Seeing visions, dreaming dreams: coming together for Pentecost

It was a Pentecost experience! On June 3, 2001, the members of four Lutheran and Reformed congregations in the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee gathered to worship God, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ with voice, drum, tambourine, keyboard, and guitar . . . and with songs and prayers from Latino, Asian, European, and African cultures.

The pastors and music leaders of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bethel-Bethany United Church of Christ, Pentecost Lutheran Church (ELCA), and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (ELCA) had been working together since the summer of 1999 to explore the rich repertoire of multicultural music available to churches in the new hymnals and hymnal supplements of our denominations and to encourage our churches to welcome and embrace more fully the world around us.

Those who developed this service included men and women of different races and cultural backgrounds. We affirmed common patterns that have guided our approach to worship, including a time for gathering, for the proclamation of the Word, for sharing at the Table, and for sending the faithful into the world. We also recognized commonality in our prayers, responses, and hymnody. At the same time, we wanted to explore ways of developing a more multicultural style for praising God, both to enrich our own worship and to invite people from different cultural backgrounds.

We challenged each other to sing with a new voice—the voice of the world. During monthly rehearsals from February to June our joint choral group sang hymns from different cultures from Chalice Hymnal, the New Century Hymnal, the Presbyterian Hymnal, and the ELCA supplemental hymnal, With One Voice (WOV). Our leaders provided helpful background information on using the hymns in worship, along with instructions on the appropriate rhythms and movements. The choral group also rehearsed five anthems from different cultural traditions. In the process we discovered the joy of praising God in new ways. Members of the four churches learned how to accompany the songs on instruments such as congas, cow bell, Chinese drum, and gong.

Our goal was to create a service that would be familiar to people of Lutheran and Reformed traditions while celebrating our multicultural world. No formal sermon was preached that evening; instead, worship leaders told the story of Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection, and the Pentecost story was read from Scripture. Each piece was followed by responsive hymns from different cultures and by choral anthems and prayers. Hymns and anthems used in the liturgy were carefully chosen to invite worshipers to hear the gospel message for all people and all nations. It was a Spirit-filled evening to remember!

THE SERVICE

We Gather in Praise

Prelude

Welcome and Introductions

Call to Worship

May the light of God’s love push back the darkness.

We come to the light from the four corners of the earth, from the north, from the south, from the east, and from the west.

But we are all one in Jesus Christ.

We come from many nations and many cultures.

But we are all one in Jesus Christ.

We come seeking the light that guides us to life.

But we are all one in Jesus Christ.

Let us lift up our many voices and praise the God of all people.

Hymn: “Siyahamba / We Are Marching in the Light of God” SNC 293, WOV 650

Prayer of Confession

Let us confess those places where, despite our exuberance for marching in the light, we find ourselves turning away from the light. Life-giving Spirit:

We often speak in tongues that confound rather than clarify. We engage in actions that hurt rather than heal. We cling to attitudes that separate rather than unite.

In the name of “preserving our traditions,”

we often cling to fragile familiarities, afraid to risk a new future.

In the name of “speaking with one voice,”

we drown out fresh and different voices.

In the name of “unity and good order in the church,”

we sometimes back down from hard decisions and away from people on the margins.
Spirit of the living God:
Forgive us. Continue to draw us to the light where there is healing and forgiveness. Grant us courage to march in the light, wherever it may lead.

Words of Assurance (adapted from Rom. 8:14-16)

All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption.

When we cry, “Abba!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

Hymn: “Santo, santo, santo, mi corazon / Holy, Holy, Holy, My Heart” SNC 19

Passing of the Peace

[People were invited to move freely throughout the sanctuary while the playing of “Santo, Santo, Santo” continued.]

We Declare God’s Good News

Jesus Calls the Disciples

Hymn: “Tú has venido a la orilla / You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore” SNC 269, WOV 784

Jesus Calls Us to Discipleship

Prayers for Our Churches and Their Mission

Hymn: “Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love” PsH 601, PH 367, SFL 251, TWC 436, WOV 765

Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

Anthem: “Hallelujah, Christ Is Risen,” Feliciano, arr. Caceres (World House Music, 414-444-4447)

The Risen Christ Meets Us in the Midst of Life

Anthem: “Que Viva Cristo / Long Live Christ,” Caceres (World House Music, 414-444-4447)

The Story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21)

Anthem: “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” arr. William L. Dawson (Kjos)

[Our director, Dwight Hamilton from Good Shepherd Lutheran, encouraged us to put down our music and sing.]

Tongsung Kido (Pray Aloud)

[In Korean congregations, among others, Tongsung Kido is an important part of prayer life. Usually the congregation is given a specific time period, with a common theme of petition or supplication. Then all pray aloud at the same time. The voices of others will not bother them when they concentrate on their own earnest prayers, longing for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.]
—Gifts of Many Cultures, Tirabassi and Edy, editors. Cleveland: United Church Press, 1995

Response: “Sanna Sannanina,” trad. South African (Celebration/Maranatha!, 1975)

We Share God’s Love

Call to Share Our Gifts with the World

Offertory: “Come on, Children, Let’s Sing,” arr. Linda Twine (Hinshaw, 1996)

Bringing Forth of the Offering

Response: “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah!” SNC 44, WOV 612

Offertory Prayer

Holy Communion

Hymns

“One Bread, One Body” WOV 710
“You Satisfy the Hungry Heart” PsH 300, PH 521, WOV 711

Artwork by Clemens Schmidt, from Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (The Liturgical Press, 1988). Used by permission.

Timothy Perkins (PerkDrews@aol.com) is pastor of Bethel-Bethany United Church of Christ, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.