Sunday, May 20, 2018
Day of Pentecost
On the fiftieth day of Easter we celebrate the Spirit, through whom and in whom the people of God are created and re-created. Pentecost is sometimes called the church’s birthday, but might more appropriately be called its baptism day, since the gift of the Spirit is the fullness of baptism. Ezekiel’s vision shows the Spirit resurrecting and re-creating not just individuals but a whole people. Romans makes it clear that God is in the process of re-creating the entire cosmos; yet the Spirit is also at work in the most intimate and personal way, praying in us “with sighs too deep for words” when we do not know how to pray.
First Reading: Acts 2:1-21
Originally Pentecost was a Jewish thanksgiving-type festival celebrated seven weeks after Passover. On this particular Pentecost, however, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the entire community of believers just as Jesus had promised and the scriptures had prophesied. Empowered by the Spirit, the entire community bears witness to God’s activity in multiple languages.
1When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14But 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. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17‘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 dream dreams.
18Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”
Psalm: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. (Ps. 104:30)
24How manifold are your | works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full | of your creatures.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too man- | y to number,
living things both | small and great.
26There go the ships | to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you made for the | sport of it.
27All of them | look to you
to give them their food | in due season. R
28You give it to them; they | gather it;
you open your hand, and they are filled | with good things.
29When you hide your face, | they are terrified;
when you take away their breath, they die and return | to their dust.
30You send forth your Spirit, and they | are created;
and so you renew the face | of the earth.
31May the glory of the Lord en- | dure forever;
O Lord, rejoice in | all your works. R
32You look at the earth | and it trembles;
you touch the mountains | and they smoke.
33I will sing to the Lord as long | as I live;
I will praise my God while I | have my being.
34May these words of | mine please God.
I will rejoice | in the Lord.
35bBless the Lord, | O my soul.
Hal- | lelujah! R
Second Reading: Romans 8:22-27
By pouring the Holy Spirit into our hearts, God gives us the promised first fruit of eternal life so that we await God’s future in hope. In the meantime, the Spirit also intercedes for us by carrying the prayers of our weak human hearts to God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Gospel: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
When speaking to his disciples before his death, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Helper” and described the difference the Spirit would make in their lives and in the world.
[Jesus said,] 26“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.
16:4b“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
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