Ascension and Pentecost Services from Italy

Joint Liturgies of the Baptist, Methodist, and Waldensian Churches

The following outlines for Ascension and Pentecost worship come from the resources for the liturgical year published by the liturgical committee of the Baptist, Methodist, and Waldensian Churches of Italy, who write in the introduction about why crafting liturgy for the whole church year matters: “Thinking about the liturgy based on the periods of the liturgical year allows for greater organization and less arbitrariness in the choice of themes.” They also recognize the importance of local context and offer the following advice, applicable wherever you worship: “It is highly advisable that, at least sometimes, the different parts of the liturgy are prepared by a church group in order to develop the participation of the assembly; this can be done through a more explicit connection with current events, with the use of new forms of singing (which must not replace traditional hymns, but can alternate with them), and with the use of responses and gestures or actions and symbols that help express the meaning of what is said.”  For more information on the order of worship and these Protestant churches in Italy see "How Shall We Worship?" in this issue. We are grateful to the liturgical committee for sharing their wisdom and these resources with the Reformed Worship readership. You can find more of their resources in the “Documents” section of chiesavaldese.org.
RW

 The Feast of the Ascension (the proclamation of the lordship of Christ) has its own significance separate from the previous and following Sundays; we therefore invite the churches not to conform to Italian or other local customs, but rather to find a way to observe it on Thursday (Ascension Day), even though it is a weekday, with an evening service or a community dinner, a concert with biblical reflection, or in some other form. The feast of Pentecost, which follows ten days later and celebrates the gift of the Spirit, is closely linked to the announcement of the resurrection and thus concludes the Easter cycle. 

In essence, it is clear that every moment of worship at every moment of the year depends on the free action of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ascension and Pentecost are two services that help us see this action of God even more clearly.

Ascension Day

The congregation is invited to stand in body or spirit for elements of worship marked with an asterisk. 
 

Welcome and Praise

*Greeting 
Jesus says: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

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

*Sung Response

Opening Scripture: Philippians 2:6–11

Opening Prayer 
Holy God,
who lives and reigns in glory 
and has sovereignly raised your Son to your right hand, 
grant us to follow in faith the one who is our life and our hope; 
grant that in the anguish and in the fighting 
we can already know the peace and happiness of your kingdom; 
raise the light of your face upon us 
and upon all those who today celebrate the ascension of Jesus, 
whose victory is our victory, 
and who now lives and reigns with you 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. 
Amen. 

*Hymn of Response

Confession of Sin 
Let us prepare to confess our sin by listening to the word of the risen Lord: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Silent time of confession 

Lord Jesus, you call us to bear witness 
to the love of the Father in all parts of the earth. 
But our testimony is weak. 
You want us to proclaim that you live and give life, 
but we are afraid of death. 
You want us to announce your kingdom of light, 
but we move with uncertainty amidst human contradictions. 
You promise us the coming of the Holy Spirit, 
but it is so difficult for us to accept it. 
Lord, forgive us, 
and may the gift of the Spirit overcome our unbelief. 
Amen. 

*Hymn 

*Announcement of Forgiveness 
Let us hear the good news of God’s work of salvation in Christ, crucified and risen for us: “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead . . .  is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10–12). In the name of Jesus we are saved. May the strength of the Spirit of God teach us to live in the breath of the new world that comes. Amen.

*Hymn 

*Profession of Faith
 

Listening to the Word of God

Hymn of Preparation

Prayer of Illumination 
Lord Jesus, you who when leaving us said, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth,” send your Spirit now to us, so that “he may tell us what is yet to come” (John 16:13). Open our ears and open our hearts so that together we receive the salvation that you want to give to humanity. Amen. 

Scripture Reading
[Before reading:] 
Let us listen to the Word of God, reading from [insert the week’s text]. 

[After reading:] 
O God, sanctify us in the truth: 
Your Word is truth. 

