Reader’s Theater: The Story of Pentecost

Pentecost altar display from Wikimedia Commons

Pentecost is one of my favorite holy-days. Retelling the story of the birth of the church by the Holy Spirit should be exciting. It should be equally as inspiring and empowering to the church of today as it was so long ago.

This year two of our leaders embraced this opportunity. They created a reader’s theater version of Acts 2, complete with a dancer, simple staging, and some very meaningful technical additions. It was glorious. They are happy to share their inspiration with you.

Come Holy Spirit! – Lisa <><

For a pdf of the script, click here Reader’s Theater: The Story of Pentecost

Holy Spirit Liturgy

Detail of the Holy Spirit window of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Babbitt, Minnesota, by Kevin and Tammy Gilmore.

Much thanks to Nicole Sallee, Director of Worship Arts at Community UMC in DeBary Florida, for permission to post this beautiful worship sequence. We will be using it to open our traditional worship services on Pentecost Sunday. Come Holy Spirit! – Lisa <><

Holy Spirit Liturgy
Call to Worship
ONE: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – Colossians 3:16 (TNIV)

Opening Hymns
I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing (United Methodist Hymnal #333, vs 1-2)
Every Time I Feel the Spirit (United Methodist Hymnal #404, refrain)

Opening Prayer
ALL: Prayer to the Holy Spirit (United Methodist Hymnal #329)

Invocation
ALL: Spirit of the Living God (United Methodist Hymnal #393)

Affirmation of Faith
A Modern Affirmation (United Methodist Hymnal #885)

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compilation © 2011 Nicole Sallee
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Nicole for information and permission to publish this compilation in any form. For more information on the scripture translation, hymns, prayers and art used in this work, please refer to the copyright information page or the United Methodist Hymnal. http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/?page_id=1529

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit

fire-heart-961194_960_720While preparing for this year’s Pentecost Celebration, I began exploring the Biblical stories of God as Fire:

  • Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)
  • The pillar of fire leading God’s people through the darkness and across the wilderness to the promised land (Exodus 13-14)
  • God consuming the offering in the battle between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)
  • God companioning and rescuing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the firey furnace (Daniel 3)
  • God described as a Refiner’s Fire (Malachi 3)
  • John the Baptist’s prophecy that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3, Luke 3)
  • Jesus promising that the Father would send the Holy Spirit (John 14-16)
  • The story of Pentecost in Acts 2

This led me to think about our need to be filled continually with the power of the Holy Spirit. These truths were brought together in the following worship resource. May your life be set ablaze with the strength and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. – Lisa <><

For more information about Pentecost, click here

We can be certain of one thing: transformation into God’s image and God’s purpose requires that we pass through God’s refining fire. Being made holy is not a one-time deal; it is an ongoing process that continues until we are fully reconciled with Christ at his second coming. During our lives we experience intense trials that we can use to refine our spirits. The key idea to remember is that we pass “through” and do not remain in the fire. – Enuma Okoro, Silence and Other Invitations of Advent

God is fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil– for the devil is cold– then let us call upon the Lord and he will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for him but for our neighbor as well. And from the presence of warmth, the coldness of the hater of good will be driven way. – Seraphim of Sarov

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit
Plain text is for one voice. Italics text is for all voices.

Holy Spirit, come again as cleansing fire, burning away all that is false and fruitless
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as guiding fire, lighting the way though our wilderness
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as refining fire, purifying our words, our ways and our hearts
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as prophetic fire, calling us to courage and action
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as unifying fire, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as empowering fire, dancing atop young and old, men and women, rich and poor. Inspiring us and emboldening us to use your gifts to bless and change the world.
Come Holy Spirit

We ask all this in the name of Jesus,
the One who promised to send you,
and who taught us to pray,
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
Amen.

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Prayer: Come Holy Spirit © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Be sure to also check out Purify Us by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

Day 10: Psalms of Identity

Psalm 139 by Robyn Sand Anderson

Today’s Reading
Psalms 8 and 139

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end —I am still with you.
– Psalm 139:17-18

Observation
There is so much to claim in Psalm 139. It’s a mysterious dance of God’s sovereignty and intimacy, our value in God’s eyes and our need for humility and examination.

