrected and then Ascend back to heaven.
Jesus had instructed them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for “the gift” God promised.
This gift, Jesus said was that “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
They really had no idea what Jesus was talking about.
It was just such a radically different concept—they couldn’t get their minds wrapped around it—it had never happened before; it was something brand new!
It was something that had to be experienced in order to be understood.
Remember back, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist?
What happened as soon as Jesus was baptized? We are told “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
This, my friends, was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry; a ministry that was led by and filled with the Spirit.
A similar thing happens to the 120 Jesus followers on the day of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit comes down from heaven and rests on of each of them.
And they are able to speak in the languages of all the pilgrims who had entered Jerusalem from a bunch of different countries in order to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Weeks.
It was a wild scene and it drew a big crowd.
Suddenly, the lights come on in their heart and mind, they understand the Gospel in ways they never understood it before, and they are filled with the Holy Spirit and along with that comes a new confidence, a new courage, a new outlook and a new life.
Nothing is ever the same again.
This happened to each one of the followers of Christ on that day approximately 2,000 years ago.
And it happened to them all at once. Suddenly they were on fire!
We are told that 3,000 people joined the brand-new Church that day, and the numbers kept growing and growing and growing.
And from that day we get a very intriguing picture of a group of people—folks just like you and me—who are continually being changed and formed and transformed in their understanding of God.
And one of the things that stands out most is that even though the Church is born on Pentecost, the Church is not finished on Pentecost.
It is a work of God, always under construction—all the way to today.
Even though the first disciples may have been able to preach truth about Jesus with boldness and in the power of the Holy Spirit, that didn’t mean that they understood everything there is to know about the God Who created this infinite universe.
For those of you who have been Christians for a long time, how many of you have the exact same understanding of God that you did say, 10, 20, 30 years ago? I sure do not.
It is always changing isn’t it. It is growing, it is moving.
And it is not that God changes, but instead our understanding of God and God’s ways change the more and longer we live in Him.
The Gift of God’s Holy Spirit is an ongoing gift, it is not just a one-time event. The Church is constantly changing according to the Spirit’s leading.
Their understanding of God was evolving bit by bit, day by day, little by little.
And it took a long time for the church to embrace these changes.
And many of us are still wrestling with some of the same issues to this very day.
The Church is always a work in progress.
It is always under construction, changing, growing, moving.
What new things is the Holy Spirt teaching you about God and how you are to relate to others, to those who are different?
With the Holy Spirit all are changed and change is difficult.
It is not easy to rid ourselves of old prejudices and ways of thinking—especially if these ways of thinking have been ingrained into us since we were young.
God is a VERY BIG GOD. And sometimes, we make Him too small, and we do not give him the credit for what He can do?
Sometimes we try and create God in our own image rather than the other way around.
We lay on God our small thinking, our worldview, our quirks, and when we do that, we pass those ideas on to others.
And in Acts, we are able to see a group of believers, people just like us, who make mistakes in their understanding of God and eventually change their thinking.
Some, though, do not change their thinking.
And they are the ones who tend to get in the way of the progress of God’s Church and God’s plans.
They are the ones to whom the Apostle Paul kept trying to persuade through his many letters which are recorded in the New Testament.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” Paul tells the Church in Galatia, “do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…”
…he continues, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
I am still trying to figure out exactly what that means, how about you?
A friend of mine recently said, “You know what makes Christianity different from all the other religions?
My friend continued; Christianity is about loving God by loving other people.
When we are actively loving and serving other humans, we are actively loving and serving God.
Pentecost was the opening-up of God’s purposes for all of us; bringing people together despite our differences, and it still is…
Whenever and wherever the Church is open to the rush of the Holy Spirit; God is making changes in the way we see ourselves, one another and ultimately—how we see God!
And so, in a very real sense, every day can be Pentecost for this Church as we continue to broaden our understanding of God’s love and put that understanding into practice.
May it be so.
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Knock us off our seats, O Lord, with the wind of your Holy Spirit. Don’t let us just sit back and rest as though nothing important was happening. Remind us that you have come to bless and prepare us for your service. Now is the time of proclamation and celebration! Now is the birth of your church, not as an exercise in futility, but as a dynamic group of people who know you and love you as you know and love each of us. Flame up our hearts! Make us so joyful that we find it difficult to sit back and watch. We want to be part of your healing love and mercy. We want to be people who bear the word that your love for us is eternal; that Jesus Christ, our Savior, proclaimed and taught that love in all that he did and said, modeling for us a new way to live. Pick us up and propel us forward into your world. Help us to remember that you have given to us what we need to be your disciples. We just need to say a resounding “Yes!” to you. Thank you for all the wondrous patience and blessings you pour into our lives each and every day, as we offer our lives back to you in joy and hope.
And together in the name of Christ, we pray.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
There are many signs we claim for our faith but ultimately it is our active love that reveals who we worship.
As the plate comes around commit to give of your whole selves.
Give of your talents and material possessions to the Church with the expectation that they be used to further God’s dream for our world.
Please commit yourself and give as you’re able.
Prayer of Dedication
We give in grateful thanksgiving for all that God has given us.
In the upside-down world of the gospel,
we measure our wealth not by what we have,
but what we can give away.
Let us give away generously, in this offering,
To bless your church, your people, your creation.
Hymn UMH #707 Hymn of Promise
God, out of God’s great love, has created you.
Jesus Christ, out of his great love, has redeemed you.
The Holy Spirit, out of great love, has lifted and inspired you to go in peace and service throughout God’s world, proclaiming the good news of peace, love, hope, and joy to all.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen