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Order of Service
The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.
Prelude: Variations on “Amazing Grace” (4) Denis Bedard with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ
Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector
Introit: Spiritus Domini/Psalm 68:1 sung by Gabe Alfieri, Choral Director
The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world, alleluia; And that which contains all things, knows every language spoken by men, alleluia. Let God arise; let his foes be scattered. Let those who hate him flee from his presence. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; Like wax that melts before the fire, So the wicked shall perish at the presence of God.
Hymn:225 “Hail thee, festival day,” vv. 1, 4, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ
Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Collect for Purity
The The Gloria S278, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young accompanying
The Collect for Pentecost Sunday
O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful
people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all
things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through
Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
First Reading: The Book of Numbers, 11:24-30 read by Marty Flaherty
Psalm 104:25-35, 37 (Pg 735 BCP) sung by Gabe Alfieri, Lori Istok, Jacob Chippo
Second Reading: The Acts of the Apostles, 2:1-21 read by Sammi Muther
Gradual Hymn: 751 (WLP) “Ev’ry time I feel the spirit” v. 1, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ
The Gospel: John 7:37-39 proclaimed by Linda+
Gradual Hymn: 751 (WLP) “Ev’ry time I feel the spirit” v. 2
The Sermon: “God’s Grandeur”, Mark+ (a stand alone sermon recording and text with a link to God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins appear below)
The Nicene Creed: (pg 358 BCP) -(we recite together)
The Anthem: “Come with Hearts and Voices Sounding” J. S. Bach (1685-1750) Sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young at the organ
Come with hearts and voices sounding; Raise to God a hymn resounding: God alone rules over all; Let us now before God fall. O be joyful and enter with singing; Ever praise God with voices ringing; Alleluia! Great is God whose name is wondrous; God’s great power is known among us; Give the worship due God’s name; Spread abroad God’s glorious fame. Laud, O angels, with loud anthems soaring; Join all people in praise adoring: Alleluia!
Prayers of the People: led by Linda+
The Lord’s Prayer
The General Thanksgiving (pg 101 BCP)
Final Hymn: 516 “Come down, O Love divine,” vv. 1, 3 sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with organ
The Postlude: Finale from Variations on Amazing Grace” Denis Bedard with Steven Young playing
Week after week, I approach the task of sermon preparation not knowing what to do with my feelings. I know what my task is. It is to bring the events and experiences of our community life into dialogue with the overarching Biblical Story. In performing this task my tools are Scripture, Tradition (how the community of the Church interprets scripture), and Reason (the self-evident virtues of love, truth, and justice). However, in performing my task as preacher, I worry that my feelings will get the better of me – making my words a stumbling block for some.
In these days we all have a desperate need to hear words of hope and where possible, words of comfort. At the very least my aim is to offer words that speak meaningfully of our shared experience as members of the Christian community.
As we approach the celebration of the great feast of Pentecost, all of us are struggling to process our feelings after this dreadful week – which is just one week in a long procession of dreadful weeks stretching back into months. However, let me try to find the ground on which to stand, a footing from which to speak to all of us today.
In the beginning the Spirit of God hovered over the void breathing life into Creation. On the Day of Pentecost, Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit who for us, is no longer the impersonal Spirit of God, but is now inextricably linked with the Spirit of Jesus, the Messiah. For Christians, the Holy Spirit is personal – as she breathes life and energy into our individual lives – empowering us together, to become the Christian people of God
I use the term – the Christian people of God or God’s Christian people because I believe that God has other people as well. God has a Jewish people, a Muslim people, a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and a Bahai people.
Pentecost, the celebration of the 50th day after the resurrection is a celebration of the birth of God’s Christian people. Like all good birthday parties this day was accompanied by pyrotechnics, the scale of which, pushes Hollywood into the shadows.
Pentecost is not a celebration of the Christian people as a new chosen race. It is a confirmation of the radical nature of the age-old inclusive vision of Israel’s prophets –embracing all peoples, respecting and reconciling all differences. It is this vision to which God’s Christian people are called upon to bear particular witness through the quality of our lives.
On this Pentecost weekend in 2020 we approach the festival with a sense of urgency. The pandemic which is reshaping human priorities over the entire face of the planet, has for America in particular, laid bare our systemic injustices and inequalities.
It has laid bare the recent legacy of a growing inequality and disparity of wealth that has directly contributed to the stagnation and decay of our social institutions and the reduction of social mobility at the heart of the American dream. But, the pandemic has inflamed and exposed older legacies as well. In particular it has exposed the rawness of our centuries-old legacy of racial injustice.
We approach the festival with the knowledge of 100,000 souls having perished over the course of three months. In grappling with this reality, we can no longer hide from the fact that the death toll has been hugely exacerbated by the cancerous legacies of inequality and injustice eating away at the heart of our society.
The pandemic is not simply a medical issue. It’s not simply a political issue; although failures in both these areas impact us all hugely. The pandemic is a justice issue; justice to one another and justice to the planet. The Bible speaks repeatedly of justice -for justice is God’s issue.
In his poem God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins proclaims that:
The World is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil – crushed.
Yet, against the background of this optimistic proclamation Hopkins questions why humanity is so reckless of God’s gift of creation:
Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil and wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: The soil is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
We have become insensible to the feel of the earth, to the harmonies of nature, to a balanced and right relationship with other species. The result is – we no longer feel our abuse of creation- our feet being shod.
Our social relations are mired:
seared with trade, bleared, smeared, with toil wearing man’s smudge and sharing man’s smell.
Luke describes the birth of God’s Christian people in Acts 2. We are likely to miss point, however, if we only pay attention to the wind, sound, and fire –the pyrotechnics of this day – and not to his description of the effects of these mighty forces upon the God’s Christian people. At the end of the chapter he writes:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
We come to celebrate the birth of God’s Christian people with so many questions. Some are answerable. We know about the failure of national leadership and its role in exacerbating the still mounting death toll. We recognise the dire effects of our failure to create a joined up national health system accessible to all and free at the point of use. We plot the trajectories of an uneven distribution of government financial aid as an inevitability in a society where money means power and where money has so corrupted every aspect of political life.
Some of our questions remain unanswerable – answers still awaiting to be revealed with the passage of time. Will there be a vaccine or even an effective treatment and if so when? Perhaps the most difficult of the unanswerable questions is – will we learn from this experience so that things might really begin to change?
This Pentecost, we are not simply celebrating the birth of God’s Christian people. Working with all God’s peoples we are called upon once again:
to let the whole world know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by God through whom all things were made. Solemn Collects
And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went - Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs – Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.