Worship and Preaching Resources for Pentecost Sunday

pentecost fire dovePentecost is one of my favorite holy-days. Through story, song, and lots of red, Christians celebrate the new birth and empowerment of Jesus’ followers by the Holy Spirit. Our remembering raises up a prayer for God’s fire to fall on us as well, that we too would share the Good News with boldness, welcome, and joy. – Lisa <><

Reader’s Theater: The Promises of Pentecost
This short, simple script begins with the Jesus’ promises concerning the Holy Spirit at the Last Supper, journeys through Jesus’ promise before his ascension, and on to the fulfillment of those promises on the day of Pentecost. Scriptures include: John 14: 16, 17, 26; 16:13; Acts 1:5-8; Acts 2:1-21

Reader’s Theater: The Story of Pentecost
Retell Acts 2 through the use of multiple readers, a dancer, projected images, some simple staging and a couple of sound effects.

Prayer for Pentecost- You Are
Mighty God, we bow before your Holy Presence
You are Dove: name us and claim us for your purposes
You are Breath of Life: make us alive in Christ
You are Light: brighten our thoughts with your wisdom
You are Counselor: encourage us, remind us, guide our steps
You are Wind: disperse the clouds of injustice
You are Tongue: teach us to honor you with our words
You are Fire: ignite your holy love in us
You are Divine Spirit: give us courage against all evil

Save us and the world in your infinite mercy
So we may ever bless you, praise you, and serve you
First during this life on earth, and then in heaven for all eternity. Amen.

Prayer for Pentecost
This prayer (or song lyric) was born out a hunger for revival. Each verse was inspired by scriptures relating the work of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost Prayer
Adapted from the Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori to the Holy Spirit

Wind of the Spirit
An original hymn text which may be sung or spoken

Prayer Service: Naming and Claiming the Holy Spirit
A service of prayer, scripture, and song inspired by Francis Chan’s excellent book, Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.

Set a Fire
A contemporary worship sequence of song and prayer

Come Holy Spirit
A traditional worship sequence for Pentecost Sunday including prayers, hymns, and an affirmation of faith

Holy Spirit Liturgy
A compilation suitable for the opening of a traditional worship service, including a call to worship, hymn selections, opening prayer and affirmation of faith.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit
This prayer references many Biblical stories with images of God as Fire and closes with The Lord’s Prayer.

Come Holy Spirit, Come Live in Me
A prayer based on the promises of Jesus to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:25-26, John 16:7) and a passage from Francis Chan’s excellent book, Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.

Worship Resource: Awakening
A compilation of selected verses from Psalm 57 and the song Awakening by Chris Tomlin and Reuben Morgan. Recommended for use in a contemporary or blended worship setting.

Pentecost: What the Fire Gives
Reflection and blessing for Pentecost by Jan Richardson, as found on her blog The Painted Prayerbook

Pentecost: Christ Proclaimed in Many Tongues
A compilation of quotes and scriptures on this theme

Pentecost: Power to Witness
A compilation of quotes and scriptures on this theme

Pentecost: Wind and Flame
A compilation of quotes and scriptures on this theme plus an original prayer entitled Living God, Holy Inferno

Pentecost: A New Community
A compilation of quotes and scriptures on what the early church looked like as a result of Pentecost

You are welcome to use any of these works in a private or public worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for permission to publish any of these works in any form.

Christmas and Easter- a day and a season

manger-tomb-icon

A Christmas icon next to an Easter icon. The artist reminds us that in both stories Jesus is wrapped in bands of cloth, laid in stone (manger and tomb), visited, brought myrrh, and announced by angels. 

The most beloved Christian holy-days are both days and seasons.

Christmas

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day and for a season of 12 days leading to Epiphany when we remember the wise ones following the star and finding the infant Jesus. Their arrival reveals the truth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Christmas season include:
    • Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1, Luke 2)
    • The angels announce the birth to the shepherds (Luke 2)
    • The shepherds visit the infant Jesus and then spread the good news of the Messiah’s birth (Luke 2)
    • Jesus’ circumcision and naming (Luke 2)
    • The prophets Simeon and Anna meeting Jesus and his family in the temple (Luke 2)
    • The wise ones seeing the star and traveling to Herod and then to Jesus and his family (Matthew 2)
    • Herod murdering the children of the region in hopes of killing the newborn King of the Jews (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus escaping to Egypt (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus returning from Egypt and settling in Nazareth (Matthew 2, Luke 2)

Click here for a detailed chronology of the events between Jesus’ birth and his family settling in Nazareth.

