PENTECOST
SUNDAY 19TH MAY 2024

Pentecost

SENTENCE FROM SCRIPTURE

Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

HYMN

GREETING

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

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

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CONFESSION

You made us to be one family
yet we have divided humanity,

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy.

You were born a Jew to reconcile all people
yet we have brought disharmony amongst races.

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy.

You rejoice in our differences,
yet we have made them a cause of enmity.

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Sue Turner

COLLECT

O God,
who on the day of Pentecost,
enlightened the hearts of your people
by the fire of the Holy Spirit:
give us wisdom and understanding
and lead us in all truth
that your Church may be kept in the unity of the Spirit
and the bond of peace;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen

PROCLAIMING AND RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING
EZEKIEL 37:1-14
read by Billy Dewar-Riddick

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

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So, I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”

SECOND READING
ACTS 2:1-21
read by Kay Solaja

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, they 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:

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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.’

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING
JOHN 15: 26-27; 16:4b-25
read by Rev Ann Wren

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 15 beginning at verse 26

“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.”

Morning Prayer, 29 Mar – John 15:26-27 ~ witnesses – The Peanut Gallery

But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.

“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.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

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“I always wake up so scared” was a comment made by a woman who is caught up in the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Sleep eludes her as she finds herself displaced from what she has known and loved. A report highlighted that 80 percent of children are living in a perpetual state of fear, worry, sadness, and grief. Three quarters of children were bedwetting in fear, and a growing number were exhibiting reactive mutism. Fear is real and this powerful emotion is so debilitating and harmful. The disciples understood something of this fear. They were huddled and anxious behind closed doors- they were terrified. Fear is something we all experience at some point in our lives in some measure or another and so it is of no surprise that a common command in the entire Bible is “do not be afraid.” Interesting the first words after the fall in Genesis were: “I was afraid and hid.” Today people are afraid and are hiding in their work and relationships.

Many of our decisions are based on hidden fears. We worry about whether we will fit in as we decide what to wear. We worry about what people will say if we speak out. We worry about what we do, will it be a success or not and so the list goes on.

There are various synonyms for the word fear- anxious, worried, sleepless, troubled. Tense and anger are words too. You might be thinking what has anger to do with fear. We get angry because of fear- the fear of not being heard, the fear of not being valued or the fear of not being treated with respect.

Fears are not just personal but can be collective, relating to a business or to a church. Some of my colleagues fear for the life of the church in this century. Young people are less interested in church and so questions arise “Will our church survive? Will the dry bones of the church come to life? Will the church become dynamic and vibrant?”

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We have many beautiful churches in Scotland but sadly many are emptying and dying fast, and are being sold off as restaurants and bars. Churches today are in need of vibrancy and life. They are desperate for God’s touch. So, what does it take for a church and its disciples to remain vibrant and alive? I believe it takes the blessing of God. It needs the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon the church and her disciples. Whenever God blesses a church it grows, lives are changed, and miracles happen. The church that God blesses in turn blesses families, people, and communities.

The early church knew God’s blessing. The disciples at the first Pentecost had the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit come upon them through wind and fire. They were transformed from fearful, timid peoples to disciples of passion and power. Look how they became fearless and confident as they speak of Christ to the crowds. They are no longer huddled behind closed doors but are out in the open taking risks to further the kingdom of God.

This early church had the blessing of God – we see 3,000 come to faith that day after Peter preached. The early Church had God’s blessing. If we want God’s blessing, we need to do what the early church in Acts did. What did they do? They prayed for God’s power.

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It is God’s power that makes the church different from any other organisation or group in the world. We have the Holy Spirit. Microsoft and Apple do not have the Holy Spirit- we do! Our assignment as a church is huge- it is to get as many people as possible into heaven. To do that we need God’s power, in the same way as Peter needed God’s power that first Pentecost.

How much power we have depends, I believe, on our desire and longing for God and the Holy Spirit. We can have, as it says in a later chapter in Ezekiel, the Holy Spirit in our lives to the degree that we are willing to open ourselves to his power and presence. In Ezekiel it talks of people having the Holy Spirit at an ankle- deep level, or a knee- deep level or below the waist level or above the waist level. The more the Spirt fills us the more we can move in God’s power and God’s love. The disciples that first Pentecost were in above their waist and that’s why they saw great things happening. They attempted great things for God and expected great things for God.

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Eric Liddell is someone who attempted great things for God and expected great things from God. He was filled with the Spirit; you might say that he was in above his waist. Eric Liddell was born in China to Scottish missionaries in 1902. At the age of five, he was sent to a London boarding school while his parents continued in China. For twelve years they had only brief times of family reunion.

Liddell grew up surrounded by Christianity and acquired a firm faith at a young age. He studied science at Edinburgh University where, despite a reserved and shy personality, he became involved in evangelistic preaching with the Christian Union.

Eric Liddell had outstanding sporting ability, and this was something that had been identified at school, and at university. He played for Scotland’s national rugby team.

In 1923 he shifted his focus to athletics where he was soon recognised as the fastest runner in Scotland. Liddell was selected for the British team for the 1924 Olympics in Paris with the expectation that he would run in several races, including the 100 metres where he was tipped to be the likely winner. However, holding beliefs on sport on the Lord’s Day, he refused to take part in the heats that would be held on a Sunday. His action brought him under enormous pressure from both the British Olympics management and the popular press to compromise his faith. He refused to yield.

In the 200m Liddell won a bronze medal. He prepared for the 400m, a distance over which he was not expected to do well. On the morning of the race, he was handed a paper which read, ‘In the old book it says, “He that honours me, I will honour.”’ Recognising the words from 1 Samuel 2:30, Liddell was encouraged. He took the race at a sprint pace and won, breaking the Olympic and world records. Already well known because of his moral battle, Liddell’s dramatic and unexpected victory now made him a global celebrity.

After the Olympics, Liddell continued to compete but, rejecting various appealing offers associated with sport, expressed his firm belief that ‘God made him for China’. In 1925 he returned to north China as a teacher in a missionary college. In China, Liddell, busy with work and evangelism, continued to compete occasionally. He travelled to Scotland in 1930 to be trained and ordained in the Congregational Church of Scotland and, returning to China, married Florence Mackenzie whose parents were Canadian missionaries.

In 1943, along with other missionaries and foreigners, Liddell was interned by the Japanese and sent to a brutal prison camp where conditions were harsh and insanitary. There, Liddell became a leader, helping the elderly, encouraging the depressed, defusing quarrels and teaching Bible classes. He studied the Bible and prayed deeply both for inmates and for the Japanese.

Liddell, malnourished, suffered an alarming decline in health in 1945 and, just five months before liberation, died from a brain tumour. His grave at the camp is now marked with a memorial headstone inscribed with Isaiah 40:31: ‘They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary.’ Liddell lived a life of surrender, of sacrifice and he lived a life that shone. He was vibrant, passionate, and energetic about his love for God and others. He was a spirit- filled disciple who made an impact on those around him. So, for a vibrant church we need disciples to be like Eric Liddell, filled with God’s Spirit.

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Secondly, we need to use everyone’s language. One of the great miracles of the Day of Pentecost was that as the disciples preached, everyone heard them in their own language. It was a complete reversal of what God did at the Tower of Babel in Genesis. God created diversity and yet unity that Pentecost. You may be thinking you do not speak a foreign language but there are so many other languages today… the language of technology, the language of medicine, the language of theology, the language of construction, the language of law and so on. We need to speak in a way that everyone understands, and not in a language or jargon that creates barriers. We need to use the diversity of languages but in a way that all understand the message.

Thirdly for a vibrant church, we need to employ everybody’s talents. The early church used all of the people in ministry. Nobody sat on the side lines. In Scripture so many people young and old, as the prophet of Joel prophesied, were filled with the Spirit. The Spirit came upon everyone. The Spirit is for all, no age barriers. Many of you have worked tirelessly for the church over the years and you might think that you can pass the mantle on and rest back, but a vibrant church needs all members to be active in small and large ways. There is a role for everyone. The church needs all to be involved.

Fourthly did you notice that the disciples in Acts were devoted to God’s word? They spend time absorbing God’s word and letting it dwell richly in their lives. We don’t want to be like Martha and be distracted by many things but rather we want to keep our focus on God. We want as a church to be devoted to God’s word. Reading a small section of scripture each day will have a profound effect on our lives and the church life as a whole.

