Worship Helps for Pentecost

Art: Pentecost
Artist: Melanie Schuette, Avignon Art Studios

Worship Theme: I will pour out my Spirit. God’s Old Testament people celebrated the gathering of the harvest at the Festival of Weeks. On the fiftieth day, God sent the promised Counselor on the day we call “Pentecost” (Greek for “fifty”). This day marked the birthday of the New Testament Church and celebrates the harvest of souls won by the Son and gathered by his servants empowered by his Spirit. Pentecost is the third great festival of the Church and has been commemorated since at least 217 A.D. The Church dresses in red to remind us of the tongues of fire that marked the Spirit’s gift and the blood of the martyrs which was the seed of the Church. This day culminates the Season of Easter when our risen Lord now empowers his people to be witnesses of the resurrection for the world.

Old Testament: Joel 2:28-29
'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

1. What day was the prophet Joel looking forward to?

2. Who would receive the blessings and power of the Holy Spirit?

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.'

3. What did the Holy Spirit enable the apostles to do?

4. How did the people react?

5. What was Peter’s answer for this miracle?

Gospel: John 16:5-11
“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

6. What promise did Jesus make his disciples in verse 7?

7. What would the Holy Spirit do when he came?

8. How could Jesus’ departure be advantageous for the disciples? 

1. In particular, Joel’s prophecy looked forward to the Day of Pentecost that we hear about in the Second Lesson.

2. All Christians, both men and women, young and old, would receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  With the Spirit comes gifts of many kinds, as, for instance, St. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

In the Old Testament God poured out his Spirit on the prophets and so revealed his will though visions and dreams. In Numbers 11, God anointed the 70 elders with his Spirit so that they prophesied. When Moses’ young aide loyally objected to some of the elders prophesying in the camp, Moses said, “I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” The prophet Joel said that one day, Moses’ wish would be fulfilled. But when? “Afterward,” in the Messianic age, in the last age of the earth that began on the day God kept the promise of Joel and the wish of Moses and put his Spirit on all his people.

3. He gave the apostles the ability to speak in recognizable languages that they had not previously learned or spoken.

4. Most of the people were amazed that they heard these men “declaring the wonders of God” in their own language.  Other assumed that they were drunk.

5. Peter pointed out that this miracle was the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.

The Church follows in the footsteps of Christ who was prepared for his ministry by a dramatic, visible outpouring of the Spirit at his baptism. Jesus kept his promise to baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The real miracle of Pentecost is the transformative gift of the Holy Spirit, taking timid followers of Jesus and making them bold witnesses who carried the Gospel to the world. The sound of the violent wind served as a sign, but was not the gift. The tongues of fire marked its arrival, but they were not the gift. Miraculously speaking in foreign languages was a result, but it was not the gift. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” Moses wished it; Joel foretold it; the disciples lived it. The sin that had scattered mankind at Babel had been atoned. The last age of the earth (vv 19-21) wouldn’t be marked by the dividing of the peoples, but by their uniting into the Church of Christ where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.

6. He promised that after he ascended into heaven he would send his disciples the Holy Spirit as their counselor.

7. He would convict the world of sin through the law of God, and bring comfort to burdened souls through the gospel of salvation.

8. Only when Jesus had finished his redemptive work and returned to the Father would he send the Counselor. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fulfilled this promise of Jesus as the Counselor who would work on the world by dwelling in his disciples. His great work is to convict the world in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. As the Holy Spirit prompted the disciples to preach the Gospel, both believers and unbelievers heard and were convicted in regard to sin—resulting in either repentance or obduracy. The Holy Spirit convicts the world in regard to righteousness, because the purchase price for righteousness had now been paid, (“I am going to the Father”), and the world would either receive it by faith or reject it in unbelief. The Holy Spirit convicts the world in regard to judgment, because although the world has not yet been judged, its ruler has (Revelation 20). The preaching of the Gospel never leaves hearts the same: by either quickening or hardening, the Spirit convicts mankind.

Putting your faith into action

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost
The reason He has given His Holy Spirit is to bring these things home to us by His holy Word and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by His power.”
We pray that this may happen with us.  We pray that His name may be so praised through God’s holy Word and a Christian life that we who have accepted it may abide and daily grow in it, and that it may gain approval among other people.  We pray that it may go forth with power throughout the world.  We pray that many may find entrance into the kingdom of grace, be made partakers of redemption, and be led to it by the Holy Spirit, so that we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun.
God’s kingdom comes to us in two ways: (a) here in time through the Word and faith; and (b) in eternity forever through revelation.  We pray for both these things.  We pray that the kingdom may come to those who are not yet in it, and to us who have received it, both now and hereafter in eternal life.  All this is nothing other than saying, “Dear Father, we pray, give us first Your Word, so that the Gospel may be preached properly throughout the world.  Second, may the Gospel be received in faith and work and live in us, so that through the Word and the Holy Spirit’s power, Your kingdom may triumph among us and the devil’s kingdom be put down and have no power over us…” – Large Catechism, Part III, The Lord’s Prayer, The Second Petition: Thy Kingdom Come (paragraphs 51-54)

Hymns: 184; 176; 177; 187; 326

1  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.

2  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.

3  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.

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

5  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.

6  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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