A Celebration for the Festival of Pentecost
Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ
Welcome; What's up?; Maligayang Pagdating; Jambo; Malomalam; Wilkommen; Bienvenue; Welkome; Aloha; Bonjour; Selamat Datang; Vanakkam; Tuloy Po Kayo; Karibu; Hola.
On the first Pentecost, recorded in today's passage from Acts, the gift of God's Spirit gave the disciples a multitude of languages to proclaim God's power. This festival service celebrates many languages in which God's name is praised and God's word proclaimed today in the United Church of Christ. One of the newest greetings in the United Church of Christ is Salaam Alaykum (Arabic), spoken at First Sudanese United Church of Christ of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A quick count suggests that there are at least seventeen languages spoken today in worship in the United Church of Christ. This service includes Spanish, Tagalog, Samoan, Arabic, Hawaiian, and English.
We give thanks to be living into a new Pentecost age among congregations with growing energy for outreach and evangelism. Through the United Church of Christ special offering, Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ, your congregation can support the nurture and welcome of new congregations, as well as the vitality of existing congregation in the United Church of Christ.
Call to Worship
One: Hola (óh-lah, which means "hello" in Spanish)
One: Tuloy Po Kayo (too-lóy poh kay-ó, which means "come in" in Tagalog, a language of Filipino Americans)
People: Tuloy Po Kayo
One: Praise God, in all languages!
People: Praise God, among all the nations!
One: Declare God's wonderful deeds so that all might understand.
People: We gather to give praise and thanks for all God's deeds of power.
One: Talofa Lava! (tah-lo-fah lah-vah, which means "welcome" in Samoan.)
People: Talofa Lava!
Hymn of Praise "There's a Spirit in the Air" TNCH 294
(or "Come, Share the Spirit," TNCH 62)
Unison Prayer of Praise and Confession
O God of all nations and peoples, we praise your name. We rejoice in the many languages that proclaim your word and your wonderful deeds. We give thanks for the movement of your Spirit alive in your people, churches, and the world. God of wind and fire, we confess that sometimes we fear your Spirit. In those moments when the Spirit gushes, pushes, and challenges us toward the unknown, we would often rather cling to comfort and the familiar. Forgive our hesitations, God, and renew the ability in us to entrust our lives to you. Move us beyond boundaries of language and nationality into your endless and extravagant love. In this world so in need of forgiveness, peace, and healing, lead us to those who overcome fear, offer messages of hope, and practice your infinite graciousness. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Proclamation of God's Love and Power
One: People of God, let the winds of forgiveness blow through your soul. Know deep in your bones that God loves you and the world beyond all measure. Rise up, beloved, into newness of life that is ours in Christ this day. Amen.
Greetings of Peace
One: Please turn and greet one another with God's peace saying, "Salaam Alaykum" (sahláhm ah-láay-kum, "Peace be with you" in Arabic, spoken in Sudanese UCC congregations) and "Alaykum Salaam" ("with you, peace also").
Act of Praise "Santo, Santo, Santo" TNCH 793
Pentecost is a wonderful time to celebrate the movement of God's Spirit through song and liturgical dance
Reading of Scripture
Acts 2:1–21; Psalms 104:24–34, 35b; Romans 8:22–27; and John 15:26–27; 16:4b–15
Ezekiel 37:1–14; Psalms 104:24–34, 35b; Acts 2:1–21; and John 15:26–27, 16:4b–15
Print or project the scripture readings in English or in the language of your congregation, and then read the scripture in another language that is spoken in your congregation or community. The Pentecost narrative from Acts would also be particularly appropriate for a dramatic reading or active presentation.
You might include the following insights into your meditation for the Sunday: The beginning of the twenty-first century, much like the first century of the church, is an exciting, challenging, and wondrous moment full of spiritual power, mission potential, and faithful risk. The hunger and thirst of today's spiritual seekers seem so much like that of the crowds that gathered around Jesus. The multitude of languages and diversity of communities in which the gospel is proclaimed are echoes of that first Pentecost. As God called Paul to journey to Greece, we are called into the midst of a world that is increasingly not "churched" and can be very different from the places we have known. The twenty-first century seems very much like that first century and our work like that of the early disciples who were commissioned to go forth in Christ's name to teach discipleship to others. Today's message could focus on the calling, opportunities, and outreach mission to the new world that starts at the front door of your congregations.
The Offering: Sharing God's Gifts
Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ Special Offering may be received on Pentecost. Please see the resources available that describe the good work in nurturing and renewing congregations made possible by this offering. Perhaps during the offering or before the service, the New Church Celebration video, It Takes Many Hands to Build a Church, can be shown to the congregation.
Unison Prayer of Thanksgiving
O Spirit at work among us, we give thanks for the many ways to communicate our praise to you. We lift our voices to sing your praise and flex our hands to do your work. We proclaim your wonderful deeds through science, poetry, and everyday discussions. We witness through our faith and our finances. We use electronic technology and computers to share your word. These are just some of the "tongues" you give us to spread your good news to the world. Bless these gifts that we bring and multiply them in your purpose. Amen.
Celebration of God's Spirit among Us in Communion TNCH 6–10
Besides using multicultural communion resources, you might also serve the breads of the diverse cultures found in your community.
Hymn for Leaving "We Are Your People" TNCH 309
(or "O for a World" TNCH 575)
One: Now, in the name of the Living Spirit, go!
People: We are sent by God to go forth into the world.
One: Be of good cheer and courage.
People: We go forth to speak God's word through many tongues in many places this week.
One: Rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit at work within you.
People: Gracias a Dios! (grás-ee-as ah dée-os, Spanish for "Thanks to God.")
One: Aloha (ah-lów-hah, Hawaiian for "hello, farewell, peace, and love.")
TNCH refers to hymns and liturgy from The New Century Hymnal (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 1995).
This liturgy was prepared by David Schoen, minister and team leader for Evangelism Ministry, Local Church Ministries: A Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio. For more information about the Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ offering and support resources see www.ucc.org/stewardship or contact Doris Powell, minister for pastors and seminarians, Local Church Ministries: A Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The New Church Celebration video, It Takes Many Hands to Build a Church, is available through United Church of Christ Resources at 800.537.3394.
Copyright 2002 Evangelism Ministry Team, Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio. Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved. Designed and printed by United Church Resources, Local Church Ministries.
A Celebration for the Festival of Pentecost