One in the Spirit: A Korean/English communion service that affirms our unity

All Christians have big celebrations on Christmas and Easter. But I wonder how many churches remember and celebrate the day of Pentecost. When I look back at my church life at home, I cannot remember having a special celebration service on the Sunday of Pentecost. Maybe that is the Korean Presbyterian Church way. But I do not think it's the right way.

I believe we should celebrate Pentecost just as fully as we celebrate Christmas and Easter. After all, the Spirit launched the worldwide proclamation of the gospel on the day of Pentecost, marking the beginning of the New Testament church. Through the pouring out of the Spirit, early Christians, even disciples of Jesus, began to understand that the boundaries between Gentiles and Jews were destroyed, and that all peoples and races were children of God together.

When I plan worship for the day of Pentecost, I think of the immigrant Korean Church in America—in particular, my church in Grand Rapids. Our congregation includes people of many colors and backgrounds—Korean Americans, white Americans, black Americans, Mexican Americans, and Vietnamese Americans. We come to church each week facing problems of racism and nationalism in our lives, so for us the celebration of Pentecost has special meaning. We can confirm and celebrate that we are one family, even though we have different face colors and different mother tongues.

Eun-ea Kim is a student in educational ministries at Calvin Tiieological Seminary and a member of the Han-in Korean Christian Reformed Chuivh in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She prepared this sei"uicefor a worship course in 1993.

Traditionally, most Korean churches have separate services for adults, youth, and children. Family members do not all attend the same service. Because of the unity in the Holy Spirit, I plan a joint service for children, youth, and adults on the Sunday of Pentecost. This service shows that the family, including children and youth, as well as all people of God, become one body in Christ by the Spirit.

Worship Environment

I try to set a festival or feast mood for people when they enter the church on Pentecost. The light will be bright. The Pentecost banners will hang in front, on each side of the sanctuary wall. The words "Come, Holy Spirit" will decorate the middle of the front wall. The communion table will be covered with red and gold cloth. Two big flower arrangements will stand to the left and right of the pulpit.

Worship Guidance

There will be six ushers to guide today's worship service. They will hand out bulletins and suggest to people who need English interpretation that they may pick up headphones on the desk at the entrance to the sanctuary. They will also guide family members to sit together, because sometimes a wife and a husband sit separately.

Worship Bulletin

The worship bulletin will be copied not on white, but on red paper (the color of Pentecost). Most of it (with the exception of the litany that the congregation is supposed to read in English) will be printed in both Korean and English.


"Spirit, Working in Creation"
[PsH 415]

[Played three times by the orgfin, the piano, two violins, and a cello. The first time through use one violin on the melody; the second time through add the second violin on alto; the third time through add the cello on bass.]

[When instruments play the third time, the worship leaders enter the sanctuary. These are the pastor, an elder for congre-gational prayer, a deacon for offertory prayer, and the leader of the litanies. The choir follows the worship leaders, singing stanza 1 of "Spirit, Working in Creation." As the worship leaders enter, the congregation stands. After the singing, the worship leaders and choir take their places.]


[The pastor explains the special service today and invites the congregation to exchange greetings. He mentions that the service will be led in Korean and English, and that the congregation should feel free to sing in either language.]

Call to Worship (in Korean)

Praise God! His Spirit lives in our midst.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is found,

there is the authentic church.

We yearn to be the authentic church.

We affirm the fire of the Spirit.

The fire that cleanses us, makes us whole, and pushes us on. Let us worship.

Choir: As we gather in celebration,
let us lift our hearts in song.

Witness the union of people together.
In common we share what is more than lifelong.

Opening Prayer

[The congregation prays silently while the choir sings stanza 1 of "Spirit Divine, Inspire Our Prayer" (PsH 421, PH 325). As soon as the song ends, the pastor prays for God's blessing on the service.]

Heavenly Father, we are here in your presence. We praise you for your work in the creation and for your work in redeeming us. Especially today we praise you for your work through the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sending the Spirit two thousand years ago to the early Christians. We ask you to send the same Spirit to us today. For Jesus' sake we pray Amen.

Psalm 104

"Your Spirit, O Lord, Makes Life to Abound" (in Korean or English)

st. 1: all
st. 2: women
st. 3: men
st. 4 and repeat of stanza 1: all
[PSH 104]

Apostles' Creed (spoken in Korean or English)

[In Korean churches the usually comes at this point in the service. Then the congregation is seated.]


"For Your Gift of God the Spirit"

st. 1-2: all
st. 3: choir
st. 4-5: all
[PsH 416, RL 382, TH 339]


Prayer for Illumination (in Korean)

[An elder leads the congregation in prayer:]

O God, thank you for gathering us here today. We did not know you before, but you called and made us to be your children by your grace. We could not go to you before, but you broke the wall between you and us through the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you, God, for coming to us and restoring the relationship between you and us. When you restored the relationship between you and us, you also restored the relationship between us and our brothers and sisters.

