Home Up

June 8, 2003

Prayer of the Day
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as you sent upon the disciples the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, look upon your church and open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. Kindle in us the fire of your love, and strengthen our lives for service in your kingdom; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Sprit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Acts 2:1-21
{1} When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. {2} 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. {3} Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. {4} All 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. {6} And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. {7} Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? {8} And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? {9} Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, {10} Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, {11} Cretans and Arabs--in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." {12} All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" {13} But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine." {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. {15} Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. {16} No, 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.'

1. Pentecost: The Feast of Weeks occurred seven weeks (a week of weeks plus one day, or fifty days) after the presentation of the first sheaf of the barley harvest at Passover (Leviticus 23:15-21). It is the second of the three festivals (Passover, Weeks and Booths; Leviticus 23) of the Jewish calendar, an agricultural festival marking the end of the wheat harvest. The date was associated with the arrival of the Israelites at Mt. Sinai at the time of the Exodus, and therefore with the giving of the law (Exodus 19:1).
they were all together: About 120 people, cf. Acts 1:15. See also Luke 24:33; Acts 1:6, 14: The whole of the Christian community shared this definitive experience.
one place: Cf. Verse 2: the house where they were sitting.
3. tongues, as of fire: Luke 3:16 and Matthew 3:11: "I baptize you with water…. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (hagios pneumatos, "holy wind") and fire." Also Acts 1:5: "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 
   "This is their baptism. It is the moment when their apostolate becomes pneumatic or Spirit graced; from this point on all that the apostles do will be under the guidance of the Spirit." [1]
4. began to speak in other languages: This is one kind of speaking in tongues. The other, ecstatic glossalalia, is described in 1 Corinthians 14:2-19; also it is what is intended in Acts 10:46a (above).
5. devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem: "Jews," properly "Judeans." They are living there at least for the festival of Pentecost. Some of the places from which they have come are mentioned in verses 9-11.
6-7: The apostles, Galileans, are contrasted with the devout Judeans from every nation under the sun.
8. "…the miracle seems at first to have been auditory not vocal, in that the assembled Jews were each enabled to hear them speaking ‘in his own language,’ but v 4 has already described it as a vocal miracle, produced by the Spirit given to the Galileans. Whether auditory or vocal, the miracle conveys the idea that the gift of the Spirit transcends all bounds: the Christian message is to be borne to people of all languages and cultures." [2]
   Those who heard in their own languages were not people of "all cultures." They were all devout Jews! This is only the first step on the way to the universal church. In Acts 10 Luke tells how the Gospel was preached to Gentiles, and describes their response in terms similar to these, "the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Sprit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God" (Acts 10:44-46a).
13. They are filled with new wine: The grape harvest occurred after the grain harvest, and was celebrated with its own festival fifty days after Pentecost. "Luke may have…alluded to the Pentecost of New Wine, when speaking…of the Pentecost of New Grain." [3]
14. the eleven: Peter and the eleven, including Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, makes twelve.
14b-21: In his "sermon" Peter explains what was seen and heard. The apostles are not drunk. They are the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. Fitzmyer outlines the speech as follows:
        "Introduction 2:14b-15
        OT Quotation to Clarify the Situation 2:16-21
        Kerygma 2:22-24, 32-33
        OT Quotation to Relate Jesus to David 2:15-31, 34-35
        Climactic Conclusion: Testimony 2:36
        Hortatory Conclusion 2:28-39" [4]
17. In the last days it will be, God declares: Joel 2:28-29. In Joel the specification is afterward. "Luke thus gives to the quotation a new eschatological orientation and ascribes the prophets words to God himself." [5]


Ezekiel 37:1-14
{1} The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. {2} He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. {3} He said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." {4} Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. {5} Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. {6} I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD." {7} So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. {8} I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. {9} Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." {10} I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. {11} Then he said to me, "Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.' {12} Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. {13} And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. {14} I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act," says the LORD.

