Pentecost ~ May 31, 2020
Each time you see a musical link in the liturgy, mute or lower the volume on your device before clicking on the link. Once you have done that then click on the link. If an ad pops up, you can then “Skip Ad” and not be disturbed by the noise of the advertisements. Once you see that the music is beginning then unmute or raise the volume on your device. This will allow a more meaningful worship experience for you. Peace be with you.
Prelude: Sprit of God, Descend Upon My Heart J. Utterback https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvqItkUk64E
We acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded, ancestral and traditional territories of indigenous peoples. We accept that Mother Earth and the peoples near us and around the world are all our relations. Thanks be to God.
Let us worship God together.
Introit: Come to Me Dan Forrest https://youtu.be/bi6IZCJx3qA
*Call to Worship:
Spirit of the Living God, visit us again this season of Pentecost.
Viens, Esprit Saint! Come, Holy Spirit!
On rushing winds that sweep away all barriers,
Viens, Esprit Saint! Come, Holy Spirit!
With tongues of fire that set our hearts aflame,
Viens, Esprit Saint! Come, Holy Spirit!
With love that overleaps all boundaries,
Viens, Esprit Saint! Come, Holy Spirit!
With power from above to make our weakness strong,
Viens, Esprit Saint! Come, Holy Spirit!
Hymn: Come Down, O Love Divine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXO4rqBQOAU
Prayer of the Day:
Spirit of God, Holy Wind, Fire of God, Lively Energy,
anoint us this day to be people of your Good News.
Comfort us that we might bring comfort to those suffering.
Love us that we might bring love to a lonely, cynical world.
Challenge us with your truth that we might bring truth when all is confusion.
Reawaken us to the power of your loving presence, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Listening for THE WORD
Choral Anthem: Call of Wisdom Will Todd
Thanks to our readers: Paul Just with Rita DeKleer, June Dragman, Satoko Hashigasako, Cedric Hebert-Wong, Michelle Jinn, Ramona Luengen, Ib Nielsen, Marianne Szabo, Michael Szasz, Liisa Tella, Robert Wong, Alicia Zamora.
Scripture Reading: Acts 2: 1-21 https://youtu.be/OinD9W83VPo
A reading from the book of Acts chapter 2. Listen for what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
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.’ This is the story of our faith. Thanks be to God!
Hymn: Come Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire
Reflection: by Rev. Jay Olson
It seems fitting to me that my last Sunday with you all is the festival of Pentecost, the revealing of the Spirit. It is a celebration of God’s generosity, provision and promise of grace. In all my time at Shaughnessy Heights United Church I have felt the companionship of the Spirit. I have felt her restorative power and her prodding. One of the members of the Transition Team said at our last gathering that what will stay with her from our time together is the memory of those occasions when it was clear that “the Spirit was in the room”. This same Spirit Advocate that remains with you as you greet your new Ministers, will go with me as I become one in ministry with the good peoples of Marpole United Church and St. Stephen’s United Church. (pause)
Pentecost is one of the great festivals of the Christian church and it gets its name from the word for the number 50. “Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus’ mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover.” (stpaulskingsville.org)
It is the day that commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit to all people. The liturgical colour is red, red for the colour of the tongues of fire and also for the blood of the martyrs (pause)
So it was that during an annual harvest festival that brought lots of people together, a day that many would have anticipated as a celebratory day (a sort of Thanksgiving Day), was the occasion for the giving of the Holy Spirit.
And she was revealed in 3 ways – through wind, fire and language.
- Wind – “And suddenly from heaven came a sound like the rush of
a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:2)
How frightening this must have been, just the sound of it. I don’t
know about you but I don’t like the wind. It makes me nervous and I feel vulnerable. In Juneau Alaska the Taku winds could blow 75 miles an hour up Gastineau Channel. The big window in my living room facing the channel would bow in and out and shake in the wind.
We all know what kind of damage is done in tornado season. The power of the wind can destroy and yet we need its power to propel vessels and create clean energy. It also clears away smog and brings in much needed moisture. We both welcome and tremble at its power.
