- Rev. Daniel Benson
Pentecost: Light my Fire.
Pentecost, Sunday, May 31st, 2020.
Preamble / info.
Welcome, Church! In these times we are reminded more than ever, that the church is not a building but the people who come together in Jesus’ name. Therefore, I’m not saying, “Welcome to church,” but, “Welcome Church!”
In the light of the good advice from health authorities that we practice ‘physical distancing’ during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not worshiping in person at the church building.
However, Jesus promises that where two or three are gathered, He will be there. So, we can gather in spirit, sharing the Word, hymns, and prayers that bind us together as followers of Jesus and the people of God.
We may not be in the same room, and we may not even be doing this at the same moment in time; but, along with millions of people around the world in any number of languages, we are worshiping God and caring for one another.
In preparation, you may want to have a candle handy (either a real candle or one of those little battery-operated ones). We always light candles in church because they remind us of the presence and beauty of God. This is particularly fitting as we celebrate Pentecost – the birth(day) of the church!
God be with you!
Oh God of these extraordinary days and these ordinary times. We come today and bring our praises and our prayers to you. We do not ask that you be with us because you are always present. Instead, we ask that you help us be aware of your abiding presence. Instill in us the grace that opens our eyes to the many ways your grace graces our lives. It is so easy in these extraordinary times to feel that we are lost, that the world is lost, and indeed we have lost you. Surprise us once again, Oh God, by rolling away the stones of our doubts and fears so that your light can take away the shadows.
Music: Spirit of The Living God, Fall Afresh on Me.
Lighting of the candle.
With the spirit-filled flames of Pentecost glowing like lights in the deepest darkness, we light this candle to remind us that God’s light lifts each us up. It draws us to God and one another, inviting us into the circle where Jesus is the centre and the Spirit welcomes us home. Amen.
Introduction to today’s theme: Today is Pentecost Sunday, often celebrated as the birth(day) of the church, when the Spirit moved amongst the disciples. Listen to the ancient story of how God moves in mysterious ways.
Acts 1: 1 – 21. Pentecost Arrives like a Mighty Wind, read by the Catibogs.
Sermon / Reflection. "C’mon, Light my Fire." by Rev. Dan.
Music: “Spirit of Gentleness” invites the Spirit to stir us from placidness, like a wind on the sea.
The flames of Pentecost are the light of renewal and rebirth. They are the promise that life will triumph over death, good over evil, love over hate, and faith over fear. This is the Good News, given by Jesus, shared with one another. It is both a gift and a birthright of those who will accept the Spirit’s calling.
Our offering is both a practical and symbolic act of our commitment to serve Christ and build His church. Although we can’t actually ‘pass the plate’ online, you are encouraged to continue your gift to the church, as the work of the St Paul’s and the staff continue:
· Drop your envelope (cheque or cash) at the church;
· Mail your cheque to the church;
· Go on PAR (call Rosie for details);
· Use the Donate button at the top of the page (it will take you to SPUC’s Canada Helps page where you can donate online and get an instant tax receipt).
May my gifts of time, talent, and treasure generously and lovingly offered be used faithfully to do build God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven!
There has been a good deal of discussion in the Church about Communion during the pandemic shut-down. Can we really celebrate the Feast of the Lord’s Table, when we can’t actually gather around the table? What does it mean to share communion when we are not sharing together in a common place and time? Does the reality of the Eucharist transcend the limits of virtual worship? These are heady matters, and many churches have decided to abstain from Communion – describing it either as a fast (an intentional act) or a famine (an accident of our circumstances), as a result of their discernment on this issue.
I believe that Communion is fundamentally a ‘group activity,’ in the same way that much of what being church is. Christianity is essentially a faith that is exercised and grows in fellowship with others (even though there are times solitude is necessary and appropriate).
Notwithstanding that truth, the reality of our times demands a pastoral flexibility that allows us to step outside the norms and even our cherished values to find a way to nourish our souls at Christ’s table. Even if the means and manner are imperfect, the feast is perfection itself and cannot be diminished by how it is served.
So, below is a Celebration of Communion prepared and presided by Rev. Leslee and myself, Rev. Dan. It is, truthfully, imperfect, but the hospitality and grace of the Lord’s Supper is beyond question for those who would approach His table.
(If you haven’t already done so, this would be a good moment to pause and get a piece of bread and some juice or wine).
Video: Emma has prepared a beautiful rendition of the hymn “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts” for communion.
Lord Jesus, we follow you where you lead, even to a cross on a cruel hill. As we carry our crosses this week, we are minded of all those whose burdens and crosses are heavier than ours. We pray for the power of your resurrection spirit to be with us and them, carrying us through these days.
We especially lift in prayer all those affected by this pandemic: the sick, the grieving, the isolated, and the unsettled. Give us strength to meet these adversities with faith.
We especially lift in prayer all those working to alleviate the suffering of this pandemic: the healthcare professionals, spiritual and physical caregivers, the front-line workers, the civic employees, and the grocery clerks. Give us courage to continue to give our best.
We especially lift in prayer all those who, despite these challenging times, are living moments of joy: a newborn baby, a birthday celebration, the love of friends and family, a safe home and a well-stocked larder. Give us gratitude to recognize each and every blessing.
We especially lift in prayer all those who are struggling with difficulties quite apart from the pandemic: the ill, the lonely, the victims of violence of any and every kind. Give us peace to revive our souls.
In these words and the words that dwell silently in our hearts, we offer our prayers to you, O God, knowing that through Christ and in the Spirit, you listen.
Let us go into the world with a daring and tender heart; let us go in peace, the world is waiting.
And whatever we do, may we do it as a Resurrection People: followers of Jesus, bearers of God’s Light, and living signs of the Spirit’s fellowship. Amen.
A hymn to take us into the world.
A week or so ago, Emma invited people to write a new verse or two for the beloved hymn, “Jesus Loves Me.” Although often thought of as a children’s hymn, the words are faithful and comforting at any age. Today’s gift of song is from Stan, and it closes our service today.
One Last Thought.
Don’t forget to extinguish your candle!
As an exercise in keeping in touch with your SPUC family, we’re inviting everyone to open their Church Directory, find your own name and then count down the list by 7 names and call that person. They might be a good friend, they might be a casual acquaintance at church, or they may be someone you don’t know. Give them a call and wish them peace in the name of Christ, and just see how they’re doing.
We are grateful today to the Catibog family for reading scripture, Rev. Leslee for leadership in communion, and Stan for his gift of music.
Remember to Zoom in for coffee with your friends after church on Sunday morning at 11:30.
Rev. Daniel Benson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: After Church Coffee
Time: May 17, 2020 11:30 AM
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 829 432 3094
One tap mobile
Or call in by phone:
+1 647 374 4685 Canada
+1 647 558 0588 Canada
+1 778 907 2071 Canada
+1 438 809 7799 Canada
Meeting ID: 829 432 3094
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/ktM40mOgk