However, in spite of your healing of all broken relationships, we still build walls around people, nations, and races. Forgive our weakness. Now we listen to your Word. Open our ears so we can hear you speaking. Open our ears so we can find complete reconciliation in your grace. Your Word is the mirror through which we can see our sin and our neglect of your will of reconciliation among us.

Your Word is the hammer that smashes our obstinate minds that seek disunity. Send your Spirit to us, so that we can understand your Word, inscribe it in our hearts, and put it into practice. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.

[After the -prayer, children are invited forward.]

Children's Song

"Father, I Adore You" (in English)

[Childrens song is led by a church school teacher. Only the piano is played.]
[PsH 284]

Children's Message

"The Day of Pentecost"

[The church school director gives the message according to the Young Children and Worship material (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989, pp. 209-211). Afterward, the children may return to their seats]

Scripture Lesson

[This is a dramatic Scripture reading. Readers sit in the first and second pews in the middle of the row. After the children return to their seats, the readers come and stand before the pulpit. Genesis 11 :l-9 is read by youth group members: narrator 1, voice 1, and God are mens voices; narrator 2 and voice 2 are womens voices. Acts 2:1-21 is read by adults: Narrator A, voices A and C, Peter, and Joel are mens voices; narrator B and voices B and D are womens voices.]

Genesis 11:1-9 (NIV in English)

Narrator 1: Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other,

Voice 1: Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly.

Narrator 1: They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said,

Voice 2: Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

Narrator 2: But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said,

Voice 3: 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. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.

Narrator 1: So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

Narrator 2: That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Acts 2:1-21 (in Korean)

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

Narrator B: Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked:

Voice A: Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?

Voice B: Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

Voice C: Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

Voice D: Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Gyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—

All voices: We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!

Narrator A: Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another,

Voices A and B: What does this mean?

Narrator A: Some, however, made fun of them and said,

Voices C and D: They have had too much wine.

Narrator B: Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:

Peter: Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.


"Come, Holy Spirit"


"All People Understand in Their Own Language!"

[The sermon takes about 10-15 minutes and is preached in Korean. However, people who need translation can listen in English by headphone. A synopsis of the sermon is printed here.]

There are two stories in the Bible about the problem of communication. One is the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel. The other is the New Testament story of Pentecost.

A long time ago, all people on the earth used the same language, and they were all gathered in one place. They wanted to leave their mark on the world—to do something so wonderful that the people who came after them on this planet would never forget them. They also wanted to make sure that they would never get lost, that they would all stay in one place. So they started to build a huge tower—a tower so tall that it would reach all the way to heaven.

Their plans for building the Tower of Babel were very human-centered. They said, "Let us do this. Let us do that." So God wasn't pleased with their planning and building. God knew it was time to separate the people and send them to all parts of the earth, so God mixed up their languages. Suddenly neighbors couldn't communicate with neighbors anymore, and that made the building project impossible. So the people started to separate, each choosing to live with others who spoke the same language. Their unity of one language and one plan was broken.

The story of Pentecost is also about broken communication. On that first Pentecost, Jews from all nations had gathered in Jerusalem. Since they spoke many different languages, they did not understand one another. Imagine how surprised they were when some men spoke to them, and everyone in the crowd could understand! Everyone heard the words the disciples said in his or her native language.

The two stories—the story of Babel and the story of Pentecost—are similar in the sense that both involve communication and a variety of different languages. However, there the similarity ends. The story of Babel is a story of disunity; the story of Pentecost is a story of unity. At Babel we discover that the disunity of people is a curse by God on human-centered actions. However, God relieved this disunity by sending the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

There are still many different languages in our world today. Maybe this symbolizes the remaining disunity among different cultures or races. Maybe it symbolizes disunity between the old generation and the young generation. However, we should remember that on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit brought together and unified people of all languages. People from many different nations understood the message of the gospel. And when they heard the gospel, they became one in the Spirit.

So the church of Christ was started by people of different nations, different races, and different generations. Humankind was reunified in their understanding of the divine message by the Spirit.

We speak different languages in this congregation too. English is a comfortable language for some of our people. Korean is a comfortable language for others. Sometimes parents do not understand what their children are talking about, because their ideas and concepts are different. Sometimes children do not understand what their parents are talking about; they think mother and father are out of step with this age. However, we can come to a new understanding of one another in one message, the gospel, by the Holy Spirit. We say that we are so different, but we can and should be united in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Today we are celebrating Pentecost. God, who sent the Holy Spirit and restored unity among people on the day of Pentecost two thousand years ago, is the same God who can send the Holy Spirit to us and make us united. Now we are different, but we become united in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.


