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.
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, 35bSend 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.
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.

pentecost ceiling

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 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 here: 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. 

A Heart for Reconciliation: 2 Corinthians in June

In two weeks, the epistle texts for the Sundays in June, and July 1, will be from 2 Corinthians (chapters 4, 5, 6, 8, 12). Some of us down here in the Gulf Coast Synod 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 to setting up small groups.

The daily devotions with discussion questions are available in paperback or digital at Amazon.

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

Pentecost in the Revised Common Lectionary

We hear Acts 2 every year on Pentecost of course. Additionally, in Year A we get the options of Numbers 11, I Corinthians 12 and John 7 or 20. In Year C we can choose from Genesis 11, Romans 8:14-17 and John 14. This year, Year B, we have Ezekiel 37 (Dry Bones), Romans 8:22-27 (Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness… with sighs too deep for words…) and John 15 (When the advocate comes, he will bear witness to me… lead you into all truth…).

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning…

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

In his farewell speech, Jesus says he must go away, so that the Spirit will come. It is to the disciple’s advantage that Jesus leave, so that the Spirit will come. That Spirit will reveal sin and righteousness to the world, and reveal all truth for the disciples. Then Jesus sets the stage for further revelation. Apparently there is more to learn, but the disciples are not yet ready to hear.

This Spirit he calls the παράκλητος (paraclete), which the NRSV translates “Advocate.” Just as Jesus is the truth in John, the Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Klaytos means “called.” Para means “alongside.” The paraclete is one who is called to ones side. (“Comforter” is not a good translation.) In Greek this would be an attorney, counsel for the defense. John is the only one to use this word in the New Testament.

This advocate will also give them the strength to endure the persecution they will likely endure in the world. To be a disciple is to expect persecution. As Rabbi Edwin Friedman used to say, “If you are a leader, expect sabotage.” What kind of persecution? John 16:2 says, “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.” One who is persecuted or prosecuted needs an advocate.

Pastor Brian Stoffregen helpfully pulls some things together for us in this passage:

There are five “Paraclete”/”Spirit of truth” sayings in John

  • 14:16-17 (Paraclete & Spirit of truth are used)
  • 14:26 (Paraclete is used)
  • 15:26 (Paraclete & Spirit of truth are used)
  • 16:7-11 (Paraclete is used)
  • 16:12-15 (Spirit of truth is used)

All of these are part of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. The roles of the “Paraclete” are:

  • to be with us forever (14:16)
  • to teach and remind us of Jesus’ words (14:26)
  • to testify/witness on Jesus’ behalf (15:26)
  • to prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, & judgment (16:7-11)
  • to guide us into all truth (16:12-15)

Professor Ginger Barfield says our temptation will be to make this sermon about what happened in the past, rather than what the Spirit is doing in the present. What is the Spirit doing today? What truth is the Spirit revealing? How is the Spirit revealing sin and righteousness? How is the Spirit strengthening us for persecution? How do you see the Spirit alive and at work in your community?

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).

Countries of people mentioned at Pentecost map

Pentecost brings a rich tapestry of themes to it. 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 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 and love and hope, that you might be empowered to witness to what God is doing in the world.

This summer I am going to repost some earlier comments on the texts, so that I can spend this time working on a podcast series on prayer. Stay tuned for more information about this!