Blog

Pentecost dove
May 13, 2024

Opening of Worship for Pentecost Sunday

With texts from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B

So often in the telling of the gospel story we forget the role of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost Sunday is an opportunity for us to offer a healthy corrective as we acknowledge the role the Spirit played in creation, in the renewing of all living things, in our prayers, our salvation, and our resurrection hope. The opening of worship presented here uses the Revised Lectionary Texts for Year B, Ezekiel 37:1–14Psalm 104:24–35, and Romans 8:22–27.

Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2024

Prelude

Gathering Song Suggestions
Rest on Us Brown, Smith, Jay, Lake, White, Parker
Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls InspireMaurus
Come, Holy SpiritBell, Maule
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator BlestMaurus, Benedict
Wa wa wa Emimimo/Come, O Holy Spirit, Come Nigerian
We Need the Power of the Holy SpiritSmallwood

Welcome

Lighting of the Christ Candle 

Song Suggestions 
Spirit of the Living GodAssad, Tweeny
Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among UsAlford
Holy Spirit, Come to UsTaizé
Like the Murmur of the Dove’s SongDaw
Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid9th C Latin
Trinity Song McCracken
Not in a HurryUnited Pursuit
Your SpiritRedman, Walker-Smith, Myrin, Cobbs
Spirit MoveHeiligenthal, Cook, Johnson
Holy SpiritTorwalt

God's Greeting*
In the beginning…
     God the Almighty, spoke. 
     God the Son, was the Word spoken. 
     God the Spirit, was the breath that gave life.
          And so the world was created.

Today… 
     God the Almighty, speaks to us.
     God the Son, the Word incarnate, intercedes for us. 
     God the Spirit, continues to breathe new life.
          And so the world, and all in it, is being renewed. 

That same Triune God — Creator, and Re-Creator
greets us with these words: 
     “I will make breath enter you,
     and you will come to life.
     Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

—Ezekiel 37:6b

Opening Words from Psalm 104*
Having heard God’s words of greeting, 
we respond in praise using the words of Psalm 104: 

How many are your works, LORD!
     In wisdom you made them all;
     the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
     teeming with creatures beyond number—
     living things both large and small. 
There the ships go to and fro,
     and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

All creatures look to you
     to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
     they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
     they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
     they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
     they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
     they are created,
     and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
     may the LORD rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
     who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD  all my life;
     I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
     as I rejoice in the LORD .

Praise the LORD, my soul.

Praise the LORD.

—Psalm 104:24–35

On this day of Pentecost we pray: 
     Come, Holy Spirit,
          renew the face of this earth.
     Bring to life what seems dead, 
          embolden our faith, 
          renew our hope in what we do not yet see,
          and bring us comfort. 

Song of Praise Suggestions
Breathe on me, Breath of GodHatch
Spirit, Working in Creation Richards
Praise the Spirit in CreationHurd
Gracious Spirit, Heed Our PleadingNiwagila

Call to Confession from Romans 8 and Ezekiel 37
Though we can look put together on the outside, 
and as a community we can make beautiful music 
and sing songs of praise, 

“We know that the whole creation 
     [including each one of us here] 
     has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth 
     right up to the present time.” 

—Romans 8:22

“Our bones are dried up 
     and our hope is gone;

We are cut off.” 

—Ezekiel 37:11

The LORD asked,
     “Can these bones live?”

“Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

Prayer of Confession
Let us turn to God in our prayer of confession, 
     assured that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. 
We do not know what we ought to pray for, 
     but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” 

—Romans 8:26

Holy God, 
     you are the God of creation and re-creation, 
     yet we feel like dry bones. 
We wonder, “can these bones live?”

Our hope is gone. 
     We are standing in a valley of death.
          –Our world is not as it should be. (Pause)
          –Our city is not as it should be. (Pause)
          –Our church is not as it should be.(Pause)
          –Our households are not as they should be. (Pause)
          –We are not as we should be. (Pause)
          –I am not as I should be. (Pause)

We pray for your Holy Spirit to come, 
     to renew all things. 

Come, Holy Spirit. 

But if we are honest with ourselves:
do we really want renewal? 

Renewal means change. 
Change requires 
     –a giving of self, 
     –a shift in power,
     –a change in perspective,
     –a letting go of our gods, 
     –a willingness to be uncomfortable, 
     –a spirit of humility,
     –a release of the dead things that we cling to. 

We say we want renewal, 
     but we confess that so often we don’t want to let go
          –of the dead things in our lives that hold us down, 
          –our addictions to perfection, work, pride, and the need to be right,
          –our addictions to whatever fills the void in our life 
               that should be filled by you,
          –our need to do things ourselves rather than turn to you 
               and the community you’ve provided.

We say we want renewal, 
     but we treat our time as if it is our own
     and don’t make time for you, 
     we don’t read your Bible, pray, or even listen for you. 

We say we want renewal 
     but we don’t desire for our eyes to see what you see, 
     or our hearts to feel what you feel. 
We don’t really want to give up our money 
     so that others may have basic needs like food, housing, and health care. 
We don’t want our heart to break so much 
     that we are eager for our nation to welcome the immigrant, 
     or our communities to embrace the refugee, 
     or our homes to open to the orphan. 
We don’t want our heart to feel the suffering of others
     to the point that we demand change in our local, state or
          national policies. 

Oh, we say we want renewal, 
     but we confess that each of us has our own safe definition of what
          renewal will mean. 
We have unspoken boundaries in mind as to how far we’d be willing to go. 

O Holy Spirit, 
     there is so much in our own hearts and lives,
     that needs to be renewed, revived. 
Give us the courage to let go of what brings death. 
May each of us breathe out the sin that is within us, 
     (Pause as you breathe out, audibly)
     so that we may breathe in the breath of life. 
     (Pause as you breathe in, audibly)

Amen. 
Come, Holy Spirit. 
Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon from Ezekiel 37
Listen to these words from Ezekiel 37. 
“Then [the LORD] said to me, 
     “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 
          ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 
               Come, breath, from the four winds 
               and breathe into these slain, 
               that they may live.’” 
So I prophesied as he commanded me, 
     and breath entered them; 
     they came to life and stood up on their feet
          —a vast army.” 

—Ezekiel 37:9-10

People of God, be assured, that in Christ, dead bones can live. 
Receive the renewing breath of the Holy Spirit, 
     and live as the forgiven people you are. 

Song of Response Suggestions
Ain’t No GraveBethel Music/Skaggs
Ain’t No GraveCrowder
Holy Spirit, Living Breath of GodGetty, Townend
God of Tempest, God of WhirlwindStuempfle
For Your Gift of God the SpiritClarkson 

Passing of the Peace

Rev. Joyce Borger is senior editor of Reformed Worship and a resource development specialist at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.