Worship preview for 5/20, Pentecost Day
This Sunday is the Festival of Pentecost, which is the third great festival Sunday of the church year. At the Ascension, as well as prior to it, Jesus promised his disciples they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come on them. On Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Spirit and the blessed results.
The Old Testament reading is Ezekiel’s famous vision of the valley of dry bones, in which God teaches the prophet his Spirit’s power to revive the church. Without faith in Christ we are those dead and lifeless bones. But through the power of God, in the Holy Spirit, we too shall live. The New Testament reading records the spectacular outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost day. And in the Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us of the spiritual thirst which is unquenchable except through the faith which the Spirit of God gives.
The hymn of the day for festival of Pentecost is “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord” (ELH 2). Stanza three begins with these words:
Come, holy Fire, comfort true,
Grant us the will Your work to do
And in Your service to abide;
Let trials turn us not aside.
These are excellent words for the birth of the earthly church as we seek to do the will of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We abide in the service of the Spirit, not turned aside by trials and tribulations that we see the disciples of Christ face throughout their lifetimes. We continue to witness to Christ’s resurrection no matter the consequences.
The Gospel reading:
The Spirit comes from the Father and the Son to be at our side. He is the breath of God whose holy work makes us holy by teaching us his Word. When he reminds us of what Christ said and did for us, he brings Christ to us to give us peace with God and with our own conscience. Therefore we can face what is ahead, because we face it with the Father’s gift of the Spirit and with the Spirit’s gift of Christ’s continuing presence.
The Old Testament reading:
Ezekiel was a prophet to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon. They were as devoid of political hope and possibility for national restoration as the field of dead bones shown him by the Lord. God directed Ezekiel to breathe life into the people in exile with the promises of his Word.
God breathed his Holy Spirit at creation and brought all things into existence. He breathes in the gospel today and conquers our spiritual death, bringing us to Jesus and Jesus to us. And on the last day he will breath again and wake all the dead and take us to be with him in heaven forever.
The New Testament reading:
The New Testament reading is the story of Pentecost, an alternate name for the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Weeks, which occurred fifty days after Passover. Jewish people from every nation were gathered in Jerusalem for the festival. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter preached a sermon to the people in which he convicted them of killing their own Messiah. The people had become nothing but dead, dry bones without faith and without hope. But God raised them out of their despair and their desperate situation, proclaiming repentance and forgiveness of sins.