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May 14

Day of Pentecost (Year B)

Acts 2:1-21
  • A rushing, violent wind…tongues, as of fire…people speaking in different languages…believers accused of being drunk at 9am…  Yep.  It must be Pentecost…  Seriously, I think this is one of the truly fascinating texts that we have in our Scriptures.  Just think of how many different people were gathered there on that day – think of what they experienced – think of what they saw and heard!
  • If you have people in your congregation (or community) who speak languages other than English (or whatever language you most commonly speak in your worship service), invite them to read this scripture in another language.  Really, any languages will work.
    • One way to include other languages in your scripture reading: read the passage verse-by-verse, repeating each verse in a different language – for example: read verse 1 in English, then in Spanish, then in Korean..then read verse 2 in English, etc.
    • Another way to include other languages in your scripture reading: read the entire passage, and then read it in a different language (or 2 or 3).
    • If you want to include other languages in other parts of the worship service, you could pray the Lord’s Prayer in multiple languages
  • You may want to decorate with multiple languages in your worship space.
    • If you use projection equipment, you may want to project various words – all written in different languages – throughout the service.
    • Or, you may want to have words written on fabric or strips of paper, displayed in/around your worship space.
    • Words that you may want to display: Spirit, Love, Hope, Joy, Peace, Life, God…
    • If you need help translating these words into other languages, be sure to check out Google Translate.
  • Here’s a fun way to use balloons in your Pentecost worship service:  Cut out paper “flames” and attach them to the end of a ribbon (or clear mono-filament), and attach the other end of the ribbon to a helium-filled balloon.  The weight of the paper should enable the balloon to “hover”, instead of floating all the way up to the ceiling.  I recommend using cardstock to create the flames.  If you need to add some extra weight to it, paper clips work really well (and you can usually find them in colors that can match the flame colors).  The desired effect here is to have the balloons hovering high enough that the paper flames are just above the heads of the people in the congregation while they are standing in the worship space.  (I recommend using white or cream-colored balloons, so that it looks like clouds in the sky.)
Ezekiel 37:1-14
  • If your congregation is facing any sort of transition, dealing with growing (or shrinking) pains, or journeying through a time of transformation… this is a great text to preach!  This scripture offers us such a vivid example of the power of the Holy Spirit and the promise of new life.
  • What/Where are the “dry bones” in our life? In our church? In our community?
  • Want to be a little bit daring in your worship decorating?  Why not use some “dry bones”?  I don’t recommend using real bones.  I have seen bones made from plastic or other materials in costume shops and stores where you can find props for plays/movies.  You can even buy a “bag of bones” online, which most folks use to decorate for Halloween.
    • If you decide to use the bones in your decor, you could make a large pile of them on a table in the front of the worship space.
    • Another way to use the bones in your worship display: scatter them on the floor in front of the Table (perhaps on top of some burlap or other brown/black fabric, to simulate dry and barren ground).
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
  • While we typically think of “fire” on Pentecost, this passage from the Psalms starts off by talking about water – the sea, and all of the living creatures (of all sizes) that live there.
  • Life – and the renewal of life – are made possible through the power (indeed, by the very breath) of the Holy Spirit.  How do we welcome God’s Spirit and the newness that the Spirit brings?
Romans 8:22-27
  • Have you heard creation groaning in labor pains?
  • Sometimes it is painfully hard to remember Paul’s words in this passage about hope.  “Hope that is seen is not hope.”  That isn’t easy to take, since most of us (and certainly this applies to me) want to know – we want to see the end result before it gets here.  Paul’s words remind us that God’s Spirit blesses us with strength and patience – things we desperately need when we truly long for the things that God has promised that God will provide for us.  Hope requires patience and strength – so, praise God that the Spirit prays for us (even when we don’t have any idea what to pray for)…
  • Here’s a creative prayer idea: prior to Sunday, record the sounds of various people sighing.  Play the recordings as one of your prayers (perhaps the prayer of confession).  Either preclude or conclude the time of “prayer” by reading this scripture text.
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
  • There are people who say that God said all that ever needed to be said in the Bible – it is all there, in black and white, and that’s it.  I have to wonder if those people have ever read this passage.  The Spirit of Truth didn’t just show up on that one day of Pentecost, never to be seen or heard or felt again.  The Spirit is here. Now. And like a big, noisy goose, the Spirit is rarely quiet, easy to handle, or able to be controlled.  The Spirit speaks things that we rarely want to hear – which should remind us of Jesus, who constantly said and did all kinds of radical things (touch lepers, do things on the Sabbath, give all your money to the poor, love your enemies).  If the messages you hear from God only ever make you comfortable, then you may want to rethink who is the real source behind those messages.
  • What is the Spirit saying now – to us today – that we could not bear before this point?
  • If we do not welcome the Word from the Spirit – even when it seems so new and so different – doesn’t that mean that we are standing with the world (who do not believe in Christ or recognize the Spirit)?

1 ping

  1. Pentecost Sunday (Year C) - The Worship Closet

    […] year, since some of the readings are the same.  You can find the lectionary reflections and ideas here, and the liturgy is available […]

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