There is no video this week. While we did record the live worship service that was available through Zoom, the audio track of the recording was inaudible. We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we could not salvage or correct the track on the recording. We apologize for any inconvenience. The transcript of the service is below.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
- Welcome – Announcements, Call to Worship, & Opening Prayer – Rev. Ohle
- Opening Hymn – Sweet, Sweet Spirit (UMH 334)
- Gloria Patri (UMH 70, Glory Be to the Father)
- Scripture Readings – John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 (CEB), Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV) – Rev. Ohle
- Message – On Pentecost – Rev. Ohle
- Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Ohle
- Offertory Prayer – Rev. Ohle
- Service to Receive New Members – Rev. Ohle
- Service of Holy Communion – Rev. Ohle
- Closing Hymn – Help Us To Accept Each Other (UMH 560)
- Benediction – Rev. Ohle
WELCOME, CALL TO WORSHIP, & OPENING PRAYER
This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Welcome, everyone, and thank you for being here! That includes those of you who are joining us live online. We’re excited to have you with us as well.
Today we celebrate Pentecost, the day the promised Advocate arrived and once again, the world changed for the disciples and, because it changed for them, it changed for us.
For us who are United Methodists, it’s also Heritage Sunday. Heritage Sunday falls on the third Sunday of May and corresponds with the day that John Wesley felt his “heart strangely warmed,” also known as Aldersgate Day or May 24. In United Methodist language, this is the day we recommit ourselves to the continuing call of God known and spread by Charles and John Wesley, other Methodists who have gone before us, and with all churches joined as “The United Methodist Church.”
We’re also receiving new members and communion this morning, so this is going to be a packed service. The good news is today’s sermon is short, so we’ll get it all done without running over … too much, anyway.
The updated links and times for Thomas Talks, Java with Abba, and Wednesday Worship Pray and Study are in your bulletin. If you’re on our email list, the Weekly Worship Bulletin that you should have received yesterday has the new link for the live cast of Sunday morning worship. That will be added to the printed bulletin as well. I want to encourage all of you to share those links with friends and family, no matter where they are. That’s the upside of online. Miles don’t matter. No matter where folks are, we can gather together with the click of a mouse.
Last but not least, if you haven’t yet, please pick up a Connection Card on the table in the Narthex and fill it out for today. If you filled one out previously, just write your name and today’s date on one. Please leave it in the “Forms” bucket on the table when you’re done.
Also on the table you will find Manna Campaign pledge funds. Folks, I can’t stress the importance of the Manna Campaign. Reaching our goal for that campaign is how we will be able to show that we can keep the doors of this church open, so please pick one up on the way out, take it home with you, and prayerfully consider it or, better yet, take a moment after today’s service to fill one out.
That’s enough business for one day. Let’s begin with the Call to Worship and a prayer. The Call to Worship is on the insert page of your bulletin.
Call to Worship – Catherine Anne Williams
L: Holy Spirit, gift bestower, breathe into our hearts today.
P: Flowing water, dove that hovers, Holy Spirit, guide our way.
L: Love inspirer, joy releaser, Spirit, take our fears away.
P: Reconciler, peace restorer, move among us as we pray.
L: Holy Spirit, Christ proclaimer, wisdom bringer, light our way.
P: Fire that dances, wind that whispers, Holy Spirit, come today.
L: Ease disturber, comfort bearer, move among us while we pray.
A: Truth revealer, faith confirmer, rest within our hearts today.
Opening Prayer – Ruth C. Duck, Flames of the Spirit
Gracious God, Living, Eternal Spirit, we thank you that you seek us in tender loving care, lest any be lost. Help us, in the same way, to reach out toward those who may feel alienated or excluded from the Christian community. Send your Spirit upon us that when we speak the word of your love, people may hear and understand in their own language as on that Pentecost day so long ago; for we pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
Open our eyes, our hearts, our minds, gracious Lord, as we turn to your scripture. We long to know you, to understand life, and to be changed. Examine us, Lord, by the floodlight of your truth.
