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
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.
John 14:8-17, (25-27) – If 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 Pentecost 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 www.augsburgfortress.com. Get Music For Taizé, Volume 1 (www.giamusic.com). 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
The disciples have been devastated. Their master has been crucified. Their treasurer betrayed him. Their leader denied even knowing him. Their numbers have dwindled. Can you relate?
Recently they have had visions of him alive, and a new hope is emerging. The Spirit is about to do a new thing.
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 say 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 a good idea to meet 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. 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.
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.
12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15 ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you…
25 ”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
This text is from Jesus’ farewell address. He helps them to understand that he must go, but an Advocate is coming to be with them forever. This is the Spirit of truth. The Spirit will teach them everything they need to know. And then he offers them his peace.
Philip says, “Show us the Father and we will be satisfied…” That’s all. Just show us God. Pastors feels this pressure. People come to church every week with this same petition. “Show us God. That’s all.” We are pushed on a weekly basis to speak words so profound that God is revealed. Jesus doesn’t take the bait. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” We might do the same. Show them Jesus and they will see God. When in doubt, tell them about Jesus.
Jesus commissions them. Those who believe in me will do greater works that Jesus himself. Scholars say “greater” here is quantitative, not qualitative. The followers f Jesus are expected to carry on and even expand upon his work.
Jesus says he’ll do anything they ask. This is the language of love. It doesn’t mean he’ll jump off a bridge. Or kill their enemies. This could be (and has been) taken to the absurd. Ask “in my name.” We might do well do ponder what it means to ask for something “in Jesus’ name.”
If you love me, you will keep my commandments and I will send another Advocate. Jesus himself is the Advocate in 1 John 2:1. He must now leave. So he is sending another. A Comforter.
Don’t be troubled or afraid. I give you my peace. Forever.