Whilst the church building is closed and all our communal activities have ceased due to the lockdown caused by Covid19, Cruden Parish Church has moved online. Wherever you are from, local or far away, you are welcome here!
Please join in the responses printed in bold and italic. During the service would also appreciate if you keep all background noise and conversation to an absolute minimum
Call to Worship
The Day of Pentecost is here:
the day when the flames of faith dance in our hearts.
The Day of Pentecost is here:
the day when our babbling speech becomes the Good News for the world.
The Day of Pentecost is here:
the day when compassion is seared into our souls.
The Day of Pentecost is here:
let the people of God rejoice. Alleluia!
Lighting of Candle & Prayer of Solidarity
At this present time, we are especially conscious of the need to protect and to be protected. Indeed, our collective awareness of the need to protect life and the lives of those whom we love has perhaps never been so heightened. In response to the threat posed by Covid 19, we seek to protect and shield those whom we care for most deeply.
In the Gospel of John (17: 1-11), Jesus prays for his disciples in anticipation of the time when he will no longer be with them. What is it that he prays for? Jesus asks the Father to ‘protect’ his friends. Whilst he was with them, Jesus protected and shielded the disciples and later in his prayer he prays for each one of us. The ascended Lord Jesus continues to pray for us and assures us that his presence will be renewed through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Almighty God, by your Spirit, you brought order from chaos.
By your brooding Spirit, hovering over the void, you spoke and there was … something rather than nothing.
Create and recreate in and through us, we pray.
Almighty God, by your Spirit, you equipped and gifted and led our ancestors to know you and to serve you and to glorify you.
Continue to equip and enable us, we pray.
And then, Almighty God, as promised by the prophets and as never before, you poured out your Spirit on these first believers - on men and women, on the old and the young; and they were transformed and made alive, as dry bones brought to life.
Pour out your Spirit on us, we pray.
Almighty God, in these turbulent and uncertain times, send us the Comforter, that we might know you to be near. Grant us your healing touch and help us to know the rest that comes from resting in you.
For the loving touch of your Spirit, we pray.
Almighty God, by what seemed as a rushing wind and as tongues of fire you brought your Church to life.
Come to your Church now, we pray, that by the same Spirit we might be renewed and refreshed and remade and revived.
Yes, Lord, grant us a fresh outpouring of your Spirit, we pray.
And all our prayers we offer in the name of our Lord and Saviour, none other than Jesus Christ. Amen.
Question: What is the most ‘powerful’ thing you have ever seen or experienced?
(As the service is ‘public’ please do not share anything too intimate or deeply personal.)
Acts 2:1-21 The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2When the day of Pentecost had come, they 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.
5 Now 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.’
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 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. 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.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Sermon ‘Volvos, Steam Trains & Theophany’
Sermon preached at Cruden Parish Church online service for Pentecost Sunday
Please note: this is a visual manuscript – more of a guide rather than read out word for word!
Some years ago, I was given a surprise present for my 50th birthday. It was the opportunity to drive a steam engine. Accompanied by a friend, we travelled down to the Churnett Valley railway in Staffordshire. On arrival at the heritage railway we were delighted to discover that it was not a little shunting engine, but a full size mainline engine. Weighing in at 125 tons, it was a LMS Stanier Class 8F – a freight version of the famous Black 5, which today can be seen steaming on the line between Fort William and Mallaig. The class 8F was designed to haul heavy freight and express parcel traffic. The engine I drove, under strict supervision of course, was built in 1943. Withdrawn in 1965 and sent for scrap but saved by enthusiasts in 1987 and returned to steam. It was a great day out. My main memory was the sheer power of the engine. Built to haul heavy freight of up to a thousand tons, it was probably one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced!
