Welcome, Cheviot churches and also to those joining us from elsewhere. We worship together at Pentecost
Call to Worship
God of fire and beauty WARM US
God of peace and justice DISTURB US
God of wind and wonder AMAZE US
God of Pentecost KINDLE YOUR LOVE IN OUR LIVES
Hymn 584 – Like fireworks in the night
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of power and possibility,
With the flame of your Spirit, you give us energy
to move into the world in Jesus’ name.
With the breath of your Spirit, you refresh us
to engage life in its complexity.
Your Spirit embraces us in our diversity
and invites us to find unity in your love.
We honour you for the gift of creation in all its beauty and bounty.
We praise you for your presence with us in every time and place.
In this time of worship, send us the Holy Spirit once again,
and renew us to serve you in the world,
the world that aches for the healing and wholeness you offer
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God of mystery and mercy,
We confess that we have not always paid attention to the urging of your Spirit,
calling us to follow your will and your way.
Too often we claim to belong to Jesus,
but choose instead to ignore his teaching.
You created us to love you and one another,
but we fail to offer your love to those who differ from us.
Stir in our hearts and in our lives with your Holy Spirit.
Transform who we are,
and direct who we shall become through Christ’s redeeming love.
In Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.
Readings – Acts 2:1–21 John 16:4b–15
Hymn 586 – Come, Holy Ghost
Faithful God, as we go out into the world, we pray that this Pentecost may bring our Cheviot Church community a renewed sense of unity with all Christians around our troubled world. May we use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us to spread the good news and live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen
One year at university I shared a flat with someone from Lossiemouth, up in Moray. We are still good friends today. But I always remember how one weekend his brother came to visit, and he spoke as he would speak at home, and I didn’t understand a word. It was awful when he asked questions, and you just had to give a frantic smile and non-committal grunt and hope his brother came to the rescue. It is always difficult when you can’t communicate.
Those of you who have lived abroad or even travelled abroad will recognise that things will just pass you by, because you don’t speak the language – or even when you do. For communication is more than the language, it is about the culture too, and that can take years to learn.
I am reading a book just now about someone walking along Hadrian’s Wall, and the author mentions how there is evidence that the soldiers on the Wall came from many parts of the Roman Empire. There was cavalry from what is now Romania; there were people from North Africa and from Syria, as well as from Europe, and even traders from Mesopotamia. It was quite a cosmopolitan set up. They would no doubt be comfortable with those from the same area, but probably had some rudimentary Latin or Greek to get by. But certainly there was some degree of communication, and they got the job done of keeping these barbarians from the Borders at bay!!
The Roman world was a cosmopolitan world, and it was into that world that the Church was born. The disciples had been told by Jesus at the Ascension to stay in Jerusalem and wait, and they did so. They were probably still a little fearful of the authorities and wary of creating trouble. They were gathered together in one place, we are told: safety in numbers. It was the feast of Pentecost, Shavuot, when the Jews remembered the giving of the Law at Mt Sinai, but also celebrated the harvest. Jews had gathered in Jerusalem from the Diaspora, from all over the Empire and beyond, because they had settled in many places, and while they would have had a common purpose and religion and could speak Greek, if not Aramaic, there would be cultural differences. We have a list in Acts of some of the places, and they would have felt a certain disconnect.
Jerusalem would have been busy, but suddenly there was noise, and a mighty wind, pushed the disciples out of the house where they had been skulking and into the streets. They had to go public. Flames danced above their heads, their tongues began to loosen and speak, and suddenly all barriers of gender and age, language and culture were blown down by the wind of Pentecost. The Spirit had come, and the Church started with a bang. Communication barriers came crashing down, and everyone felt included, felt they belonged – because they heard their own language spoken.
We still live in a world where there are barriers of communication. In the Middle East Israeli and Palestinian speak a different, and I am not just talking about Hebrew and Arabic. They mean different things when they talk of peace.
In homes here we can have communication breakdowns, and families don’t speak because of something that happened years before.
In the Church as it meets for the General Assembly this week, there can be communication issues because of where we come from or how we interpret Scripture.
But the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost gives us the model of breaking down barriers, so that Paul was able to write later that there was no Roman or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free, because all one in Christ. Pentecost encourages us to communicate to one another and in the language which is love and compassion. So let us celebrate the Church’s birthday and be ever open to the leading of the Spirit.
Hymn 600 – Spirit of God, unseen as the wind
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Spirit of grace and power, bless the gifts we offer so that they accomplish surprising things in Jesus’ name. Bless our lives, too, so that our words and actions may bear witness to Jesus’ love and mercy each and every day
God of love, as Covid-19 continues to impact our world, we pray for those around the globe who don’t have the resources of the richer nations, for those countries struggling to afford vaccinations and basic health care. We think in particular of people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. May those who have the power to bring relief to others use their influence to ensure help and vaccines are directed to the people who need it most. May conversations and negotiations be filled with generosity and concern for the poor and powerless.
God of love, we pray for those who mourn.
With the battles continuing to rage in the Middle East and the death toll rising, we pray for everyone who has lost friends and loved ones. It’s difficult to imagine how scared people must be living with bombs and violence. We pray for those caught in the middle of the chaos. Please bring an end to this war.
God of love, we pray for the poor in spirit.
With so many people experiencing mental health issues we think of those we know who are struggling. Help us to be compassionate listeners and good friends to people who need us. We also think of the steep rise in teenage anxiety and issues such as anorexia; please help families trying to deal with young people who are suffering. Give the agencies and professionals working in mental health good judgement as they work with their patients.
We pray for the Church of Scotland meeting in General Assembly and tackling big issues. Guide the commissioners, that all that is decided may be to God’s glory.
God of love, we pray for the peacemakers.
On this Pentecost Sunday thank you for the work of your Spirit bringing hope, joy and peace to us and to your world. On this Pentecost Sunday renew us in our faith, remind us of the outpouring of your Spirit and help us to be the agents of hope, joy and peace in our world.
Hymn 594 – Come, Holy Spirit, come
As you go forth from this place,
may the wind of the Spirit startle your senses
and blow through your life;
may the fire of the Spirit scorch your complacency
and light your way.
And may the blessing of the Holy One--
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer--
rest with you now and forevermore. Amen