  • God knows us completely and intimately (vs. 1-6)
  • We are never beyond God’s presence and guidance (vs. 7-12)
  • We are a wonderful creation of God (vs. 13-14)
  • God knows us first, even when we are unknown to others and our self (vs. 15-16)
  • God’s magnificence and understanding are far beyond us, yet God draws near (vs. 17-18.)
  • We can share our fiercest and deepest pain with God, as well as our hopes, dreams, and plans (vs. 19-22)
  • We recognize God’s gift of examination and growth (vs. 23-24)

Application
Hearts open to God’s leading are hearts open to God’s examination (vs. 23-24)

Prayer
Who am I that you would care for me? Who am I to be known by One so glorious? Yet you pursue and delight in your creation. Draw near again and search me Magnificent One. Renew my spirit, my words and my ways. Draw near and make yourself at home. Amen.

For a worship resource based on Psalm 139, click here

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 9: Psalms to God Our Helper

Sumerian Idols

Today’s Reading
Psalms 54, 115, 119:169–176

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. – Psalm 115:11

Meister Eckhart said, ‘The ultimate leave-taking is the leaving of God for God.’ That means leaving the folk idea of God– the ecclesiastical idea of God, what you’ve been taught of God– for that transcendent reference of which God is the metaphor. – Joseph Campbell

Observation
Psalm 115 begins on a beautiful note of praise to the One, True Living God followed by a few phrases describing false idols: in-sensitive (note all five senses are mentioned), immobile, inanimate, mindless, and mute. Then you get to verse 8, a ridicule so sharp you may not realize you’ve even been cut. “Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.” As one of the teens in my life might say, “Booya! In your face!”

I appreciate the earthiness of the scriptures, and their ageless truth. The warning of that ridicule is needed as much today as back then. So is the advice: turn from idols, trust in the Lord, trust in the Lord, and again the psalmist says trust in the Lord. The Lord is our help and shield from this time on and forevermore.

Prosperous people already know they matter. They are already so secure in their human dignity that they usually don’t give it much thought. It is the poor whose attempts to claim their own dignity — small, but often so costly — need affirming. It is the poor and the weak, who are most aware of the need for comfort and refreshment all of us have. When things are going your way, it’s easy to forget that you depend on God for everything you have. It’s easy to begin thinking you don’t, that your power resides in yourself. The powerlessness of all human beings shows clearly in the lives of the poor. The rich can hide from it — for a time. But there is nobody who will not one day find himself bearing a load too heavy to carry alone. None of us are self-sufficient, however strong or weak or rich or poor we may be. We are all in need of comfort, in need of refreshment. Blessed are those who know their need of it early; they are the ones who will put themselves in the way of the Comforter. – Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, “A Little Refreshment! A Little Comfort!” (www.Day1.org, 7/7/96)

Application
Who or what do I turn to when I need help? Who/What do I trust? Friends, family, my bank account, warranties, my education, health insurance, the judicial system, the government, various professionals… myself? Do I trust in the Lord as my help or do I treat God as a consultant. Do I turn to God in all things, or only when I am in deep trouble?

Prayer
Lord save us from all that is false: false teaching, false faith, false gods. Reveal their frailty. Remind us of your steadfast love and faithfulness. Remind us of your power and grace. Draw us – body, mind, and spirit- to deep devotion and trust in you. You alone are worthy of our confidence and worship. May your Name be glorified throughout the world, in every heart and home, now and always. Amen.

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 8: Psalms to God's Glory

Orion Nebula, photo taken by the NASA Hubble Space Telescope

Today’s Reading
Psalms 19, 24, 29

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
Psalm 19:12

Observation
Psalm 19 is built in the shape of a funnel, moving from the vastness of space to the hidden places of our heart. The journey begins with the greatness and glory of God’s creative power. Heaven and earth, day and night, declare the wisdom and power of God. (vs. 1-6) Next God provides the Word: the law, decrees, precepts, commandments, and ordinances. Why? So we might be revived, made wise, enlightened, endure, know the truth, become righteous. So we might rejoice in our relationship with God as people do when they find gold. So our lives would be sweeter than honey. (vs. 7-11) God continues to reach out, wanting to be known and heard, drawing closer and closer, so that the truth of our being may be revealed and redeemed. (vs. 12-14)

Application
We are sometimes blind to the state of our hearts: to error, faults, and sin. God will reveal what we cannot see and what we do not choose see. In the revealing, we can turn away from what is destructive and embrace the new life God offers.

