Sunday Worship 31st May 2020 – Pentecost

Today’s service begins with a hymn from Thy Kingdom Come. Play that first – I think you will recognise the tune – and then play the Youtube playlist underneath. If you prefer to go through the service and play each individually, you will find them all below.

Don’t forget that Zoom Coffee is at 11.30am on Sunday morning. All welcome. Do call the Rectory if you have any problems connecting. The number is on the contact page – link above.

Service written out separately

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Introduction

Jesus Christ, whom we worship, is our crucified, risen and ascended Lord and we have walked with him through his journey of love. We have faced the agony of his suffering and death on a cross. We have rejoiced at his bursting free from the bonds of death. We have enjoyed his risen presence with us and his revelation of himself through the breaking of bread. We have seen his return to the throne before which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that this Jesus is Lord.

And now, with the followers of his own time, we await the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, his gift to his people, through whom we make Christ known to the world.

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.

Prayers of Penitence

Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

Silence

Lord have mercy upon us,
forgive us where we have gone wrong and sinned and help us to walk from now on in your way. Amen

May the God of love and power bring us back to himself, forgive us and free us from our sins,
and restore us to newness of life by his Spirit.

Collect – Prayer for the week

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Bible reading – Acts 2

Hymn – Come Down O Love Divine

Gospel

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John
Glory to you, O Lord.

This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God

Sermon

This year, we have all been thinking a lot more about what is safe. Things that we used to do without thinking are suddenly dangerous and either banned or frowned upon. Last year we thought nothing of gathering in great crowds. Now we are all aware of the distance between us. Last year, going in a shop and pushing through a crowd to get to what you needed was rude, but not dangerous.

We are locked down now, for our safety and for the safety of others. Does safe mean boring? Well that rather depends on who you are locked down with. There is rarely a dull moment in our house, thanks to the younger members of the family, but we do have to work harder to find the high points of the week, especially on the weeks where every day is the same.

When you have always lived in a safe environment, you don’t notice it. Safe is certainly something I don’t appreciate until it is gone. Safe doesn’t mean the same for everyone. There are people for whom their own four walls are not safe places, those who are afraid of those they live with. For them, safety is in freedom and being elsewhere.

How do you relate God and safety? What images come to mind? The first thing for me is a hymn – an old one: Rock of Ages, Cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee. Is God a place of safety, a refuge? There is something in that – God is ever present and his love is something that you can utterly rely on. But there is more to it than that.

At Pentecost, the disciples felt they were safe, gathered together in a house. Jesus had been resurrected for 50 days, he’d disappeared and ascended a few days earlier. They were waiting for what happened next. Jesus had promised them his Spirit and then suddenly it happened.

Tongues of flame and the gift of speaking in new languages. These frightened disciples, all huddled together in safety are thrust out into the crowds, given boldness to speak and spread the news that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

What was the difference? It was the real presence of the living God. They had got used to Jesus being among them, challenging them and leading them. Now he was gone and a new way of being began.

Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Church. It’s the day when the disciples stopped hiding away and came out in numbers and preached with boldness. The Church began with a great opening of the message of Jesus. People from all nations were gathered in Jerusalem and people from all nations could hear and understand and join in with that love which was made known in Jesus. It was the power of the Holy Spirit – God: alive and active and working in the world.

The experience of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was many things – but I am not sure whether it would have felt safe.

Do you remember that bit in CS Lewis’s The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when the children realise what Aslan is?

Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Our experience of the Holy Spirit doesn’t have to be dramatic. The promptings of the Spirit can be subtle – a nudge in the back of your mind that you find it hard to ignore. A bible verse that suddenly catches your eye and it seems as if it was written specifically for you. Finding yourself in a beautiful place and feeling overwhelmed with wanting to worship the God who created it. The Spirit reaches us in many ways.

I don’t know whether you have ever been put on the spot and asked to talk about your faith. For me, standing up to preach the good news of Jesus the first few dozen times didn’t feel at all safe. I was terrified but, over time, I grew to recognise that the Spirit was with me and would help me to find the words as I needed them. It was an adrenaline rush – it happens still when I realise I am talking to someone who is on the verge of committing to Jesus and just needs the right words to push them in that direction. The Holy Spirit doesn’t make me feel safe, but does feel like an encourager to take risks for God.

