Service at Home on 31st May 2020: Pentecost
for Christ Church Ramsbottom, Edenfield Methodist Church and Bolton Road Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 31-05-2020
As usual, the entire service can be followed on the YouTube playlist without the need to look at these sheets. However, you can still use these sheets if you prefer, especially if you want to read the prayers.
Welcome and Introduction
Watch: Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to this Sunday’s Service at Home.
Today is the Sunday on which we celebrate that God poured out His Spirit at Pentecost, empowering His disciples to witness to Jesus to the ends of the earth. As Joel had prophesied: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people”.
We are living in those last days. God has poured out His Spirit for everyone. Today we’re going to be looking at how God equips us through the Holy Spirit to be His disciples, to spread the Good News about Jesus.
Let’s now praise God through the words of the next two songs: ‘Who You say I am’, followed by Living Hope.
Opening prayers and testimonies
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, you are indeed our living hope. We worship you because you defeated death and offer us salvation in your name. We worship you because you’ve broken every chain and have set us free.
Lord, we know that our sins can stop us from accepting the salvation that you offer us. So in a moment of quiet we bring to mind the things that we’ve done wrong and we confess them to you now in the silence................
Lord, we’re truly sorry for these things. Lord, forgive us.
We thank you that that through our faith in you we can be absolutely certain that we are forgiven. Thank you that the chains of sin have been broken and we’ve been set free.
Lord, we pray that the Holy Spirit will come to us this morning just as he came at Pentecost. We pray that we’ll be open to the Spirit so that we can learn more about you and receive from you. We pray that everyone of us will know for certain that we’ve been in your presence.
The Lord’s Prayer
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 that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
We focus today on how God strengthens and guides us through his Holy Spirit, God living in us. We therefore wanted to share some stories of how we are experiencing God's help and strength during these challenging times.
Watch: Spirit Break Out
Prayers of intercession
Watch: Prayers of intercession
Dear Lord, we pray that your Spirit will break out in this area and across the whole country. Send your Spirit so that we see your Kingdom being built here. Send your Spirit to knock down the walls that are stopping people from seeing you.
Send your Spirit to empower your churches to be your witnesses and proclaim your Gospel. Empower us and equip us to serve you. When your Spirit breaks out and knocks those walls down, we pray that we’ll be ready to make the most of every opportunity to lead people to you, into your Kingdom. We pray that we’ll see thousands of people in this area turn to you just like they did in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Help us to remember that in the power of the Spirit all things are possible.
We know there’s a terrible darkness across our world at the moment caused by the pandemic. We pray that you’ll intervene and shine your light into that darkness. We pray for healing of those who are ill. We pray for comfort for those whose loved ones are ill or have died. We pray for your help for those who are suffering financially. We pray for those who are feeling lonely to feel your love. We pray for your peace upon everyone who is worried and frustrated. And we continue to pray for the ongoing work to fight the pandemic and for wisdom by the world’s governments to make the right decisions.
Lord, we also pray for everyone who’s hungry, thirsty, homeless or suffering in any other way. We pray that you will protect and help everyone who is being persecuted or is a victim of injustice.
Lord, we pray for those who we know who are ill or mourning loved ones or troubled in any way and bring them before you now in the silence….
Lord, pour out your healing power on to each one of these people and hold them especially close to you at this difficult time for them.
Lord, help us to remember that you love every single one of us more than we can imagine. Lord, we know that you’re with us now as we pray. In a moment of quiet we think about our own troubles, illness, frustration and unhappiness; and place these into your hands now…………
We pray that you will heal, protect and comfort us. Fill us with your joy and peace. Amen.
Watch: Great is the darkness
Readings and Sermon
Watch: Readings and Sermon
- A reading of John 7 verses 37 to 39 by Olivia.
- A reading of Acts 2 verses 1 to 21 by Matthew.
- A sermon looking at how God equips us through the Holy Spirit to be His disciples, to spread the Good News about Jesus; and prayer in response.
In the reading from Acts we heard how the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus’ first disciples and we saw the effect that wonderful gift had on them.
Take a moment to think about the situation they were in and how they might have been feeling just before that happened.
They were almost certainly still afraid of the Jewish and Roman authorities, and with good reason. If we read on in the book of Acts, we’ll see how the Church of Jesus is persecuted from the start.
Despite their fear they were joyful and excited, expecting something wonderful to happen. They had seen the risen Lord Jesus, on a number of occasions. They knew beyond a doubt that He had risen from the dead. They had then witnessed him ascending into heaven. Final proof, if they needed it, that Jesus was who he said he was, the Son of God, sharing God’s nature; the total vindication of their trust in Him, the absolute assurance that all his teaching, all his promises were true. Luke tells us that after seeing Jesus ascend into heaven they, ‘returned to Jerusalem with great joy’. So they were joyful, excited even, to be disciples of their amazing, victorious Lord Jesus and eager to fulfil the mission that Jesus had now entrusted to them.
Jesus had instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to them. They had done just that, praying together, waiting for the gift of God.
Afraid, joyful and excited, waiting.
Are you in a similar position at the present time?