Easter

We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter and for a season of 50 days leading to Pentecost when we remember the first followers receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry on Jesus’ witness and work throughout the world. Again, Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Easter season include:
    • Mary, with other women, visits Jesus’ tomb. Jesus’ body is missing. She/They run to tell the disciples, two of which come to investigate and then leave.
    • Heavenly messengers announce the resurrection of Jesus to Mary and the women.
    • Mary encounters Jesus risen from the dead and runs to tell the disciples Jesus is alive.
    • Later on Easter, the Risen Christ appears to two disciples as they are traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. After realizing it’s Jesus, they return to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
    • Even later on Easter, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. He reveals his wounds and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them. Thomas isn’t present and doubts the disciples’ story.
    • The Jewish leaders make up a story to explain why Jesus’ body is missing
    • A week later, Jesus appears to the disciples again, this time with Thomas present. Thomas believes.
    • Jesus appears to Peter and other disciples as they are fishing in Galilee. Jesus restores Peter to a place of leadership amongst his followers.
    • Jesus appears to the disciples on a mountain in Galilee
    • Jesus appears to his half-brother James.
    • In Bethany, Jesus instructs the disciples to continue his witness and work to all people and to return to Jerusalem to pray for the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus ascends into heaven.
    • The disciples pray and on the 10th day the Holy Spirit comes in great displays of power at Pentecost. Peter preaches and over 3000 persons place their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
timeline of post resurrection appearances

Timeline by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell. Check out her article here

Three reflections on the woman with the alabaster jar (Matthew 26, Mark 14; Luke 7, John 12)

Mary anoints the feet of jesus by Frank Wesley

Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus by Frank Wesley

Anointing by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Beloved,
may everything I do today
be my anointing of you;
every thought, word and deed
a pouring out of myself for you,
a gift of service, adoration and thanks.

May every act comfort you,
receive your sacred story,
join me to you in your suffering,
embrace your dying
and prepare for what will follow.
In your death may you be wrapped
in the balm of my own heart.

Give me courage to give my gifts
no matter how others may judge them.
May my life give off the aroma
of gratitude and love.
Accept the anointing of my tears,
my prayers, my being.
In your love
I carry the alabaster jar of my life
into this new day.

Why This Waste? by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
The oil is poured
The criticism comes
even while the scent is still thick in the air

Why this waste?

Why worship?
Why take the time?
Why spend the money?
The poor, remember the poor
There’s so much work to be done

Yes beloved, remember
Remember the poor and remember her
The way is And not Or
Worship and Work
Loving God and Loving Neighbor
Looking Up and Looking Out For
The cross-shaped life

The work doesn’t work without the worship
The worship’s unfinished without the work

Pour Forth by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
There… beyond the feasting circle
A woman
Who are you? What is your story?
No name, no voice
Yet coming close with your gifts

Some are easy to see
An alabaster jar full of exotic perfume
Boldly broken,
And you pour forth more gifts
Out pours your heart
Your adoration
Your gratitude
Your passion
Your sacrifice
The air is thick with your story
It oozes down your Beloved’s beard, pooling on his callused hands

The shattering brings the circle silent
The aroma, meant for all to enjoy
Instead draws an angry answer
They will not bear your story

Cutting remarks fly at you through the fragrant veil
Indignant daggers thrust into your offering
How dare you! Who do you think you are?
Too generous
Too extravagant
Too intimate
We have a better way
Such a waste… code for waste her
Shatter her spirit
Quick, to the stones
A broken body is the cure

Stop! Leave her alone declares the Anointed One!
Misspent? Misused?
No! You misunderstand!
You miss the mark!
She did what she could- all that she could
Balming my body for burial

You have loved Me
Censing my sacrifice
Grace made fragrant
An act beyond words
A silent song for the ages

Pour forth

It is blessing. It is beautiful.
You are blessing. You are beautiful.