5. I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live: The image is of the exiles in Babylon. They are "dead," without hope. Bone by bone, sinew, flesh and skin the bodies are restored. Then Yahweh will breath into them the "breath of life" as he did at the creation, and they shall live. The promise is repeated in verse 14.
14. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live: In Hebrew the word ruah is used for both "breath" and "spirit." Yahweh will put his breath/spirit within the exiles, and they shall their own land.
   The point of connection between the reading and the celebration of Pentecost is the promise of the breath/spirit given at Pentecost to spiritual exiles (similarly in Greek the word pneuma means both "breath" and "spirit") who, like the dry bones, were lifeless until they were in-spired (had the spirit breathed into them) by the breath/spirit of God, or indeed like the mud figure filled with the breath of life by God in Genesis 7:14 (the word there for the breath of life is nephesh, which is also used to refer to the "soul" of a person).

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
{24} O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. {25} Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. {26} There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. {27} These all look to you to give them their food in due season; {28} when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. {29} When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. {30} When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. {31} May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works-- {32} who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. {33} I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. {34} May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD…. {35b} Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD! 

26. Leviathan that you formed to sport in it: This is one of my favorite verses. While there is purpose and intent behind Yahweh’s creative acts, not everything God does has a high and noble purpose. He created Leviathan to play in the sea. We should be careful not take matters more seriously than God does.
27-30. your give them their food…you hide your face, they are dismayed…you send forth your spirit…you renew the face of the earth: The fortunes of the creation and its creatures depend completely on Yahweh.
   The earth is full of Yahweh’s creatures; they are result of his [pneuma] his wind, breath, Spirit. The singer praises Yahweh for his wisdom and creative power, and promises to sing his praises as long as he/she lives. Within the liturgy the Psalm is the congregations response to the mighty acts of God, and by declaring it they join their intent to that of the singer.

Romans 8:22-27
{22} We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; {23} and 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. {24} For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? {25} But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. {26} Likewise 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. {27} And 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. 

23. first fruits of the Spirit: The first fruits of a harvest are dedicated to God (Leviticus 23:15-21), and bestow holiness on the whole crop. The first fruits of the Spirit are the guarantee that what God has done in Jesus, what Jesus has promised to those who believe in him has been accomplished and will be brought to fullness.
groan inwardly while we wait: The creation groans in labor pains as it waits for the fullness of the Spirit (Acts 8:18-21) expressed as the "glory" of God. So, too, Christians who "have" the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit await the full expression of God’s glory in their lives and bodies.
24. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? The writer to the Hebrews puts it in terms of faith: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." The promise has been made. We live in the promise. We groan as we wait for fullness of that promise to be fulfilled.
25. we wait for it with patience: We are not impatient for that would suggest that we are not confident that God will bring his promises to fulfillment.
26. the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words: For Paul all true prayer is "in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18). The idea of the Spirit as intercessor is "a Pauline novelty." [6] "…the intercession of the Spirit with ineffable sighs is not to be confused with so-called glossalalia or speaking in tongues…." [7]
27. God…knows what is the mind of the Spirit: See 2 Corinthians 2:9-12.
the Spirit intercedes for the saints: God prays to God for his saints because they are too weak to pray for themselves.
saints: The saints are all Christian believers, not a special group.


Acts 2:1-21
   The passage from Acts is appointed for Pentecost in all three years. In the Reflection Romans is assumed to be the second lesson.

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
{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. {27} You 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. {5} But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' {6} But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. {7} Nevertheless 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. {8} And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: {9} about sin, because they do not believe in me; {10} about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; {11} about 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. {13} When 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. {14} He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. {15} All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 

