Worship Resources for May 19, 2024—Pentecost

This post is the last of the weekly worship resources for Rev-o-lution. For the time being, I will be taking a break to focus on other projects. I may occasionally post an updated resource. In the meantime, the site will remain for you to peruse—you can look through the archives for previous resources.

I am hoping to make a hosting transfer at some point and reorganize the website—I will post if the website will be down for any length of time while that happens. If I’m able to find an affordable option and an easy transfer, I will keep the website up longer. As for now, I am keeping it up at least through November 2024.

Thank you again for your support over the years. I have been glad to provide this resource for free because I know most churches and pastors have limited resources.

Revised Common Lectionary: Acts 2:1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Romans 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Narrative Lectionary: Gifts of the Spirit, Acts 2:1-4, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13 (Mark 1:4-8)

The arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts takes place on the day of Pentecost, meaning fifty, marks fifty days after Easter. Shavuot, the Jewish spring festival of the first fruits of harvest, takes place fifty days after Passover and commemorates the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It was one of the pilgrimage festivals in which Jewish people from all over the Roman Empire would come to Jerusalem. Many of them only spoke a little Hebrew that was needed for worship and were native speakers of the local languages from where they lived. When the disciples began speaking to them in their own languages, they were astounded. For the disciples had experienced the Holy Spirit while they were gathered together, like the rush of a violent wind, and divided tongues as of fire had rested on their heads. Peter proclaims to the crowds, some of whom are grumbling that the disciples are drunk, that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, prophesied by the prophet Joel, and that those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

An alternative reading to Acts is Ezekiel 37:1-14. The prophet Ezekiel was told by God to prophesy to a valley of dry bones. Ezekiel lived during the time of the Babylonian Empire’s conquest into Judah and later siege of Jerusalem. All he could see was death and destruction, probably an old battlefield. God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, and they rose up. However, there was no breath in them. Then God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath, and they became alive. God declared that though the people of Israel had been without hope, God would bring them hope. God would bring them back to live in the land they were promised, even if God had to open the graves to do it.

Psalm 104 is a hymn of praise to God, giving thanks for creation. In vs. 24-34, 35b, the psalmist sings of how all God’s creatures are made from God’s wisdom, and how God provides for them. However, when their breath is taken from them, they die and return to the dust. When God sends forth the spirit, they are renewed. The psalmist sings praise for all of creation and rejoices in God the creator.

Paul writes of all creation groaning in labor pains, until now, in Romans 8:22-27. All of humanity and creation has been waiting for redemption. Paul reminds the church in Rome that while they are groaning, they are waiting for a hope unseen, and the Spirit intercedes in their prayers with “sighs too deep for words.” God knows our hearts because of the work of the Spirit in us.

(If Ezekiel is chosen as the first passage, then Acts 2:1-21 is used instead of Romans 8:22-27).

Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as the Advocate to come in John 15:26-27, and 16:4b-15. Before Jesus’s arrest and death, he knew some of the disciples were afraid and full of sadness. Nonetheless, Jesus told them he must die in order for the Advocate to come. The Holy Spirit as Advocate would prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment, and the Spirit would guide the disciples into the truth and declare what is to come.

The Narrative Lectionary also focuses on the Gifts of the Spirit, beginning with the first four verses of Acts 2, how the Holy Spirit rested on the disciples and gave them each the gift of tongues. This passage is paired with 1 Corinthians 12:1-13. This community of Corinthians is primarily Greek, and Paul reminds them that when they were pagans, they followed and worshiped idols, but now they worship one God. All good gifts come from the Holy Spirit, and only good works are done through the Holy Spirit. Though they have many gifts, like a body has many parts, they are one in the body of Christ.

In the supplementary verses of Mark 1:4-8, John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The people of Jerusalem came out to be baptized by him, but John told them he only baptized them with water, but the one coming after him was more powerful, and would baptize them with the Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit that breathes new life in us. It may sound harsh, but perhaps the church has become a valley of dry bones—once full of life, but now brittle and fragile, not doing anything but lying there. We are reminded that between the Ascension (Acts 1:1-8) and Pentecost (2:1-21) when the believers gathered together they numbered about 120 persons (1:14-15). The rest of chapter 1 is spent determining who would replace Judas. And while they were still faithful and praying, the church did not do much before they received the Holy Spirit. We might be in that liminal time between the Ascension and Pentecost, when we are in prayer and discernment, waiting for what to do next. Far too often we are concerned with filling the places open in leadership (and if you recall, we never hear about Matthias again). Nonetheless, the time spent in prayer and discernment is still important.

