Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Day of Pentecost
Introduction & Welcome
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
On Pentecost, we celebrate that we have been given an Advocate to accompany us. Poured out in wind and fire, water, wine, and bread, the Holy Spirit abides in and among us. We give thanks that God speaks to each of us, no matter our origins, language, or life path. Filled with the Spirit of truth, we go out from worship to proclaim the saving power of Christ’s love and the freedom of God’s grace with all the world.
Thanksgiving for Baptism
In the waters of baptism,
we have passed over from death to life with Jesus Christ,
and we are a new creation.
For this saving mystery, and for this water, let us bless God,
who was, who is, and who is to come.
We thank you, God, for your river of life,
flowing freely from your throne:
through the earth,
through the city,
through every living thing.
You rescued Noah and his family from the flood;
You opened wide the sea for the Israelites.
Now in these waters you flood us with mercy,
and our sin is drowned forever.
You open the gate of righteousness
and we pass safely through.
In Jesus Christ, you calm and trouble the waters.
You nourish us and enclose us in safety.
You call us forth and send us out.
In lush and barren places, you are with us.
You have become our salvation.
Now breathe upon this water
and awaken your church once more.
Claim us again as your beloved and holy people.
Quench our thirst; cleanse our hearts; wipe away every tear.
To you, our Beginning and our End,
our Shepherd and Lamb,
be honor, glory, praise, and thanksgiving,
now and forever.
Prayer of the Day
God our creator, the resurrection of your Son offers life to all the peoples of earth. By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love, empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Genesis 11:1-9
The builders of the tower of Babel try to make a name for themselves by building their tower to the heavens. God scatters them, confusing their language so that they cannot understand one another. The miracle at Pentecost is a reversal of sorts, drawing many people with many languages together into the new people of God.
1Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” 5The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
Psalm: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. (Ps. 104:30)
24How manifold are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too many to number,
living things both small and great.
26There go the ships to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.
27All of them look to you
to give them their food in due season.
28You give it to them; they gather it;
you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
29When you hide your face, they are terrified;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;
and so you renew the face of the earth.
31May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
O Lord, rejoice in all your works.
32You look at the earth and it trembles;
you touch the mountains and they smoke.
33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will praise my God while I have my being.
34May these words of mine please God.
I will rejoice in the Lord.
35bBless the Lord, O my soul.
Second Reading: Acts 2:1-21
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, amid signs of fire, wind, and a variety of languages, the people were amazed and astonished at Jesus’ promise coming true.
1When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14But 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. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, 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.
18Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”
Alleluia. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love. Alleluia.
Gospel: John 14:8-17 [25-27]
Though the disciples struggle with Jesus’ nature and identity, they receive the promise that they too will be identified with God and God’s mission. Though he must leave them now, Jesus promises the coming of the Advocate whom God will send to comfort and enlighten them.
8Philip said to [Jesus,] “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. [
25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”]
Meditation by Vicar Dave
There’s a whole lot of excitement in our reading from Acts today. The description of “a sound like a rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house” reminds me of a storm we had recently, where the wind was rattling the windows, blowing down some tree branches and making the whole house shake. When I was a child, I used to wonder if our house would be blown down by storms like that! Then there are the tongues of fire which light on the head of each of the apostles! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. And don’t forget about them speaking in languages that they didn’t know. Those around them were amazed because they heard the disciples in their own languages. This must have been quite a powerful display of the power of the Holy Spirit! Can you imagine if that were to happen in our church?
Some churches try to recreate this feeling at their services. I remember a friend that went to a church that had, as a regular part of their service, an “altar call”, where the congregants came forward and displayed how they were overcome with the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of them would go limp and fall over and others would speak in tongues, though I didn’t understand a word that they said. I went to one of these services and remember being in the back and feeling very uncomfortable with it all. My friend asked if I’d rather stay in the back than to go forward and I could barely do more than nod my head. I’m not saying that their expressions were anything less than sincere, nor were they in any way not legitimate. It just wasn’t the way that I express myself. I suspect that many of you reading this don’t express yourself that way very often either.
