Call to Worship
God says: I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
The spirit has come. Alleluia!
Come, holy spirit, gentle as a dove, burning as fire, powerful as the wind.
Come, Holy Spirit, come
Hymn 584 – Like fireworks in the night
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Spirit of God, flickering over our heads, illuminating our faces, inspiring our thoughts, give us now, we pray, words of joy and praise.
Spirit of God, filling our hearts with hope, steadying our nerves with peace, comforting our lives with love, give us now, we pray, words of joy and praise.
Spirit of God, come to us now – surging through the darkness of our lives, sweeping over our weariness –so that, in this time of Pentecost, the sparkling light of faith, the rushing wind of hope and the joyful sound of praise may echo round the world, may echo in the church, and find their response in us. Spirit of God, give us now, we pray, words of joy and praise.
you poured out your Spirit to guide your disciples,
and empower your church with gifts.
We confess we often resist the Spirit’s guidance.
We have not acted with justice and loved kindness.
We have stretched our grasp with greed.
We have protected our privacy with isolationism.
We have ravaged your creation with entitlement.
Forgive us, O God and open our minds and hearts to the challenges of life in your service.
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.
The old life has passed away and new life has begun.
Know that in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
You are set free to live life anew in the power of the Spirit.
Readings: Genesis 11: 1-9
Acts 2: 1-13
Hymn 600 – Spirit of God, unseen as the wind
Faithful God, we unite in prayer, as those disciples did on the first Day of Pentecost, and open ourselves to receive the very same Holy Spirit. We thank you that in all our confusion you understand and pray that you will make something beautiful of lives while we seek to serve you, as we celebrate 70 years of Faith and Service of Elizabeth our Queen. Amen
This weekend the Yetholm History Society, as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, are showing the Pathe Newsreel of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. It was of its era – black and white, clipped accents- but it would have been shown in cinemas all over the country and perhaps even abroad and reached a big audience. That was communication in the 50s, along with radio and maybe some would have television, rented specially for the occasion.
Fast forward 70 years, and communication has changed so much. Now it would be unusual not to have a big screen television with so many channels screening live jubilee celebrations in the most vivid colour, and not just the BBC. There is internet, and communication happens in an instant throughout the world. Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and many more I haven’t heard of. Though there can still be communication breakdowns, and I know some of my messages end up in Spam and indeed when the service is sent out by email every week, it always arrives with a warning that the sender (me!) seems a bit dodgy.
Communication has been there since the beginning of time, from Adam and Eve debating whether to have a good bite out of the apple or not. And today we read two stories about communication. The first was the Tower of Babel, about how humans built a tower so high, it seemed to reach to heaven. This is traditionally seen as a display of human pride wanting to challenge God, but nipped in the bud. You could also see it as people cooperating and building together, only for a rather peevish God to punish these uppity people with confusion. But most probably it started as a story to explain why there were so many languages and cultures in the world.
Put a group of children together from different cultures, and they will play together regardless of the fact that they have different languages, but as adults we are less good at that and more suspicious of what we cannot understand. The story of the Tower of Babel brings out that division and confusion.
But on the day of Pentecost, we see the reversal of Babel. The disciples were together, when suddenly all was noise and chaos. There was a sudden wind and even tongues of fire. It must have been terrifying, but it was the Holy Spirit resting on them, and all of a sudden, the disciples started to communicate with the people around, who had come on pilgrimage from all over the Mediterranean world and beyond. They came from different cultures, but they heard people speaking in their own tongues, communicating the good news about Jesus, communicating the Gospel of love. The disciples were empowered to reach out to all around them and communicate God’s love for them all. It was the day the church came into being. The Church’s birthday.
We too are Christ’s followers and we too are called to communicate the Gospel in fresh ways that people can hear. But sometimes the best way is living faithful lives.
Today we mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 70 years on the throne. But in 1947, when she was 21, she said, ‘ I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service... But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me.’
The Queen has shown that devotion to duty, and it has been sustained by her faith. She is a devout Christian and I know friends who have ministered to her especially when she has been at Balmoral and have been so encouraged by her faith. She has been able to communicate that in her quiet way throughout her life. In 1975, in her Christmas message, she articulated it. ‘Jesus’ simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since. He showed that what people are and what they do, does matter and does make all the difference…. It does matter therefore what each individual does each day. Kindness, sympathy, resolution and courteous behaviour are infectious. Acts of courage and self-sacrifice …are an inspiration to others. And the combined effect can be enormous…. We may feel powerless alone but the joining efforts of individuals can defeat the evils of our time. Together they can create a stable, free and considerate society.’
The Queen has shown self-sacrifice and self-giving and complete devotion. It is right that we should mark her jubilee. But equally it should inspire us, where we are, to share these values and thus by our words and by our example communicate the love of God to all.
Hymn 704 – I vow to thee
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Gracious God, receive these gifts that represent our love for you and our commitment to act for justice. May they reflect the self-sacrifice described by Queen Elizabeth and be used boldly as we join efforts to ‘defeat the evils of our time.’
Wind of the Spirit,
blow through us on this day of Pentecost and renew our faith.
Re-awaken our love for God and strengthen our fellowship. Let your flames warm our hearts with trust in Jesus Christ and hope for the future he will create.
Dare us to do great things in his name.
in these days of national celebration
we give thanks for the long reign of Her Majesty The Queen. For her commitment to serve all her people,
for her steadiness in every crisis, for her loyalty to the nation and to the Commonwealth, and for the pledge she has made and kept to honour all people,
we praise and bless You today.
we ask Your blessing on The Queen as she continues her work amongst us.
Sustain and strengthen her in these later years.
Grant her the health and strength that she seeks to fulfil her tasks.
And bless those who will support her in shouldering new and increased responsibilities.
Inspire them and us to continue to lead and serve according to her example.
Loving God, we bless You for the faith of Elizabeth, our Queen,
her devotion to Jesus Christ,
her unashamed witness to His cause,
her love of our Church and her commitment to its worship.
Spirit of compassion, as we celebrate this weekend, we also pray for those whose hearts are sad and troubled. For those whose country is attacked and whose loved ones are at war; for those whose country is riven with economic or social tensions; for those whose crops have failed or whose job has been lost; for those who are sick in body or sick in spirit; for those who are bereaved.
Hymn 702 – Lord, in love and perfect wisdom
May the Spirit comfort you in your sorrow
strengthen you in your weakness
empower you in your uncertainty
and enable you to speak to God’s love to all you meet
and may that same love of God – creator, saviour and inspirer -
be with you all, evermore. Amen
The National Anthem (verse 1)