Worship for Pentecost, Sunday, May 23, 2021 at Saint Stephen Lutheran Church

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. 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. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

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. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘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.

Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.

And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

How manifold are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too many to               number,
living things both small and great.
There go the ships to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.
All of them look to you
to give them their food in due season. 
You give it to them; they gather it;
you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are terrified;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;
and so you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
O Lord, rejoice in all your works. 
You look at the earth and it trembles;
you touch the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will praise my God while I have my being.
May these words of mine please God.
I will rejoice in the Lord.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Hallelujah! Amen.

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 Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

[Jesus said,] “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

The sanctuary wall on Pentecost morning . . .

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I absolutely – positively love words and I am rather fond of talking too. In fact – to say that I am a bit of a talker is like saying the Grand Canyon is pretty deep or that Mount Everest is rather tall. I use many – many words every single day.

The University of Arizona did a study and discovered that on average we humans speak about 16,000 words a day.

If I had been in their study I totally would have skewed their data.   Seriously – just ask Jack or Cheryl or Rod or Jason or the nice lady at the grocery store . . .

Words – words – words. I am just so full of words.

Yes – I love to talk – but I also like to listen too. And I have been doing a whole lot of listening lately.   I have been listening and watching and observing and just plain delighting in Lutherans since we resumed in-person worship at Saint Stephen.

I have been listening to all of you and it has been an awesome blessing. I have been marveling at this wild and wonderful Christian community we call Saint Stephen Lutheran Church.

You ALL – certainly know how to make a joyful noise unto the Lord and you have been doing just that since May 2nd. Walking down the hall from my office on Sunday mornings – I hear you before I see you. And that is just the early morning warm up. Following worship – is when you guys really get rolling!

After worship the air is literally charged with happiness and joy and excitement as you all delight in being reunited with one another after so many months apart. There is laughter and chatter. I have heard guffaws and exclamations of delight and joy! There are important conversations taking place in every area of the sanctuary and narthex and hall and spilling into the church parking lot.

Truly it feels like our cups runneth over just a bit! And this is just a partial-reunion. Not everyone is back yet!

To someone else it might seem chaotic or messy or too noisy for church.   But I know all of this is perfectly perfect and awesome and amazing. I know this is one of life’s greatest blessings.

And I am so thankful to be a part of this noise and busyness and (some might even say) chaos that is our Christian community.

Messy – chaotic times in life can be moments when we receive our greatest blessings. Sometimes messy chaotic things change the world forever. We see a powerful example of this is our reading from Acts for this week.

Our first reading for this week started in a small – crowded – upstairs room where 120 of Jesus’ disciples had gathered together when suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house.

This mighty wind was the Holy Spirit coming into our world with all of His strength and power. This wind could not be contained or controlled – but it was not destructive.   This wind was an incredible – life changing blessing.

The second symbol of the Holy Spirit’s presence that day was fire.   There were tongues of fire “which separated and came to rest on the heads of each of the people.”

The Holy Spirit just like wind and fire is really and truly powerful.   And the Holy Spirit came into the world to begin a mighty work. An amazing transformation started that day. From that moment until this very moment the power of the Holy Spirit has been shaping our world and changing lives.

As soon as the Holy Spirit arrived an amazing miracle happened.   The disciples all started speaking in a multitude of languages. Languages up until that very moment they did not know.

Imagine the disciples’ excitement as they discovered this amazing blessing from God. They must have been so noisy as whole new languages poured from their lips.

The disciples rushed into the streets of Jerusalem speaking all sorts of languages. And then things got even noisier and more chaotic as folks from different countries heard their native languages being spoken by the disciples. There must have been shouts of joyful recognition as they heard their own languages being spoken. What a sight it must have been – with so many people and so many languages and so much excitement.

The disciples’ lives were changed forever and so were the lives of the people who heard them.   Because when folks heard the Good News of Jesus Christ for the first time in their own languages many of them became Christians and were baptized.

So many people were blessed by the bold – brave ministry of Jesus’ disciples that day. And the world was changed forever.

Sometimes – we get the idea that God is done calling people to serve him. That God doesn’t really want or need our help. Or that God is okay with us not doing all that much to serve him or his people.

But that’s not true. You never get too old to serve God. You never graduate from serving God. You never get to say – my work is done here. Christians don’t retire from serving God. That’s not how the life of a Christian works.

Imagine if the disciples had ignored Jesus’ call to share the Good News of God’s love. Imagine if the disciples had decided they would leave it up to someone else to share the Gospel.

Imagine if the disciples had rejected the call of the Holy Spirit.

Imagine if Peter had decided he was just too busy fishing to help out.

Imagine if Thomas had declined to keep serving because he had already done his part.

Imagine if Philip declared he had retired and was done with God stuff now.

If the disciples had kept the Good News of Jesus Christ to themselves – none of us would be here today. None of us would know about God’s love. None of us would have ever even heard of Jesus.   None of us would be Christians.

God has blessed you all with unique gifts and talents. Our Christian community and the world need you. God wants you to use your gifts and talents to serve him, his church, and his world.

Imagine how you can help God with his work in this world.

Imagine how your own gifts and talents could help share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

God is never done with us. We are always called to serve God. We always have a purpose. We are always needed. And truly this is Good News – AMEN.




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