There is no doubt that those in this story would have heard the sound. It was not something that could be ignored. It must have stopped them all in their tracks.
- And then there was Fire – “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” (Acts 2:3)
During the time of the Roman Empire, Emperors had images of
themselves everywhere. There were sculptures and works of art of all kinds that showed their likenesses. The Emperor’s images were pressed onto coins. In Canada we have the Queen’s head on our coins. In the United States they have the heads of Presidents on their coins.
The Romans didn’t have just the head of their Emperor on the coins. It had the Emperor’s image with a flame of fire resting on top of the Emperor’s head. This flame signified divinity. It was a statement to the people that the Emperor was a god.
At Pentecost when the flames were seen resting on the tops of the heads of everyday people from all corners of their world, it was a powerful political statement. And that statement was that in the Kingdom ofGod, the Emperor is not god. Through the Spirit, God’s power was being shared with all God’s people. Theology Professor Herman Waetjen calls it the democratization of the divine.
This political, highly subversive, declaration was that the Emperor was not God. He and those in power were to submit to the one God and to God’s will. That message would not have gone over well at all in the Roman Empire. It would not go over well today either even, and perhaps especially, in North America.
- And Language – “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and
began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:4)
The Holy Spirit gave them speech and more importantly understanding.
They were not mute and they were not drunk as some supposed. They spoke in recognizable languages, multiple languages, yet all understood what was being said about God and God’s deeds of power.
The Spirit was given to all without exception – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, language or status. All were overwhelmed by and gifted with God’s Spirit.
If ever that message needs to be heard and lived it is today. We weep for the United States and Canada as racist attitudes and actions continue to play out in all areas of life. American cities are burning and Canadian citizens of various races and ethnicities are ignored or knocked down in the streets and degraded. Indigenous peoples are still struggling for recognition and basic human necessities and rights.
The Spirit rests on all. The Spirit sees each one as valuable as the next. The Spirit calls us to see with those same eyes. She will prod us out of our feelings of helplessness to take stands against the racism that lives in us and others and is expressed in systems and behaviours. We are not helpless. We are one with the Advocate. Those of us who are white and enjoy privilege must use our power to lift those who have been laid low. Prayers are not enough. Action and speaking the the language of truth are required now more than ever. If it was my brother or my friend who had to be taught from an early age to be extra careful with their lives simply because of their skin colour, I would be furious and fed up too. Oh wait a minute, George Floyd was my brother and all those I see on news releases are my relations.
The Spirit of Creation was given anew to empower all people to be as Jesus in the world, to be co-creators with God, co-creators of something better. That feels pretty challenging today when the virus has displayed for all to see the truth of injustices based on race and privilege and ownership. Yet this is the time to look out and see the tongue of holy fire that rests on the heads of each one. This is the time to make decisions, speak and act out of the truth that each and every one is a child of God and should be treated that way.
There is no going back to days passed. The Spirit of life is blasting through here and it is hard. It has our attention now and we need to go in the direction it is blowing us, the direction of justice, equity, peace and joyful imagination. There is something even better ahead and it is to be for everyone.
The fire of the Spirit empowers us to keep moving forward with courage, generosity, hope, intelligence and trust so that we will come to the day when there will be no more need of mass protests over racial and economic injustice, or active shooter drills in schools, or the need to plead for funding for medical research and treatments, or the need to remind the world that senior citizens and people with disabilities are people too.
The Spirit empowers holy understanding, the capacity to listen for and to speak with understanding the truth that God wills abundant life for all and we are empowered to make it happen, even and maybe especially in times of pandemic. Though we will do it a distance from one another now, let’s you and I, each of us, do our part in making it so.
Peace and courage be with you all.