26. Advocate: The word in Greek is parakletos, paraclete. The Advocate is identified as "the Spirit of truth," whose task will be to "testify on my [Jesus’] behalf," that is, the Advocate is a spiritual witness to Jesus. Only John uses this word of the Holy Spirit. It is used first in John 14:16.
27. You also are to testify: The disciples are, in turn, also to be "advocates," eye-witnesses to Jesus’ deeds and words.
16:4b. these things: This refers to Jesus’ words describing the persecution of Jesus and his followers by the world (for example, 15:18-25).
5. ‘Where are you going?’ In John 13:33-38 Jesus said that where he would go the disciples could not follow. Peter asked, "Lord, where are you going?" and then when Jesus refused to tell him where and Peter declared his willingness to sacrifice his life for Jesus, Jesus predicted Peter’s denial. In 14:4 Jesus told the disciples that they knew where he was going, but Thomas objected that they did not know where he was going or how to get there. Here "the fact is that the ideational dimension (content) of language is not at issue…. Antilanguage [8] is primarily interpersonal rather than ideational. It is repetitive; and it is this repetitiveness rather than content that gives antilanguage its emotional force." [9] What is being said is that the disciples are not fully engaged with Jesus and his program.
8-11: The function of the Advocate is two-fold: to convict the world and condemn it.
12-15: and also to glorify Jesus and give to the disciples all that Jesus has acquired for them.

   With Pentecost the season of Easter comes to a close. All that has been promised and anticipated is now fulfilled. Christ is risen, the Spirit is given, the disciples of Jesus have been vindicated, their hope is realized, the creation is redeemed.
   Fifty years or so later Paul wrote to the Romans, "the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and 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." What is already is not yet. We live in the time between times. The gift has been given; we groan inwardly and wait for adoption.
   Our life remains "ordinary" though it already participates in the eternal. We live our eternal life, knowing God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, called and consecrated by the Spirit, practicing our vocation as we wait for the redemption of our bodies.
   There is more to come. We live in hope of that which we cannot see, until we see what we cannot imagine. Christ is risen! Alleluia! The Spirit is given! Amen!

Hymns [10]
With One Voice (e.g. 762v), Hymnal Supplement 1991 (e.g. 725s) and LBW (e.g. 32).
E=Entrance; D=Hymn of the Day; I=First Lesson, P=Psalm; II=Second Lesson; G=Gospel

523 --E--Holy Spirit, Ever
163 --D--Come, Holy Ghost,
488 --I--Breathe on Me, Breath
682v --I--Praise the Spirit (751s)
686v --I--Veni Sancte (749s)
658v --I--The Word of God
827s--P--All Things Bright

441 --II--Eternal Spirit of
738v --II--Healer of Our (823s)
715v --II--Open Your Ears
475 --G--Come, Gracious Spirit,
        257,750s,752s,719v/777s,775v,   756v/748s, 683v, 681v, 685v






Prayers of the People [11]
   God of grace and gift; we thank and praise you for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Holy Spirit, enlighten our thinking, strengthen our will, guide us and give us courage that we may serve God our Father by living faithfully where we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord. God inspire your church hear our prayer.
   O Holy Spirit, bless the work of the church. Give us as children of God the grace to hear, to know and serve the mission of Christ in the world. Make the church alive to Christ its head. Bless this week the meeting of the Council of the Lutheran World Federation, in Turko, Finland. God inspire your church hear our prayer.

Or [12

Presider or deacon
The Spirit of God aids us in our weakness and teaches us to pray. In the power of the Spirit let us offer prayers to God for the needs, concerns, and hopes of all the world.
Deacon or other leader
For peace from on high and for our salvation.
For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all.
For this holy gathering and for those who enter with faith, reverence, and fear of God.
For the newly baptized illumined by the light of Christ.
For N our bishop and the presbyters, the deacons and all who minister in Christ,
and for all the holy people of God.
For the world and its leaders, our nation and its people.
For all those in need, the suffering and the oppressed, travelers and prisoners, the dying and the dead.
For ourselves, our families, and those we love.
Remembering our most glorious and blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, let us offer ourselves and one another to the living God through Christ. To you, O Lord.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who transforms our lives and makes us new. Hear our prayers which we offer in confidence and breathe upon us with your Holy Spirit. Glory to you for ever and ever.

[1] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, New York: Doubleday, 1998, p. 235.
[2] Ibid., p. 240.
[3] Loc. cit.
[4] Ibid., p. 249.
[5] Ibid., p. 252.
[6] Joseph A Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, New York: Doubleday, 1993, p. 518.
[7] Ibid., p. 519.
[8] An antilanguage is the in-group language of an anti-society, in this case primitive Christians.
[9] Bruce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998, p. 241.