Pentecost derives its name from the Jewish festival celebrating the harvest and the giving of the law on Mount Sinai fifty days after Passover. Fifty days after Easter, we celebrate the Holy Spirit as God’s presence within and among us. In Acts the Spirit arrives in rushing wind and flame, bringing God’s presence to all people. Paul reminds us that though we each have different capacities, we are unified in the Spirit that equips us with these gifts. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on his disciples, empowering them to forgive sin. We celebrate that we too are given the breath of the Holy Spirit and sent out to proclaim God’s redeeming love to all the world.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,
and kindle in us the fire of your love.
Prayer of the Day
O God, on this day you open the hearts of your faithful people by sending into us your Holy Spirit. Direct us by the light of that Spirit, that we may have a right judgment in all things and rejoice at all times in your peace, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Readings and Psalm
Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21; Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b;
Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23 or John 7:37-39 M
Monday Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Joel 2:18-29; Romans 8:18-24
Tuesday Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Ezekiel 39:7-8, 21-29;Romans 8:26-27
Wednesday Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Numbers 11:24-30;John 7:37-39
Thursday Psalm 8; Job 38:1-11; 2 Timothy 1:8-12a
Friday Psalm 8; Job 38:12-21; 2 Timothy 1:12b-14
Saturday Psalm 8; Job 38:22-38; John 14:15-17
The Holy Trinity
Genesis 1:1—2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
A Holy Rumbling
Helene’s foot pressed down; her heel held long and steady on the organ’s pedal board. The bellows in the basement blew air through ducts up to the biggest pipes, and there was a rumble. A rumble that wiggled lead in the windows. A rumble that wobbled the chandelier, rattled coins in the offering plates, and made the walls shudder. A rumble that troubled the baptismal font waters and stirred flames on altar candles. And it was a rumble that resonated in the hearts of that little church assembly every Sunday when, before their last amen, the congregation began to breathe the words and melody of the hymn they knew by heart:
Breathe on me, breath of God; fill me with life anew,
that I may love all that you love and do what you would do.
Then the doors were opened. Women picked up their purses, children collected their crayons, the men stretched their legs. A voice sounded: “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” And the people said, “Thanks be to God.”
Jesus joined the disciples and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19, 21). How could it be? The doors were locked. The disciples had assembled in fear. The light of day was spent. How could it be that he entered into such a place, where the end of so much had made no room for peace? And how did it happen that though they were crowded into hiding and imprisoned by walls of sadness, peace came to be with them?
We, too, are visited by the holy mystery of the Spirit of God despite the closed doors of our hearts, minds, and lives. It is the sudden rumbling of the Spirit—the divine breath that first gave life to creation—that stirs us to pray:
Breathe on me, breath of God; fill me with life anew,
that I may love all that you love and do what you would do.
—Edwin Hatch, 1835–1889
Website / Video
The folks at The Bible Project
have created a four-minute video tracing the Holy Spirit from the beginning hovering over the water, all the way through the scriptural narrative, and into our lives today. They describe the Holy Spirit as “God’s personal presence” and show the Spirit moving through the prophets, Jesus’ baptism, the resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost.
God Gives More than Enough
It is the “first day of the week” (John 20:19), the day of the new creation, but to those locked away in the upper room in fear, the world is as it always has been. So entrenched are they in the ways of grief and guilt that the Risen One in their midst needs to offer his life-giving invitation twice: “Peace be with you.” The logic of the new age is peace, not retribution; forgiveness, not vengeance. With the invitation to new life comes also the means: the gift of the Holy Spirit, breathed upon them and within them. Just as the Father sent Jesus into the world, so now are these disciples sent as witnesses to God’s saving work.
Pentecost is therefore the crowning achievement of the Jesus story. Now, more than ever, these huddled disciples would have just cause to sing the “Dayenu” (“It would have been enough”) verses from the Passover seder meal, but revised: It would have been enough for the Word and wisdom of God to have been born in the flesh . . . Dayenu! It would have been enough for the Word to grow to adulthood and share his stunning parables about God’s gracious activity in the world . . . Dayenu! It would have been enough for this Word to say to his enemies, “Father, forgive them” . . . Dayenu! It would have been enough for this Word to have died on a cross for us . . . Dayenu! It would have been enough that he rose again in blessing, not vengeance . . . Dayenu! But now, beyond what we would even expect—the Word becomes our word and it is written on our hearts at Pentecost . . . Dayenu! It is enough, and more than enough to enflame our ministry of reconciliation in a world in need of a healing word.
A Hymn for the Day
Of the many fine Pentecost hymns one of the most ancient is “Creator Spirit, heavenly dove” (ELW 577/578). This hymn is placed in the “vocation, ministry” section of the worship book because it has traditionally been sung at ordinations. It was probably written in the ninth century by the German theologian Rhabanus Maurus, who wrote hymns, a biblical commentary, and a collection of sermons for the church year. There have been many translations of his original Latin text. In this translation, the Spirit is likened to a dove, Comforter, gift of God, fount of life, fire of love, anointing oil, and light. Stanza 5 is serious about the power of evil, against which we need the Spirit’s protection.
Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses
The Christian story of Pentecost is a story of wind and fire, our images for talking about God as spirit. Fire we can usually contain and put into our service, but fire can be an overzealous or unwelcome servant which consumes much more than we wish. No wonder that one of the oldest names for God in the Hebrew Scriptures translates to English as Consuming Fire. This Consuming Fire of the Spirit of God blew rushing and mightily upon the disciples and drove them out of Jerusalem, scattering them like seeds all over the earth, filling them with words which changed many lives but which eventually, if we can believe all the legends, got almost every last one of them killed. We often pray in words like those of J.S. Bach’s Pentecost cantata, “O eternal fire, kindle, ignite our hearts. Let the heavenly flames flare up and penetrate them, for we wish to be thy temple.” Do we who dwell in tents dare pray for wind and fire? . . . The Spirit will hold us, and with sighs too deep for words she will breathe us back to life. The Spirit is ready, too, one day, when the tents which we are become burnt and ashes, to hold us in peace forever. Come, O eternal fire! —Frederick A. Niedner, Jr.
[Frederick A. Niedner, Jr., in Homilies for the Christian People
Visit of Mary to Elizabeth Sunday, May 31, 2020
This festival marks the occasion when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited her cousin Elizabeth who was herself pregnant with John. Elizabeth pronounced Mary "blessed among women," and Mary responded with the song called the Magnificat.
Justin, martyr at Rome, died around 165 Monday, June 1, 2020
Born of pagan parents, Justin was influenced by an elderly Christian in Ephesus. He became a teacher of philosophy and the Christian faith. Jailed for practicing an unauthorized religion, he refused to renounce his faith and was beheaded.
The Martyrs of Uganda, died 1886 Wednesday, June 3, 2020
On June 3, 1886, thirty-two young men were burned to death for refusing to renounce Christianity. The confident manner in which these Christians went to their deaths contributed to a much stronger Christian presence in Uganda.
John XXIII, Bishop of Rome, died 1963 Wednesday, June 3, 2020
When elected pope, the former Angelo Roncalli was expected to be a short-term caretaker. He showed great spirit, though, and convened the Second Vatican Council which helped bring great changes to Roman Catholic and other churches.
Boniface, Bishop of Mainz, missionary to Germany, martyr, died 754
Friday, June 5, 2020
Boniface was a native of England who became a Benedictine monk and was called to missionary work among the Vandal tribes of Germany. With fellow workers, he established churches and schools, and he also worked to reform the church.
Taking faith home
Caring Conversations: Discuss in your household or small group:
• Share an experience you have had with wind or with fire. • When God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to the first Christians on the day of Pentecost, a strong wind came from heaven and tongues of fire came to rest on them (Acts 2:1-21). How were the believers changed? • In what ways have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s power in your life?
One of the joys of Christian community is helping each other, especially our children, discover and grow into the gifts God has given them. Some of the spiritual gifts the New Testament describes are: Prophecy – sharing the Word of God with others. Helps – a willingness to help others with their needs. Teaching – an ability to help others understand God’s Word. Exhortation – the capacity to encourage and motivate others. Giving – a spirit of generosity. Leading – the ability to lead and direct others. Mercy – a sense of compassion for others and a willingness to act on these feelings. Which of these gifts do you see in the people around you?
: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 tells us that the Holy Spirit gives special gifts to all believers to use in serving him. For each member of your household, draw a large dove figure on white card and cut out. In your home devotion times this week, take a few minutes to talk about the gifts you see in each other. Write these gifts onto the “doves.” Display them on your bedroom doors. Say prayers of thanks to God for the gifts he has given to each member of your household.
Have a discussion about how members of your household are using their God-given gifts for the sake of others. Brainstorm ways in which you could use them more effectively. Help children realize that God has a plan for them to serve others now, not just in adulthood.
RITUALS AND TRADITIONS: Plan an evening time when you can tell the Pentecost story around a bonfire or in front of a fireplace. Toast marshmallows to add to the experience!
SCRIPTURE VERSE FOR THIS WEEK:
Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. Acts 2:2-3 (CEV)
A Prayer for the Week
: Send your Spirit upon us, Lord. Give us new life, so that we may praise you forever. Amen.
: Come Holy Spirit, come. Come and bless our food. Come and fill us with power to love and serve. Amen.
A Blessing to Give
: May the Lord Jesus give you his peace, fill you with his joy, and breathe into you his Spirit. Amen.
© 2010 The Youth & Family Institute. All rights reserved. Written by Pastor Greg Priebbenow, Australia
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