Pentecost Sunday 2021

23 May 2021 by Trish Rooney in: Sermons


Welcome to church this morning. Welcome to those gathered here and to those gathered at home. It is a privilege to share worship with you on this morning. I pray this time will be a blessing for us all.

Call to Worship

People of God, do you hear it?
Like the insistent rushing wind,
God is speaking to us, each in our native language,
Using the colloquialisms of our local speech,
Adopting our dialect,
colouring the word with our slang,
Making sure the word is out,
And that no one misses the news -
God is with us.


Acknowledgement of Country

For 60,000 years, the ancient of days has breathed life into this land.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gather
We pay our respects to their elders past present and all their descendants


Hymn                 Where wide sky rolls down and touches red sand TiS 188


As wind fills the sails of windmills in paddocks and taps underground stores of life-giving water; so the wind of God’s Spirit fill us and refreshes us.

As fire renews the bush by bursting open
the seeds of life;
so the fire of God’s Spirit brings renewal to our lives.

Wind and fire, symbols of energy and power;
Holy Spirit, source of our energy and power, sweep into our lives this day,
that we may experience your refreshment, your renewal, your life. Amen



God, you speak to each of us with such intimacy,
with such knowing, and yet,
we can be uncertain as to how to respond.

When we are deafened by the noisy demands of secular life,
Open our ears to your voice.

When we are blinded by routine and the habits of the everyday,
Open our hearts to search deeply and clearly for you in all things.

When we are distracted by trinkets
and the flotsam and jetsam of marketing and commerce,
Open our eyes to what is of real value.

When we are held hostage to misunderstanding and twisted truths,
Open our minds so that we may grapple with, and come to understand, what walking in the way of Christ truly means.

When we are called to tell the story of your goodness and grace, embolden us to not shirk from our calling.


The Spirit is at hand, ready to come amongst us speaking words of encouragement and mercy so that we become a movement of people bearing God’s good news and grace. Let this knowledge dwell within your heart and soul, and let it guide and comfort you.

Hear, believe, and live the good news. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven!

Thanks be to God!

HYMN Pentecost Prayer        

BIBLE READINGS          Ezekiel 37:1-14

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. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 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.” 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. 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 themThen 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.”

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 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. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 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. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 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.’

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God


As a minister there are certain key events in the life of the church that we get excited about when it comes to leading worship. And as someone whose ministry is exercised mainly outside of the church I was very excited when I learnt it will be Pentecost Sunday when I will be leading worship. I was feeling very blessed as I lead worship on Easter Sunday and now the opportunity to lead on Pentecost. My mind was full of all the red creative things I could be doing in worship.

This excitement didn’t last long. As I sat down to focus on the reading set aside for today and reflect on how they speak to us today in light of all we are experiencing personally and in our world around us my red Pentecost balloon was popped!

I started with reading Acts and as I read about how the Holy Spirit was being poured out on all kinds of people from across every nation and how the spirit came upon people in such a remarkable and memorable way. Each person present at that Pentecost event was able to hear the Spirit speak directly to them, in the language of their tongue and their heart. There was no need for translation, there was no struggling to comprehend what was been said. The Spirit spoke to each person in the way they could hear and understand. What an incredible, generous act of equity.

And yet I felt sadness.

A week doesn’t go by without a report of racial abuse. Memories of Black Lives Matter protests and the events that sparked these are still fresh in our minds. Report after report of people of all ages, young and old experiencing the ugliness of racism and I can’t believe we are still singing this song in 2021?

I read on.

How could I be sad to read about the old bones joining together as new life is breathed back into them?

Around the world the pandemic continues to leave a trail of trauma in its wake. Families are isolated from one another. We can’t freely move around our world. People in India are crying out for help with no relief in sight.

Our news reports are flooded with the horrid images of the war that is raging in the Middle East. A war that seems to have always been boiling away with periods of increased violence and destruction like we are seeing today. Thera no words to describe the scenes of mass destruction.

I ask myself like I am sure you have asked: Where is the good news in this story?  Where is the Spirit breathing new life?

I walked away from my computer with a heaviness in my heart as I struggled to comprehend all the sadness, division, isolation, war and everything thing else that is happening in our world and I ask myself “where is the good news, where is the Spirit?”

