Acts 2:1-21 – Day of Pentecost. Rushing wind. Tongues of flame. Multi-lingual, multicultural event. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
OR
Ezekiel 37:1-14 – Valley of the Dry Bones. I will put my spirit in you and you shall live. You shall know I am the Lord when I open your graves…

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b – Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. (Ps. 104:31)

Romans 8:22-27 – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness… intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
OR
Acts 2:1-21 – Day of Pentecost. Rushing wind. Tongues of flame. Multi-lingual, multicultural event. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 – When the Advocate comes, he will bear witness to me… lead you into all truth.

Video: Here’s an interesting Pentecost video from Working Preacher.

Church musician Mark Mummert helped assemble some thoughts about the Pentecost constellation of hymnody. Here are some of the standards:

  • Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord (ELW 395)
  • Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart (ELW 800)
  • Come Gracious Spirit Heavenly Dove (ELW 404)
  • Holy Spirit Truth Divine (ELW 398)

Consider some newer hymns in ELW:

  • Veni Sancte Spiritus: This is an ostinato chant from Taizé. The refrain can be found in ELW 406. The verses can be found in the ELW accompaniment version. You can also order beautiful Taizé music at Augsburg Fortress. Get Music For Taizé, Volume 1. There is also a booklet with instrumental parts available.
  • Spirit of Gentleness: this popular, simple folk renewal song is in ELW 396.
  • Gracious Spirit, Heed Our Pleading: Why not try a least one global song? This Tanzanian song has a beautiful, simple refrain (ELW 401) that begs to be sung in parts. Have your choir look it over beforehand.
  • O Living Breath of God (ELW 407): Now here is a hymn that shows the breath of the Spirit. This hymn started out as a Swedish folk tune sung by men’s choruses yearning for good fertility in the springtime of the year, and later became a beloved tune in Latin America.. It will stick in your congregation’s ears all week long.
  • The Spirit Intercedes for Us (ELW 180): Consider using this refrain as the assembly response to the Prayers of Intercession. From the Lutheran music group, Dakota Road, this refrain is memorable and even has a built in “sigh” with the words “Oh, oh, oh.”
  • Blest Are They (ELW 728): This song by David Haas (Roman Catholic composer who also wrote “Blest Are They” and “We Are Called”) is a cry for the Spirit with hints of Psalm 104, appointed for Pentecost.

Beside these, consider Send Us Your Spirit, which is not in ELW. Here it is being sung at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. You can order the sheet music online or find it in one of the Gather volumes. Here are the lyrics:

Send Us Your Spirit

Refrain: Come Lord Jesus. Send us your Spirit. Renew the face of the earth.

  1. Come to us, Spirit of God. Breathe in us now. We sing together.
    Spirit of hope and of light, fill our lives.
    Come to us, Spirit of God.
  2. Fill us with the fire of love. Burn in us now. Bring us together.
    Come to us; dwell in us. Change our lives, oh Lord.
    Come to us, Spirit of God.
  3. Send us the wings of new birth. Fill all the earth with the love you have taught us.
    Let all creation now be shaken with love.
    Come to us, Spirit of God.

On the folk side of things, I’m still amazed how many people (especially baby boomers) remember and love We Are One in the Spirit, which lifts up unity as the work of the Holy Spirit.

Some congregations do Handt Hanson’s Wind of the Spirit from Worship and Praise.

Blow, Spirit, Blow has a catchy refrain that sticks with people. With minor stanzas, the major key, circle of fifths chorus has a lifting feel to it.

Holy Spirit Rain Down is another popular contemporary hymn. 

The Spread of the Spirit

In Acts 2, people from all over the Roman Empire come to Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is actually the Greek name for the festival. The Jews called it the “Feast of Harvest” or the “Feast of Weeks” (Exodus 23, Exodus 24, Leviticus 16, Numbers 28, and Deuteronomy 16).

CountriesPeopleMentionedPentecost

Pentecost has a rich tapestry of themes. Unity. Diversity. Comforter. Spirit of truth. It’s a multilingual, multicultural, multi-ethnic event, for the spread of the gospel.

In Acts 1:8, the theme verse for Acts, Jesus tells the disciples they will receive power when the Holy Spirit falls on them, and they will be witnesses in outwardly emanating circles of city, region, and world. The Spirit fills us with hope and joy so that our lives will witness to the power of faith, witness to Jesus himself. The Spirit gives us even more according to Paul: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). We need these. The Spirit reaches down deep inside us and prays within us when we cannot find the words (Rom. 8:26).

The neglected third person of the Trinity is absolutely indispensable for the life of the community of Christ. You may need more than one Sunday to dig deeper. I once did a summer series on the Fruits of the Spirit. Nine grueling weeks, but it sparked conversation and reflection on the character of the Christian community and our need for the Spirit in order to get there.

May your celebration of Pentecost in Word and Sacrament, prayer, and song fill you with joy, love, and hope, that you might be empowered to witness to what God is doing in the world.

A Heart for Change

IMG_0283In a few weeks, the epistle texts for June and the first Sunday in July are from 2 Corinthians (chapters 4, 5, 6, 8, 12). Megan Dosher Hansen and I have prepared:

  1. A book of daily devotions
  2. Some discussion questions for small groups and
  3. Some background material for pastors and group leaders

The background information and the discussion questions are free for the taking on my blog. There’s also a link for setting up small groups.

If you want the daily devotions (and the discussion questions again for convenience), your folks can order the paperback online. The devotional book is also in a digital version at Amazon.

Recruit your small groups leaders. Start some home groups. Contact me if you have questions.