A reading of Acts 2:1-6 and John 3:16 in a variety of languages
The following reading for Pentecost is a very simple way to present the international celebration implicit in the day. It requires the use of several candles to be placed on a display table. Two readers present the first six verses from Acts 2, lighting a candle at the place where the text mentions the tongues of fire. Then, at the cue of Acts 2:6, various languages are used to present the essence of the gospel as described in John 3:16.
Choosing readers from a variety of ethnic groups is effective, but any person with a high school competency in a foreign language can read this brief verse. More candles can be added if you wish to represent more languages, and more English readers can be used if there is a shortage of foreign language readers. This idea can be modified to include the presentation of John 3:16 by a variety of age groups using a variety of Bible paraphrases. The point is to celebrate the diversity and the unity which the Spirit of Pentecost brings. The lighted candles remain throughout the service as a silent reminder of the Spirit's presence!
Reader 1: When the day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place.
Reader 2: Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
[While Reader 2 continues, Reader 1 lights candle 1.]
Reader 1: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Reader 2: Now there were staying in Jerusalem Godfearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
Reader 1: When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
[As the following readers read John 3:16 in the designated language, they should form a line, take the microphone, read the verse, then lift the lighted candle and light one of the other candles. Our congregation used seven readers and seven candles, with the following languages:]
Reader 2: English
Reader 3: Dutch
Reader 4: Spanish
Reader 5: German
Reader 6: Hawaiian
Reader 7: English
Concluding Song: "Spirit of the Living God" PsH 424, PH 322, SFL 184, TH 726, TWC 297
[Readers go to their seats during the song.]
—contributed by Rev. David Kofi, Anaheim Christian Reformed Church, California
Your Spirit, God, works in our weakness
until we are aflame with your love and power.
Fill the hearts of your faithful with living fire,
that we may set the world ablaze,
through Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the Spirit
be honor and praise, now and forevermore.
—Sylvia Dunstan, 1988
from Voices United, (he Hymn and Worship Book ol the United Church of Canada (1996)
making life alive,
moving in all things,
root of all created being,
cleansing the cosmos of every impurity,
You are lustrous and praiseworthy life,
you waken and re-awaken everything that is.
—Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century Benedictine abbess from Chalice Hymnal, 1995 hymnal of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Spirit of God, we have gathered together in this place to pray....
Give us faith,
that when you come like the wind,
though we do not see you,
yet we may hear what you are saying to us
and discern your movement.
Give us courage, that we may not fear the tongues of flame:
let all that is unworthy, impure, and
sinful be burned from our lives.
May we know that it is love that burns so
brightly and love that strips away our sin.
Give us an open mind, Lord,
that the truth you bring may make its home with us:
truth to set us free
truth to guide us and inform us
truth to lead us in the way of your will.
Give us an open heart, Lord,
that we may seek all people for your realm,
and set no limits to the proclaiming of your word.
Holy Spirit, with the whole church we wait for you
in every place and in every generation.
In Jesus name. Amen
—Michael I. Walker, 20th century English Baptist minister from Chalice Hymnal
I want to be counted among those
who are in the upper room waiting,
contrite of heart, singing together, and unanimous in prayer.
I want to be counted among those
who are ardently desiring
that on this day of Pentecost
(friends, I hope that you are also yearning),
that the Burning Flame of the Spirit of God
descend upon you, upon me ... that both our hearts
be entirely burned and thus purified:
Free from anger, hatred and passion;
free from ill will, jealousy, and envy;
free from transgression, criticism, and gossip;
free from malice, animosity, and grudges . . .
Lord, here are my knees, my heart, and my tears.
So here I will wait, that with your Holy Spirit you may light my life.
—Julian Ibarra Zapata, 20th century Mexican Disciples pastor, from Chalice Hymnal