Reader’s Theater: The Promises of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21)

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.

Reader’s Theater: The Promises of Pentecost
Scriptures: John 14: 16, 17, 26; 16:13; Acts 1:5-8; Acts 2:1-21
adapted from the New Revised Standard Version
Parts: 2 Readers, Jesus, Peter

READER ONE:
On the night in which he gave himself up for us, Jesus promised,

JESUS: John 14:16, 17, 26; 16:13, NRSV
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth… the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you… When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

READER ONE:
On the day in which he ascended to heaven, Jesus promised,

JESUS: Acts 1:5-8 NRSV, selected verses
John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

READER ONE:
Ten days later, Jesus fulfilled his promises.

READER TWO: Acts 2:1-21, NRSV
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,

READER ONE:
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.

READER TWO:
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

READER ONE:
But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

READER TWO:
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them,

PETER:
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.’

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Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: The Promises of Pentecost © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for posting and publication considerations.

3 Timeless Prayers to the Holy Spirit

Filled by the Holy Spirit, a quilt by Lisa Ellis

Filled by the Holy Spirit, a quilt by Lisa Ellis

Come, Holy Spirit,
Fill the hearts of Your faithful
And kindle in us the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit
did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise and ever enjoy Your consolations.
​Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ Traditional Catholic Prayer. I first encountered this prayer on a Walk to Emmaus retreat.

*****

Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord. Amen.
~ Prayer by Dimitri of Rostov. This is my favorite prayer to use during Advent. 

*****

Come, Holy Spirit;
send down from heaven’s height
your radiant light.

Come, lamp of every heart,
come, parent of the poor;
all gifts are yours.

Comforter beyond all comforting,
sweet unexpected guest,
sweetly refresh.

Rest in hard labour,
coolness in heavy heat,
hurt souls’ relief.

Refill the secret hearts
of your faithful,
O most blessed light.

Without your holy power
nothing can bear your light,
nothing is free from sin.

Wash all that is filthy,
water all that is parched,
heal what is hurt within.

Bend all that is rigid,
warm all that has frozen hard,
lead back the lost.

Give to your faithful ones,
who come in simple trust,
your sevenfold mystery.

Give virtue its reward,
give, in the end, salvation
and joy that has no end.
~ This is a modern translation by the Church of England of an ancient prayer, Veni Sancte Spiritus. Common Worship: Daily Prayer (c) The Archbishops’ Council 2005 by Church House Publishing

Prayer Poem: Wind of the Spirit

Pentecost baptism holy spirit by Estella CanzianiWind of the Spirit
Meter 9 10.9 9 with refrain
Suggested Tune: ASSURANCE (United Methodist Hymnal #369)

Wind of the Spirit, blow on your child
Reveal the fiction now hidden by style
Self centered passions hold all control
Feeding me falsehood, withering my soul

REFRAIN:
Great Holy Spirit. Sweet Mystery.
Pour forth your glory eternally
Life’s Liberator. Death’s Enemy.
Come Holy Spirit, set your child free*

Wind of Salvation, breathe on my bones,
Resurrect life where destruction was sown,
Flow through my nature, parched now by sin
Pour out forgiveness, cleanse me again (Refrain)

Breath of the Savior, soft on my face
whispers a message of love, peace, and grace.
Constantly calling, helping me turn,
offering a life I never could earn. (Refrain)

Bright Blazing Spirit, Tongues of Pure Fire
Dance on your children, ignite our desire
Forge our devotion purer than gold.
Shining for all the world to behold. (Refrain)

* alternate texts:
Come Holy Spirit, set your church free
Come Holy Spirit, set us all free
Come Holy Spirit, sanctify me

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Click here for a powerful reflection on the Holy Spirit as wind and breath of life by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Conspiracy.

© 4/1999, revised 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to original music.

Holy Spirit, Rest on Me (Isaiah 11.2)

holy-spirit-outpouring-deborah-brown

Holy Spirit Outpouring by Deborah Brown

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
– Isaiah 11:2

Holy Spirit, rest on me and bring me rest
A peace that passes understanding
A peace beyond circumstance and season
A peace deep within
Stillness in the storm

Holy Spirit, rest on me and ready me
A strong foundation, solid and steadfast
Seeing as you see
Your mind and heart within me
Hearing and heading your counsel
Wisdom of the ages
Divine and life-giving and intimate
Speak, I’m listening

Holy Spirit, rest on me and release me
Empowered by your might, steadfast and vulnerable
Strength of soul and character
Strength of virtue and honor
Strength to build up and make way
Your truth pouring forth, generous and creative
Awakening and instructing and sustaining

Holy Spirit, I ask this humbly
Reverently
For your honor and glory alone. Amen.

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Holy Spirit, Rest on Me © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prepare the Way of the Lord (Isaiah 40)

Sermon Series christmas messiah 1110 x 624

Sermon Series:
For Unto Us A Child is Born, Messages Inspired by Handel’s Messiah

Message 1 of 5: Prepare the Way of the Lord
Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-5
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 12/1/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

First three songs of Handel’s Messiah are based on Isaiah 40:1-5, KJV
Comfort Ye and Ev’ry Valley
And the Glory of the Lord

The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are heavy. God is speaking reality through Isaiah about the consequence of sin. In chapter 40, the message turns. The Prophet Isaiah looks past the situation in front of him, the people of God taken into exile and returning from exile, down the highway of time to the coming of God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ and past that to the second coming of Christ and the completed victory of God.