So, what does that say about our relationship with the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit any less present or active in our congregation than it is in a church like my friend’s? No indeed! I want to remind us of what Paul said about there being many gifts, but all of them proceed from the same Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4) There are many signs around us showing how the Holy Spirit lives in our presence. The first one that comes to my mind is the Holy Scripture. The same Holy Spirit that inspired Peter to preach to the “men of Judea” comes to us in the pages of our Holy Bible. When I read the Bible, I’m reading the same words that were written down centuries ago. Yet they always speak to me in a different way. I’ve heard many others read the Gospels aloud and can hear the Holy Spirit speaking through them in the different emphasis they might put on this phrase or that. The Apostles were given the gift of tongues from the Holy Spirit, and in some ways, we’re given that gift today. The same Bible we read each week is being read to folks in various nations around the world and in their own languages. That’s amazing all by itself. And who is to say that the ability to translate the written word from one language to another isn’t a gift from the Holy Spirit?
Another way I can tell that the Holy Spirit is here among us is by the fact that I’m writing this and you’re reading it. It would be very easy for me to take the time I’ve spent on writing this meditation and to do some yard work or watch TV or just laze about. Rather than reading this, you could also be relaxing or doing other things. But the Holy Spirit has moved both of us to do our parts to make this ministry work out. I believe that the words I write here are not my own, but God’s, given to me by the Holy Spirit. I also believe that Holy Spirit that has caused you to read this and will also direct your attention to the parts of this message that will be most meaningful and inspirational for you. I believe that by reading this, even if you can’t make it to church on Sunday, the Holy Spirit can use this to make us a stronger community together!
The Holy Spirit also comes to our church congregation in the Holy Communion. When the pastor blesses the bread and the wine, the Holy Spirit come into these elements and makes them the body and blood of Christ. They are still bread and wine, but through the action of the Holy Spirit, they are also the body and blood of our Lord. This is no small miracle.
I can also tell that the Holy Spirit is among us in our various ministries at the church. Our Feed Your Neighbor campaign reaches out to folks we’ll most likely never know. But the Spirit inspires us to give to that campaign on a weekly basis. How many people have been blessed by this ministry? Our blood drives similarly reach and bless people that we’ll never know. Our work with the Children’s Rights Collaborative helps children reconnect with parents in very difficult circumstances and does so in a way that provides for the safety of everyone involved. The Holy Spirit has connected us with these ministries and many others so that we can continue to do God’s work with our hands!
Prayers of Intercession
Set free from captivity to sin and death, we pray to the God of resurrection for the church, people in need, and all of creation.
A brief silence.
Holy Living One, Holy Moving One, burst open our locked doors, and by your Spirit drive us out into the world proclaiming your mighty deeds. Direct our words and actions, trusting the Advocate abiding in and among us. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Feed and care for creatures that remain hidden to us yet contribute to the vibrancy of your creation. Train us to interact with creation from a place of wonder, awe, and reverence. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Send your Spirit to places where language is a barrier to justice and mercy for those who seek it. Bless the work of translators, interpreters, and teachers. Promote understanding for the sake of those longing for true freedom and peace. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Comfort all who live in constant fear and any who are suffering, especially the people of Ukraine and other nations where was is being waged, as well as those on our prayer lists and prayer board. Remind them that your Spirit has made them your children and that they are never far from your glory. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Guide Elizabeth & Daniel, our bishops, and Brenda, our pastor, and all bishops, pastors, missionaries, and other ministers of the gospel. Foster our relationships with partner synods and local ministry partners, that our visions and actions are Spirit-led. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Gather your people across regions, nations, and lands. Root our common life in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and by your Spirit bind us together with all the saints who have gone before us. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
In your mercy, O God, respond to these prayers, and renew us by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
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 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.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
God, the Author of life,
Christ, the living Cornerstone,
and the life-giving Spirit of adoption,
☩ bless you now and forever.
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Go in peace. Tell what God has done.
Thanks be to God.