A lot of people are worried or fearful of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can feel unpredictable, elusive, surprising, perhaps uncomfortable. How do we reconcile that with our image of God as a safe rock to rely on?

Think about it like this. A toddler stepping out away from their parents’ arms across a park – they have the confidence to go and explore, knowing that their parent is always there to go back to if there is a problem.

Charles Wesley describes the Holy Spirit as Love Divine – Divine Love. For me, following Jesus has been a series of exercises in stepping out in faith, knowing that the love of God through the Holy Spirit is with me as I obey God’s calling and step forward into unknown territory.

So my prayer for us all today is that we may grow to recognise more and more what it feels like when the Holy Spirit is prompting us, whether that is subtly or with power, that we may know the depth of God’s love for us and have the courage to speak with boldness to those who do not yet know the good news of Jesus. And in all this that we will have the courage to pray the ancient prayer of the Church at Pentecost: Veni Sancte Spiritus. Come, Holy Spirit.

Affirmation of faith

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world?
We believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Hymn – Love Divine, all loves excelling

Intercessions

We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit.

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

Lord, bless your world
and fill us with Your Spirit.

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to make us wise to understand your will.

Lord, bless your world
and fill us with Your Spirit.

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

Lord, bless your world
and fill us with Your Spirit.

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness
where there is division, sickness and sorrow.

Lord, bless your world
and fill us with Your Spirit.

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.

Lord, bless your world
and fill us with Your Spirit.

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.

Lord, bless your world
and fill us with Your Spirit.

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit,
given us by the risen Lord.
We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed, in the joy of eternal life.

Lord, bless your world
and fill us with Your Spirit.

Generous God,
you sent your Holy Spirit upon your Messiah at the river Jordan,
and upon the disciples in the upper room:
in your mercy fill us with your Spirit,
hear our prayer,
and make us one in heart and mind
to serve you with joy for ever. Amen.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Peace

God has made us one in Christ.
He has set His seal upon us and, as a pledge of what is to come, has given the Spirit to dwell in our hearts. Alleluia.

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.

Offertory Prayer

Holy Spirit, we thank you for coming upon the Church and inhabiting the lives of Christian disciples. We offer you these financial gifts in gratitude and to express our desire for all your gifts to us to bear fruit in our lives. Amen

Thinking and praying about Communion

For me, the Eucharist is always more than bread and wine. Communion is with God and with the people wherever we gather. Until we can be restored to our places of worship and gather together once more, I will not celebrate the Eucharist. If you cannot receive with me, it does not feel right for me that I should. That does not mean, however, that we cannot have communion with God. Today I will read the institution narrative from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, then offer a time of silence, finishing with the prayer for spiritual communion and the Lord’s prayer.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIVUK)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer,
friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Today, we are using the contemporary language Lord’s prayer. Please pray in whichever language or version you prefer.

Filled with the power of the Spirit,
As our Saviour taught us, so 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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Prayer

Faithful God,
who fulfilled the promises of Easter
by sending us Your Holy Spirit
and opening to every race and nation
the way of life eternal:
open our lips by Your Spirit,
that every tongue may tell of Your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Come Holy Spirit, to all baptised in Your Name,
that we may turn to good whatever lies ahead.
Give us passion, give us fire;
make us transform the world from what it is,
to what You have created it to be. Amen.

Hymn – O Breath of Life

Commission

For fifty days we have celebrated the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over the powers of sin and death. We have proclaimed God’s mighty acts and we have prayed that the power that was at work when God raised Jesus from the dead might be at work in us.

As part of God’s Church here, I call upon you to live out what you proclaim.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, will you dare to walk into God’s future, trusting him to be your guide?
By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Will you dare to love each other and grow together?
We will.

Will you dare to share your riches in common and minister to each other in need?
We will.

Will you dare to pray for each other until your hearts beat with the longings of God?
We will.

Will you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world’s dark places?
We will.

Blessing and Dismissal

May the Spirit,
who hovered over the waters when the world was created,
breathe into you the life he gives.
Amen.

May the Spirit,
who overshadowed the Virgin when the eternal Son
came among us,
make you 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.
Amen.

And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Filled with the Spirit’s power,
go in the light and peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia!

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.

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