Worship Helps for Pentecost

Artwork: Pentecost
Artist: Jean II Restout
Date: 1732

Worship Theme: The fifty days have passed and the promised Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Bride of Christ. The once-hidden gospel is no longer the possession of a chosen few. For the Spirit enables the message of salvation to enflame hearts for bearing witness to the ends of the earth.

Old Testament: Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." 5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." 8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel--because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

1. How was the world after the flood very different from the world today (verse 1)?

2. For what two sinful reasons did people decide to build a very tall tower (verse 4)?

3. Why did God say, “Come, let us confuse their language” (verse 7)?

Epistle: Acts 2:1-21 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.'

4. What two dramatic signs came from heaven and showed the presence and power of the Holy Spirit (verses 2–3)?

5. How do those signs display and fit the work of the Spirit?

6. Why did God promise to pour out his Spirit on all people (verses 17–21)?

Gospel: John 15:26-27 "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

7. What name does Jesus first give the Holy Spirit (verse 26)? What does this name mean?

8. What second name does Jesus give the Holy Spirit (verse 26)? What does this name mean?

1. The world after the flood had only one language.

2. The people decided to build a tall tower a) to make a name for themselves (in pride) and b) to keep themselves from being scattered far and wide (in stubborn disobedience of God’s command).

3. God said “Let us confuse their language” because he is Three-in-One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one God.

4. The two signs were a) a sound of a rushing wind that came from heaven and filled the whole house b) tongues of fire that appeared on the heads of each in the house.

5. Like the wind, the Holy Spirit works invisibly, but powerfully. (In Greek and Hebrew “wind” and “spirit” are the same word.) Like fire, the Holy Spirit warms and energizes us with the good news of all Jesus has done in our place.

6. God promised to pour out his Spirit on all people so that they would call on Jesus’ name and be saved.

7. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, “the Counselor.” That name means he is the one who helps us by talking to us.

8. Secondly, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth.” All he speaks is truth. God’s Word is total truth!

Putting your faith into action
The Tower of Babel is a classic example of the misuse of resources. In the church, time, energy, and money can get diverted because someone desires to build a monument to self. The monument need not be a tower, a steeple, or an addition to a building. Monuments to self can be as subtle as a congregation practicing isolationism to the point of decline in a community that is growing with a new, but different, population. How long have our schools, fine mission tools as they are, been known as “parochial” schools? That term can be as destructive as it is descriptive. When we try to retain God’s grace and blessing for personal or corporate use, it hinders the proclamation of the gospel. May we always be eager to invest our time, energies, and dollars for God’s purposes.

A reading from the Book of Concord for the Day of Pentecost
The word or work of any man does not produce the true presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Supper.  This is true whether we consider the merit or recitation of the minister or the eating, drinking, or faith of the communicants.  Christ’s presence should be credited only to Almighty God’s power and our Lord Jesus Christ’s word, institution, and ordination.

Jesus Christ’s words, which He spoke at the first institution, were effective not only at the first Supper.  They are valid, and are still effective.  So where the Supper is celebrated according to Christ’s institution and His words are used, Christ’s body and blood are truly present, distributed, and received, because of the power and effectiveness of the words that Christ spoke at the first Supper.  Chrysostom says:

Christ Himself prepared this table and blesses it.  For no man makes the bread and wine set before us into Christ’s body and blood, only Christ Himself, who was crucified for us.  The declaration “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” was spoken only once.  But it is ever effective in nature, so that it is fruitful and multiplies.  So also this declaration ‹,This is My body; this is My blood,› was spoken once.  But to this day in the Supper of the Church His true body and blood are present. – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VII, The Holy Supper (paragraphs 74-76)

Hymns for this Sunday: 184; 176; 185; 190; 277

1  We now implore God the Holy Ghost
For the true faith which we need the most,
That in our last moments he may befriend us
And, as homeward we journey, attend us.
Lord, have mercy!

2  Shine in our hearts, O most precious Light,
That we Jesus Christ may know aright,
Clinging to our Savior, whose blood has bought us,
Who again to our homeland has brought us.
Lord, have mercy!

3  O sacred Love, grace on us bestow,
Set our hearts with heav’nly fire aglow
That with hearts united we love each other,
Of one mind, in peace with ev’ry brother.
Lord, have mercy!

4  O highest Comfort in ev’ry need,
Grant that neither shame nor death we heed
That e’en then our courage may never fail us
When the foe shall accuse and assail us.
Lord, have mercy!

Text: German hymn, c. 13th century, st. 1; Martin Luther, 1483­–1546, st. 2-4; tr. composite.


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