Moment of Reflection

Preaching

*Hymn 
 

Communion in Christ

[The Lord’s Supper, if celebrated, should be enfolded into this section.] 

Announcements

Collection of Offerings 
Let us now collect our gifts, which we offer with joy and love. 

[After the collection:] 
*Prayer 
Lord, we offer these gifts to you. 
They are the fruit of our work and our efforts, 
but above all they are the fruit of your love for us. 
Let this money that we have collected in your name 
become an instrument of solidarity and welcome. 
Amen.

*Prayer of Intercession

O Christ, Savior of the world, who sits at the right hand of the Father, 
come reign in our hearts 
and direct our thoughts and prayers. 
You are the Lord of the church: 
grant us your presence every day, 
and let your Holy Spirit guide us in the truth. 
All power has been given to you in heaven and on earth. 
Help in your grace those who are exposed to dangers in soul and body; 
help those who risk succumbing to the temptations and trials of life; 
give the peace of faith to those who are restless and tormented. 
You have promised to be with us every day until the end of time: 
keep us in communal love and in the service of your kingdom. 
Lord, who intercedes for us with the Father, 
welcome the prayers we present to you in faith. 
[Add additional prayers as desired, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer]

*Lord’s Prayer 

*Hymn 

*Blessing 
Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15).
Amen.

 

Pentecost

The congregation is invited to stand in body or spirit for elements of worship marked with an asterisk. 
 

Welcome and Praise

*Greeting 
“And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.”
—Joel 2:28 

God welcomes us 
and is happy to see us gathered in his name. 
He loved us before we loved him. 
In his Son, Jesus, he looked for us 
before we looked for him. 
In his Spirit he knew us before we knew him. 
We receive the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit 
into our hearts and lives. 
Amen. 

*Sung Response

Opening Scripture: Psalm 104:1, 24, 27–31, 33

Opening Prayer 
Lord, we bless you 
because you give and preserve life in the world, 
because you love us and strengthen us. 
You gave us your Son, Savior of the world, 
who shared our life, 
showed us your love,
and healed us from our ailments. 
With your Spirit you make us free, 
send us into the world, 
and make peace live in our lives. 
Come, Spirit of the Lord, 
make us open to each other, 
renew our faith, our prayer, our commitment, 
just as you promised to renew the whole earth. 
Amen. 

*Hymn 

Confession of Sin 
Let us prepare to confess our sin and ask God for forgiveness.

Scripture teaches: “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). 

Sin destroys what God creates. We realize this in moments of crisis and tiredness, when tensions explode and conflicts seem irreparable. 

[An addition especially appropriate for churches experiencing growth:]

As we rejoice at the new members who are welcomed into our community, we also recognize that communion encounters obstacles even among us, and that common work does not bear all the fruits it could. 

But the Spirit rebuilds what we destroy. In this trust, we confess to God everything that pushes us to separate from each other, and we ask him that we can all together be the building that has its foundation in Christ. 

Silent confession

Lord, you rebuild what we destroy. 
We pray to you: rebuild our lives. 
Rebuild our strength 
when we waste it on so many useless things, 
when we are worn out and lose courage. 
Rebuild our trust 
when we hesitate before your promises, 
when we let ourselves be overcome by confusion and bitterness, 
when we doubt ourselves and our ability to serve you, 
when the difficulties become greater than our little faith. 
Rebuild our common initiatives 
when selfishness weakens them, 
when we find it more comfortable to avoid the effort of acting together with others, 
when we hesitate in the face of the objectives that together we had recognized as our vocation, 
when we give in to rancor and resentment, 
when we can no longer understand each other despite being members of the same church. 
Lord, rebuild our lives: give us back strength, trust, and initiative 
with the energy that comes from the only foundation, Christ Jesus.
Amen. 

*Hymn 

*Announcement of Forgiveness 
Hear the good news of God’s grace: 

You have been “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20–22). 

God welcomes us and makes us participants in his construction. We receive his forgiveness with joy. Amen. 

