Orders of Service for Online Streaming - 31st May, 2020

 

Welcome

 

Today is Pentecost, so

come, Holy Spirit:

breathe into our prayers 

your breath of life.

 

Come, Holy Spirit :

fan the flame of love within us, 

and draw us into into the life of God 

Father, son and spirit

 

Come, Holy Spirit:

renew us and revive us,

that in our worship 

and in our living,  

we may live a life of love 

For the praise and glory of God.

 

HYMN  To God be the glory

 

Briefing

  • Baptissimo posted out on Monday

  • Technology - “draw us into into the life of God”

  • Praise Service tonight - 6-30pm on YouTube

 

Talk and Film

As well as the Day of Pentecost, today is also Solidarity Sunday, when UK Baptists want to join together with other churches to  remember the needs of our world, and to hold up in prayer those who are most vulnerable in the Coronavirus pandemic – and those who are responding. Though our church buildings are closed, Solidarity Sunday is about reminding ourselves and each other that there is so much good we can do – through giving, through prayer and through powerful demonstrations of unity. 

 

By joining with other Baptist churches meeting remotely across the UK, we show a hurting world that our prayers and hearts are turned towards those in need as we fight back against the Covid-19 Coronavirus and its devastating effects, together. 

 

So, on Pentecost, how can the experiences of the early Church help us as we live through this time of lockdown? In this special Pentecost talk, former BMS World Mission medical workers Steve and Ismay Green draw our attention to the radical generosity of early believers, and what we can do to share signs of the kingdom of God today. 

 

Film

 

Prayers of Intercession

Caring God

You cared deeply for the sick and dying;

You comforted them and helped them.

Help us now, we pray, in this world of lockdown,

Where so many are ill or in isolation.

On Solidarity Sunday, no matter where the people may be, 

let them know what a friend they have in Jesus.

 

Missionary God

The followers of Jesus waited behind locked doors 

yet your spirit came to them in power 

changing them from a bewildered band 

into a proclaiming people.

 

We pray for ourselves and for your whole church 

that we might be 

open to the empowering presence of your spirit 

open to the gracious gifting of your spirit 

and open to the adventurous leading of your spirit. 


 

Holy Spirit as you filled those first Christians 

with an enthusiasm for the Gospel of Christ 

so enthuse us 

that we may go out into the streets and market places of our world 

preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. 


 

Holy Spirit all who heard the apostles preaching 

understood in their own language.

Fill us with a vision of the whole earth 

filled with your glory. 

 

Send us out to all people of every race and colour 

rich and poor, powerful and oppressed, 

that we may be messengers of the gospel 

and servants of your Kingdom. 

 

Holy Spirit that first Christian community 

Began a life of sharing in worship and in living. 

Fill us with a generous spirit 

ready to share what we are, and what we have, with others. Break down our pride 

that we might have the Grace to receive from the riches of others 

 

Holy Spirit, god with us, 

Fill your people with power and love, 

vision and purpose,

that we might be agents of your gospel 

for the whole world; through Jesus Christ our lord.   AMEN 

 

HYMN  When peace like a river

 

Reading

  • Acts 2:1-21

 

Sermon

Here we are in lockdown.  We are probably watching more TV than we should.  My TV supplier, Virgin Media, have just changed a lot of their channel numbers.  I went to tune in to my travel documentary on channel 292, and got the God Channel instead.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

 

I listened for a few minutes to what is being said on this network, hoping to find some additional insights.  Unfortunately, for me, it was far too American.  Big stage worship with megastar preachers.  You look at their schedule, and there is nothing British, nothing African, nothin Asian - just Bible Belt America.

 

Rather than a celebration of the gifts of the spirit poured out on all at Pentecost, what I hear is a rather narrow-minded celebration of  "We have the spirit and you don't!"

 

It makes me sad that claims of the presence of the spirit of God should be made the exclusive possession of any one group of Christians, no matter what they call themselves. At Pentecost it should make us ask, “what are the signs of God's spirit in the church today?” The spirit which God has promised to pour out "on all flesh."

 

I am concerned that we remember what great diversity there is in the vastness of God, and I become wary when someone tries to convince me that the Holy Spirit is the property of any one group of Christians.

 

I recall a story that one of our Tutors told at Northern Baptist College in Manchester.  He had an encounter with a former member of one of his congregations. She had gone through what she called a charismatic experience, a Pentecost-like experience. She told him about how she had "found Jesus," and been "reborn in the Spirit." The Pastor thought, "Good for you, some burning need in your life has been filled by God in a very special way."

