Sunday 31st May 2020
The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel. The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the sa9me Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever
For the Gospel:
Acts 2 1-21
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
The Nicene Creed.
I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen
Once upon a time, Pentecost Sunday was known as Whitsun. Whit Sunday was not merely observed; rather it was celebrated in style equal to Christmas and Easter. The annual Sunday School treat often occurred at Whit, frequently involving a journey, either by steam train or on a hay wain pulled by a farmer’s traction engine. Soot smuts played havoc with the white frocks and shirts customarily worn for the day It did not matter that children were late to bed on Whit Sunday, because the next day was a rare holiday. Alas in 1967, the secular world spoilt everything. Whitsun was changed to become the ‘Late Spring Bank Holiday’ a Monday fixed at the end of May rather than being governed by the church calendar. Whit changed its name to Pentecost and somehow since then it has become a normal Festival.
Normal? No Christian Festival commemorates a routine occurrence. A child born to a virgin at Christmas and a man returning from dead at Easter. The same man ascending to heaven in a cloud at Ascension and now Pentecost, another unique happening as evidenced by today’s reading from Acts.
It was no coincidence that at the first Pentecost, believers were gathered in Jerusalem. Pentecost was already established as a Jewish festival: a celebration of the harvest. For that reason, the disciples were gathered as they had always done before.
Perhaps the disciples were craving the familiarity and certainty of this ancient festival to make amends for the turmoil they had experienced during the previous weeks. Nearly sixty days before, they had entered Jerusalem with their master and witnessed a crowd waving palms and giving a hero’s welcome. They then saw Jesus arrested. After being falsely tried and tortured he was crucified. The disciples ran away to hide, only then to hear about the resurrection from Mary Magdalene. Later, in the Upper Room, they again saw Jesus in the flesh. Then forty days after that, they witnessed his Ascension to heaven. Their experience had been emotionally exhausting. Alas for the disciples, there would be no respite. God would use Pentecost to again surprise them.
Those present at Pentecost experienced wind like a tornado and saw tongues of fire. Each believer then felt compelled to speak uncontrollably in tongues. Hearing this seemingly bizarre outpouring, bystanders naturally judged the believers to be intoxicated. But Peter assured them: what they were experiencing was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
We all receive strange presents from time to time. We smile graciously at the source, but secretly ponder why the gift should be given and how it should be used. The Spirit is a precious gift from God, given to fulfil a divine promise that believers will never be left alone but have the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is manifest in its activity, akin to a jewel that when held to the light, reveals different hues at every turn. As today’s reflection, the words of the nineteenth century hymnwriter Harriet Auber describe the many aspects of the Spirit.
Our blest Redeemer, ere he breathed
his tender last farewell,
a Guide, a Comforter, bequeathed
with us to dwell.
He came in tongues of living flame,
to teach, convince, subdue;
all-powerful as the wind he came,
as viewless too.
He came sweet influence to impart,
a gracious, willing guest,
when he can find one humble heart
wherein to rest.
And his that gentle voice we hear,
soft as the breath of ev’n,
that checks each fault, that calms each fear,
and speaks of heav’n.
And ev’ry virtue we possess,
and ev’ry victory won,
and ev’ry thought of holiness,
are his alone.
Spirit of purity and grace,
our weakness, pitying, see;
O make our hearts thy dwelling-place,
and worthier thee.
Lord, you challenge us with Pentecost.
Do we believe that this
was a once in eternity experience,
never to be repeated?
That the Holy Spirit was poured out
on your followers for a single purpose,
and ended His work at that instant?
If so, then maybe that is why the Church
seems so powerless in this age,
helpless when faced with the needs
both spiritual and physical,
that we see in the world.
Lord, as we meet together ,
and celebrate once again
the memory of that first Pentecost,
may it be for us as it was then
an awareness of your Glory in this dark world,
and a life changing experience.
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.
The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.
Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.
Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.
Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.
with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud
and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising
Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.
In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Today’s hymn Listen on Youtube ?
1 Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
2 O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
3 Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing:
true lowliness of heart,
which takes the humbler part,
and o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
4 And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till he become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.
Bianco da Siena (d.1434)
translated by Richard Frederick Littledale (1833–1890)
Bianco da Siena born circa 1350 was an Italian poet and wool worker. In 1367 he entered the Order of Jesuates, who followed the rule of St. Augustine. Within the order, he wrote his hymn Discendi, amor santo. The words might well have passed to obscurity, but for the renewed interest in ancient hymnody by translators such as Richard Littledale born in Dublin in 1833. The words are sung to the tune ‘Down Ampney’. Its composer Ralph Vaughan Williams named it after his birthplace in Gloucestershire. He became the chief figure both in the realm of British and church music during the first half of the twentieth century. Despite the latter, he remained, as a friend once described him, ‘a cheerful agnostic’ all his life.
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