A Journey Just Begun

A Service of Songs, Scriptures, and Prayers for Ascension and Pentecost

Singing songs of the oecumene—the whole inhabited earth—is rooted in the feast of Pentecost, portrayed in the book of Acts, when people from the whole known world gathered in Jerusalem and heard the disciples singing of God’s glorious acts in many tongues.

Now, as then, we are assured that we are surrounded by the unseen host of the saints of God, who in countless tongues sing with us the unending song of praise.

The short introductions in the following liturgy paint a picture of Jesus’ disciples gathered joyfully to pray as described in Luke’s gospel, and of us standing with them, singing and praying for the world and our mission to it as followers of Jesus’ way. It ends with a litany of dedication to go out from our sanctuaries and our places of shelter to live and to share the life of the realm of God.

This service can be used either between Ascension and Pentecost or just after Pentecost, looking forward to the coming season.

The Spirit Calls

Call to Worship

(If “All Peoples Clap Your Hands” is the first song, begin percussion and clapping here, softly, under the spoken text.)

Clap your hands, all you nations;

Shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome,

The great King over all the earth.

—Psalm 47:1–2


“All Peoples, Clap Your Hands” Paschal Jordan, RW 119 p. 26

Resource: “Break into Song,” Episode 1 (tinyurl.com/y9hraem4)


“Clap Your Hands and Sing” Hosanna! 32a

“Peoples, Clap Your Hands!” GtG 261, PH 194

“Nations, Clap Your Hands” LUYH 216, PFAS 47E, PsH 47

Scripture Reading

Luke 24:44–53


“Comment ne pas te louer?/How Can We Not Praise Your Name?” Hosanna! 23

Resource: tinyurl.com/yd8sv6nq

Option: “Cantai ao Senhor/O Sing to the Lord” LUYH 493

Spoken Words of Introduction

The world that God so loved is all around us. Pilgrims, refugees, seekers, and expats from the whole inhabited earth gathered in Jerusalem then, and they are our neighbors now. They share this community; they walk these streets. With their many different voices, with many different songs and stories, they are the world that God so loves, all around us.


“Alle nasies/All You Nations” Hosanna! 21

Resource: tinyurl.com/yaafuhwl


“One People, Here, We Gather” LUYH 243

“Bān-bîn ah/Let All Nations Praise the Lord” LUYH 588, PFAS 117A

Scripture Reading

Acts 2:1–2


“That Day in Jerusalem” Andrew Donaldson, Book of Praise 278

Note: “That Day in Jerusalem” underscores the mystical Jewish roots of the Christian celebration. Richard D. Leach’s “Hear the Sound, My Friend” in Over the Waves of Words can be an alternate choice to playfully sing the story of Pentecost using the traditional French carol tune “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.”

Option: “Spirit of God, Unleashed on Earth” LUYH 237


Holy God, blessed Trinity, as you did on that day of Pentecost at the birth of the church, you pour out your Spirit upon us. You give us visions and dreams, and you bless us with every gift. You have shown us the kind of community that practices the compassionate life of your realm, the commonwealth where your will is done on earth as in heaven.

Give us courage and boldness to tell the story of Emmanuel, God with us, and to live as those for whom the spring of our actions is the love of the Christ:

To walk the way, for Christ is for us the way;

To worship you, the living, moving God,

in spirit and in truth,

for Christ is for us the truth;

To live the life of realm of God, for Christ is for us the life.


“Margam Satyam Jivam Nive/Living, Moving, End and Beginning” The Book of Praise 68

Option: “Praise the Spirit in Creation” LUYH 236

The Spirit Intercedes

Scripture Reading

Romans 8:22–27


“‘Abba, Abba Hear Us,’ We Cry SNC 211

Option: “Send Us Your Spirit” LUYH 228, SNC 163


Prayer of Confession

(spoken and sung)

O Creator, in the beginning your Spirit moved across the chaotic waters. You created a world for us to name, to tend, and to share with all your creatures. But we wanted more; we have always wanted more.


“O God, You Planted a Garden” Hosanna! 59 (v. 1 and refrain), RW 119 p. 19

Resource: tinyurl.com/gmfckuz

Option: “Send Us Your Spirit” LUYH 228 (refrain), SNC 163

O Creator, in the beginning you planted a garden where we could meet with you, walk with you, and learn from you. But already we had gone our own way; we still go our own way and then hide from the consequences. We seek wealth rather than commonwealth; we seek our gain rather than the good of our neighbor.


“O God, You Planted a Garden” Hosanna! 59 (v. 2 and refrain), RW 119 p.19

Option: “Send Us Your Spirit” LUYH 228 (refrain), SNC 163

Loving Creator, you created us not to be alone, but to seek each other’s company, to give and receive love freely. And this we do—but we also desire to possess, to control, to fence in and fence out, to hold onto power, even if our grasp enslaves others and ourselves.

But we seek your face, O God, and ask that you forgive us and renew us.


“O God, You Planted a Garden” Hosanna! 59 (v. 3 and refrain)

(Note: The final refrain may be sung in canon)

Option: “Send Us Your Spirit” LUYH 228 (refrain), SNC 163, RW 119 p.19

Words of Renewal

Friends, hear the good news. For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

—adapted from 2 Corinthians 5:17


“Rombaho/From All that Turns Us from You” as taught by Sharon Lee Ranotahinjanahary, Madagascar

Option: “Sing! A New Creation” LUYH 797

The Spirit Sends


Isaiah 61:1–3


God of liberty, in dangerous times when all around us people are weary and wary, keep us open to your abundant life in all its fresh possibilities. Send us to wage peace, to do your will on earth as it is in heaven, and to announce that your reign has come and is at hand.


“Envío/To the Streets” Hosanna! 83

Option: “We Are Called” LUYH 296 (v. 1–2)

Spoken Words of Introduction

We go out in the joy of the Spirit who moved across the face of creation, who inspired prophets and dreamers, who came to Mary, who descended as a dove upon Jesus at Jordan, who roared among the gathered disciples, and who moves among us with new visions, wise counsel, and abundant life.


“We Are Called” LUYH 296

(If singing the first two stanzas after the prayer, only sing the third stanza here.)

Option: “When Our Savior, Yesu, Went Away” LUYH 242

Sending Litany

The Spirit moves on.

Our journey has just begun.

The Spirit calls us to travel on.

Our journey has just begun.

We are called to journey on the way of the servant,

the way of the cross.

Our journey has just begun.

Will you sing the Spirit’s song in your heart

as you follow in the way?

We will.

Will you follow with the faithfulness of Hannah

and the courage of Mary?

We will.

Will you love sincerely, resist evil,

and hold fast to what is good?

We will.

Will you speak no arrogance,

but keep company with the ordinary, the humble,

offering hospitality,

treating one another with love and respect?

We will.

Offering ourselves as a servant community,

we will walk with God, following Jesus,

moved by the wind and the fire of the Spirit.

The Spirit has called us.

Our journey has just begun.



“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” LUYH 964/965, PH 591/592, PsH 638, TH 731/732, WR 34/44/147




Andrew Donaldson is a Canadian writer, composer, and church musician with extensive background in global song. He worked for five years in Geneva, Switzerland, as the worship consultant for the World Council of Churches. His work may be found at www.andrewdonaldson.ca.

Reformed Worship 127 © March 2018, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.