As I sat in the warm autumn sun, the words of a colleague tiptoed through my mind. My colleague shared with me a challenging conversation he had with someone recently. He was told he wasn’t able to make any changes to a weekly chapel service as it had been done in a particular way for the last 40 years and would continue to be that way. My colleague was puzzled by this remark and told me he had no time for such comments as he followed a God who was always moving.

This was a light bulb moment (or should I say a Spirit moment) for me as I recalled this conversation and the impact the words.

“I follow a God who is always moving forward.”

We may struggle and we do struggle to make sense of all that is happening around us and find it hard to see where God is when our world around us is hurting and is at war with one another. This doesn’t mean God isn’t in those places. It doesn’t mean that God is absent from the Gaza strip or the bullies in the playground. God is right there in the thick of it.

“I follow a God who is always moving forward.” With that I went back and re read the scriptures for today with a spirit of hope in my heart.

So what relevance do these words penned so long ago have for you and I today?

Our hope is in the power of the Spirit of God. Here in Ezekiel is one of the few passages in the First Testament from which we can develop a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Here we meet the Spirit who gives life and strength when all seems to lead to hopelessness and despair and at such a time as this we need to hear the message of Ezekiel’s vision. The remarkable story of dead, dry bones coming together speaks of a God who can bring life from any situation. It speaks of a God who achieves the impossible.

Ezekiel has a vision and he is transported to a valley. A valley that was once an old battlefield where heavy loses have been suffered. The valley is full of dry human bones that have been lying in the hot sun. God says to the prophet Ezekiel, “Can these bones come back to life?”

The answer, no way! This is not possible.

But Ezekiel knows that he is dealing with God and “impossible” is not how God sees things, so he replies, “only you Lord can answer that.”

God tells Ezekiel to speak to the bones and tell them that they will be wrapped with muscles and skin and God will put God’s breath into them.

So Ezekiel speaks and while he is still speaking there’s a rattle and the bones come together and muscles and skin cover them but there is no breath. God instructs Ezekiel to speak again and tell the spirit to enter the bodies. When he does, they come to life, stand up and form a great army.

The last few verses of our reading from the prophet give us an interpretation of the vision. A fugitive had arrived among the exiles in Babylon bringing news that Jerusalem had fallen. The nation had, to all appearances perished. Further, Jerusalem was where their faith was centred. Its fall seemed to be a sign that their faith was breaking up. God said that the bones are the people of Israel. The people that make up the shattered remains of the nation are prisoners in Babylon who had been in captivity for more than ten years. The hope that they had earlier has now been extinguished. They are like dry bones. “They complain that they are dried up and that they have no hope for the future.” But God responds by telling them that God doesn’t know the word “hopeless” – that God will raise them from death and restore them to their land. “My Spirit will give you breath, and you will live again. I will bring you home, and you will know that I have kept my promise. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

For the coming together of dead bones speaks of a God who can bring life from any situation. It speaks of a God who achieves the impossible. That’s the message we get from the valley of dry bones.

The prophetic vison of Ezekiel is one of restoration and recreation. So maybe those things like racism, war and disease that make us feel utterly hopeless like the dried, dead bones can find restoration and recreation. Maybe we can be restored into people and communities that God desires us to be. Our periods of helplessness and despair are not the final words of our God who is always moving forward. It’s not enough to say restoration and recreation is possible, it requires the breath of God to move in and among the bones; it needs the spirit of God infusing us with new life, moving us to better ways of living and being.

Pain-bearing God, we are sad and sometimes unsure how to make this world a better place. God of love, cleanse our hearts and give us the grace to find helpful words of grief and comfort.  God, you created unity in the midst of diversity; We acknowledge that human diversity is an expression of your abundant love for your creation; we confess that in our brokenness as human beings we turn diversity into a source of alienation, injustice, oppression, and wounding. Empower us to recognize and celebrate differences as your great gift to the human family. Enable us to be the architects of understanding, of respect and love; grant us strength to keep our hearts open. Breath is us new life. Through the Lord, the ground of all unity, we pray. Amen

HYMN         we will remain seated as we reflect of the words of the next hymn: Spirit of the Living God



Spirt of justice and compassion, as these gifts make their way in the world may they become good news for all those who receive them. This we pray, Amen.

HYMN I, the Lord of Sea and Sky TiS 658


We have been blessed by the word of the Spirit
speaking to us and calling us to lives
of generosity and compassion,
so go now and be a blessing to all 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
The love of God,
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with you this day and remain with you forever more. Amen