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Sermon and Liturgy for Pentecost Sunday - Year A
Acts 2:1-21; I Corinthians 12:1-13
"God's Birthday Gift"


READING:  Acts 2:1-21; I Corinthians 12:1-13
SERMON :  "God's Birthday Gift"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-pentse 490000
                  
   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

   Some of the Prayers below are taken and modified from John
   Maynard (maynard@SYMPAC.COM.AU) "Prayers and Litanies for
   Pentecost" as sent to the PRCL-List, May 1999).  This
   includes portions of the Eucharistic Prayer which he
   sources from "An Order of Worship, Pentecost 1980, of the
   General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the
   USA".  The children's story is traditional - but for
   presentation here is a slightly modified version of the
   story sent by Bass Mitchell (bassm@va.tds.net)for this
   Pentecost Sunday.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                  (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 104:24-35)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  How manifold are the works of God!  
   In wisdom he made all things.
P  The earth is full of God's creatures, 
   the ocean too is filled with life both great and small.
L  All of these look to God to give them their food in due
   season.  When God gives it - they gather it up and are filled
   with good things.  When he hides his face, they are dismayed.
P  When God sends forth his spirit they are created, 
   his breath brings life to them all.
L  I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
P  I will praise my God all my days.
L  May the Lord rejoice in his works.
P  May the glory of the Lord endure forever.


* INTROIT:  "Holy, Holy, Holy"   (VU-315 Verse 1)
       

* PRAYER OF INVOCATION:
With many voices we praise You, O God.  In different ways we
serve You.  As we assemble before you today we pray that you
would send your Spirit upon us and that you would take our
diversity and mould it into a common theme of thanksgiving.  We
pray that you would weave us and the gifts that we offer into a
whole cloth of service that will blanket the world with your
love, your true goodness and your glory through Jesus Christ, our
Living Lord.  Dwell, we pray, within our worship and within our
hearts that we may bless you and bring everlasting praise to your
name.  Amen.


* HYMN:  "Breath On Me, Breath of God"                   - VU 382
        

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
Gathering in of prayer joys and concerns

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER (sung)


A READING FROM ACTS 2:1-21
   (NRSV)  When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all
   together in one place. {2} And suddenly from heaven there
   came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled
   the entire house where they were sitting. {3} Divided
   tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested
   on each of them. {4} All of them were filled with the Holy
   Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit
   gave them ability. {5} Now there were devout Jews from every
   nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. {6} And at this
   sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one
   heard them speaking in the native language of each. {7}
   Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are
   speaking Galileans? {8} And how is it that we hear, each of
   us, in our own native language? {9} Parthians, Medes,
   Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
   Pontus and Asia, {10} Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the
   parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,
   both Jews and proselytes, {11} Cretans and Arabs--in our own
   languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."
   {12} All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another,
   "What does this mean?" {13} But others sneered and said,
   "They are filled with new wine." {14} But Peter, standing
   with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of
   Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to
   you, and listen to what I say. {15} Indeed, these are not
   drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the
   morning. {16} No, this is what was spoken through the prophet
   Joel: {17} 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I
   will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and
   your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see
   visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. {18} Even upon
   my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out
   my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. {19} And I will show
   portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,
   blood, and fire, and smoky mist. {20} The sun shall be turned
   to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the
   Lord's great and glorious day. {21} Then everyone who calls
   on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


CHILDREN'S TIME:  "The Birthday of The Church"
Object:   Birthday Cake and other Birthday Objects / Banners
Theme:    Celebration of the Birth of The Church
Source:   Self / Traditional / Bass Mitchell

Did you know that today we are having a birthday party?  Guess
whose birthday....

(Roll out the banner that has HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE CHURCH on it.
Let them help you put it up if you like).

Today is Pentecost and for us that's the birthday of the church,
when the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God came into the
church and gave the church life.

