Prelude: Shine Jesus Shine, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3iB30gCqAc
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Day of Pentecost
Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Welcome to our virtual worship. The Lord be with you.
Confession and Forgiveness
If you were to keep watch over sins, O Lord, who could stand? Yet with you is forgiveness, and so we confess: (I invite you to reflect in the privacy of your home before a time of confession.)
Confession: Gracious God, have mercy on us. We confess that we have turned away from you, knowingly and unknowingly. We have wandered from your resurrection life. We have strayed from your love for all people. Turn us back to you, O God. Give us new hearts and right spirits, that we may find what is pleasing to you and dwell in your house forever. Amen.
Forgiveness: Receive good news: God turns to you in love. “I will put my spirit in you, and you shall live,” says our God. All your sin is forgiven in the name of ☩ Jesus Christ, who is the free and abounding gift of God’s grace for you. Amen.
Gathering Hymn: Gracious Spirit Heed Our Pleading, ELW 401, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wiu5XjBsCz0
The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Prayer of the Day
O God of glory, your Son Jesus Christ suffered for us and ascended to your right hand. Unite us with Christ and each other in suffering and in joy, that all the world may be drawn into your bountiful presence, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Selection of the Faithful: Spirit of Gentleness, ELW 396, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTbQiUVdVMQ
Prayer of the Day
O God, on this day you open the hearts of your faithful people by sending into us your Holy Spirit. Direct us by the light of that Spirit, that we may have a right judgment in all things and rejoice at all times in your peace, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
First Reading : Numbers 11:24-30
24Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. 25Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
26Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” 29But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” 30And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
Psalm: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
24How manifold are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too many to number, living things both small and great.
26There go the ships to and fro, and Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.
27All of them look to you to give them their food in due season.
28You give it to them; they gather it; you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
29When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; and so you renew the face of the earth.
31May the glory of the Lord endure forever; O Lord, rejoice in all your works.
32You look at the earth and it trembles; you touch the mountains and they smoke.
33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being.
34May these words of mine please God. I will rejoice in the Lord.
35bBless the Lord, O my soul. Hallelujah!
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
3bNo one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Gospel: John 7:37-39
37On the last day of the festival [of Booths], the great day, while Jesus was standing [in the temple], he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and 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.’ ” 39Now 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.
Today is Pentecost. Traditionally we read the Acts 2:1-21 passage about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Often the different nationalities represented in the congregation will read a part of that passage in their mother tongue, often at the same time giving the impression of glossolalia, but hopefully symbolizing that God speaks to all nations in their own language. People wear red signifying joy and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Red also symbolizes the blood of the martyrs who died for their faith. Today we are meeting as the church dispersed so some of these traditions are not quite as impactful.
Therefore, I have chosen to use the alternate texts recommended for today. I think there is a very real temptation to equate Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues. Christianity has used this outward experience at a certain historical event as a criteria to critique spiritual reality of others. We decide who’s in or out of God’s box based on speaking in tongues and do not focus on the person of the Spirit. Our first reading shows the Spirit active with the elders at the time of Moses. The second reading from Corinthians shares the early Christians understanding of the Holy Spirit after the events of Pentecost. Today I pray we can focus on the gift of the Holy Spirit and not on symptoms.
Pentecost (“pente” means 50 as Pentecost is 50 days after Easter) derives its name from the Jewish festival celebrating the harvest (Festival of Booths or Festival of Tabernacles) and the giving of the law on Mount Sinai fifty days after Passover. In other words, Jews from all over the world gather in Jerusalem yearly for this Jewish holiday. So in our text today, John 7, Jesus is preparing his disciples for Acts 2. I doubt the disciples understood any better then than they understood anything else the significance and I doubt we understand the future either, even though God has talked about it.
In this text, before Jesus’ glorification, Jesus calls all who are thirsty to come to receive living water. On Pentecost the disciples were again gathered in an upper room after the crucifixion, after all the experiences with the risen Jesus, after all the questions and conversations. Peter and crew returned to fishing only to find Jesus on the beach with breakfast. Jesus, their hero, has sent them to Jerusalem to wait. How thirsty were these disciples for yet another experience of their Lord? How thirsty are we today as we come to worship? We too have been in “lockdown” for the last two months waiting for the opportunity to return to corporate worship. Pentecost helps us focus on our God who so touches our heart in the Gospels and life of Christ but also is present today in the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls out to the crowd to come to him for water, not to the temple.
I suspect that early in the gospel of John, the Holy Spirit was somehow experienced as the dove that descended at Christ’s baptism, as an aspect of God that came and went throughout the Old Testament but was heavily connected with God as “One” and not as “Trinity.” This verse connects faith, believing in Jesus, with our ability to drink, to take in or experience the Holy Spirit. The example that helps me understand this is the presence of electricity. Somehow electricity is flowing through my house, available but … it is only as I turn on a switch that I experience light, plug in my fan that I experience power, or turn on the TV that I experience news. The Holy Spirit, God, is available to all but it is faith that turns on the connection and it is thirst that drives us to seek. Then from our hearts flow the living waters, the good news that has come to us.
We turn to 1 Corinthians to understand what “rivers of living water” means.
1 Cor 12:3 talks about confession, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” One of the amazing aspects of Pentecost is the confession of Jesus by men who previously had been cowering in a room and to people of many nations in their own tongue! The Holy Spirit worked through barriers of fear, of language and of ignorance. Social distancing was eliminated. Not only were people no longer separated, but Jesus was glorified. The Jesus story is lifted up and explained and the cross begins to take on significance and power. Living waters are flowing into lives. People who hear the historical story of Easter, are convicted of their own sinfulness, repent, receive forgiveness and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38) The Holy Spirit becomes the link with God and allows for living waters, confession, to flow and glorify Jesus.