Our scriptures this morning are taken from the Common English Bible and the New Revised Standard Version.
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 (CEB)
“When the Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. You will testify too because you have been with me from the beginning.
But I have said these things to you so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them. “I didn’t say these things to you from the beginning because I was with you. But now I go away to the one who sent me. None of you ask me, ‘Where are you going?’ Yet because I have said these things to you, you are filled with sorrow. I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me. He will show the world it was wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore. He will show the world it was wrong about judgment because this world’s ruler stands condemned.
“I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. He will glorify me because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you.
Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV)
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, and a tongue rested on each of 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 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 Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, 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 dream 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.’
The scriptures of God for the People of God.
Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE – The In-Dwelling of the Spirit
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.
Most of us can say what we believe about Jesus and we’re even pretty comfortable talking about God, but talking about the Holy Spirit is much more difficult. Perhaps we find Jesus and God more relatable because we know Jesus came to us in human form and the language and symbolism.
When it comes to talking about the Spirit, though, we often find ourselves wavering. The symbols we use to talk about the Holy Spirit are far less human. At Pentecost we read about the Spirit as fire and wind. In Baptism, we recognize the work of the Spirit through water and a dove. Not to mention the confusion caused by referring to the Spirit as the Holy Ghost.
Then there are those reports of miraculous works of the Spirit, even today. While we do not discount those experiences, many of us have not had them and so we wonder if the Spirit even has a role in our lives.
Today, is Spirit’s day and for followers of Christ, Spirit is what Pentecost is all about.
John Gambold, an original member of John and Charles Wesley’s Holy Club at Oxford, wrote the unimaginatively titled sermon “On the Holy Spirit.” The sermon, which appears in the 1872 edition of The Sermons of John Wesley, was found in John Wesley’s papers after his death and closely matches Wesley’s own understanding of the Holy Spirit. In the sermon, Gambold chooses not to address the “particularly extraordinary gifts” of the Spirit, but “what the Holy Spirit is to every believer,” … the “ordinary” gifts of the Spirit.
Gambold writes of the Holy Spirit as the fullness of God at work in our broken world. Gambold’s interpretation delivered in his sermon was that what we lost because of Adam’s sin we might receive through Jesus Christ – that is we could begin the process of being reconciled with God. And that, while that process begins when we put our trust in Jesus, it will not be complete until the Day of Resurrection to come, that the Holy Spirit is a harbinger of that future.
Wesley, however, was more concerned with how we live in the here and now because he understood the role of our here and now lives in God’s story. Wesley sought to help us live faithfully in the midst of our ordinary lives of family, friends, work, bills, and more. He encouraged us to participate in what he called the “means of grace,” which include acts of piety like worship and prayer, along with acts of service like feeding the hungry and giving to the poor.
These acts are gifts strengthening us to live into the two-fold nature of discipleship: loving God and our neighbors.
John Wesley often called himself a “man of one book.” That book, of course, is the Bible. As an ardent student of the Scriptures, Wesley knew that the same Spirit that inspired the authors would also move in the hearts of readers centuries later, revealing God’s truth to us. Gambold’s sermon reflects this, stating that the Holy Spirit is “a light to discern the fallacies of flesh and blood, [and] to reject the irreligious maxims of the world.” In other words, Gambold reminded us that we are to be in the world but not of the world.
Through Spirit we see the world not only as it is, but also as it will be, and are invited to participate in the work of reconciliation and Spirit knows not just us, but the whole world could benefit from reconciliation with God, Amen?
Some of you may still struggle to relate to Spirit. Ashley Johnson, a provisional deacon in The United Methodist Church currently serving at Union Church Boston gives us another view of Spirit that you may find more relatable. In a spoken word poem, she writes:
I am the third Part.
I transform what would be a line, you know two Points into a plane.
An equilateral triangle.
Support in Weakness,
Spirit of Truth,
One who hovers,
Spirit of God and Testifier of Christ!
Don’t get it twisted, scrambled, or confused; my name, too is Capitalized.
Jesus tagged out just to tag Me in.
I am your secret weapon.