*Hymn 

*Profession of Faith

 

Listening to the Word of God

Hymn of Preparation

Prayer of Illumination 
We pray to you, Lord: 
give us your Spirit of light and truth 
so that it illuminates for us the Word that we will listen to 
and guides us in the truth; 
give us your Spirit of holiness 
so that it transforms our hearts 
and makes us obedient to your will; 
give us your Spirit of love, joy, and peace 
so that it shines in us like a flame 
that nothing can extinguish. 
Amen. 

Scripture Reading
[Before reading:] 
Let us listen to the Word of God, reading from [insert this week’s text]. 

[After reading:] 
O God, sanctify us in the truth: 
your word is truth. 

Moment of Reflection

Preaching

*Hymn 

 

Communion in Christ

Announcements

Collection of Offerings 
Let us now collect the offerings for the work of the Lord. 

[After the collection:] 
*Prayer 
Lord, you who have given us everything in Christ, 
welcome our gifts, 
and allow us to serve you faithfully. 
Amen.

Introduction to the Lord’s Supper
The Holy Spirit, through whom we invoke God as Father and who allows us to say “Jesus is Lord!”, is also the Spirit of communion, who binds us to each other. This is why today we participate together in the Lord’s Supper. 

By receiving the bread and wine, we recognize the Lord Jesus, who gives himself for us and for all creatures. Thus we learn to give ourselves in the certainty that the Spirit will be able to transform our weakness by making us instruments of the Spirit’s action. 

Institution of the Lord’s Supper
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
—1 Corinthians 11:23–26 

Our Father, we are grateful to you for the gift of the Spirit. Your Spirit called the church to life and allowed it to bring the good news of salvation to the world. The harvest was great, and people of every nation and language received the gospel as a word addressed to them, as the force that transforms their whole life. 

Your Spirit gave birth to faith, to love, to hope. Gathered around the Supper, we ask you to live in the communion of the church universal, so that we can be a living testimony in the world and a manifestation of our unity in Christ. 

May we all from now on feel united in your joy and praise your glory together with believers from every part of the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, the living, who is blessed with you and with your Spirit forever and ever, amen. 

*Hymn 

*Invocation of the Holy Spirit 
Send your Spirit now upon the church so that through this bread of life and this cup of grace the communion of all believers may be realized and the commitment to confess in the world that Jesus Christ is Lord may be renewed. 

Fraction of the Bread and the Blessing of the Cup
The bread we break is our communion with the body of Christ that has been given for us. 

The chalice of blessing, for which we give thanks, is our communion with the blood of Christ that has been spilled for us. 

Invitation to the Table
The Lord says: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20). 

Let all who recognize his voice open the door to the Lord and come into communion with him and with one another to form one body. Come, because everything is ready! 

Communion 

*Thanksgiving 
We give you thanks, Lord. 
In the light of the Spirit 
you allow us to look at each other, 
to look at your creatures with a new gaze—your gaze. 
In the light of the Spirit 
we can share our joys as well as our anxieties, 
our plans and our disappointments, 
while waiting for your kingdom. 
Amen.

*Prayer of Intercession
[The congregational response can be spoken or replaced with an appropriate sung response.]
Lord, send your Spirit into the world, 
so that it gives every person the courage
to live in true community. 
Send your Spirit.

Lord, send your Spirit upon the church, 
so that it may be the lively leaven of unity, 
the inspirer of every communion. 
Send your Spirit.

Lord, send your Spirit upon each of us, 
to make us bold in proclaiming the gospel 
and to give us peace. 
Send your Spirit.

[Add additional prayers as desired, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.]

*The Lord’s Prayer 

*Hymn 

*Blessing 
May the Spirit of God come upon each of us
to set us in motion and free us from fear. 
May the Spirit of God breathe on us 
to give us the strength of the wind 
and the joy and hope of those who work for the kingdom. 
May the Spirit of God come upon us 
to guide us to unity and give us peace. 
Amen.

Reformed Worship 151 © March 2024 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.