Corinthians continues to say, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.” Gifts, services, and activities are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Paul continues to enumerate examples but the part I find important is that the variety of expressions of the work of the Holy Spirit. Certainly people gifted with speaking in tongues are one form of experience of the worship experience but the Holy Spirit empowers people in many other unique and diverse ways. Even as people from all over the world understood the Gospel at Pentecost, each one of us will be an expression of “living water” in our own situation, in our own challenges, in the unique way God chooses to use us “for the common good.”
Perhaps one of the temptations when we talk about the Holy Spirit is to keep the focus on self and the benefits I receive – tongues, gifts, power – but I see the reminder that confession, this gifting is for the common good. We might do good to remind ourselves of the image of the body in 1 Corinthians 12. We are like a body, each necessary for the functioning of the other. Just because I might be the mouth, does not mean I do not need eyes and ears and should not belittle the part they play. I find as I age, the tendency to glorify the gifts that resonate with the values of my culture – strength, beauty, power. I lament, or remember, when I was in the choir, when I was on council, or when I baked a popular dish at the meeting, led the youth group or, or, or. Our gifts, our service, our abilities are for the common good of everyone. We all contribute to the health of the whole.
Lastly, I note that Corinthians reminds us that the Holy Spirit chooses how to gift people. Did we hear that? The Holy Spirit is the one who chooses if speaking in tongues is to be our gift or singing or leadership or what. We come thirsty wanting to experience God in the depths of our being but it is the Holy Spirit who chooses how and when to meet us. It is so easy to assume that because my experience or lack of experience is not like another’s that the Holy Spirit is not on the job. I grope around looking for the light switch, trying to find the remote, lamenting and I forget that the God of the universe is around me, able to speak all languages, able to bring to my heart the sins I need to confess, able to empower me to meet the challenges of the day as the Spirit knows is best.
In our text today, Jesus was not yet glorified but he calls to the thirsty, promising the gift of the Holy Spirit, promising that streams of living water will flow out of us. As Lutherans, we believe the gift of the Holy Spirit is in response to faith. God responds to the faith of parents who bring babies to be baptized and says, “forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” We believe we are saved by Christ’s death on the cross, not because we say certain words or have certain experiences, are a certain age or intelligence level. I love to share: in that handshake between God and his people, when we don’t remember who we are, when we can’t express who we are, or forget who we are, God holds on to us. He calls to us today, “All who are thirsty, come unto me and the one who believes in me, drink.”
I invite you to recite with me Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Creed, the article talking about the Holy Spirit.
“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and kept me in the true faith;
even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith;
in which Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all sins to me and all believers,
and will at the Last Day raise up me and all the dead and give unto me and all believers in Christ eternal life.
THIS IS MOST CERTAINLY TRUE.
Hymn of the Day O Living Breath of God, ELW 407, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRpJ2rSyXjo
Nicene Creed. Let us join our voices virtually confessing our faith:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
(Or you can listen to the Creed in vocal form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuDI-sk2nJU)
Prayers of Intercession
Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
We call on your spirit of unity, giving thanks for our different vocations. Activate and utilize the diverse gifts present in your church, that they reveal your love for all. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit of life, present in air, wind, humidity, storms, and oxygen in our atmosphere, breathing energy into all things. Heal with your breath the whole creation, especially those who struggle to breathe due to air pollution. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit of righteousness. Wherever we as a people are divided, unite us. Wherever we are prideful, humble us. Give each one of us a heart for justice and empathy. We especially remember the struggles in Minneapolis this weak. Be with the grieving, comfort the angry, reach into the chaos and bring peace. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit of healing. Bless nurses, doctors, midwives, chaplains, counselors, and hospice workers as they care for those in need. We pray for all who long for comfort (especially). Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit of friendship. As Elizabeth welcomed Mary to her home, give us a spirit of welcome to those whom we meet in this congregation and outside these doors. Surprise us daily with unexpected grace, that we rejoice in every blessing you send. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit of hope. As you have led your saints in all times and places, stir in us the desire to follow their example, leading us from death to new life in you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Peace: If you are worship with someone else, turn and share, “The peace of Christ be with you always.” Response, “And also with you.” You might use your finger to mark you children or loved one with a cross on their forehead. If you are practicing social distancing, put your palms together in-front of your chest and open them outward to the other to show your blessing of them. Peace!
Offering Prayer: (We cannot pass the offering plate but we can respond to God’s for his gracious gifts to us.)
Merciful God, our ordinary gifts seem small for such a celebration, but you make of them an abundance, just as you do with our lives. Feed us again at this table for service in your name, in the strength of the risen Christ. Amen.
Communion: I invite you to talk a little piece of bread and eat it. Christ is as close to you as the bread in your mouth and stomach. Always remember. Now take a sip of your drink. Christ is as close to you as the blood in your body, strengthening you. Always remember.
Prayer after Communion: Life-giving God, you have fed us with your word, and our hearts burn within us. You have opened us to your presence. Now send us forth to share the gifts of Easter with all in need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord’s Prayer: 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 that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Blessing: May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you to new life, fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing. Almighty God, Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen.
Sending Hymn: God of Tempest, God of Whirlwind, ELW 400, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNlznc7yWdM
Dismissal: Christ is risen, just as he said. Go in peace. Share the good news. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!
Here is a message from the Bishop. You need not join Vimeo but just tap the arrow and the message from him will play. Blessings.