Many of us are afraid. We may be worried about our health and well-being and that of our friends, family or work colleagues. We may be anxious about finances, about our work, or even about the provision of basic needs for our family.
The disciples were afraid, they were also praying. We too will find that when we give our anxieties and concerns to God in prayer, He helps us to deal with them and gives us His peace, just as Jesus promised He would.
We are all waiting. Some of us may be extra busy in this waiting time, some of us may be undergoing a time of enforced rest, but we are all waiting for this crisis to end. What are you waiting for most? What do you long for?
Why did Jesus ask the disciples to wait before they received the gift of the Holy Spirit? Why was this waiting time important? It was a time of preparation for them. Bonding together in the love of God as they prayed, being made ready by God as they connected with Him through prayer.
Our waiting time has been imposed because of a virus, but God can still use this waiting time for a good purpose. As you pray, consciously invite God into your life, ask him to teach you during this waiting time. What is God showing you? What precious things from this time do you need to keep? What aspects of your life need to change for good?
The disciples waited and prayed for the gift that Jesus had promised them. At the Passover meal he shared with them before his arrest and execution, he had told them that God the Father would send them, ‘another like me’. The Holy Spirit of God – sharing the nature of God and Jesus. Before he was taken up into heaven, he had told them, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8).
This is why, amongst all their conflicting emotions, there is joy and excitement. And this is why, amongst all our conflicting emotions, we have reason to be joyful and excited too. The gift of the Holy Spirit, one God with the Father and with Jesus, sharing their nature completely, is given to all followers of Jesus. God, living in us to help us, guide us, purify us and strengthen us with his holy power.
Like the first disciples we should take all our anxiety and fear in prayer to God. We should make good use of the waiting time to open ourselves to God’s teaching and guidance and we should welcome, with joy and excitement, the gift of God the Holy Spirit.
We need the gift of God the Holy Spirit because, like those first disciples, we have vital work to do. Whether we’re at school or college, in work, out of work or retired we are all key workers for God.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to continue his work here on earth. As Jesus’ present day disciples, this is now our responsibility, our mission, our purpose in life. To spread the Good News of God’s forgiveness, love and new life to all people.
We may be afraid, but we too need to get God’s life-saving message out to a world that is desperate for the love and hope and healing that it brings. The same Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God the Father and of Jesus, one with them, is offered to every follower of Jesus, to each one of us for the same purpose, to enable us to be witnesses to the love and power of God, shown to us through Jesus. Witnesses by the way we live our lives, just as much as by what we say.
The reading from Acts that we heard just now described how the promised Holy Spirit came and we saw the effect the Spirit had on the disciples.
They rushed to share the Good News of Jesus, to tell everyone they could about his promise of God’s forgiveness and new, eternal life. The Holy Spirit gave them both the motivation and the ability to do this. The motivation – they were so full of the love and joy of God that they were bursting to share the Good News with others and see God’s loving power transform their lives too – and the ability – in this case the words they needed in many different languages to tell the pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem for the festival from all over the known world about Jesus. The pilgrims said, ‘we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’
The world was still just as dangerous a place for them as it had been, but they weren’t afraid. They were filled to overflowing with the loving, life-giving Spirit of God, so there was no space left for fear.
The crowd that gathered saw the love and light of God shining out of the disciples and were attracted to it. They wanted to know more and, by the end of Peter’s sermon, several thousand had given their lives to Jesus – his church, his new Kingdom community, was born.
God plans to draw all people to him, through Jesus, and he wants each of us to play our unique part in that work. Imagine – one day everyone on earth will be united under God’s rule of love – no more suffering, no more hatred, no more conflict, no more illness, pain or death.
What are you doing to help God’s kingdom to grow? Will you let God fill you with his love and power and enable you to bring his hope and healing to those you meet, or speak with, or can write to?
We can read in the first chapter of Acts that there were about 120 believers – men and women – meeting together to pray before the day of Pentecost. Each one of them would have received the Holy Spirit and been enabled to take the message of Jesus out to the waiting world. Only Peter preached a sermon that day, but all the disciples were telling people about the wonders of God. Bound closer to God and to each other by the one shared Spirit, they worked together to make Jesus known, so that more and more people could receive forgiveness for their wrongdoing and a fresh start, a new life lived in God’s own power.
Jesus trusts us, you and me and all our brothers and sisters, to take His love, forgiveness, hope and healing out into the world as His first disciples did.
In the reading from John’s Gospel we heard the words of Jesus, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’
There are a lot of thirsty people around us. Jesus is offering them what they most long for, what their souls thirst for. They can be held in the love of God for ever, their tears wiped away, they can be forgiven, healed, blessed.
Let God fill you to overflowing with His Spirit so that you are full of his love, life, hope and joy. Let the Spirit equip you to reach those thirsty people with God’s love, forgiveness and healing.
Take a few minutes to talk to God, either out loud or in the quiet of your own heart.
- If you are afraid, take your fears to God and receive his help and peace.
- Ask God to teach you during this waiting time. To show you the precious things that you need to hold on to and the ways that your life could change for the better with God’s help.
- Ask God the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing with the love and life of God and to equip you to share that love and life with others.
Watch: O Thou Who Camest