First Presbyterian Church of Woodbridge Order of Service May 31, 2020 Pentecost Sunday
Call to Worship: Sometimes our hearts are shut up like the doors that imprisoned the disciples. Come, Holy Spirit, with your mighty wind of justice, blow open these doors and release us! Darkness floods our souls and we wonder if we will ever see the light again. Come, Holy Spirit, let the flames of fire touch our hearts and our spirits and burn away our fears and frustrations. We sit, huddled in our own worlds of alienation. When will we ever feel the power of your love again, O God? Come, Holy Spirit, fill our lives with your love and free us to reach out to others with the good news of your eternal presence. They were alone, huddled in fear, and suddenly a great rush of wind pierced the room. Tongues of fire rested on the heads of those gathered and they sat, transfixed! The power of the Holy Spirit came upon them all. They felt an energy and a joy that they never would have imagined. They were ready! They were ready to proclaim the good news of God’s love and presence with them, even with their lives. Come, Holy Spirit. Embolden us today. Give us power and energy to proclaim, with our very lives, the great good news of your eternal presence. We are free, at last!
Unison Prayer of Invocation: Spirit of wind and fire, come to us this day, freeing us from our fears. Lift us up when we have fallen. Dust us off and set us squarely on the path to hope you have set before us. Fill us with your wind and fire, that we might be enlivened again. Get us ready for the great adventure and opportunities that lie before us. Give us visions and dreams of what you long for in your creation, that we might begin to live them into reality. Come, Spirit; come into our worship, into our church community, into our very selves. Amen.
Call to Confession
Unison Prayer of Confession: Lord of patience and persistence, we live in a broken and shattered world. All around us we see great evidence of hatred and alienation. We cannot help but observe the alienation of your people from each other. We create devices to separate rather than unite; to divide rather than come together in hope. Forgive us for our sins. These sins cause such division and hurt. Remind us today that the disciples, too, lived in a fearful world and that one day you came to them, as they sat huddled in fear, and you empowered them. You gave them hearts of courage and faith. Please bring to us the same hearts that we may serve you well, bringing peace and hope to our world. In the name of Christ, we offer this prayer. Amen.
Words of Assurance: Dear friends, fear no more! The power of God’s Holy Spirit has set us free from the prison of doubt and fear! Now is the time to shine with the light of God’s love, given to you by Jesus Christ. Your sins are forgiven through the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer of Illumination: Holy God open our hearts and minds and souls to hear your word as if for the first time. Help us experience anew the surprise and joy that your presence in the word can bring us. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 2:1-21 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, “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.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “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.’
Sharing of Joys and Concerns
Pastoral Prayer: The bars of our prisons melt at the power of the Holy Spirit, O God. We praise and thank you for the fulfillment of the promise made by your Son Jesus that we would have a counselor, a guide. We thought we could feel no greater joy than we felt on Easter Day when the good news of Jesus’ resurrection greeted our ears! But this surpasses all that. You have come to us in our imprisonment and freed us. You have given to us a voice of power and hope to proclaim the good news! You have poured into our lives the Holy Spirit to be with us always! These things are so amazing to us. Thank you. We ask that you be with our dear ones who face illness, who mourn, who feel lost and alone, who hurt in so many ways. Help us to reach out to them with lovingkindness, in the name of the Holy Spirit. Strengthen us for the times ahead. Give us courage to proclaim your love with our lives, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Invitation to the Offering: Pentecost people! We have received gifts too numerous to count. Now we have a chance to give in thanks and joy. Your offering will enable this church to be a Pentecost presence in this community and the world—to reach out in passionate commitment and bring the wind and fire of the Spirit to a world that so desperately needs it.
Dedication of Offering: Holy God, for all you have given, for all we have received, we give you thanks. We bring before you our gifts of substance and the gift of our lives. We bring our passion and joy and surprise, our visions, and dreams. May they refresh and enliven our church and community, as the wind of your Spirit did long ago. Amen.
Benediction: Go forth now as Pentecost people, filled with the Spirit, dreaming dreams, and seeing visions of God's possibilities. We go forth, knowing we are beloved and blessed by a God who never leaves us alone. Go, to be surprised by the Spirit in all that you do and everywhere that you go. We go, claiming our identity as Pentecost people—people of wind and fire, dreams and visions, people filled with that most amazing and transforming Spirit. Amen.
Today’s liturgy is adapted from Ministry Matters.