Isaiah 40:1-5, NRSV
1 “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

How are you preparing for Christmas?

Steve Garnaas-HolmesPrepare the Way
We prepare outwardly for Christmas: we hang lights and put up decorations; we bake goodies and wrap gifts. How will you prepare inwardly? The coming of Christ means that God will be incarnate: embodied, lovingly present, in the flesh in your life.

As the carol Joy to the World says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” There was no room in the inn, but there can be room in my heart.

Following the first London performance of Messiah, Lord Kinnoul congratulated Handel on the excellent entertainment. Handel replied, “My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertain them. I wish to make them better.”

Handel’s desire in setting the scripture to music was that it would bring a change in us, that it would bring transformation. Prepare the way of the Lord is about transformation.

Prepare the Way of the Lord = Prepare Your Way In Me
Click Here for the first week of the Advent/Christmas Devotion which accompanies this sermon series.

We prepare inwardly by setting aside time for regular, quiet reflection with God. Here are two classic reflection questions to ask yourself.

A. This past week, when did I feel closest to God?
This is a question of consolation, of comfort. It’s when we experience the presence of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the in-breaking of God into our life. All of a sudden we’re awake, we’re alive in Christ and we notice it.

Isaiah 40:1-2
1 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her

When did you experience God speaking comforting, tender words? God literally “speaking to the heart.” This is God’s voice of love and assurance breaking through the pain and confusion.

God is whispering, like the whispering of a lover into the beloved’s ears. It’s that intimate, personal, close. God isn’t whispering sweet nothings. These words are designed to remind you what is good, to strengthen you and help you and remind you how much you are loved.

B. This past week, when did I feel farthest from God? When did I blow it?
Which question is easier for you to answer?

This second question is classically a question of desolation. The sorrow, pain, guilt you are feeling is the Spirit calling you back to the path of life. Don’t let the feelings derail you, let them guide you.

Hear the good news and believe it. Isaiah 40:2 is Grace, Grace, Grace.
that she has served her term
You’ve been in prison and chains long enough

that her penalty is paid,
Jesus paid it on the cross

that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins
Yes, there are consequences for our sins. But this is not saying God is handing out a double punishment. It’s actually a reference to God’s grace. We sin, and God returns to us mercy, forgiveness, and grace. What God supplies is far more than what we deserve. It is double grace, greater than all our sin.

Isaiah 40:3-5
3 A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The “all” includes you, even in the wilderness of your soul and the wilderness of this world.

Jan L. Richardson, Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas
The wilderness does not merely give us a path: empties us enough so that a path is made within us. Through us. Of us. A road for the holy to enter the world. A way for the Christ who comes.

Prepare the Way of the Lord = Prepare Your Way Of Me
Our internal life leads to an external life. God’s word, “Comfort, comfort my people” does not equal us being comfortable. (no troubles, no worries, I pay no attention to the troubles of the world)

The comforting of God is the strengthening and encouraging of God. We are prepared in order to share. There is an expectation of prayer and action.

This passage is full of God’s call and command.
Verse 1, Comfort, Comfort my people! 
Make sure this happens!

Verse 2, Speak… cry out
To those in chains, to those exiled

Verse 3, Cry out in the wilderness
Those lonely places, harsh places, broken places, unjust places

Verse 5, The Mouth of the Lord has spoken 
This is not a suggestion. This is a command. God prepares us so we can be part of the way making.

Prepare the way of the Lord!
Isaiah is preparing the way. Down the road, John the Baptist uses Isaiah’s words to prepare the way for Jesus- The Way, the Truth, the Life. Down the road, it is now us.

Enjoy the season. Feel it fully. Be fully present and go deep. Spend time with God. God, prepare the way in me and through me. We are making the way and we are mending the world.

God breaks into all the systems and places and pain; breaks in to create something new. The mountains where what’s needed is too high, out of reach, brought low. The valleys where there are much darkness and pain are raised up. There is a plain, an evenness, an equity, a justice for all.

Messiah premiered in Dublin on April 13, 1742, as a charitable benefit for 3 charities- prisoners’ debt relief, the Mercer Hospital, and the Charitable Infirmary. It raised 400 pounds, split between the 3 charities, freeing 142 men from the debtor’s prison. 142 households were instantly transformed.

How will you make a difference this holy season? For making the way where there seems to be no way, for bearing God’s light into the world.

PRAYER:
The time is now, for you have called
The place is now, for you have spoken

Yes, it is a wilderness, a desert even
So dry, so rough, so uneven
Yes, the gap is so very wide between the high and the low

But, you have called, O God. You have spoken.
Not an if or when or maybe. Not even a try.

You have spoken shall

Every valley shall be lifted
Every mountain shall be made low
The uneven shall be made level
The rough shall be made smooth
It shall be done in us and through us and of us.

By the power of your Holy Spirit,
we will persevere in this wilderness of preparing
We will not forge a path or blaze a trail but make a highway
A highway for your coming
For your glory, O God shall be revealed in this place
And all shall see it
All shall see it together
Shall, by Lisa Degrenia

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Be sure to also check out Rev. Magrey deVega’s stunning reflection on this passage in his blog post, Is God on your Christmas List?

Prepare the Way of the Lord © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.