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Leytonstone United Free Church Pentecost: Sunday 23 MAY 2021

Call To Worship:

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks,

Inside and outside the fences,

You blow where you wish to blow.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the sun who shines on the little plant,

You warm him gently, you give him life,

You raise him up to become a tree with many leaves.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the eagle with her young,

Holding them in peace under your feathers.

On the highest mountain you have built your nest,

Above the valley, above the storms of the world,

Where no hunter ever comes.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the bright cloud in whom we hide,

In whom we know already that the battle has been won.

You bring us to our Brother Jesus

To rest our heads upon his shoulder.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the kind fire who does not cease to burn,

In the love of friends you are building a new house,

Heaven is with us when you are with us.

You are singing your songs in the hearts of the poor

Guide us, wound us, heal us. Bring us to the Father.

Opening Song: Holy Spirit we welcome You (Bob, Joy & Amy)

Song: Let your glory fill this place (Keith Ponto)

Prayers

Come, O Holy Spirit by John Henry Newman

Come, O Holy Spirit.

Come as Holy Fire and burn in us,

come as Holy Wind and cleanse us within,

come as Holy Light and lead us in the darkness,

come as Holy Truth and dispel our ignorance,

come as Holy Power and enable our weakness,

come as Holy Life and dwell in us.

Convict us, convert us, consecrate us,

until we are set free from the service of ourselves,

to be your servants to the world. Amen.

The Lords Prayer

The Lord's Prayer

Bible: Acts 2: 1-21

Today is Pentecost

Jesus was foretold, Jesus came, Jesus died, Jesus rose back to life, Jesus ascended to heaven. The disciples are alone. Perhaps they are afraid. Perhaps confused. Perhaps unsure.

The Holy Spirit comes to revive and bring hope. To remind that God is with us. To reaffirm what is written and make it relevant for the here and now.

Haggai 2: 4 Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’

This message is also for the disciples on this day - be strong, I am with you, do not fear.

Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes

“2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.”

We are going to look at the three signs of the Holy Spirit

Sign 1: Wind

Sign 2: Fire

Sign 3: Speaking in Tongues

Song: Holy Spirit Rain Down

Talk 1: The Holy Spirit comes as a wind.

Sign 1: Wind

We talk about the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost as if She arrives in the Bible for the first time. But The Holy Spirit is here from the start.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

The Hebrew word for Spirit is rush and there are hundreds of mentions of rush in the Old Testament. Sometimes rush translates as spirit, sometimes as wind, sometimes as breath.

In the Old Testament everyone has a Spirit – God has one, people have one, animals have one. Your Spirit is the part of you that lives, several times the word Rush (Spirit) is next to another word which means “She is living”. Rush is a different word to the one used for soul, In the Bible your soul and spirit are different – spirit is breath, soul is more like living consciousness or perhaps the whole person. If you add in the soma or the body to this frame, we start to see human made in the image of God with their own trinity of parts – body, soul and spirit.

The perceptive among you might heard me saying She and her about the spirit. That is the gender for rush in the Old Testament. This living breath of us and of God is a female part of us. This is the same for when it is the Prophet Hannah’s spirit, as for David’s spirit as for God’s Spirit – She is living ad She is female.

Incidentally, the Aramaic word used in the New Testament for Spirit, pneuma, has no gender. So you may refer to the Holy Spirit as They, or as She but he is not an accurate translation for this aspect of the trinity.

But where our human spirit departs from us when we die and breath our last, the Spirit of God can breath new life into any person who is metaphorically or physically dead.

Psalm 104:27 All creatures look to you

to give them their food at the proper time.

28 When you give it to them,

they gather it up;

when you open your hand,

they are satisfied with good things.

29 When you hide your face,

they are terrified;

when you take away their breath,

they die and return to the dust.

30 When you send your Spirit,

they are created,

and you renew the face of the ground.

Ezekiel 36 : 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

The breath of God brings life. She brings life to the Old Testament prophets and She brings it here to the disciples.

The Spirit of God comes to blow the flood waters to rise and blow then later to blow the waters away in Noah. This is not always a wholly benevolent wind, it can be violent, destructive, unpredictable.

“2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.”

Song: Come from the four winds - Amy & Andrew

Talk 2: The Holy Spirit comes as a fire.

While not explicitly named as the Holy Spirit, we have the messenger of God present in the Burning Bush which Moses encounters.

Later this is prophesised by John the Baptist just before he baptises Jesus

Matthew 3:11 I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Fire triangle quiz

No air no fire,

Did you know you can put out fire with low frequency sound waves? The way the air moves impacts on a fire.

But in the burning bush and again here now when the fire is on the disciples heads it does not burn them.

3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

Sometimes the fire of God does burn. In 1 Kings 18: with Elijah and the Prophets of Bael “Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.”

Or as the Hebrew literally translates “She is falling, The fire of Yahweh, She is devouring”.

I wonder about these two manifestations of the Spirit appearing here together at Pentecost? The reason we have heavy fire doors is to prevent any drafts from fanning the flames and helping the wind them to spread the fire to other areas.

A violent wind followed by heads on fire.

Did they know they were not burning? Who has watched a small child fall over and take those few seconds between the bump and the cry? Who has only felt the pain of the paper cut when they notice the blood? Who has felt their own body hurt just by listening to someone else describe their pain?

How long did it take the disciples to realise that they were on fire but not burning?

Song: Here I Am Send Me - Janosch & Sophie

Talk 3: Speaking in tongues

But surely what is different here is not the Spirits presence or representation as fire and wind but the impact on the disciples?

In the Old Testament when Saul is angry with David, the Holy Spirit comes to all of Saul's men.

1 Samuel 19: Spirit of God came on them and they prophesised in Ecstasy.

But it isn’t just ecstatic prophesying. Pentecost is the opening up of who God is for. It is the bringing together of people who are scattered.

Genesis 11: Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Following the Tower of Bable we then meet Abraham – God makes a covenant with Abraham for you and your people.

Here in Pentecost, The Spirit comes and the message is delivered to everyone. All tribes, all tongues, all creeds and races.

The Spirit of God is here. She was here at the start of creation. She was here in the days of the prophets. She was present when Mary became pregnant with Jesus. She came as a dove when Jesus was baptised. She comes in Pentecost to the disciples. She remains with us. She is here now. No face mask can keep her out.

Matthew 1:18 His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, She was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness

Psalm 31: 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;

deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.

From your creation, She moves you and She sustains you, until the day when you give up your own spirit and breath your last, and event after that She can breath the life back into you.

1 Corinthians: 6 “whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.”

With every breath you breath in and out. Like a continuous dialogue between your own spirit which God breathed into you and the Holy spirit.

Song: The Blessing

Prayers & Intercessions

Breath prayers

Thinking about the things we want to ask God for in our prayers today, we are going to use our own spirit or breath and visualise the spirit of breath of God.

Think of something you want to pray for. Breath in for the count of four and hold that breath for four as you think about this prayer.

Then as you breath out to another count of four trust that your spirit will take the prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Song: Breathe on me Breath of God (Joy)

Closing Prayers

The Grace

Credits:

Created with an image by chanjaok1 - "fire triangle, oxygen, heat and fuel, Vector"