Our Worship for Pentecost (31st May)

Welcome to our worship offerings for Pentecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the first disciples following Jesus’s Ascension. This Sunday is also called Whit Sunday. Our ‘virtual service’ today includes Whitsun hymns, bible readings for the day, a reflection by our Curate, Rev. Suzanne Johnson, prayers for Pentecost and an anthem sung by our choir from their homes and including a beautiful accompaniment including violin and ‘cello. We hope you can find half an hour to enjoy it all.

Lord, come to bless us; and fill us with your Spirit.

Hymn: Come thou Holy Spirit, Come

Reading: The Coming of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-21

You can watch and listen to the King James Bible version of this reading (from Liverpool) or simply read the story below.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Lord, come to bless us; and fill us with your Spirit.

Hymn: Spirit of Holiness, Wisdom and Faithfulness

The Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Lord, come to bless us; and fill us with your Spirit.

A Reflection on Pentecost: by Rev Suzanne Johnson

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

On Ascension Day I was watching the Oxford Diocesan ‘Church at Home’ communion service where the preacher, Rev. Catherine Mabuza, vicar of Warfield Church, spoke of the period between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as a time of being ‘in between’.  A time when Jesus had told the disciples to “wait for the gift my father has promised and which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4-5).

‘Wait’, Jesus told his disciples and wait they did, for the day when the Holy Spirt, came as “a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

Now, I don’t know if we will feel the rushing wind, or see tongues of fire, or, be able to speak in other languages by tonight (if you do, I’d like to know about it!), but I do know that while we are ‘in between’ life as we have known it and life as it will become after the pandemic; like those first disciples we are waiting for something to happen.  Something that will change us and our world for the better.  For us it could mean an anti-virus vaccine or a natural demise in the virus or some other unknown solution to covid-19, whatever it is, we can be sure that it is the Holy Spirit at work.

We all want miracles, tongues of fire, speaking in other tongues, but God works through our natural world and man’s natural abilities.  We are His body and the Holy Spirit works through us.  Science, medicine, philosophy, nursing, being a parent, or just saying hello to somebody are all works of the Holy Spirit.  At the moment we are locked into a waiting time, hiding from the virus, shut up behind closed doors fearing that if we venture out we might catch a bug that could kills us, we don’t know quite what is going to happen, it is a time of fear and pain.  

The first disciples were in a similar position, they were hiding from not just the occupying forces but also from their own Jewish authorities.  They would have known that death could come if they ventured out – the penalty for being a Christian would have been death on a cross – after all they had just seen their leader, who they believed was the Son of God, crucified. Like us there was a promise of hope to come, but how many of them, and how many of us truly believe that God has this in hand? 

In our time of waiting we need to remember that the Holy Spirit, the ‘promised gift from God’ changed that small group of frightened man and women into a force that transformed the world.  We too are called to change the world, making it into the image of God, releasing the Kingdom which is now as well as for the future.  When the Spirit frees us from this terrible time, we need to remember that others – especially those in the majority world – are still caught up in the pandemic.  What and how can we transform their world?  How can we use the hopefully small amount of time we have left in lockdown to prepare for our role in changing the world just like those early Christians?  Most of all how can we be Christ to each other and all the people we meet in our daily lives?

Anthem: ‘Spirit of God, descend upon my heart’. [Heather Sorenson] sung and accompanied by the Choir and Friends of our Church; with piano, violin and ‘cello accompaniment.

Lord, come to bless us; and fill us with your Spirit.

Our Prayers for Pentecost

You can play the link and listen to our prayers or simply read them below.

As Jesus promised, at Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit entered the apostles and the Christian Church was born.  We pray for all the leaders of our Church; Jane, our Vicar, Suzanne, our Curate, our leaders with the Deanery and Diocese, our Archbishops and the leaders of the Church throughout the world.  May they be filled to overflowing with love for your people, and kindled with fresh zeal for spreading the Good News of the Gospel.

We thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit.  We ask that we may all be strengthened to serve you better.

Through our lives and by our prayers, Your Kingdom come.

Wisdom and Understanding of the Holy Spirit

We pray for all those in authority as they struggle to balance public health needs with economic needs.  May they be blessed with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and show patience and tolerance in spite of the pressures upon them.

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.  We ask you to help us understand better your will for each and every one of us.

Through our lives and by our prayers, Your Kingdom come.

The Love of the Holy Spirit

In our homes and places of work, in our hospitals and as schools begin to reopen, may there always be time for the warmth of loving concern and the comfort of being valued.  May we feel the love of the Holy Spirit in our hearts throughout our daily lives.

We thank you for the love of your Holy Spirit.  We ask you to keep us confident of your love whenever and wherever you call us.

Through our lives and by our prayers, Your Kingdom come.

The Peace of the Holy Spirit

Give help to all those involved in physical and mental healing; may all who are trapped in damaged bodies or minds, those in poverty or tyranny, those facing huge challenges in their lives, feel the peace of your Holy Spirit and be brought to freedom and safety in your love.

We thank you for the peace of the Holy Spirit.  We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness wherever there is fear, sickness and sorrow.

Through our lives and by our prayers, Your Kingdom come.

The Strength of the Holy Spirit

We pray for those who have died and all who mourn their loss; calm the fears of the dying and give them the strength of your Holy Spirit on their journey.

We thank you for the strength of the Holy Spirit.  We ask you to help us use that strength in all aspects of our daily lives.

Through our lives and by our prayers, Your Kingdom come.

Power, Wisdom, Love, Peace, Strength

We thank you, heavenly Father, for the gifts of your Holy Spirit among us; and, like the first disciples, we look forward to the future infused with your life in our hearts and minds. AMEN

Hymn: O Thou who camest from above (from Rochester Cathedral where our Choir sang last year)

Notices:

  1. Thank you once again to our Choir for their valuable contributions to our worship and especially to Neil and Tony for making these contributions possible.
  2. If you would like to participate in a Eucharistic ‘Virtual Service’, we can recommend streaming either the Diocese of Oxford ‘Church at Home’ service at 10:00am at oxford.anglican.org/livestream  (You can also download the order of service) or there is also a lovely Church of England service for Mental Health Awareness Week with a message from the Duke of Cambridge.
  3. Wednesday Compline: This weekly service led by Jane and Suzanne continues on Zoom: 8:45 for 9:00pm and it lasts about 20 minutes. If you would like to join us next Wednesday for a chat and a short service, just drop Jim a line on oliverjim1@sky.com and he will send you the link; it never fails to give us all a lift.
  4. The 2.6 Challenge: People responded in all sorts of ways to this fun challenge held about a month ago. We now have the final figure for all the donations which (including the gift aid) gives us a grand total of £643! This is a wonderful achievement and shows the huge commitment of our congregations to sustain and grow our church. Thank you all for whatever you did and gave.
  5. Action on Coronavirus: If you are aware of anyone who especially needs our prayers or perhaps some contact with Jane or Suzanne, please don’t hesitate to email Jane.
  6. Offerings/Donations: Our urgent need to increase our funding continues as our weekly offerings are significantly reduced without our church services. There’s another way you can help us to get through this difficult time; please look at the image below and just tot up what you might have spent….You can click this link to donate now. Thank you.

A Pentecost Blessing and Dismissal:

Our Final Hymn and Voluntary: ‘Come Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire’ (words of the hymn are below the link) followed by a short organ voluntary with Pentecost images.

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
and lighten with celestial fire;
thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life, and fire of love;
enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our mortal sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
with the abundance of thy grace;
keep far our foes give peace at home
where thou are guide no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both, to be but one;
that through the ages all along
this may be our endless song:

Praise to thine eternal merit,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

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