Response Hymn

"Spirit of the Living God" (in Korean or English)
[PsH 424, PH 322]

[The leader of the litanies comes to the pulpit, and reads the litanies in Korean. The congregation reads in English when they read tiie litany of thanksgiving and the litany of supplication, but in Korean for the litany of confession. The prayer of confession is usually near the beginning of worship. However, I placed it here because this prayer of confession is a response to Gods Word about unity.]

Litany of Thanksgiving

Father God, send your Holy Spirit to us on this day of Pentecost.

Thank you, God, for sending your Spirit.

Your promise to be with us is established on the day of Pentecost.

Thank you, God, for sending your Spirit.

You sweep away the all barriers of race and nation by the wind of your Spirit.

Thank you, God, for sending your Spirit.

You burn the obstructions between the rich and the poor by the fire of your Spirit.

Thank you, God, for sending your Spirit.

You reversed the curse of Babel to speak in different languages by the tongues of the Spirit.

Thank you, God, for sending your Spirit.

You build bridges from generation to generation and from culture to culture.

Thank you, God, for sending your Spirit.

You are the God who calls us your children in your Holy Spirit.

You are the God who brings unity to all your children in your Holy Spirit.

Litany of Confession

Even though you are the God who calls us your children, we do not always obey your will.

Forgive us for disobeying your will.

We build boundaries between races and nations.

Forgive us for making boundaries.

We do not accept our brothers and sisters who are from different backgrounds.

Forgive us for refusing our brothers and sisters in the Spirit.

We easily blame our actions on generation, culture, and language gaps, and do not try to understand each other— even within our own families.

Forgive us for justifying our situation and for misunderstanding even our own family members.

Litany of Supplication

Lord, send your Spirit today.

Lord, send your Spirit today.

Lord, help us to be united in your Spirit.

Help us, Lord.

Lord, help us to receive the promised gifts of your Holy Spirit.

Help us, Lord.

Lord, help us to use the gifts of your Spirit and to be united in our families and churches.

Help us, Lord.

Lord, help us to bring the unity of the Spirit to our nation and to this world.

Help us, Lord.

Lord, help us to participate in bringing your kingdom by our unity in your Holy Spirit.

Help us, Lord.


Prayer of Intercession

Let us pray for peace and unity in Bosnia.

[Silent prayer.]

Let us pray for peace between North and South Korea.

[Silent prayer.]

Let us pray for people who suffer because of racism and nationalism in North America.

[Silent prayer.]

Let us pray for our church, that we may build our unity in the one Holy Spirit.

[Sileiit prayer.]

For Jesus' sake we pray,


Prayer Song

"Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying"
[PsH 625]

[After singing, the prayer leader comes to the pulpit Ushers, who sit in the first row at the right side of the sanctuary, come to the front. Ushers are two adults, a man and a woman, also a man and a woman from the youth group.]

Offertory Prayer

Lord, sometimes we try to count how many gifts you have given to us. However, we cannot count your gifts to us. Everything we have is your gift. Especially today, we thank you that you send the Holy Spirit to us as a gift. How can we repay all your gifts to us? We want to show our thanks to you through this token. We give this as a symbol of giving our everything, even ourselves. Accept this offering. In the name of Jesus, we pray Amen.


"O Holy Spirit, by Whose Breath"
st. 1-4: solo
st. 5: all
[PSH 426]

The Lord's Supper (in Korean)

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We thank you, Father, for sending your Spirit to us. By your Spirit we become one with Christ and with each other. We celebrate this unification with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and anticipate sharing in this feast with all our brothers and sisters from all ages and from all over the world at the heavenly banquet.


[After the tlianksgiving reading, elders who help in the Lord's Supper guide people as all leave their seats to form a circle around the sanctuary. After that, the elders stand before the Lords table.]

Words of Institution
Preparation of the Elements

[Spoken as the minister breaks the bread and pours the cup.]

The bread that we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.

We who are many are one body, for we all share the same loaf.

The cup from which we drink is our participation in the blood of Christ.

The cup that we drink is our participation in the blood of Christ.

The Communion

[To be received individually]

Giver: By the body of Christ, given for us, we are one body.

Receiver: Amen.

Giver: We share the blood of Christ that was shed for us.

Receiver: Amen.

[People return to their seats when the bread and cup return to the table.]


"Let Us Break Bread Together"

st. 1: male solo
st. 2: female solo
st. 3: choir
refrain: all
[PsH 304, PH 513, RL 545]

Closing Hymn

"Breathe on Me, Breath of God"
st. 1: adults
st. 2: youth and children
st. 3: all
[PsH 420, PH 316, TH 334]

Benediction (in Korean)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
[2 Cor. 13:14]


"Behold, How Good, How Pleasant Is the Union"
(Psalm 133)

[Postlude is played twice by the organ, the piano, two violins and a cello.]

Reformed Worship 31 © March 1994, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.