A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE                                “Second Piano Concerto”                              Rachmaninoff

CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS 

GATHERING HYMN               “Rise, O Sun of Righteousness”               red book # 657

GREETING

KYRIE                                                                                          red book page 184 (set eight)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

ACTS 1:15–17, 21–26                             

PSALM 1

1 JOHN 5:9–13                                        

JOHN 17:6–19

SERMON                                                                                         Pastor Chris Halverson

You can’t be prepared for Pentecost

The church year is a funny thing if you stop and think about it.

We prepare for Christmas during the four Sundays previous to it, the season of Advent.

We prepare for Easter during the forty days previous to it, the season of Lent.

Yet, when it comes to celebrating Pentecost—there is no preparation. It just sort of sneaks up on you—one minute you are celebrating Easter for the 7th week—then bam—there’s Pentecost—the season in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples so that they might preach the good new of Jesus Christ to all peoples.

And, I think this is appropriate to the season, in that you can’t prepare for Pentecost. You can’t prepare for the unexpected coming of God’s Spirit.

And while I cannot prepare you for next week—for Pentecost—I can at least warn you. I can warn you that you can’t prepare for Pentecost. You can’t prepare for Pentecost.

Let us pray

 

You can’t prepare for Pentecost.

I think I need to set the scene here.

After the resurrection Jesus returned to be with his disciples for forty days. Then he ascended into heaven to be with God the Father.

In one of the more poignant phrases of scripture two men in white robes quite likely the same two men in white robes that greeted the women at the tomb on Easter morning, see all of the disciples looking up into the heavens and ask, “Why do you stand looking up at the sky?”

This shakes the disciples out of their stargazing, and they go to Jerusalem and sit down together praying fervently until Peter…

Remember Peter

the disciple who is constantly taking one step forward and two steps back

identifying Jesus as the Christ—then rejecting the idea that he chose the cross.

The disciple who declares he would never deny Jesus…then does so three times.

Peter—both the stumbling block and the rock that Jesus built his church on.

 

Yeah. That Peter. That Peter stood up—among 120 people (that number is important by the way)—and declared that they needed to find a replacement for Judas, who betrayed Jesus.

They needed a 12th person to lead the 120 people. Just as there was 12 tribes of Israel, so too there ought to be 12 apostles—or so Peter figured.

And Peter doesn’t stop there—he decides that the person they choose has to have been with the other disciples from the time when Jesus was baptized.

And they cast lots, and choose Matthias to be the 12th apostle.

 

To sum up:

Before Pentecost, they go to Jerusalem.

Before Pentecost, they decide there needs to be 12 apostles instead of 11.

Before Pentecost, they also decide that the 12th apostle needs to be someone who had direct contact with Jesus throughout his ministry.

And they choose Matthias.

That was how the disciples prepared for Pentecost.

 

Has anyone here heard of Matthias before? …

I’m not trying to stump you. The reason I ask is that he doesn’t appear in scripture again.

 

As you probably know the book of Acts doesn’t become a story about Matthias and the other 11 apostles for that matter.

It doesn’t become a story about those who knew Jesus before Pentecost.

It doesn’t become a story about staying in Jerusalem.

Instead, by chapter 8 the real main character of the book shows up the Apostle Paul. And by chapter 13 the book is almost solely focused on him.

 

I bring this up, because Paul becomes either the real 12 Apostle, or the 13th Apostle, depending on how you read the book of Acts.

Paul, who is not focused in Jerusalem, but instead focused on bringing the Gospel to the Ends of the Earth.

Paul, who doesn’t always play nicely with the 12 disciples.

Paul, who, in 1 Corinthians, describes himself as “one untimely born.” That is, one who never got to meet Jesus during his earthly ministry.

Paul is the Apostle called after Pentecost—the one no one was prepared for.

 

Just to review one last time.

Before Pentecost, the disciples stayed in Jerusalem—after Pentecost the mission of the Church reached to the ends of the earth.

Before Pentecost, they felt they needed to have 12 Apostles—after Pentecost the main focus is the Apostle Paul.

Before Pentecost it was believed leadership of the Early Church would naturally fall to those who were with Jesus from his Baptism to his death—after Pentecost the leader and major shaper of Christianity is a man who never knew Jesus before the resurrection.

You can’t prepare for Pentecost, because the Holy Spirit leads the Church to new places, to new ways of doing things, and to leadership by new people.

So, while I can’t prepare you for Pentecost—I can at least warn you that you can’t prepare.

I can also give you a heads up about things you might see on Pentecost and the weeks following—things that fit into the model we of how the Spirit worked after Pentecost.

There will be new people—on Pentecost we will be welcoming two new members into the church through the sacrament of baptism, and welcoming a third the Sunday after that.

…            Also, on a much more mundane level—you may have noticed the posters the last two weeks about participation in church—they are preparing you for next Sunday when a giant new sign-up sheet for every ministry of the church will be in place. This should give people every opportunity to participate in the life of this church.

Who knows, maybe the next Apostle Paul will show herself, or himself.

There will be new ways of doing things—The liturgy and the music of this church will be shifting for Pentecost and for the summer—we will be using Now The Feast and Celebration to order our worship service and guitars instead of organ music to order our songs for the summer.

There will be new places—we’re not going to the Ends of the Earth like Paul, but we will be holding three outdoor services in order to be more noticed by the community around us.

But ultimately, an outdoor service is not the good news. New music and new instruments are not the good news. Not even the Baptism of three new members into the body of Christ is the good news. None of these things: New places, new people, and new ways of doing things are the good news.

 

The Good News this last Sunday of Easter, this Sunday before Pentecost, is that you can’t prepare for Pentecost. That whatever it is we have planned and prepared, the Holy Spirit will work with it and work beyond it.  We can, with tremendous expectation and anticipated joy, continually await the Holy Spirit renewing this community.

 

HYMN of the DAY                     “Son of God, Eternal Savior”                  red book # 655

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE                             

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY ANTHEM                         “When We All Get to Heaven”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONG

                                    “Let There Be Peace on Earth”  also red # 496, red # 781

Sending

BLESSING

SENDING SONG                                  “Thine the Amen”                           red book # 826

ANNOUNCEMENT

DISMISSAL                                     

POSTLUDE

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