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Fifthly we, like the early church, are to be devoted to one another in love. Notice that the people in the early church all had their own homes but they shared their resources with one another generously. They held their possessions lightly. They did not cling to what they had. They shared freely and generously. We too can share what we have with others through this week’s Christian aid appeal for the poor in Burundi.

Sixthly the disciples reached out to the local communities with confidence and faith. They started in the upper room and ended up in the street. They did not wait for the people to come to them. They went to the people. So, St John’s needs to go to the people-we need to think together how best can we do that? The disciples were compelled to go to others with the good news of love, salvation, and hope. The message is the same, the Spirit is the same, and we as God’s disciples can have the same passion and power as the first disciples.

Finally, the disciples worshipped together- they gathered together as a worshipping community. Their worship was marked by joy. It is a healthy reminder that we all need one another for worship. It is all very well saying that you can meet God on the beach or up a mountain- you can that is indisputable but one day a week we are called to meet together – to encourage others and to benefit greatly from the fellowship. Together we are stronger and more powerful. One page of a telephone book you can easily tear as it is not strong, but the telephone book of many pages is too strong to tear. So many people gathered together make a strong community of faith.

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So, on that first Pentecost we see the Holy Spirit transforming the lives of the fearful and timid disciples into powerful and passionate leaders for God. They were once dead in themselves but now they are alive and vibrant. Their vibrancy comes from their devotion to scripture reading and prayer, to the using of all the members’ gifts and talents, to sharing their resources and to worshipping together. Times of refreshment and renewal are coming as we open up ourselves individually and as St John’s to God’s Holy Spirit. God longs to fill us with his Spirit so that we can attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. Come Holy Spirit, revive us and your Church. Amen.

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NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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PRAYERS

Holy Spirit coming as wind and fire
free and irrepressible,
we pray today for all
who long for change but fear it.

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We think of the poor and the hungry,
the homeless and the refugee,
the sick and unemployed,
the downtrodden and oppressed,
these and so many others,
who yearn for a new beginning,
an opportunity to start afresh.
May their prayers be answered, and their dreams realised.

As you came at Pentecost
come again today.

We pray for those who see change as a threat,
a sweeping -away of everything that is tried and trusted,
and the imposition of unknown challenges
and an uncertain future.
May they rest secure in the knowledge,
that whatever else may change,
you will remain constant.

As you came at Pentecost
come again today.

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Holy Spirit coming gently as a dove,
we pray for all who long for peace,
and all who long for peace,
and all who have lost sight of what peace really means.
We think of those in homes racked by tensions,
families spilt by disputes and domestic abuse,
communities scarred by prejudice and intolerance
and countries torn apart by hostilities and war.
May dialogue triumph over confrontation,
and unity replace division.

As you came at Pentecost
come again today.

We pray for those who long for the Pentecostal Spirit of new life
after a time of sickness, hospitalisation, or injury.
May your Spirit touch them,
breathe healing into their weary bodies
renew and restore them
to their former strength and well- being.

As you came at Pentecost
come again today.

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Holy Spirit you changed the lives of the Apostles
and of countless people through history,
just as you are changing our lives in turn,
each renewed through your sovereign power.
Come now and change our world in all its need,
so that it may enjoy hope and peace,
healing and harmony,
and so that all may come to a saving knowledge
of Jesus Christ as Lord.

As you came at Pentecost
come again today.

Merciful Father accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord
who taught us to say together,

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

PRAYER

Let us pray

God of power,
May the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
and may the gifts of your Spirit equip us
to serve and worship you, now and always. Amen.

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BLESSING

The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth,
give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and to proclaim the word and works of God,
and the blessing of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
remain with you always. Amen.

DISMISSAL

We go into the world in the power of the Spirit to fulfil our high calling as servants of Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

Donations

You can donate to St John’s by credit or debit card by following these links.

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Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

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St John's Church

5 days 1 hour ago

Sunday 16th June 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. There is no Choral Evensong at 6pm

St John's Church

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Sunday 9th June 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. There is NO Contemporary Service at 6pm

St John's Church

2 weeks 5 days ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John’s Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, at 6pm this Sunday, 2nd June, when the choir of St John’s Church will

St John's Church

3 weeks 2 days ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, at 6pm this Sunday, 2nd June, when the choir of St John's Church will