God loves us so much that God gives us the Holy Spirit, God's
own presence to live inside us. We can't really see the Spirit
anymore than we can see the air around us. But we can feel the
air, the wind blowing, can't we?  We can see it when the tree
limbs are moving.  So, too, we can feel the Spirit in our lives
we are moved to love God and love others, to worship God and
serve God.

God gives us so many wonderful gifts and the church is one of
them. Tell me, what do you like about the church? On this
birthday of the church, what's special to you about it? (Let them
answer).  

The church is above all - the people of God   united and
empowered by God to show God's love to world.

On a birthday, you usually give a gift, don't you?  Well, on this
birthday of the church we do not so much give gifts to the church
as we offer back to God the fruit of the gift that he gave the
church when it was born.  We celebrate what God has given us and
offer to God what he has put inside us. The Holy Spirit gives us
gifts, abilities, talents, things that we can do to help us do
what God wants us to do. God gives us gifts through the Holy
Spirit so that we might be strong and be able to show the world
the love that God wants everyone to have.

We celebrate the birthday of the church today - the giving of the
Spirit to all who believe in Jesus Christ   by remembering that
it is God who gives us the ability to be the church in the first
place.  It is God who gives us faith - it is God who gives us
strength   it is God who makes it possible for us to do what we
should be doing.

To celebrate the birthday of the church Lena Phillips has made a
birthday cake which we will light now -- and then say a prayer
together before blowing out the candles.  After we are done the
rest of the service, we will eat it.

   Let us Pray -- God, we love you   and we thank you for
   giving us so many gifts   Thank you for your Holy Spirit
   who lives inside us   the Spirit that gives us life -- and
   makes your people one -- We thank you for the church --
   and for making us a part of it    Amen.


*HYMN:  "Spirit Of The Living God, Fall Afresh On" (2x)  - VU 376


PRAYER OF CONFESSION
L  With what can we come before God?
P  A clean heart and a humble spirit he will not despise.
L  Loving God - we open our hearts to you.
P  Nothing, O Lord, can be hidden from you.  
   You know when we sit down and when we rise up.  
   Even before a word is on our tongues you know it completely.
L  Gracious God, you know that we have wandered from your path,
   that we have ignored your commandments and forgotten your
   call to us.  We need your help.  We pray to you for your
   grace and mercy.
P  Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you 
   in thought, word and deed, 
   by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.  
   We have not loved you with our whole heart; 
   we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.  
   We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
   ......... (silent prayer of confession) .........
L  Loving God, cleanse us by the power of your Holy Spirit, that
   we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy
   name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
P  Touch us and we will be made whole. Amen.

SUNG RESPONSE (VU 948): 
   O Lord, hear my prayer.  O Lord, hear my prayer; when I call
   answer me.  O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer;
   come and listen to me.


ASSURANCE OF GOD'S LOVE & MERCY
It is written in the scriptures that "Christ suffered for sins
once, and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to
bring us to God.                                (1 Peter 3:18-19)

Brothers and Sisters, I tell you in the name of Jesus Christ,
that your sins are forgiven by God.  This is God's gift to you
through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, a gift - and not of works
- lest anyone should boast.   Praise be to God.  Amen.


A READING FROM I CORINTHIANS 12:1-13
   (NRSV)  Now concerning spiritual gifts,
   brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. {2}
   You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led
   astray to idols that could not speak. {3} Therefore I want
   you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God
   ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is
   Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. {4} Now there are varieties
   of gifts, but the same Spirit; {5} and there are varieties of
   services, but the same Lord; {6} and there are varieties of
   activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them
   in everyone. {7} To each is given the manifestation of the
   Spirit for the common good. {8} To one is given through the
   Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance
   of knowledge according to the same Spirit, {9} to another
   faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the
   one Spirit, {10} to another the working of miracles, to
   another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to
   another various kinds of tongues, to another the
   interpretation of tongues. {11} All these are activated by
   one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually
   just as the Spirit chooses. {12} For just as the body is one
   and has many members, and all the members of the body, though
   many, are one body, so it is with Christ. {13} For in the one
   Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks,
   slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


* HYMN:  "Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness"                  - VU 382


SERMON:  "God's Birthday Gift"

   "Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the
   meditations of our hearts.  Breath your Spirit into us and
   grant that we may hear and in hearing be led in the way
   you want us to go.  Amen.

