Worship Helps for the Festival of Pentecost

Pentecost
Melanie Schuette

Worship Theme: Many problems seem unsolvable, but in Christ, our God is the God of the impossible. The day of Pentecost gave clear evidence of the power of the Spirit of Jesus to change things dramatically. Just as dead bones became living, breathing beings in Ezekiel's vision, so people dead in sin become spiritually alive through the message the Holy Spirit has orchestrated and communicated through believers.

Old Testament: Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." 4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'" 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'" 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet-- a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'"

1. What was the condition of the bones and what in your life do they represent?

2. What made these dead bones live? What does that mean for you?

Epistle:  Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

3. What was so amazing about these men boldly speaking in tongues?

4. What was Peter’s explanation of this event?

Gospel: John 14:25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

5. Whom was the Father going to send in connection with the name of Jesus?

6. On what would the Holy Spirit focus, when he came on Pentecost and afterward?


Answers:
1. The bones were very dry. There was no life at all in them. The people of God felt hopeless. There seemed no chance to be released from captivity to return to their homeland. Sin leaves us dry too (Ephesians 2:1‒4). It makes us unable to do anything to return to God and the blessings he intended for us. It makes us feel trapped and hopeless.

2. The Holy Spirit does the impossible by bringing what was dead to life, by God’s Word. He would restore Israel and bring it to its feet to return home. He also creates a new heart and renews a steadfast spirit within us (Psalm 51). What seems impossible becomes real. God promises!

3. The men speaking were common men, Galileans, who would not have had schooling to speak so many other languages fluently. They were men who had hidden, for fear of people connecting them with Christ. Now they were boldly telling that message of the crucified and risen Savior in languages that foreigners could clearly understand.

4. Peter said the fire, wind and tongues fulfilled God’s prophecy to send his Spirit in a special way. This outpouring began at Pentecost and continues wherever the gospel is preached. The purpose was to get the news out so that all could call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

5. The Father and Son would send God the Holy Spirit.

6. The truths Jesus was sharing with the disciples seemed so confusing at the time. They had so much to learn; so much that differed from what they had imagined. The Holy Spirit would come, Jesus said, to “teach you all things” and “remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit was not coming to draw attention to him but to turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus. Like a spotlight operator, he focuses the gospel light on Jesus so we can clearly see what he has done, understand what he has taught and grow firm in faith.


Putting your faith into action
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit continues to take place wherever the Word and sacraments are being used. Evidence of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is seen in people like us gathering for worship. Evidence of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is seen in every worship service as we sing our hymns, give our offerings, confess our sins and our faith, and join in prayers. Evidence of the Holy Spirit is also seen when we go back out into the world and love our neighbors as ourselves. There is only one explanation for these type of responses—the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon each one of us.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost
We reject and condemn the error of the Enthusiasts.  They imagine that God without means, without the hearing of God’s Word, and also without the use of the holy Sacraments, draws people to Himself and enlightens, and saves them.  (Enthusiasts expect the heavenly illumination of the Spirit without the preaching of God’s Word.)
On the other hand, it is correctly said that in conversion God—through the drawing of the Holy Spirit—makes willing people out of stubborn and unwilling ones.  And after conversion, in the daily exercise of repentance, the regenerate will of a person is not idle, but cooperates in all the works of the Holy Spirit, which He performs through us.
When the Holy Spirit has worked and accomplished this, and a person’s will has been changed and renewed by His divine power and working alone, then the new will of that person is an instrument and organ of God the Holy Spirit.  So that person not only accepts grace, but he also cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the works that follow.
There are only two causes for a person’s conversion: (1) the Holy Spirit and (2) God’s Word, as the instrument of the Holy Spirit, by which He works conversion.  A person must hear this Word.  However, it is not by that person’s powers, but only through the grace and working of the Holy Spirit that he trusts the Word and receives it. – Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, paragraphs 13, 17-19



Text of the Closing Hymn: Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And make our hearts your place of rest;
Come with your grace and heav'nly aid,
And fill the hearts which you have made.

To you, the Counselor, we cry,
To you, the gift of God most high;
The fount of life, the fire of love,
The soul's anointing from above.

Your light to ev'ry thought impart,
And shed your love in ev'ry heart;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

Drive far away our wily foe,
And your abiding peace bestow;
If you are our protecting guide,
No evil can with us abide.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And you, from both, as Three in One
That we your name may ever bless
And in our lives the truth confess.

Praise we the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, with them One,
And may the Son on us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow!


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