Your special counselor, also known as Defense Attorney.
Spiritual Translator? I am that too.
Your murmur, your groan, that gasp or exclamation of joy, the tear that rolled down your cheek and erupted into a wail of sorrow.
I heard, I interpreted, and I informed God of your heart.
You will give me the respect I am due.
I lead the sons of God and I realign your will.
I hear the Word of God,
I speak the will of God. I keep you from the hidden snares, the pits, and traps that the enemy set just for you.
I know my role.
Now you play yours!
When I show up, prophesy,
Speak as I give you utterance,
See the vision and dream the dream.
See my style. Feel my flow.
Give me room and let me breathe.
My breath brings life.
It clears the cosmos, activates the atmosphere, and unsettles the soul.
I … am nothing to play with.
From my wind blowing upon the invisible movement of your life, I create your visible environment.
The visible is created from the invisible, Me.
Prepare a place for me.
Invite me to come through.
Wait with expectation.
Watch me show up and show out.
‘Cuz that is just what I do.
A very apt and realistic description of Spirit in my humble experience.
Spirit shifts our priorities. Where we once were primarily concerned about ourselves, Spirit enables us to focus on our love of God and others. It may be difficult for some of us to articulate a relationship with one described as fire, water, wind, or a dove. What we need to know is that the Spirit is the presence of the Holy in and around us each day, enabling us to live into the people God created us to be and will be restored to one day.
The authors of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God had some things to say about Pentecost and Spirit, too. We know from our scripture today what Spirit did on that first day of Pentecost – how Spirit revealed to them that everyone can now know God’s presence everywhere and at all times… we know this because Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in tongues, that is in the native languages of all those present regardless of where they were from.
Reading further in Acts, we will learn that Pentecost transformed the defeated followers of Jesus into courageous, fearless, bold, and eloquent witnesses through the power of the Holy Spirit and how a frightened gathering of disciples became a thriving, learning, growing, sharing, and winsome community, joined daily by more people choosing to join in this new and diverse community.
And yet, today we too often find ourselves waiting in expectation that wind and fire from God will sweep across church and world to usher in a new day of unity, peace, justice, compassion, love, and faithfulness. We forget that God sent Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to enable each of us to live as beloved children and to be part of God’s beloved family.
Just as Christ lives in us, Spirit is also in-dwelling … that is that Spirit lives constantly within us. Each of us. You, me, the clerk at the grocery store, the homeless man on the corner as you leave Wal-Mart.
And so, today we celebrate Pentecost … Spirit’s day and we proclaim, “Come, Spirit, Come. Come and fill us now.”
Portions of Pastoral Prayer & Pardon: Rev. Gord, Worship Offerings
Please join me as we lay our prayers and petitions at God’s feet and ask for His help. Because this service is also being live cast, I won’t be saying any names out loud during the prayer in order to protect their privacy. When you hear me say, Lord, in your mercy …, please respond with “hear our prayer.”
Lord, you know our hearts and you know before we could even speak their names all those in need of your healing, your comfort, your peace, your strength. Be with them God. Restore their health where it is your will, give them understanding and comfort where your healing comes in the form of release from earthly illness and pain.
Lord in your mercy … hear our prayer.
Too often, God, we let the world sneak in and steal our attention away from you. Strengthen us, Lord. Make us instruments of your peace. Let Spirit descend and fill us, guide us, and strengthen us so that we can bear witness to your grace, your goodness, your love. Give us courage and lead us to those who need to know you.
Lord in your mercy … hear our prayer.
Help us build your church here at Union Grove. Help us reach those who have become discouraged and disgusted by us when we lost focus on you. Help us restore the communion of believers here and among all your children.
Lord in your mercy … hear our prayer.
Holy One, for all of the ways you speak to us – in rushing wind, in dancing flames, in words we understand, and in all that transcends language, we give thanks.
Give us courage to speak your love, everywhere we go, to everyone we meet.
