Sunday 19 May 2024

Pentecost Sunday

Welcome!

We know not everyone who is part of Westwood Church is able to be in church on Sunday morning however, we thought it would be good to offer some excerpts from the Sunday morning service. Where we can, we offer parts of the service in text and audio, whichever works best for you. If you want to plug in headphones to your computer, tablet or mobile phone now is a good time to do it ! If you want to offer some comment or feedback just use the comment box at the end of this post.



Scripture


Praise – Be still


Prayers

Almighty and eternal God: our eyes cannot see You; our hands cannot touch You.

Our minds struggle to comprehend You. Yet You have breathed your Spirit into us.  We are inextricably linked to you, one with you and you are one with us.  Your life and breath is within us.

You have opened our minds to seek You, inclined our hearts to love You, called us to live within Your Kingdom. 

Give us faith to lay hold of things unseen, to live as those who know and see the invisible God.

Bring us at the last to those things beyond our seeing, beyond our hearing, beyond our imagining, to the vision of Your glory when we shall see You face to face; the dim image removed, the veil lifted and all things are made known to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We come remembering that first Pentecost when your Spirit was poured out upon the apostles in such an immense and overwhelming way.  The outpouring of your Spirit could not be hidden, could not be contained; the Spirit touched all who were present.

We come, this Pentecost Sunday, reminded of the constant work of your Spirit, inspiring, guiding, challenging, refining.  Open us again to the movement of Your Spirit, let the reality of God enter our lives and shine from our lives, the invisible God made visible in our living.  Give us the gifts we need to work for your purposes and breathe your power into our lives.

This is the gift you bring to us; Christ within us, in all his divinity.  We bring the gift of our humanity, humanity that seeks divinity, that seeks to be set right with its creator.  What we seek is what you offer.  And what you seek is what we offer.  May we be as one through the presence of your indwelling Holy Spirit.

Hear us as we join in the words of the Lord’s Prayer saying…

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, the Power and the Glory forever.  Amen.


Address

It has been the topic of conversation on a number of occasions this last week.  Last Sunday around tea time the heavens opened in a torrential down pour.  Gutters overflowed, rivers ran down the roads, every dip and hollow flooded within minutes, the lightening flashed and the thunder rumbled.  Then the hail stones came, rattling off the windows and car roofs.  It was all quite dramatic and spectacular.  Some of us found it awesome and exciting and wanted to watch.  Some of us found it frightening and wanted to close the blinds until it was over.  We all witnessed the same event but reacted to it in quite different, contrasting, ways.

Acts chapter 2 give us a dramatic and spectacular picture of the coming of the Holy Spirit; the noise like a strong wind blowing, noise from all the people talking in different languages – almost a cacophony of sound.  And tongues of fire maybe like flashes of lightening spreading out and touching each person there.  Some of those who witnessed this spectacular event greeted it in amazement and wonder.  They were the ones who were totally absorbed in the moment and wanted to know more; “What does this mean?”  And there were those who reacted in quite a different way wanting to distance themselves from this event, discrediting the people they saw by suggesting they were all drunk.  Same event but quite contrasting reactions.

We get the feeling that Luke, as he writes the Book of Acts, is trying to describe the indescribable.  Those who had gathered on the Day of Pentecost experienced something the likes of which they had never experienced before.  Just like getting caught in a thunder storm when the hail stones sting you face and the rain runs down the back of your collar, you can’t see where you’re going, you’re not putting up your brolly for fear of the lighting striking you.  It’s a moment in which all of your senses are consumed, nothing else matters in that moment but the experience of the storm.  It overwhelms the senses.  When the hail stones are hitting your face, you’re not thinking about what you’re having for tea that night!

It is easy for us to alter the picture of what God was doing on the day of Pentecost.  We might think that God poured his spirit out upon all humanity but that’s not what Luke tells us.  God poured his Spirit out upon the believers who had gathered.  And the outcome of the believers receiving the Spirit in such an overwhelming way was that they began to speak about the great things God had done, communicating that message in so many different languages.  And the outcome of that was all these people asking each other, “What does this mean?”

There will always be people who search for meaning in their experiences and there will always be those who will be dismissive of meaning or experience.  Could it be that the search for meaning is in essence the search for God?  Or might it be that the experiences we have in life which we cannot fully describe, the things that overwhelm us, is in fact God knocking at the door asking us to open ourselves to new possibilities and even to the movement of His Spirit within us?

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter and the other eleven apostles stood up and in a loud voice began to speak to the crowd, “Listen to me and let me tell you what this means.”  It sort of reminds me on the slogan that circulated many years ago – “Jesus is the answer!”  and the reply was… “What is the question?”

I wonder if that’s what’s changed in our society; that we don’t ask the question “What does this mean?” We are not searching for meaning and so we are not searching for the answer.


Praise – Spirit of God


Prayers for Others

Holy Spirit, you changed the lives of the Apostles and of countless people through history, just as you are changing our lives in turn, each renewed through your sovereign power.  Come now and change our world in all its need, so that it may enjoy hope and peace, healing and harmony, and so that all may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  As you came at Pentecost, come again today.  Hear the prayers we offer…

Holy Spirit, coming gently as a dove, we pray for all who long for peace, and all who have lost sight of what peace really means.  We think of those in homes racked by tensions, families split by disputes and quarrels, communities scarred by prejudice and intolerance, countries torn apart by war.  May dialogue triumph over confrontation and unity replace division.  As you came at Pentecost, come again today. Hear the prayers we offer…

Holy Spirit, you bring healing and wholeness by your presence.  We pray today for all those who are unable to be here in person, whether through ill health or commitments in caring for another. And we pray for those who in their hearts still feel they belong but have lost their connection with their church.  Be with them Lord, and minister to them.  As you came at Pentecost, come again today. Hear the prayers we offer…

Holy Spirit, who knows our sorrows, we pray for all those who are bereaved

and all those who are unwell or awaiting hospital results or treatments.  We pray for the medical teams attending to their needs.  As you came at Pentecost, come again today. Hear the prayers we offer…

Lord our world is so broken, we are so in need of Your Holy Spirit to be in our lives. Pour out Your spirit on us anew Lord and grant that we may speak Your universal language of repentance, forgiveness, acceptance, love and salvation.  In Jesus name we pray.

Amen


Praise – O breath of life


The Grace

And now… May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love, now and for evermore. AMEN.

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