I heard a story the other day about a boy who was wandering
around the narthex of a large downtown church one Sunday morning
and stopped and examined a large bronze plaque that was hung on
the wall.  "What are all those names up there?"  he asked one of
the ushers.  "Those are  the names of people who died in the
service." the usher replied.  Curious, the boy asked the usher -
"the 9:30 service or the 11 o'clock service?"

I don't want to be long today - 
but I do want to talk about the birthday of our church -
not the particular birthday of St. Andrew's United,
but the birthday of the whole church - 
the birthday of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church
the birthday which we celebrate on this day each year.

Every year we celebrate Pentecost 
   - that day when God poured out his Holy Spirit upon all flesh
   as he promised through the prophet Joel. 
but it strikes me that for all our talk about the gift of the
Spirit and how it creates, upholds, and sustains the church as a
whole, we often miss the full significance of what God has given us 
   - we miss it because we fail - in all our talk and in all our
   listening - to ask ourselves:
"how has God gifted me in particular - as an individual.."

The story is told of a man called Yates who during the depression
owned a sheep ranch in Texas.  He did not have enough money to
continue paying on the mortgage - in fact he was forced like many
others to live on government subsidies.  

   Each day as he tended his sheep he worried about how he
   was going to pay his bills.  Sometime later a
   seismographic crew arrived on his land and said that their
   might be oil on his land and could they test drill.  After
   a lease was signed they went ahead. 

   At 1115 feet a huge oil reserve was struck - subsequent
   wells revealed even more oil than the first well revealed. 
   Mr Yates owned it all.  He had the oil and mineral rights. 
   He had been living on relief - yet he was  a millionaire.  
   Think of it - he owned all that oil with its tremendous
   potential, yet he did not realize it.

How often we are like this - we are poor and helpless  - unaware
of the extraordinary power that we have available to us  - that
which is lying just below the surface in our minds and our
hearts.

Each one of us here has been given by God our own special day of
Pentecost - a day on which God imparted to us the indwelling of
the Holy Spirit.

Indeed it is this indwelling, this personal day of Pentecost,
which we pray for as a church over every believer when we lay
hands upon them and with the sign of the cross - anoint their
heads with oil on the day of their confirmation.

What God gives us when he gives us his Spirit
is more than strength and support and teaching and comfort,
   those things we normally identify with God's presence,
he gives us more too than joy, and peace, patience, and kindness,
   those things which we call the fruit of the Holy Spirit,
he gives us as well a set of gifts -
   gifts designed for the building up of the body of the church,
   and for the individual ministries to which we are called,
   and for our spiritual life .

The prophet Joel, in his prophecy of the last days,  mentions
some of the gifts  that have been granted by God through his
Spirit:
   gifts of vision and gifts of dreams
   gifts of prophecy 
   - poured out upon our sons and our daughters,
   upon our young and upon our old.

Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost speaks of the gift
of tongues - of languages both angelic and human - to those
assembled there so that they will not think the disciples are
drunk or mad -

And Paul - who in the long run - was the most experienced of all
the apostles with the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, 
lists some of the gifts that God gives and explores with the
Corinthian congregation how those gifts can be used and abused.

A book that I am reading right now lists twenty-seven gifts of
the Spirit - Some of them are 
   - the gift of teaching,
   - the gift of discernment,
   - the gift. of exhortation
   - the gift of hospitality
   - the gift of intercession
   - the gift of the word of wisdom
   - the gift of prophecy
   - the gift of faith
   - the gift of administration
   - the gift of helping
   - and the gift of mercy.