My second memory, concerns a car I once owned. It was a high performance Volvo estate, which according to the manufactory, was capable of a top speed of 148 mpg. Obviously, there are not many places in the UK where you do this kind of speed without ending up behind bars, but it was great for getting past slow moving traffic on country roads. That was until I ended up in Germany with the Army. And in Germany there is the autobahn which in some places has no speed limit. So one fine day, where to the local autobahn was very quiet I decided to see what my Volvo could do. I got within two mph of its claimed top speed. It was the most powerful car I ever owned or driven,
Today is Pentecost. It is the Sunday in the Christian Year in which we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit. Through wind and flame and the speaking of other languages, God fills the hearts of his disciples with his living presence. And Pentecost is one of those extremely rare occasions in which the presence and power of God is on public display. The vast majority of our encounters with God are deeply personal and within in our inward experience. But occasionally in Scripture the manifestation of God’s presence takes on a physical form. For example, the burning bushing and cloud of smoke and pillar of fire from the story of the Exodus. At the birth of Jesus, there was a manifestation of God’s glory, which we call the shekinah, which illuminated the night sky.
The name we give to these manifestations of God presence is a theophany. A theophany is something that we encounter through our five sensors. Something that we see or hear or smell or feel or taste. There are rare but not unknown. Again this is often in the realm of personal spiritual experience. I have known people who have encounter such things. About thirty years ago, I encountered a theophany. I was going through a very difficult time. On evening as I praying I had the sensation of a hand resting on my shoulder. There was nobody else in the room. It was as if God was trying to tell me that his hand was on my life, that he would be my guide and companion and everything was going to work out.
Staying with Pentecost, there are three specific theophany’s . First, the sound of a mighty rushing wind. In the OT wind is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit.
We are told that the Spirit's coming was as the wind. It was a supernatural sound, which came from Heaven. Within the OT, wind is one of the symbols of the Spirit. In Hebrew the word used ruach which means “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” And appears over 400 times in the Old Testament. The second theophany was what appeared to be like tongues of fire that rested on the heads of the disciples. Within the Jewish faith fire has always been viewed as a symbol of the divine presence, especially during the Exodus. There was the burning bush where Moses first encountered God and the pillar fire which guided the people through the wilderness onto the promised land. The third theophany was speaking in other languages. There are 15 different languages mentioned here, symbolising that the Christian faith was for everyone. There is also an interesting reference to the story of the tower of babel, where God bought confusion to the human race through different languages and scattered them throughout the world.
One theologian describes Pentecost this way: It is through the Spirit that creatures breathe with their Creators own life, speak with God's own words and love with the universal love of Christ. And with the giving of the Holy Spirit the church was born. A new faith community is created. But this new faith community isn't just another cult or religion. This time it is different. Through the giving of the Spirit, God, faith and religion becomes intimate and personal. So often religion is understood as a system of doctrines and beliefs, of rituals and traditions, of morals and ethics. But through the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost we move beyond these. They still of course have their place. Doctrine is important and so too are our traditions and our values. But this new faith community, we call the Christian Church is about so much more. It is not just knowledge of God but also experience of God. The disciples encounter God in a complete new way, in a way that is totally different from all that has gone before.
Of course the Holy Spirit is active right through the Bible. The opening verses of the creation parable of Genesis depict the earth as empty and formless. Chaos and darkness reigned and the Spirit hovered over the surface of the waters. As well as the Holy Spirit being involved in the work of creation, in the OT he comes among different people at different times for different tasks. In numerous places, the Holy Spirit fills people to become outstanding leaders or to inspire the prophets or give artistic skill or great strength. There is the well-known story of Samson recorded in the Book of Judges, where God gives Samson great strength. But also in the OT is the promise that one-day God would do something new, a new covenant or a new relationship. Rather than having the Law of Moses, which was external, this new covenant would be internal. It was something that God would do in the hearts of his people. Jeremiah 31:33 captures the essence of this transition: I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.' The prophet Joel also foresaw the giving of the Spirit. Joel 2, verse 28 records: And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy; your old men will dream dreams; your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. This is what today is all about, the giving of the Holy Spirit, the fulfilment of OT promises, God becoming intimate and personal and the birthing of the Christian Church.
During the great depression of the 1930’s, there was a rancher in West Texas called Mr. Ira Yates. He was like many other ranchers and farmers. He had a lot of land, and a lot of debt. Mr. Yates wasn't able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on a government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract. At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day. And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he'd been living on relief. A multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn't know the oil was there even though he owned it. It is fair to say that you and I are a lot like Mr. Yates at times. We are heirs of a vast treasure and yet we live in spiritual poverty. We are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his energizing power, and yet we live unaware of our birth-right. We gather today to remember how rich we are.
