On the Day of Pentecost: A service celebrating the Holy Spirit's power

This service was submitted by Nolan and Phyllis Palsma, copastors of Pitcher Hill Community Church {Reformed Church in America), North Syracuse, New York. This service was prepared to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit in power to the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The sanctuary was graced with dozens of red geraniums and red balloons, and many in the congregation even wore red, all to symbolize the tongues of flame that accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. During the processional, the acolytes twirled yellow and red streamers above their heads to symbolize the tongues of fire that rested on the apostles' heads.

Since the congregation was more familiar with meditative than with rousing Pentecost hymns, we chose texts for the service from Jane Parker Huber's collection^ Singing Faith (1987, 73 hymns). The title of an earlier collection of her texts reveals her approach: Fresh Words to Familiar Tunes (1982). Both were published by Westminster/John Knox Press, and were used by permission. (Huber's newest collection, Singing in Celebration, was released by the same publisher in 1996.) Churches can either use their CCLI licences or contact the publisher for permission to reprint these texts. Contact Westminster/John Knox Press, 100 Witherspoon, Louisville, KY 40202-1396 (502) 569-5288.

Huber was born in China in 1926 to missionary parents, then moved to Indiana, where her father became president of Hanover College. Huber has worked on many Presbyterian committees and is especially well-known for her inclusive-language hymn texts set to familiar tunes. The 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal includes ten of her texts.

The Scripture was a dramatic reading for three people from This Is the Word of the Lord by William Freburger, p. 122 (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1984. (800) 282-1865).

After the final hymn, the congregation recessed out into the church parking lot for the releasing of the ersatz dove (a homing pigeon secured from a local owner) as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and a reminder of God releasing the power of the Holy Spirit upon all believers.




The Call to Worship

Spirit of the living God, visit us again on this day
of Pentecost.
Come, Holy Spirit.
With rushing wind that sweeps away all barriers,
come, Holy Spirit.
With tongues of fire that set our hearts aflame,
come, Holy Spirit.
With speech that unites the Babel of our tongues,
come, Holy Spirit.
With love that overlaps the boundaries of race
and nation,
come, Holy Spirit.
With power from above to make our weakness
come, Holy Spirit.

The Salutation

Grace to you and peace from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Processional Hymn: "O God of Vision" (Tune: LOBE DEN HERREN)

O God of vision, far greater than all human
gather us now in your presence, refreshing,
Show us anew life in your breathtaking view,
lovely beyond all our dreaming.

Pour out your Spirit on all now assembled before
May our diversity here be a means to adore you.
Women and men, young, old, and youthful
make us as one, we implore you.

Grant to us insight, O God, for this time of deci-
May we dream challenging dreams of both depth
and precision.
Speak through the dark. Dispel by lightning's
whatever clouds dim our vision.
Grateful, we come now by Christ's invitation clear
We seek the nourishment found in fruit crushed
and bread broken,
Christ for us all! Come, let us answer the call,
offering our lives as the token.

1981 Jane Parker Huber

Prayer of Confession

[Spoken prayer]

Our God, we come in humility,
confessing who and what we are.
We are often unresponsive
for we are afraid.
When your Spirit speaks, we turn deaf ears,
for we fear what you might call us to do.
When your Spirit touches our lips,
we close our mouths,
embarrassed to speak your Word.
When the wind of your Spirit blows,
we close the windows of our hearts,
afraid the breeze will disrupt our ordered lives.
When the fire of your Spirit touches us,
we quench the flame,
afraid of the new life it might bring.
Forgive us, O Lord.

[Sung prayer] "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying" PsH 625, SFL 54

Words of Assurance

The Summary of the Law

Response: "Glory Be to the Father" PsH 635, PH 577-9, RL 561-3, TH 734-5


A Word for Children of All Ages

Hymn: "On Pentecost They Gathered" (Tune: MUNICH)

On Pentecost they gathered quite early in the day,
a band of Christ's disciples to worship, sing, and
A mighty wind came blowing, filled all the
swirling air,
and tongues of fire aglowing inspired each person

The people all around them were startled and
amazed to understand their language, as Christ the Lord
they praised.
What universal message, what great good news
was here?
That Christ, once dead, is risen to vanquish all our

God pours the Holy Spirit on all who would
on women, men, and children who would God's
grace receive.
That Spirit knows no limit, bestowing life and
The church, formed and reforming, responds in
every hour.

1981 Jane Parker Huber

Prayer for Illumination

The Scripture Lesson

Selected Readings of the Pentecost event

The Sermon

Prayer for Blessing

Passing of the Peace

People of God, let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace. The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.

Offertory Call and Prayer


Doxology and Presentation of Gifts: "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" (Tune: OLD HUNDREDTH)

Sacrament of the Lord's Supper

Meaning of the Sacrament


Communion Prayer

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts!
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
For it is holy and right to do so.
Holy and right it is. . . . With your whole church on earth and with all the company of heaven, we worship and adore your glorious name as we sing:

[Sing through twice First time, congregation and choir in English; second time, congregation in English and choir in Spanish]

"Holy, Holy, Holy"PsH 626, SFL 66

Most righteous God ... together we proclaim the mystery of the faith:

[with increasing volume]

Christ has died!
Christ is risen!
Christ will come again!


The Response to God's Word and Sacrament

You have given yourself to us, Lord.
Now we give ourselves for others.
You have sent your Holy Spirit, and made us a
gifted people.
As people of the Pentecost, we will serve you
and proclaim your Good News with joy.

Your glory has filled our hearts.
Help us to glorify you in all things. Amen.


The Prayers of the People and the Lord's Prayer

Hymn: "Put Forth, O Lord, Thy Spirit's Might" RL 376

Recessional and Postlude


The Pentecost banners here and on p. 33 were created by Alice Brinkman, banner artist for University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan. The banners surrounded the congregation, hanging both in the front and the rear of the worship space. The background was red, the dove white, and the lettering and flames shades of orange and yellow.

Reformed Worship 39 © March 1996 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.