Each of these gifts are spiritual gifts - to be distinguished
from the natural talent we are born with - they are gifts of our
second birth - and can transform an apparently untalented person
into someone who has a remarkable ability to minister to others.

What gifts do you have?

What gift or set of gifts has God poured out upon you so that you
might love and serve your God and your neighbour in the way God
has intended especially for you ?

I want you to think about that - to try to identify within
yourself what God has given to you - to use in his work.

It is a profitable exercise - because it forces us to think about
what God wants to do through us - it forces us to pray and to
read the scriptures and to think about what God has done through
us in the past and where we feel he is leading us now.  And when
we do that we activate the Spirit within us - we bring its power
to the forefront of our lives .

What gift or gifts has God given you for your second birth?
 
Discovering the answer to this question is so profitable an
exercise that I suggest that as a way of honouring God you get
together with four or five of your brothers and sisters in Christ
and try a simple exercise:

   - sit with a piece of paper and pen and have these people
   name to you one or more of your strengths - of your
   qualities - and write them down.  Let each person have a
   turn as the one in the spotlight.   I have done this - and
   I have helped others to do it - and it is a powerful
   experience - one in which you begin to see what God has
   done and is doing in your life.

That is kind of what happened with Mr . Yates - someone helped
him to see what lay beneath the surface - and he discovered that
he was a rich man - and his life of poverty and desperation was
transformed into a life of abundance and of generosity.

He found what had always been there - and he used it - and it
changed his life.

That is what the Spirit is about, what the gifts are about.

They are there to be used in the work of God,
a work to which we are all called,
and which, when we all serve as we are intended - transforms us ,
our church, and our world - into what God intends us to be.


----  Check out George Hartwell's Creative Closings - Pentecost - Year A 
for a different prayer or meditation with which to conclude the sermon 
and/or lead into the prayer time below.


PRAYER OF THE DAY:  
Dear Lord - help us each to identify the gifts you have given us
- the abilities you have granted us for the doing of your work,
for helping our brothers and sisters become stronger and better
at being a light to the world.   Help us to celebrate these gifts
and to use them...  Lord hear our prayer.....

Gracious Father - we thank you for the indwelling of your Holy
Spirit.  Help us to touch the power you have granted to us and to
share it with others so that healing and wholeness may come upon
all.... Lord hear our prayer....

We pray today O God for all those who labour in your vineyard. 
Support them and bless them that they may endure to the end and
see that which their hearts hold in hope this day.... Lord hear
our prayer....

We thank you Lord for all the gifts that you have given to us and
to your church as whole.  We hold before you today O God those
who need a special touch of your Holy Spirit if they are to see
the salvation you have planned for them.  We hold before in our
hearts those who have no sense of your glory or your purpose ---
we remember those who live without hope or present help in their
lives -- we ask for those who do believe - but who are oppressed
in body or mind or spirit.... Be with them Lord and with all we
name before you in our hearts now........  we ask these things in
Jesus' name.  Amen.
                     

* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all
stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow -
VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication

L   We bless you, O God, 
    with these gifts you first gave us. 
P   We bless you, O God, 
    with these gifts for the work of your church.
L   We bless you O God, with our hearts and our hands.
P   We dedicate to you, O God, all that you have given us. 
    Use it to bring healing to others and glory to your name. 
    Amen


* SHARING THE PEACE  - We greet those around us with a sign of
peace (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord
be with you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response
to the peace that God gives to those who hear and do his word.


* HYMN: "As We Gather At Your Table"                     - VU 457


COMMUNION LITANY
L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give him thanks and praise.


THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER
L  Holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: It is our duty
   and our delight to give You thanks and praise.  In the
   beginning of creation Your Spirit moved over the waters. 
   When we were formed from the dust of the earth, You breathed
   into us the breath of life. Even when we resisted and grieved
   You, Your Spirit came upon prophets and teachers, enabling
   them to speak Your truth.  Great and wonderful are Your
   works, Lord God almighty. Your ways are just and true.  And
   so with the faithful from every time and place, we lift our
   hearts in joyful praise, for You alone are holy:

P  Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
   Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.
   Hosanna in the highest.
   Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
   Hosanna in the highest.