Hymn: I Feel the Winds of God Today https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ePNSaimeDA
Pastoral Prayer: (led by Meghan Martin Pritchard) https://youtu.be/gpKgUYGjskY
Gracious God, on this Pentecost Sunday, we give thanks for the reminder that your church is not confined to a room or a building. We hear with fresh ears and new understanding the story of the disciples being empowered by your holy spirit to go out into the world. We thank you for the timeless story of our faith and we pray that, like the disciples, we will be inspired to share your good news in the world.
While we celebrate this holy day, we recognize that there is also a weight on our hearts. We yearn for the opportunity to gather and honour Rev. Jay’s ministry with us. We are so grateful for her wise and compassionate leadership over the years and we pray that, despite our physical distance, she will feel surrounded by our love, our best wishes, and our gratitude today.
At the same time we pray for Rev. Dave and Rev. Deb as they complete their journey across Western Canada and settle into their new home in Vancouver. We pray that this time will be full of joy and excitement as they discover their new community.
Holy One, in our prayers we bring to mind all of the people and places that are in need of your care this day. We pray for the people of Hong Kong as they grapple with what a new relationship with China would mean for them. We pray for migrants around the world who are facing danger in their home countries and in their attempts to cross borders at this time. And throughout the world, in every nation, we pray for all of us taking part in the struggle to contain COVID-19. We ask that you continue to inspire the world’s leaders to take wise actions to keep us safe physically, mentally and emotionally.
Gracious God, we pray for those who have lost loved ones and for those who are sick or awaiting medical treatments. In the silence of our hearts, we lift to you the names of people we have particular concern for this week, and we ask that you surround all of these people with your healing and care.
Loving God, we’ve seen so many examples of people coming together to support one another, but this week we’ve also seen cruel reminders of inequity and injustice in our society for those with less power and privilege. Whether it’s the elderly in our communities living in inhumane conditions in nursing homes or people of colour who live in fear for their safety. Holy One, we pray that you will give us the courage to learn about the issues and to reject the social structures that devalue certain lives. We pray that your holy spirit will inspire us to play our part in ensuring that all people can live with dignity and security.
Finally, God, we pray for ourselves. There are times when we grow tired and give in to fear, resentment, and anger. Help us to be the best versions of ourselves. Help us to practice kindness and patience at this time of so much uncertainty. On this Pentecost Sunday, we open ourselves fully to your holy spirit moving in our lives and moving us to be your people.
We pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, our guide and our hope. Amen.
Response: Spirit of the Living God Fall Fresh on Me
Our Offering: In response to God’s great love for us we return to God a portion of what has been given to us. Take a moment now to offer the gifts of your time, your talent and your money for the work of ministry. Give thanks and give back to God. No gift is too small, and all gifts are sincerely appreciated.
Choral Anthem for Reflection on the Offering:
Though the YouTube link here is a performance from the Kennedy Center Honors, listen to it as the witness of the gospel that it is. Celebrate how Cicely Tyson and CeCe Winans take the politicians and entertainers to Church! https://youtu.be/fiSkmbzS4nw
Prayer of Dedication:
Great God, thank you for your provision, for your presence, for your love. We return to you a portion of the gifts you have given to us. May they be used to further your purposes through Shaughnessy Heights United Church and all those who serve you. Amen.
Hymn: Jesus Shall Reign https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U4IMtvp6bg
Rose Window: Holy Spirit, Truro Cathedral photo by Carol Saxon
Commissioning and Benediction:
Go into the world with a daring and tender love.
As you go,
may the blessing of the God of Sarah and or Abraham,
the blessing of the Son born of the woman Mary
and the blessing of the Holy Spirit who broods over us as a mother with her children,
be with you all, today and always. Amen.
A Special Choral Blessing:
It has been the choir’s tradition to offer a musical farewell and blessing to our leaving ministers.
Although we are sadly unable to sing this for you in person Jay, we are providing this Youtube link in our stead.
For your guidance through these years of transition, we thank you.
May the Lord indeed bless you as you begin yet another chapter in your life of ministry.
The Lord Bless You and Keep You: John Rutter
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you
and give you peace, and give you peace.
Postlude: Water Music Suite No. 2 Alla Hornpipe (by request) G. F. Handel