Pentecost B-May 23
Finding our Pentecost Voices
Day of Pentecost B
May 23, 2021
Acts 2:1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14 • Psalm 104:24-34, 35b • Romans 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21 John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for will be edited for online use. “Rubrics” for virtual services will be noted in red; take and adapt as you need!
Leader should speak the lines of the people, along with the Leader’s lines
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Here we gather for song and scripture, seeking comfort and hope, seeking to be inspired as well as challenged.
People: Speaking out loud, but muted
Here we gather to retell the ancient tales and wonder how God’s story continues to unfold.
Leader: Today we tell the story of Pentecost, the story of the Holy Spirit rushing in like a wild wind
and dancing like flames upon each of the disciples,
People: Speaking out loud, but muted
And we ask ourselves where we see the Holy Spirit present our world today.
Leader: Today we tell a story of the Holy Spirit igniting hope again.
We will hear Peter claim his identity, tell his story, and inspire others to see the Holy at work in the world.
People: Speaking out loud, but muted
And we will ask ourselves if we are ready to share our own stories.
Leader: Friends, welcome. Welcome to this place with all questions, doubts, wonders,
and find here an invitation to experience something ancient and something new.
May we be open to the Spirit.
May we be open to learning and learning from one another.
May we grow in faith, hope, and love. Amen.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Reader 1: Spirit of God, our prayers often ask You to be present in our lives and in our world. But we confess that we are terrified that You might actually show up.
Reader 2: We remember the stories of You appearing as a burning bush, and then Moses and Sarah leaving everything familiar behind.
Reader 1: We remember the stories of You kindling the imagination of the prophets, and then each putting their lives on the line.
Reader 2: We remember the stories of You igniting courage within Shiphrah and Puah, Deborah and Esther, Elizabeth and Mary, and then each challenging the status quo.
Reader 1: We remember the stories of You sparking action within the early Church, compelling them all to embrace something completely foreign and new.
Reader 2: We confess, Dear Spirit, we are afraid You will call us to move outside our comfort zones. We are afraid You will kindle a passion within us we will be unable to ignore. We are afraid that You will rearrange our lives beyond recognition. Forgive us for the fears that have been holding us back from inviting You truly into our lives…
Silence; leave space for people to examine their hearts, and, if it seems appropriate,
to name what fears they are holding on to that may inhibit their connection to the Spirit of God.
ASSURANCE OF GRACE
Reader 1: Beloved people of God, find comfort in the news
that the Spirit of God may be a formidable force,
but She moves alongside people
and equips those who are open to the work ahead.
Peter, known more for his denial and disbelief than his bravery,
suddenly had courage with the Spirit alongside him.
The disciples, not known for being gifted communicators,
suddenly broke down barriers with the Spirit alongside them.
Beloveds, do not be afraid. Remain curious. Be open to the surprise. Celebrate that God is indeed about to do a new thing with you.
SCRIPTURE, SERMON, PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Notes for the worship planners in 2021:
Consider exploring the story of Pentecost through the character of specifically of Peter or through the general theme of people finding their authentic selves or authentic voice. Like a coming-of-age narrative, the character of Peter lends itself to exploring how the faithful disciple is given the opportunity through the Holy Spirit to reclaim his identity, his authentic voice, and his commitment to the Jesus movement after the experience of having denied knowing Jesus. With this exploration, one can interpret the Spirit’s invitation to Peter (and to all of the disciples that day) as an invitation to embrace his authentic self and voice, metaphorically speaking, and to use its uniqueness to speak the truth of who he was and who he knew God to be. Share this with others and you will find new life, the Spirit offers. And so, Peter and disciples did. The disciples who had minimized their experiences began to find the words. The skeptics who doubted their ability to contribute found confidence. The wallflowers rolled forward to offer their insight. The sages shared their understanding. The philosophers talked theory and the theologian preached. The teachers made it easy for any and all to comprehend.
That day of Pentecost, there was new life for each of them as they found their authentic voices, shared their story, and inspired others to notice the Holy at work in the world. Whether the language the disciples used was as familiar as what was shared around the dinner table or as foreign as the language of quantum physics or ancient Syriac, each found others who understood what they meant. They spoke of new life as always possible and a God who remains close when all seems lost. Maybe that’s when it dawned on them as well, that these moments of finding their authentic voice and the courage to name the truth about who you are and who God is, is itself like resurrection.
For the Prayers of the People, you might use a bidding prayer (“God, we pray today for those who are sick, including ….”) and encourage folk to type in their prayers using Zoom chat or Facebook Live; allow for more time in silence for those prayers to be typed and read. Consider a collective response at the end of each bidding prayer.
A caution regarding Prayers of the People online: Folks gathered in-person for worship often recount a lot of detail in their prayers concerning other members or family (“Elderly Name, living alone, experiencing isolation…”). In a private, in-person gathering, this information may be safe, but online, it can expose vulnerable people to harm since we can’t control who will join the gathering or access it later online. Invite those gathered online to be careful in the information they offer during prayers. For example, encourage them to follow a form such as “For First name only, in need of healing” or “For First name only, comfort in grief”. Then, encourage people to contact the pastor directly with news or further details regarding those in need of pastoral care.
INVITATION TO THE OFFERING
As people of God, we are called by the Spirit to continue the work of Jesus and the disciples who sought to build up beloved community. We are each equipped by the Spirit with particular skills, gifts, passions, abilities, and experiences to continue that work.
In these moments of quiet and reflection: what is it that you have been gifted with and are open to offering this day to bring about God’s beloved community on Earth?
Leader: That Pentecost day, with the Spirit in the air,
the disciples were suddenly clear about their stories
and their intention to share their stories with the world.
Maybe it was the rushing wind that had jolted them out of complacency.
Maybe it was the dancing tongues of fire that landed on each one that ignited them to action.
Maybe it was the hope that comes with having the Companion, the Advocate, nearby.
Whichever it was, the disciples found their authentic voices
and soon after discovered they had a story to share with the world.
Go forth into this day, with the Spirit in the air,
to share your stories of God’s love with the world.
Go forth into the world in the name of God, the one who creates you;
go in the name of the Jesus who shows us the way;
and go in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who is with us now and always.
Service for Pentecost is written by the Rev. Ellis Arnold. Ellis’s energy for ministry in the UCC gets channeled into collaboration with people of faith who strive to transform not just the three feet around them, but also their communities and the world into a more just, generous, liberated place.
Copyright 2021 Justice and Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.