We ask these things in your name, Lord, and pray the words you taught us:
“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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”
Friends, hear the Good News: Rejoice and be glad! God is gracious and God offers blessings. God calls us to life in the world, God offers us the chance to explore how to live out God’s vision. God sent Spirit to be our Advocate, our helper, our in-dwelling guide. We are called, we are forgiven, we are blessed, we are never alone.
A quick reminder that your offerings should be placed in the round container on the table in the Narthex on your way into worship or as you leave, and your Manna Campaign forms should be placed in the bucket labeled “Forms”.
Living God, you are the Lord of all! Only you can send your Spirit to bring us new life. You graciously speak your word of hope in times of struggle and uncertainty and in times of joy and peace. We are grateful that you are continually at work in our lives and the world to fulfill your promises. May our giving today show our trust in you. We pray through Christ, our Lord.
SERVICE FOR RECEIVING NEW MEMBERS
P: Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy church. We are incorporated into God’s might acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.
I present _____________ who come(s) to this congregation from the _____________________________ Church.
_____________, On behalf of the whole church, I ask you: Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
C: I do.
P: Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
C: I do.
P: Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
C: I do.
P: According to the grace given to you, will you remain a faithful member of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representative in the world?
C: I will.
P: Do you, as Christ’s body, the church, reaffirm both your rejection of sin and your commitment to Christ?
A: We do.
P: Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include the person now before you in your care?
A: With God’s help we will proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ. We will surround this person with a community of love and forgiveness, that she may grow in her trust of God, and be found faithful in her service to others. We will pray for her, that she may be a true disciple who walks in the way that leads to life.
P: Let us join together in professing the Christian faith as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
P: Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
A: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
P: Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
A: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
P: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?
A: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
P: Remember your baptism and be thankful.
P: __________, Holy Spirit work within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
P: As a member of Christ’s universal church, will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church, and do all in your power to strengthen its ministries?
C: I will.
P: As a member of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service?
C: I will.
P: Members of the household of God, I commend ________ to your love and care. Do all in your power to increase her faith, confirm her hope, and perfect her in love.
A: We give thanks for all that God has already given you and we welcome you in Christian love. As members together with you in the body of Christ and in this congregation of The United Methodist Church, we renew our covenant faithfully to participate in the ministries of the church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service, that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
P: The God of all grace, who has called us to eternal glory in Christ, establish you and strengthen you by the power of the Holy Spirit, that you may live in grace and peace.
SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION
Because Communion is a sacrament, it is not included in this transcript. Communion will be offered again on June 7, and on the first Sunday of each month as well as other special days on the Church calendar
Thank you for being with us today. I pray you’ll join us again next Sunday at 11:00 am here in person or wherever you may be viewing from. Again, if you haven’t already, please fill out a Connection Card and please take a Manna Campaign pledge form and give it prayerful consideration.
Now hear this benediction:
May the God of hope Fill you with all joy and peace in believing, So that you may abound in hope By the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, get your COVID vaccination as soon as you’re eligible, God be with you. Go forth to love and serve the Lord in the name of Christ.
- Call to Worship & Opening Prayer – Curry F. Butler, Easter Liturgical Resources from Africana Writers, edited by Safiya Fosua
- Portions of Pastoral Prayer & Pardon – Rev. Gord, Worship Offerings
- Benediction – Mary Ann Neevil, Bread for the Journey
Copyright Disclaimer: Under §107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for educational purposes. No copyright infringement is intended. All rights belong to their respective owners.
Even though we can’t meet together in person, the church still has expenses that need to be met. If you are able, please consider making an offering or paying your tithes through the online service provided by Holston Conference. It’s safe. It’s free. It will help us continue ministry at Union Grove.
Just visit http://www.holston.org/churchoffering, and follow the instruction for making your offering. When asked, please choose Smoky Mountain District and Union Grove UMC Blount – Friendsville.
If you are not comfortable using a debit or credit card online, you can mail your offerings/tithes to:
Smoky Mountain District
PO Box 905
Alcoa TN 37701-0905
Please be sure to make your checks payable to Smoky Mountain District and write “Union Grove UMC Friendsville” on the memo line!