Soak it in

You there, religious ones
You berate, rebuke and bombard
While she… she breaks open
She breaks through bearing the Good News

Your words will fall forgotten
Her story will stand… remembered

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The anointing of Jesus is mentioned in all four gospels and probably recounts two different events. Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8

Matthew, Mark, and John mention the location of Bethany and the woman as Mary, the sister of Matha and Lazarus. Mary is criticized for the extravagance of anointing Jesus with the costly nard rather than selling it and the proceeds given to the poor.

In Luke, the location seems to be in the region of Galilee in the north. The woman is unnamed. Jesus himself is brought into question and criticized for allowing a sinner to touch him.

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ head is anointed. In Luke and John it is Jesus’ feet.

The details are interesting, but do not miss the main points- the extravance, the courage, the thanksgiving, the grace, the blessing, the welcome. This is why we remember.

You Can Read the Bible: Three Approaches

South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

I. You Can Read the Bible by Steve Harper
One of the biggest mistakes we have made with the Bible is leaving the impression that only scholars can correctly interpret it. Everything is made so layered, nuanced, and complex that many folks instantly feel they lack the “training” and “horsepower” to make it through all the mazes.

So, they either stop trying or they become passive and wait for the “experts” to tell them what’s “right.” But the fact is, the Bible is intended to be understandable! The original languages do contain levels of insight, but their essential meanings are accessible to us all.

Here is a way to make it so in your personal reading and in your conversations with others. Take a passage, read it, and ask:
(1) What is the big idea?
(2) Why is it important?
(3) Where does it presently connect with my life–or–why is it not a part of me?
(4) Should it be part of me? If so, how can I continue (or begin) to put it into practice?

Most Bible passages will “bear fruit” when these questions are applied to them, either in private or in a group. And when you add to your own inductive study the additional resources of concordances, dictionaries, maps, and commentaries, you will find the messages of scripture influencing your life day after day.

II. SOAP
The SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal is practiced by thousands of Christians. I first learned of it from Wayne Cordeiro, pastor New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, click here for the video on their website.

Here’s a brief summary of the process.
S = Scripture
Read the Bible passage for the day. Copy the verse which catches your attention word for word in your journal.

O = Observation
Write a brief description of what is going on in the passage you read.

A = Application
Write about how your life will be different today because of what you have read.
• Lessons to be learned
• Examples to be followed or avoided
• Promises to be claimed and enjoyed
• A character trait of God revealed

P = Prayer
Write out a prayer for yourself and others based on what you read today.

III. Lectio Divina explained by Whitney R. Simpson in his book Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit
The words Lectio Divina are Latin for “holy reading.”

This ancient prayer practice includes the following steps:
lectio (“to read”)
meditatio (“to reflect”)
oratio (“to respond”)
and contemplatio (“to rest”).

Lectio Divina allows you to listen for God’s activity using scripture and to connect to God through the ancient Word while delving into a particular passage.

The practice of Lectio Divina focuses on formational reading of scripture, as opposed to informational reading. Formational reading invites the text to shape you, while informational reading invites you to understand the text. Though both types of reading can be useful on a spiritual journey, the art of Lectio Divina allows you to interact with God’s Word through meditating on a passage and listening for God’s leading.

My personal journey has been shaped by spending time in the Word using Lectio Divina. Through this practice, I have realized how scripture can speak to my life regardless of what I am facing. Lectio Divina has allowed me to see and hear God in new ways.

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So, let’s get reading. Here are three simple reading plans to get you started. Each will take you through the New Testament in one year. It’s especially helpful to start with the New Testament if you are new to Bible reading.

1. New Testament Reading Plan- Bible order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which it is printed in the Bible. Easy. Just read straight through.

2. New Testament Reading Plan- event order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which the events most likely happened. You’ll jump from chapter to chapter in different books in this plan. Is it scholarly perfect, no, but it is helpful for those of us who want a chronological approach to Jesus’ life and the lives of the first believers. (We aren’t getting caught in the perfectionism trap. If this sounds interesting, go for it.)

3. New Testament Reading Plan- mixed
This plan spreads the Gospel readings throughout the year with the other books mixed in between. Even though you skip around the New Testament in this plan, you will read a book at a time.

Click Here for more information on today’s featured image, South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans