Thursday, 28 May 2020

Marsden Road Worship for Penetcost Sunday 2020

Sunday 31st May 2020
Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

Gathering God’s People

Call to Worship
(Dorothy McRae McMahon, Liturgies for High Days, 2007)
Remember a time when your hopes and dreams died. Remember your feelings of despair and powerlessness. Then remember your surprise when something stirred within, when new seeds of hope sprouted forth. That is the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Pentecost.

You are God and we are your people.
Holy, Holy, Holy God, wonder, healer, liberator and all-justice, in the power of the Spirit we are called into the world.
You are our God and we are your people, and come to worship you in faith and in hope.
Come in, all who are empty and exhausted.
The Good Shepherd fills our lives with goodness and faithful love.
Hymn 398: Come down, O Love divine
                  (Tune – Down Ampney)

1.  Come down, O love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
              Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

2.  Let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round,
the while my path illuming.

3.  Let holy charity
mine 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 out pass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till Love create a place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.

      Words: Bianco da Siena,? – 1434 trans. Richard Frederick Littledale, Jr., 1867
        Down Ampney D Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958

Opening prayer

Be alive among us this day, Jesus Christ, drawing all eyes
towards your word as it is revealed before us, opening all
ears as your Spirit speaks into our hearts and moving
within our lives in ways which touch us deeply so that we
bow in humble faith before your holiness. Come to us
now, we pray, O God. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Stride into our lives, Jesus Christ, and interrupt us with your grace.
O God, when we look at others and fail to see the godliness which may6 be present there, assuming that we know all there is to know about them and closing our minds and hearts to fresh gifts.
Stride into our lives, Jesus Christ, and interrupt us with your grace.
O God, if we rarely search ourselves to see if you are inviting the sharing of beauty and wisdom from within our own lives and inspiring us to be the vehicles for your holy word in this day.
Stride into our lives, Jesus Christ, and interrupt us with your grace. Forgive us when we expect less than you give. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
Turn your lives towards our Holy God, for all grace there, all freedom and hope. The word of God will not fail us. We are forgiven.
Thanks, be to God!

The Peace

Renewed with the gifts of the Spirit and blessed by visions and dreams of peace in our world, let us share Christ’s peace with one another.

Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)

A Word with the Children/Young People

Do you remember your first reading ABC book like the ones children and grandchildren have today. How many can remember learning to read from a book such as this.  Ask some of the older adults if they can remember their first reading book

Why do they remember it? I remember a sense of excitement when I think back to my early reading books -probably because they opened up a whole new world.  Hold up the later book and ask how they moved from the ABC book to one such as this.  Hopefully they’ll mention the work of their teachers. Ask if they feel a sense of excitement or anticipation when beginning to read a new book. 
Our vocabulary and our knowledge expand every time we read a book.  We can thank our teachers for that.  The Holy Spirit is a teacher too.  We learn a whole new language with the Holy Spirit as our teacher because we learn the language of love - the language that Jesus lived and spoke.  The Holy Spirit lives in us and teaches us that language.  We show that we have learned the language by how we live and how we speak.

Offering Prayer

Gracious God, this is a day of new beginnings. The birth of your newest updated message of love for all of humanity, spoken on the lips not just of one man, but on the lips of many. We speak loudly of our faith and trust in your will and way for us, through our commitment to your church. Bless our gifts to spread your message far and wide, to all who need relief, assurance, and mercy in the name of the Christ. Amen.

Hymn 411: Filled with the Spirit’s power
                  (Tune - Woodlands)

  1. Filled with the Spirit’s power, with one accord
    the infant church confessed its risen Lord:
    O Holy Spirit, in the church today
    no less your power of fellowship display

  2. Now with the mind of Christ set us on fire,
    that unity may be our great desire:
    give joy and peace; give faith to hear your call,
    and readiness in each to work for all.

  3. Widen our love, good Spirit, to embrace
    in your strong care all those of every race:
    like wind and fire with life among us move
    till we are known as Christ’s, and Christians prove.

R. Peacey1896-1971 alt. © 1978 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
The Service of the Word

The Gospel Reading:                  John 20:19-23              NEB page 832     


Acts 2:1-21

[2:1] When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. [2] 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. [3] Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. [4] All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. [5] Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. [6] And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. [7] Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? [8] And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? [9] Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [10] Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, [11] Cretans and Arabs--in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." [12] All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" [13] But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."  [14] 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. [15] Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. [16] No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: [17] '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. [18] Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. [19] And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. [20] The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.
[21] Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

John 20:19-23

[19] 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." [20] After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [21] Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Preaching of the Word–The Gift of Presence – John 20_19-23

In John's Gospel this morning, the gift of the Holy Spirit to Jesus' disciples seems to be part and parcel of their initial experience of Jesus' resurrection. If our worship schedule in church followed John's picture, we would be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday evening. The fact that we don't do that is not only a mercy -- many of us are so exhausted by the liturgies of Easter that we would be hard pressed to find the energy to come to church on Easter Sunday evening -- it is also, and much more so, that our liturgical calendar sticks quite closely to the early pattern of worship in ancient Israel. Fifty days after the Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, came what they called the "feast of weeks," celebrating the first harvest of new grain.
Sunday School children could possibly tell us that the emblem of the Holy Spirit is a dove. The people that pre-publish church bulletin covers all seem to think the dove is the right thing for Pentecost, the "sweet heavenly dove" of the Holy Spirit. And there is much to be said for this dove. It was a dove bearing an olive branch that flew back to old Noah on his Ark, signalling the good news of dry land after the great Flood. The Spirit of God descends "in bodily form like a dove" upon Jesus at his Baptism, according to Luke's Gospel. A nice white dove suggests innocence and purity, peace, and the olive branch of reconciliation. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is deeply involved in purifying our hearts and minds so that we "may have in us the same mind that was in Christ Jesus," as St. Paul says. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is actively engaged in the human enterprise of peace making whenever we work our way through conflicts great and small toward the goal of reconciliation.
St. Paul did not have the benefit of Hallmark Cards, which thinks doves are just like lovebirds, billing and cooing come Valentine's Day. But St. Paul knows for sure, that the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is love -- not the love sold to us by Hollywood and the greetings card industry, but the love of God which is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, binding an aggregate of different and unlikely people together, creating new community on new common ground in the Body of Christ.
Is it not striking, then, that as we gather to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our first reading from Scripture, from the Acts of the Apostles, has nothing to do with the innocence and purity and peace and reconciliation that are associated with the Spirit as dove. On the contrary, Acts gives us the stunningly powerful imagery of a raging wind and flames of fire -- elements of nature to be respected and handled with care, for they can be dangerous and destructive, as well as cleansing and comforting.
The author of Acts has moved way beyond doves here. He is rooted not so much in the symbolism of Noah's Ark, but in the great passage of Ezekiel concerning the valley of dry bones, where the Spirit blows like a rushing wind bringing the energy and dynamism of new life to a destroyed, limp, and lifeless nation. He is echoing the voice of John the Baptist as he points to Jesus and says, "I baptise with water, but one is coming who will ... baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire." He has in mind the figure of the prophet Isaiah, who was touched by coals of holy fire when he received the divine mandate to go forth and speak the word of God to the people of God.
The author of Acts knows that the Resurrection is simply the beginning of God's mighty work of redeeming us in Christ; we still have to be charged with energy and fired up with our divine mandate from baptism. The dynamics of new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus still have to be fleshed out in our lives, and this is the work of the Holy Spirit, this is how we will be caught up in God's work and God's purposes so that God's will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, in our lives, our times, and our places.
By giving us the forceful images of wind and fire, our author suggests that God still has one more surprise in store, even after the climactic shock of the Resurrection. God has a yet more wonderful purpose afoot. God has finished commanding his people, telling his people, speaking to and shouting at his people. Through the gift of new life in Christ, the Spirit of God is going to involve all God's people in God's work.
At the end of Matthew's Gospel, the risen Jesus is shown appearing to his disciples in Galilee, and sending them forth to baptize all nations, to preach and to teach everything that he has taught them. At the end of John's Gospel, the risen Lord appears to the disciples and says, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you," and then Jesus breathes on them just as God breathed life into Adam in the beginning. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he says. And here in Acts 2, we see the effect and the result of this gift of the Holy Spirit to Jesus' disciples ready to go forth into the world. It is as though the rushing wind has caught them up into God's purposes, and the flames have set their heart and minds afire with the desire to bear witness to the good news of salvation.
Filled with the Spirit of God, the disciples can now speak, preach, teach, and communicate in such a way that they are understood by all sorts of different people in many different languages. The power of God to recreate the human community in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit breaks through the human boundaries of language and culture. It does so just as effectively as that same mighty power of God in Christ broke through death, the ultimate boundary of human life on earth, and broke through hell, the barrier constructed by evil and sin. In the words of the old hymn, we are "ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven," in Christ-and now we are put to work with the Holy Spirit.
But is this scene from Acts 2 really about us? Isn't it just one more miracle story affecting only a handful of high-class saints long dead? St. Paul, who quite famously was not there at the time and knew nothing of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection or the wind and fire of Pentecost first hand, was absolutely and utterly convinced that just as Jesus was Emmanuel, God-with-us and God-for-us, so the Holy Spirit is God-for-us and God-in-us. This is why Paul writes so passionately and convincingly in 1 Corinthians about how God is now getting the job done in us that he started in Jesus.
We have a variety of gifts, he says, but it is the same Spirit that activates them. We are engaged in a variety of ministries and activities, but it is the same Spirit of God who energizes them in us. Wherever, and in whomever, we find wisdom, faith, knowledge, and healing-there is the Spirit of God at work for the common good of all.
There are times when we need to focus on the gifts of the Spirit to each of us as individuals, and that's when the issues of Christian life and work come into play for every one of us. What shall we be, and do as we grow up in Christ? There are times when we need to focus on the gifts of the Spirit to the whole community of faith, to congregations and denominations and to the whole Church at large. How does anyone congregation live and work for the common good of its community; how does any given Vestry communicate, discuss, and decide for the common good of the whole parish -- these are matters of our common mission grounded in Christ and energised by the Spirit.
But there are also times, and surely we are now living in one of them, when we have to stand back from our self-oriented examinations and concerns as Christian people living and working among other Christian people, and ask the Holy Spirit of God to blow mighty winds of change into the way we live with men and women of other faiths in our local and nation-wide communities.
We are surely living in a time when we have to pray that the Spirit of God will descend with wisdom, knowledge, and discernment upon the political and military leaders of our country, to change the ways we deal as a nation with other nations and stateless peoples of the small world we live in. As St. Paul characteristically puts it: just as the body is one, and has many members, all the members of the body, though many, are one body. So, it is with the world we live in.
It is almost overwhelming to consider that God invites us to receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds to build us up individually, and to receive the same Holy Spirit into our lives in the body of Christ to build up the community of faith, and to receive the same Holy Spirit into our lives to bring reconciliation and peace to all the communities of the earth. But this is God we are talking about: God with us, God for us, God in us; God involving and engaging us in his work. And with God, all things are possible, and with the Spirit of God with us, in us and for us, all things can work together for good. Let it be. Amen.

                 (Tune – Lauds)

1. There’s a spirit in the air,
    telling Christians everywhere:
    praise the love that Christ revealed,
    living, working, in our world.

2. Lose your shyness,
    find your tongue;
    tell the world what God has done.
    God in Christ has come to stay,
    live tomorrow’s life today.

3. When believers break the bread,
    when a hungry child is fed,
    praise the love that Christ revealed,
    living, working, in our world.

4. Still the Spirit leads the fight,
    seeing wrong and setting right:
    God in Christ has come to stay,
    live tomorrow’s life today.

5. When a stranger’s not alone,
    when the homeless find a home,
    praise the love that Christ revealed,
    living, working, in our world.

6. May the Spirit fill our praise,
    guide our thoughts and change our ways:
    God in Christ has come to stay,
    live tomorrow’s life today.

7. There’s a spirit in the air,
    telling Christians everywhere
    praise the love that Christ revealed,
    living, working, in our world.

Words: Brian Wren, copyright © 1979 Hope Publishing Company. Music: Jim Strathdee, copyright © 1993 Desert Flower Music. 

Intercessory Prayers  
Living God, in this world of disposable cups and disposable heroes, throwaway lines and throwaway lives; set our sights upon those gifts which are sourced in you and continue beyond forever.
Ground us in your living Spirit, that we may be witness to the new birth of your love in our lives
and the world around us.
Slow down the consumption of our communication
and push us beyond the tweets and posts of the 24-hour news cycle.
Help us to pause before the pain and confusion
of our fractured and fragmented world that we might perceive the story of your Good News in Jesus Christ.
Fill us with Pentecost fire and attune us to the needs of others, while not neglecting that which heals our own wounds.
Push us beyond simple explanations and proximate solutions onto the steep path of true reconciliation and deep listening.
Remind us of the gifts already within us and the challenge of those talents not yet discovered.
For all good things are from you, and all good things are of you. Just as we are from you and we are of you.
In your spirit-filled and living, giving name, we pray.


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. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

                   (Tune – Spiritus Vitae)

1 O Breath of life, come sweeping through us,
   revive your church with life and power;
   O Breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us,
   and fit your church to meet this hour.

2 O Wind of God, come bend us, break us,
   till humbly we confess our need;
   then in your tenderness remake us,
   revive, restore, for this we plead.

3 O Breath of love, come breathe within us,
   renewing thought and will and heart;
   come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us,
   revive your church in ev'ry part.

4 Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating
   while harvest fields are vast and white?
   Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting,
   equip your church to spread the light.

       Go forth and point to the wonders of God of God. Go forth and carry justice and compassion into the world, for this is the word in Christ to us.  
        And may Almighty God, rise up in majesty before us, Christ Jesus draw our eyes towards true life and the Holy Spirit be discovered in every new day. Amen
                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.
May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.
In all your living and through your loving,
Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom

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