St James, Gatley,
Pentecost – 31 May 2020
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As we wait in silence, fill us with your Spirit.
As we listen to your word, fill us with your Spirit.
As we worship you in majesty, fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your refreshing, fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your renewing, fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your equipping, fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your empowering, fill us with your Spirit.
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
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.”
1 Corinthians 12.3b-13
No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Breathe on me, breath of God:
fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love
and do what thou wouldst do.
2 Breathe on me, breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until with thee I will one will
to do and to endure.
3 Breathe on me, breath of God;
till I am wholly thine,
until this earthly part of me
glows with thy fire divine.
4 Breathe on me, breath of God;
so shall I never die,
but live with thee the perfect life
of thine eternity.
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.’
The priest and poet, Malcolm Guite, has written the following poem for Pentecost:
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.
Today we celebrate Pentecost, the day, 50 days after Jesus’s resurrection, when the Spirit of God was poured out upon Jesus’s first disciples. In the readings today and in the poem above there’s a great sense freedom, energy and release. With the coming of God’s Spirit, it’s as if a door is unlocked among us. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost means that human beings awaken to God and neighbour.
In the first reading, the arrival of the Spirit enables the message about Jesus to reach those who hadn’t heard it before. With the presence of the Spirit, the message about Jesus makes sense to them, there’s a sense that something ‘clicks’ for them as they hear the disciples speak about Jesus, and so the good news begins to spread from Jerusalem to the world around. Christians have always valued words as a means by which God’s Spirit might inspire faith in someone who hears the message about Jesus. Words can become a means by which God’s Spirit can touch our hearts and minds. We recognize that even our most faltering words about Jesus, about his love, forgiveness and victory over death are borne along by the Spirit and may be a means of grace to those who hear them.
It’s not just our words that that can be carried along by the Spirit. In the second reading, Paul helps us to see that the Spirit is work in diverse ways in the Church community. The Spirit works to build up the Church, to enable us to work for the common good. In the current crisis there’s a strong sense of life being confined. Our movement is restricted and we are unable to do many of the things that bring purpose, meaning and enjoyment to our lives. The coronavirus pandemic diminishes our lives. In contrast, the presence of the Spirit among us open-up possibilities, it unlocks doors and releases gifts among us.
The presence of the Spirit in our lives awakens us to God and reminds us that we can’t control, co-opt or manipulate God’s Spirit – thank God! The Spirit shows us that to be fully human we are called to align our powers and energies with God’ Spirit. That’s why we speak of the Spirit as being like wind which we can harness and work with but cannot control. Just as a sailing boat works with the wind to move along, so we are called to work with the Spirit, so that God can direct and sustain our best efforts. The Spirit is also our help in times of chaos and uncertainty. The writer, Gerard Hughes, used to encourage people to pray: ‘Holy Spirit, hover over my chaos.’
Pentecost is a time to give thanks for the presence of the Spirit among us, that the Spirit’s presence bringw freedom and release. The Spirit makes us human. We have the freedom to love and serve because we are released from the sins and fears that bind us. We are released from the need to try to control everything because we realise that there’s a force and energy in our lives that we cannot control, and yet this energy brings life and purpose to our lives. We are released from the feeling that we have to do everything in our own strength because the Spirit is a creative presence that doesn’t ask us to be superheroes but ordinary human beings who get tired, get ill, get discouraged, and yet are held by a love that will never abandon us, and comes among us with new life and fresh hope. So, we celebrate the presence of the Spirit among us, and we pray ‘Come Holy Spirit, release us and set us free, enable us to be all that you call us to be’. Amen
Let us pray
God our Father, we pray for those for whom this time of restricted activity is particularly testing. We pray for those who are unwell with Covid 19, for those who have lost their jobs, for those struggling financially. Draw close to them, breathe your Spirit upon them, work in and through the painful circumstances of their lives to bring healing and hope. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Lord Jesus, we pray for your Church. Breathe your Spirit upon your Church throughout the world. Release your people to love and serve you day by day. Give to your Church a new sense of purpose and vision, a deeper sense of what your kingdom looks like in our lives and in the life of the world. Help your people to grow into the kind of freedom that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, we pray for those struggling with addiction during the lockdown, for those who can’t access the kinds of support that they would normally be able to. We pray for those who are struggling to manage difficult emotions and we pray that they might be able to find sources of help. We pray for the work of Alcoholics Anonymous and for those who help with other forms of addiction. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of tender mercy, we pray for all who are unwell. We pray for Carol, Anne, Kathleen, Kath, Trissa, Mary, John, Jacqui, Ceri, Jo, Martina, Christine, Malcolm, Ken, Marjorie and Tilly. Send your Spirit to rest upon them to bring them peace in times of fear, trust in times of worry, and reassurance in times of uncertainty. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of peace, we commend all have died in recent days. We pray for Margaret Eyre and for her family. We pray for her funeral service on Thursday, and for Bob and Liz who won’t be able to make it. We give thanks for the ways in which your Spirit was at work in Margaret’s life and we pray that your loving purposes for her will be fulfilled as we commend her into your loving care. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
You may want to make some personal prayers of your own here
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours now and for ever.
A time of silence and self-examination may be kept.
You raise the dead to life in the Spirit: Lord, have mercy.
You bring pardon and peace to the broken in heart: Christ, have mercy.
You make one by your Spirit the torn and divided: Lord, have mercy. Amen.
May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus, it is not possible for me to share in the sacrament of Holy Communion today, but I want to be united with you and so I receive you into my heart and share in communion with you through the gift of your Holy Spirit. I pray for spiritual nourishment and give thanks that nothing can separate me from your love.
May the Spirit,
who hovered over the waters when the world was created,
breathe into us the life he gives.
May the Spirit,
who overshadowed the Virgin when the eternal Son came among us,
make us joyful in the service of the Lord. Amen.
May the Spirit,
who set the Church on fire upon the Day of Pentecost,
bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ.
And may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.
1 Come down, O Love divine!
seek out this soul of mine
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
2 There let it freely burn
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and thy your glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
3 Let holy charity
my outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing;
true lowliness of heart
which takes the humbler part,
and o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
4 And so the yearning strong
with which the soul will long
shall far surpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace
till we become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.
Filled with the Spirit’s power, go in the light and peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.