 

But then she went on to try to convince him that he needed to have the same experience in exactly the same way that she had. "Wait," he said, "it is true that our experiences of God differ, but why do you assume that your experience of God is more real than my experience of God?"

 

Yet, so often, this is what it comes down to, is it not? We are confronted with an exclusivism which says, "My way is not a way of understanding God, but the one way and the only way and the true way of understanding God!"

 

In many mainline pastors I have seen a similar, though opposite, reaction.  They say they believe in the Trinity, but concentrate their preaching and teaching on the first two persons, rarely having anything to say about the Holy Spirit. except perhaps today, on Pentecost.

 

So I am left with this question: does the Holy Spirit come to the church in only one way? Does the Holy Spirit come only with signs and wonders, as many Pentecostal Christians would claim? Does the Holy Spirit come only through scripture and tradition, the hearing and preaching of the Word, as many mainline Christians would claim?

 

Only one way? I don't think so. Let me tell you of an experience which helps me understand the wonder of the diversity of God's presence with us. 

 

I am not a musician, but I love music. There are two or three pieces of music which I truly love. Some of them you might never have heard of, like ‘Simple Man’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd or (you might have heard of) ‘In the Ghetto’, by Elvis.  So I’ll give you an example from a musical - Les Miserables. 

 

I took Brenda to see it in the West End once, expecting her, of course to be as moved as I was. Yet as the show ended, Brenda's only reaction was virtually, "That was OK." 

 

OK? This piece which moved me so, did absolutely nothing for Brenda! I had to accept that we were different in the way we experienced this music. Yet, for many, when we hear the music of God reverberating in our lives in a certain way that is so right, so real to us, we say to our friends, "You've got to experience God in the same way I have!"

 

We miss the possibility that God may have an entirely different experience in mind for you than God has in mind for me. It is not so much a matter of wondering why God's Spirit hasn't spoken to you in the same way it has to someone else, as it is a matter of listening for context; for the particular way God is speaking to you right now.

 

Somewhere within each of us is a great hunger, a great empty space which will never be filled until we identify it correctly for what it is - a hunger for God. Nothing else can fill the emptiness which that hunger creates. Yet most of us, most of the time, will try to fill ourselves with just about anything else we can think of, rather than seek to hear God's Spirit calling to those places of need in us. Perhaps one reason our resistance is so powerful is that we have often been pressured to hear God calling in someone else's way, rather than in our own.

 

The Spirit of God is vast and diverse, and God probably chuckles at the way we compete for possession, for exclusive rights to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did come at Pentecost with wind and fire and speaking in tongues - and still does!

 

But that same Spirit was at the beginning, moving over chaos, creating life - and still is!

 

That same Spirit spoke to Elijah not in fire and wind and storm, but in a still, small, voice of calm - and still does!

 

That same Spirit caused the old to dream dreams, and the young to see visions - and still does!

 

The Spirit of God which moved over the face of the waters is moving over our lives to shape a new creation out of whatever chaos we are caught up in!

 

Listen for the Holy Spirit who is calling to the empty places, to the need within you: and God's Spirit will come. I am not going to predict how it will happen for you, but it will happen: we are told, "... for I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh."

 

Let us Pray

 

Holy and Almighty God, your Spirit has been moving among us since before creation itself took form and shape. As you hovered over chaos itself, you move about today calling to the empty places in our lives. Fill us with your fire, your passion, your amazing presence. Storm through our lives like a raging wind. Light our path with the flames of your presence. 

Called, may we answer. 

Summoned, may we follow. 

Filled with your Spirit, may we live as those who have learned to love. 

In the name of Christ our Saviour, we pray. Amen.

 

HYMN  Spirit of God, unseen as the wind

 

Prayers

Loving God, open our hearts

So that we may feel the breath and joy of Your spirit.

Unclench our hands

So that we may reach out to one another,

And touch and be healed.

 

Open our lips in thanks

That we may drink in the delight and wonder of life.

Unstop our ears from ignorance

To hear Your agony in our inhumanity.

Open our eyes in solidarity

So that we may see Christ in friend and stranger.

Breathe Your spirit into us,

And touch our lives with the life of Christ.

 

Lord hear us now as we say. Together, the words of the Lord’s Prayer.  Our Father……….   AMEN

 

HYMN  Leaning on the everlasting arms

 

Blessing

May the Spirit,

who set the Church on fire upon the Day of Pentecost,

bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ;

 

and may the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.

Amen.  

 

 


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