Prayer
Glorious One, Maker of galaxies, Maker of mountains, Maker of me, thank you for your grace. Thank you for reaching out; for speaking through the majesty of your creation, for speaking through your Word, and for speaking into the smallness of my soul. Reveal the destruction and death that hide there. Bring them out of hiding and into the light of your truth. Clear them away. Save me from their domination. Forgive me for the times when they have won the day. Cleanse me now. Make me blameless and pure of heart. Bring new life so my every word and thought would be filled with your healing grace and glory. You are my Rock. You are my Redeemer. You are my Hope. I am broken before you. Have mercy, Lord. Have mercy. Amen.

For an original poem/lyric entitled Glorious One, click here
For quotes on the theme of God’s Glory, click here
For a devotion based on Psalm 29 entitled Cry “Glory!”, click here

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 7: Psalms for Fearful Times

Fear and Faith by John Lautermilch

Today’s Reading
Psalms 37, 49, 91

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
– Psalm 37:39

Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.- Helen Keller

Literally speaking, courage comes from the Latin cor, meaning heart. So when I open up to any experience fully, with courage — our whole heart — it naturally opens me up to a deep love. The blind musician Facundo Cabral said it beautifully: “If you are filled with love, you can’t have fear,” he said, “because love is courage.” – Viral Mehta

Observation
Psalm 37 is one of many scriptures which have been abused by those preaching the Gospel of Health and Wealth. According to them, if you are right with God then nothing bad will happen to you- no health problems, no relational problems, no financial problems. You will “live in the land, and enjoy security” (vs 3), “he will give you the desires of your heart” (vs 4), and they will “delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (vs 11). Far too often, they take scriptures like this out of context as a proof text for false teaching. Righteous living and the action of God are relegated to a simplistic cause and effect, more like the concept of karma in eastern religions. Taken to an extreme, God is required, even forced, to bless the actions of the righteous.

So what do Christians believe? We believe all people experience hardship and trouble, including the faithful. We believe the causes of suffering are sometimes easy to identify and sometimes not. We recognize bad things happen, sometimes because of our actions or inaction (sin), sometimes because of the action/inaction/sin of others including people, systems, and institutions, and sometimes because we live in a broken world. The forces of evil, seen and unseen, are real. Even so, God is greater. God is our refuge and strength in the day of trouble. God is steadfast and will see us through. God is faithful, true and victorious over evil.

Knowing this, how does a Christian respond to evil? Fourteen times in Psalm 37 we are reminded not to envy those who do evil or follow them, for their ways end in destruction. We instead stay the course with God for that is the path of blessing and life. In times of ease and times of difficulty, Christians hold on to God and the ways of God, including:

  • Not worrying (vs 1, 7, 8.)
  • Trusting in the Lord(vs 3, 5)
  • Doing good (vs 3, 27)
  • Taking delight in the Lord (vs 4)
  • Remaining committed to the Lord (vs 5, 31, 34)
  • Being still before the Lord, and waiting patiently for him (vs 7, 9, 34)
  • Refraining from anger, and forsaking wrath (vs 8.)
  • Providing for others in generous ways (vs 21, 26)
  • Sharing wisdom and speaking out against injustice (vs 30)

Application
Though evil may seem to win the day, trust in God. Stay the course.

Prayer
Victorious One, calm my heart when evil abounds
It races to respond, pounding with anger
Calm my heart so I can hear you above the hammering

Victorious One, calm my heart when evil abounds
It runs to lonesome places, screaming an alarm
Calm my heart so I can find you above the fear

Victorious One, calm my heart when evil abounds
It rushes to human strength, grasping for control
Calm my heart so I can hold to your way, your truth, and your life
Amen.

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For a Reader’s Theater version of Psalm 37, click here

You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms. To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.