Thanksgiving for Baptism: Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Joined to Christ in the waters of baptism, we are raised with him to new life. Let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.
We give you thanks, O God, for in the beginning you created us in your image and planted us in a well-watered garden. In the desert you promised pools of water for the parched, and you gave us water from the rock. When we did not know the way, you sent the Good Shepherd to lead us to still waters. At the cross, you watered us from Jesus’ wounded side, and on this day, you shower us again with the water of life.
We praise you for your salvation through water, for the water in the font, and for all water everywhere. Bathe us in your forgiveness, grace, and love. Satisfy the thirsty, and give us the life only you can give. To you be given honor and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer of the Day: O God, on this day you open the hearts of your faithful people by sending into us your Holy Spirit. Direct us by the light of that Spirit, that we may have a right judgment in all things and rejoice at all times in your peace, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Numbers 11:24-30: The Seventy Elders
So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them, they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, ont of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them.” And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b: God the Creator and Provider
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works–who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and the smoke. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!
Acts 2:1-21: 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. 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 of 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 Cappodocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylea, 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, ‘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 dreams 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.'”
John 20:19-23: Jesus Appears to the Disciples
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Sermon: The Paraclete
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Today is Pentecost Sunday the fiftieth day after Easter when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church, the body of Christ in the world. But somehow I think that we’ve misnamed the Holy Spirit. The word that Jesus uses in John’s Gospel is Paraclete. Sometimes it’s translated as “Advocate” and is often translated as “Comforter.” Where I think we run into trouble is when we think that the Holy Spirit’s only job is to make us feel better.
As with everything else; it’s not that simple. The Holy Spirit as comforter eases our distress, encourages, and comes to us in times of trouble to remind us of Jesus’s presence and promises. It’s that kind of comfort that Jesus is giving to his disciples in this week’s reading from John. They were distressed, feeling orphaned and abandoned, and so they needed that kind of comfort and support.
So, why do I think we may have misnamed the Holy Spirit? Because when we look at these familiar Pentecost readings, the Holy Spirit isn’t comforting anyone or anything, but instead is shaking things up. Let’s start with our reading from John. The Advocate comes to testify and to prompt the testimony of the disciples. Jesus’ testimony to the truth got him killed and the Holy Spirit comes to prompt the disciples into making the same disturbing, disruptive and world-changing testimony that calls into question the values of the world.
In Acts it’s even more pronounced. There’s nothing comforting about the rush of a “violent wind,” let alone tongues of fire on top of your head! And once the disciples take their new multilingual ability into the streets of Jerusalem, everyone who sees and hears them is “bewildered,” “amazed,” and “astonished.” Again, the Spirit didn’t comfort anyone, but instead prompted the disciples to make a very public scene with the troubling good news that the person the crowd had put to death was alive through the power of God!
Do you see what I mean? The Holy Spirit is a much an agitator as advocate, as much inciter as comforter. So what word can we use that captures all the dimensions of the work of the Holy Spirit? Paraclete. It’s a word that loses some of its intended meaning when we try to translate it to English.
Paraclete is a compound Greek word that literally means, “to come alongside another.” In this sense, the Paraclete can be an advocate–to come alongside to defend and counsel–or comforter–to come alongside to provide comfort and encouragement. But the one who comes along side might also do so to strengthen us for work, or to muster our courage, or to prompt or provoke us into action. The Paraclete as the one who comes along side of us to encourage and equip us for the tasks of ministry is such as perfect name for the Holy Spirit.
But remember, in our readings for today, as in our world; if we heed the word and work of the coming alongside Holy Spirit, we will likely be pushed beyond what we imagine and end up stirring things up. We tend to think of the Holy Spirit as an answer to a problem, but what if the Spirit’s work is to create for us a new problem: that we have a story to tell, mercy to share, love to spread, and we just can’t rest until we’ve done so!
We are called to “go and make disciples” and “when you care for the least of these you care for me” and “love one another as I have loved you.” This kind of work is disruptive, difficult and at times even dangerous. So Jesus sends the Paraclete, the one who comes alongside us to encourage, equip, strengthen, provoke and even comfort us so that we can get out there and do it all over again. So instead of calling, “Come Holy Spirit,” we say, “Come alongside, Holy Spirit!” Come and lead us into this world that God so loves, that Jesus died for and that you provoke us to share this love with one another. Amen.
Prayers: Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
We call on your spirit of unity, giving thanks for our different vocations. Activate and utilize the diverse gifts present in your church, that they reveal your love for all. We thank you for your continued blessings on your church at Red Oak Grove and lift up to you this week: Jay Christianson; Nick and Jessica David, Mackenna Jensen, Rose Snater, Mikayla Martinez; Daniel Grant; Thomas, Tammy, Matthew, Emily and Adam Harber; Michelle and Hannah Maxwell, Bradley O’Connor; Ryan Pickar; Tom Thompson; Connie Trihus; Tony and Lori Trostem; John and Tricia Winter. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit of righteousness. Wherever we as a people are divided, unite us. Wherever we are prideful, humble us. Give each one of us a heart for justice and empathy. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit of healing. Bless nurses, doctors, midwives, chaplains, counselors, and hospice workers as they care for those in need. We pray for all who long for comfort especially Kim, Audrey, Arlene, Loren, Karen, Harlan, Nathan, and those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We call on your spirit on hope. As you have led your saints in all times and places, stir in us the desire to follow their example, leading us from death to new life in you. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Blessing and Dismissal:
May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you to new life, fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing. Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen.
Christ is risen, just as he said. Go in peace. Share the good news. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!