Acts 2:1-21 – Day of Pentecost. Rushing wind. Tongues of flame. Multilingual, multicultural event. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved
Genesis 11:1-9 – Tower of Babel
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b – All creatures great and small
Romans 8:14-17 – The Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children.
Acts 2:1-21 – Day of Pentecost. Rushing wind. Tongues of flame. Multilingual, multicultural event. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
John 14:8-17, (25-27) – In my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.”
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 with 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.
- Besides this, 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 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, so called because it falls 50 days after Passover. The Jews called it the “Feast of Harvest” or the “Feast of Weeks” (Exodus 23, Exodus 24, Leviticus 16, Numbers 28, and Deuteronomy 16).
As Pastor Don Carson likes to say, “ The movement in Luke is from the world to Jerusalem. The movement in Acts is from Jerusalem to the world.” The birthday of the church is also a call to mission. The love of God in Christ should be known in all places.
Last week we heard the resurrected Christ said to the disciples, “Wait here until you are clothed with power from on high, “and then, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Pentecost is about being clothed with power by the Holy Spirit. That power is given so that we might be Christ’s witnesses.
They are so moved by the Spirit that the crowd thinks they are drunk. When was the last time your assembly was so moved by the Spirit, there was a risk of visitors thinking that they were drunk? Peter even has to begin his sermon with the words, “These people are not drunk…” Great sermon intro. What not try it?
People from everywhere hear the gospel in their own language and then take it home. This is the lesson that the lay readers hate, “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Phrygia, Pontus…” Might be worth meeting up with the lay reader beforehand, or at least a call during the week.
Pentecost brings a rich tapestry of themes to it: unity, diversity, comforter, and 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 that 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 be a witness to the power of faith, a witness to Jesus himself. The Spirit gives us even more according to Paul: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22). We need this. 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. It may need more than one Sunday. I once did a summer series on the Fruits of the Spirit. Nine grueling weeks, and yet it sparked conversation and reflection on the character of the Christian community and the need for the Spirit 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.