The Feast of Pentecost (Whitsunday) 31st May 2020


Morning Worship

Collect

Let us pray that the Spirit will work through our lives

to bring Christ to the world

 

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

Amen

 

Reading from the Acts of the Apostles  Chapter 2: 1-21

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.’

Gospel Reading –   John 20:19-23 

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.”

 

Sermon Revd Lorna Allies - The wind of change

Mr. Banks, a Victorian widower in a famous film, looks out of his window and speaks: ‘Wind’s in the east, mist coming in. Like something is brewing and about to begin. Can't put my finger on what lies in store, But I fear what's to happen all happened before.’  He is talking about the wind of change that will bring in Mary Poppins.  And when those children in 17, Cherry Tree Lane in London ask how long their new Nanny will stay, Mary Poppins replies: ‘until the wind changes’.  

The ‘wind of change’ is not only a fictional idea.  The phrase is used by politicians, professors, historians and theologians among others and it tells us that a great change is about to happen.

A wind that heralded the greatest change came on the day of Pentecost. And here we are almost 2000 years later celebrating that Pentecost day and the wind of change and, today, it is change itself is that is all around us.  Nothing is remaining the same as it was before.   So I want to talk about Pentecost and the change that happened then and about now and the change we are facing, the new road we are taking together and how Mr Banks was right when he said ‘I fear what’s to happen all happened before’.

The first thing Luke tells us, in the Acts of the Apostles, about that day of Pentecost in Jerusalem is that ‘they were all together in one place’.  And that is the very thing that we cannot be today.  I want you to hold on to that thought as we take ourselves through the events of that day and what Peter said and what Jesus had said earlier to his disciples.

It is Pentecost and we are in Jerusalem for the festival.  It is one of the three great Jewish feasts and this one began on the 50th day after Passover, hence the name Pentecost.  Jerusalem was packed with strangers and foreigners from everywhere.  Luke tells us in his story just how many different nationalities were in the city that day and we know that the nations represented in the crowds covered thousands of square miles all around Jerusalem. In the house where the disciples were there was a sudden event. It was a sound – the sound of an immense wind filling the whole house – but nothing was stirred except the hearts of all who were there. At the same time there were tongues like flames resting on everyone there and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  The crowds of people drawn by the noise and seeing this amazing thing could then hear these disciples, speaking about God and his power, in their own language and dialect. It was such an astounding happening that Luke listed all the different nations represented there. 

Those disciples who were filled with the Spirit that first century day long ago, were so exhilarated and overwhelmed by joy that the onlookers thought they were drunk.  It is hard to imagine in the church we know today that a group might be so delirious with joy that onlookers would think they had been drinking.  But that might happen again – we are in a time of change and I believe we might see such enormous change in our churches. But there is more to say of that day in Jerusalem.  Peter found his voice and began to talk to the crowds there and he reminded them of what the prophet Joel had prophesied over seven hundred years before. ‘God declares, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.’ 

And now that prophecy is fulfilled. A new age has begun with the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus our Lord. God would no longer speak only to holy men and women like Moses and Miriam and the prophets, he would pour out his Spirit on everyone. All people would have the opportunity to know God and his Son through the Spirit and the Spirit would direct them to Jesus Christ and give them the grace to hold on to him. That day at Pentecost everything was changed and would become new and the Christian Church would begin its life. Those apostles would all find the courage to take a new road, to go out to all the world, to tell the good news and to be heard.

Bishop Tom Wright once said: ‘what the Spirit will do when she comes into your life and heart is anyone’s guess,’ and that is right.  The arrival of the Holy Spirit was like an explosive force on that first Pentecost and some do experience something of that when they first open their hearts and lives to our Lord.  But often, the Spirit of God comes to us carefully, over time, perhaps over many years, changing us gently and transforming our lives. In that transformation we find courage and wisdom and faith.  And the Spirit of God will continue to fall afresh and is ready always to pour upon us.

Unlike those gathered in Jerusalem that day, we are unable to be together in one place today and may not be able to be so for some time.  This is a time of great change.  A wind of change has blown through our global society and nothing will be the same again. We stand at the threshold of a future which is unexpected and unknown.  But we are together in Spirit and this is the time, this Pentecost in 2020, when we will want to be ready to accept the challenge we face and, with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, to be able to embrace this change and this new and different Church we will all belong to.

Finally let us recall our Gospel reading and that room behind locked doors where the disciples had waited in fear on the first day of the week after Passover, and hear again those words of Jesus because they are for us.  ‘Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you’.  And he breathed on them as he breathes on us and he said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.  It isn’t a command from Jesus. The breath of the Spirit, that Jesus breathed upon them, was theirs to accept, as it is ours, but it is a choice we make.  This is the day, this is the time and, as the Spirit is poured out upon us anew, let us open our hearts and invite God’s Holy Spirit in.

I will end with words from the hymn we will sing at the end – an invitation to the Holy Spirit: ‘O Comforter draw near, within my heart appear and kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.’   Amen

 

Intercessions, written by Janis Tyrer

As we sit quietly in our own homes, may we feel the wonder of the Holy Spirit as we come to God in prayer.

Lord God Almighty, pour upon us your Spirit and set us on fire with love for you. Especially in these times of anxiety, fear and loneliness, we need even more to be receptive to your presence within us to guide us, sustain us and inspire us.

Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Holy Spirit, bringing order out of chaos, bring order into our actions and purpose to our lives.  Be with our Queen and Government as they have such big decisions to make for the good of their people.  Be with all carers in their many varying roles; with key workers struggling to keep some kind of normality; with all volunteers offering their services and skills in so many, often ingenious, ways; all those scientists who are using their skills and intelligence to find vaccines and cures; all those who are putting their own health at risk to help others.                                                                                                      We pray too for the whole Church and especially our own clergy, PCC and pastoral workers who are working so hard to keep us together as a family and to reach out to others through the media.

Come, Holy Spirit,come.

We pray not only for our own country but for the world, so much of it affected by the Corona virus. We pray for all leaders, for their disagreements, their confusion, their mistakes, their ignorance of this unknown enemy. May your active Spirit bring order and hope.                                                                     We pray for Christian Aid and all relief agencies helping those who are in even greater need because of this pandemic.

Come, Holy Spirit, come.

We pray for all those in need at this time: those who are ill, those who are anxious, those who are feeling the strain of being confined to their homes and away from loved ones, those who fear for the future of their livelihoods, those who do not know your love.                                                                           From our own congregation we pray for Pam, Simon, Janet, Angela, Martin Nina and Val;                  and, in a moment of silence, we offer in prayer any others we know who are in need of any kind.

We pray too for those who have died recently, including Richard Jarvis and Derek Metcalf, and for all those who mourn the death of a loved one, especially difficult during these times of isolation.   And at their years mind, we remember with gratitude: Hilda Clark, Peter Betts, Cyril Tomkins, Eugenie Parker, Nell Mills, John Runnacles, James Campbell and Oliver Prior.

Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Finally Lord, we pray for ourselves, our families and friends. You know all our needs, our fears and our weaknesses.  We pray for the grace and power to live out our faith in this changing and challenging world, in the confidence of the power of your Spirit guiding us and caring for us.

Christ, who breathes upon us the Spirit of life, receive our prayer.      

Amen

 

Blessing

God of power, may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, 
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
may the gifts of your Spirit be our goal and our strength,
now and always; and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always.

Amen