Finally, this is how one person describes the work of the Holy Spirit.
The quiet Helper. The unpretentious Friend.
The Helper is quietly at work:
in the sincere concern of a friend for our health,
in those who take a stand against injustice,
in the grace of folk who go the second mile,
in the inner resources we discover in times of crisis,
in those who dare to go against the tide of popular opinion,
in the grace that enables us to admit when we are wrong,
in the resilience of people who fight for the rights of others,
in those who surrender some of their rights for the larger good,
in times when we share the Gospel in spite of our inadequacy,
in finding joy in unexpected places,
in taking on responsibilities that we once thought beyond us,
in refusing to let the greed of society take over our soul,
in giving thanks always, even through the hard times of life,
in rising above past failures and putting past hurts behind us.
in finding a central core of peace in the midst of turmoil,
in daring to laugh in situations where some would curse,
in knowing ourselves to be children of God,
in knowing ourselves loved, even when we have been very unlovable.
A Pentecost Litany
“What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not be astonished that I said to you,
‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 4: 6-8
Spirit of the Living God, dance with us on this day.
Come, Whirlwind of Wonder!
Sing to the groaning of creation.
Come, still small voice of Hope!
Enflame us with your passion for justice.
Come, Liberator of the Least!
Purify us of our grasping greediness.
Come, Advocate of selfless living!
Silence our gossiping tongues.
Come, Harmony of God's Heart!
Wind of God, blow through us;
Fire of God, burn within us;
Spirit of God, speak to us on this day of renewal and birth, Amen
Prayer for others
In a time of quiet let us remember:
Those effected by Covid-19
Those known to us, who are journeying through difficult times
Those who grieve and mourn
Those who are facing redundancy and the loss of their buisness
Those who have been unselfishly supporting others through the lockdown
Those who are yearning to return to worship
And let us bring before God the unspoken prayers of our hearts.
Let us pray..
Spirit of God... Who hovered over the waters of chaos and cradled all possible things,
Who filled our forms of clay with the very breath of God,
Who swept through the Pentecost crowds with fire, with joy.
Spirit of God, breathe for us once again.
Breathe for those who cannot breathe, whose shallow breaths betray damaged lungs.
Breathe for those whose breath catches with grief breathe for those who are drowning in debt and driven with anxiety.
Breathe for those who hold their breath in fear.
As old certainties give way to new confusions, breathe deep, fresh air into the lungs of Your church.
Fill us with energy, with resolve, with clarity of vision to meet the challenges of our time.
Spirit of God, in the name of Christ, breathe for us once again.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
You will be done on earth
as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
The kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and forever
Prayer of Dismissal
Go on your way
for you and we
are God's children.
Get on your way,
brothers and sisters together,
because of Jesus who names and claims us all
as his beloved siblings.
Get yourself out of this sacred place,
pushed by the Spirit who blows when and where he will,
making all places sacred.
Go and do some more singing and talking,
laughing and crying,
hugging and holding,
by which you are strengthened
to be tellers of truth,
bearers of justice, offerers of resistance,
so becoming part of the great cloud of witnesses.
Go also to do some sleeping and resting,
which will be another day
of God's wonderful surprises
and God's true successes.
And as you come to know him,
may God give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation,
may Christ Jesus lift up his hands and bless you,
and may the Spirit open to you all the riches of Christ’s inheritance.
This day and forever,
Although there are signs that the conditions of the lockdown are being eased, the church building continues to remain closed for services and gatherings. One we move the next stage of easing the lockdown, we may be in a position to hold open air services or within the church building subject to social distancing etc. In the meantime, all our activities are currently on-line:
Fellowship Group @ Tuesday evening at 7.00 pm, includes an informal Bible Study looking at Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.
Coffee Morning @ Thursday morning at 11.00 am
Evening Service @ Sunday evening at 7.00 pm.
Please contact Sean for the appropriate link to these meetings – no special apps or software required – at email@example.com
Pastoral Care- please advise Sean of any pastoral matters. (tel. 07791 755976)