As a regional executive minister, I have witnessed many churches sitting in this liminal time, unsure of what to do next. Some are trying to gather bones together but without the Spirit, they keep falling apart. Some are just busy with trying to fill the roles the past (with bylaws from decades ago). Yet some are taking time to pray and gather together faithfully. And yes, there are churches who have experienced new life and are connecting to the community and doing amazing things. To me, while that is the goal, it is also okay to be in that space of waiting as long as we are praying and preparing. If we are simply doing the jobs we’ve always done in the church, we are like dry bones. If we are just doing church as we’ve always done it, we’ll become brittle (and bitter) and lifeless. But we must recognize where the Holy Spirit is at work and embrace it, be filled with it, and go into the world as Jesus called us.

This is my prayer for you all, as these weekly reflections and resources come to an end (for now, at least). That you will experience where the Holy Spirit is guiding your congregation. That you will discern the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you and use them for Christ and the church to participate in the reign of God now. And that if you are in that space of uncertainty, remember that the labor pains are a difficult place to be, but God is birthing something new, and we can participate in it now. Pray, listen, discern—and go.

Call to Worship (Psalm 104:31, 33-35b)
May the glory of the Lord endure forever,
May we rejoice in God’s works!
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live,
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May our meditations be pleasing to God,
For we rejoice in the Lord.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!

Prayer of Invocation
Holy Spirit, enter into this place! Enter into our hearts and minds. Open us to new insights and ideas. May we be moved out of complacency into curiosity and wonder. May we be inspired and encouraged in our love of Christ and our love for one another. May we live into the newness of life breathed into us. Holy Spirit, revive us in this time of worship, now and always! Amen.

Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Everlasting God, we have been waiting, waiting, waiting a long time. We are both impatient and stubborn as well as hesitant and skeptical. We pray for revival and yet we don’t want to be uncomfortable. We pray for things to change for the future, but we often want to go back to the past. We know we must be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, but we don’t want to learn a new dance. Call us to acknowledge the limits we have placed on ourselves, O God. Help us to be honest and to know that You desire so much more for us and for the world. Remind us of what Your Son taught us, that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross in order to follow him. Remind us that we must die to the ways of this world, to our own selfishness and self-centeredness, to have new life. For Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and in whom we pray. Amen.

Blessing/Assurance (Romans 8:22-27)
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

The Spirit has interceded for us, and will help us. Call upon God and know God’s forgiveness. Participate in God’s restorative and reparative work, and participate in God’s Good News now. Pray fervently, and know that God’s greatest gift to the world is Jesus Christ, and Jesus has called you. You are needed. You are loved. You are called. So go, love one another, and help participate in the reign of Christ on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Blessed Spirit, we thank You for all Your good gifts—for the ways we show love and care and concern for one another. We thank You for the gift of courage to speak up and act for justice in a world of oppression. We thank You for the gift of wisdom to know when to listen and to be open to change in our hearts and lives. We thank You for the gift of insight to know when we can contribute to the community in caring for each other’s needs. We thank You for all the gifts You have given us. May we remember we always have a gift from You, that we always have something to give to each other and to participate in this world, and that Your gift of love is available to all. We know this gift best through Your Son, Jesus Christ, in whom we live, move, and have our being. Amen.

5 thoughts on “Worship Resources for May 19, 2024—Pentecost

  1. Marranda

    Thank you! Throughout my first year of ministry, your words have been a tremendous gift. Whenever I have felt overwhelmed as a solo pastor, or like my words have simply vanished, your liturgies and introductions to the lectionary texts have helped release my writer’s block to get ideas flowing. I am grateful for this tremendous resource you have created, and for all of the struggling pastors and congregations you have supported through this digital ministry. Blessings!

  2. Rev Daniel Norwood

    I am grateful for the service you have provided, not just to worhip leaders, but to congregations as well. I have appreciated you well-thought out and caring prayers and calls to worship. Blessings

  3. Nicole Melara

    I’m so grateful for the work you’ve done for pastors seeking other perspectives. Your words have filled many a blank space in my heart and head (and bulletin!) over the years. Thank you, Mindi & best blessings on your future projects!

  4. Mick Raynor

    Thank you for your work and diligence over all these years.

    You have been the first place I turn for worship liturgies over the last 2 years. (Associate Pastor at Duke Memorial UMC in Durham)

    Your words have helped so many enter into worship and experience God in new ways. I am so grateful for your work.


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