There is a tie for first place among the three most important Sundays in the church year: Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. We should celebrate Pentecost just as robustly. In Italy some churches drop rose petals from above to signify the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame that rested on the heads of the disciples. In France they feature trumpets in worship to echo the Holy Spirit rushing into the room like a blast of wind. In England there have been parades and feasts and dancing in the street.
You are invited to wear red and we will be saying the traditional Lord’s Prayer in many different languages at the same time—another echo of the first Pentecost when all the disciples praised God loudly in different languages that they did not know so that people on the street heard it said in their own tongue.
Joy will be part of our service, and the tremendous hope that the Holy Spirit will come upon the church today as it did on the first church and guide and empower us to meet the daunting challenges we face as we seek to establish the realm of God’s love on earth. The sermon will imagine what new thing the Spirit may be about to do with us and for us and by us. We will hear prophetic voices like Gus Speth, Jim Antal and Greta Thunberg and our own Future Directions Vision and paint a picture of what it might look like in our church and village in the months after a new Pentecost happens.
The children will hear a special rendition of the story of first Pentecost and what happened to that first church, we will read from the creation-centered Psalm 104 and Isaiah 43 will speak of God being about to do a new thing.
The music will enhance the celebratory spirit—we will sing “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” the African American spiritual, “I’m Goin’ a Sing When the Spirit Says Sing” and a Pentecost hymn set to the tune Finlandia, “When Christ Left Earth.” The choir will sing the African “Tshollela Moya, wa Hao, Jesu” and African-American “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” and beautiful Hebrew folk song, “Hava Nashira.” Pianist Annemieke McLane will play two movements from J. S. Bach’s French Suites and one of Schubert’s Impromptus.
Here is a fun version of “I’m Goin’ a Sing When the Spirit Says Sing” by an Indonesian gospel youth choir. Not exactly how we will sing it, but full of spirit for sure!