L  O Lord our God: we thank You for Your Son Jesus, who lived
   with us sharing joy and sorry.  He told Your story, healed
   the sick, and was a friend of sinners.  Obeying You, He took
   up His cross and was murdered by those He loved.  We praise
   You that Christ is not dead, but is risen to rule the world;
   and that He still is the friend of sinners.  We trust Him to
   overcome every power to hurt or divide us, so that when You
   bring in Your promised Kingdom, we will celebrate victory
   with Him.  Remembering the Lord Jesus, we break bread and
   share one cup, announcing His death for the sins of the
   world, and telling His resurrection to all the nations.

P  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again!

THE WORDS OF INSTITUTION AND PRAYER FOR THE SPIRIT
Wherefor, we remember, in accordance with his command, how Jesus
- on  the night he was betrayed took bread and broke it and
thanked you - as we now thank you O God for the bread that gives
us life - and then gave it to his disciples, saying , take, eat,
this is my body, broken for you....  And in the same manner we
recall how he took the cup and offered it to his disciples saying
- take and drink, this is my blood, poured out for you.   As oft
as you do this - do so in memory of me.

Loving God, pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these
gifts, that they may be for us the body and blood of our Saviour,
Jesus Christ.  Grant that all who share this bread and this wine
may be drawn together in unity by Your Spirit, and remain
faithful in love and hope until that perfect feast with Christ in
joy in His eternal Kingdom.


PROFESSION OF FAITH (The Apostle's Creed)
With the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church around the world this
day, let us make our Confession of Faith:

   I believe in God, the Father almighty, 
   creator of heaven and earth.

   I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, 
   who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
   born of the Virgin Mary,
   suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
   was crucified, died, and was buried;
   he descended to the dead.
   On the third day he rose again;
   He ascended into heaven, 
   he is seated at the right hand of the Father, 
   and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

   I believe in the Holy Spirit,
   the holy Catholic Church,
   the communion of saints,
   the forgiveness of sins,
   the resurrection of the body,
   and the life everlasting.  Amen.


SHARING THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
L  The gifts of God for the people of God.
   This is the joyful feast, our heavenly banquet.
P  They will come from east and west, and from north and south,
   And sit at table in the Kingdom of God.
L  This is the Lord's Table. Our Saviour invites those
   who trust Him to share the feast He has prepared.

   (please coming forward up the centre aisle to receive by
   intinction {take bread from the first server and then dip
   it into the wine held by the second server}.  An
   appropriate response to the words of the servers "The
   body/blood of Christ broken/poured out for you" are "And
   also for you" or "Amen".)


DEPARTING PRAYER       
L  Let us pray....  
   Almighty God, we thank you for all your gifts to us.
P  For the gift of salvation and eternal life 
   through Jesus Christ,
      For the indwelling of your Holy Spirit,
      For your presence in our breaking of bread,
      For the ministries to which you call us,
      For the service for which you equip us,   
      For the light you shine upon our path
      And for the love you place upon our hearts,
   We thank you.
L  Lord, help us be your faithful people,
P  Grant that we may be ones who do the works of righteousness
   all our days and joyfully spread the good news of Jesus
   Christ to all the world.  Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN: "Faith of Our Fathers"                 - VU 580


* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now
   go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people
   of God, the body of Christ.
                                 
                      
* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace; 
and may the Spirit of God be above you and below you,
may she be to the right of you and to the left,
to the front and to the rear,
may the Spirit inhabit your hearts and your mind,
and move through your hands and your feet.
May the Spirit fill your eyes and grace your lips -
to the glory of God our Father 
and Jesus Christ, our Risen Saviour 
both now and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                    - VU 964

   
copyright	- Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1999 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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