“Lessons and Carols” for Pentecost

Pulpit goose

The Holy Spirit represented, Celtic style, as a grey goose, from the pulpit of Emmanuel Church.

The Feast of Pentecost arrives on schedule each year seven Sundays after Easter. With Ascension Thursday as a near reminder, it hardly catches us by surprise. The story is pretty dramatic, and many of us celebrate Pentecost by picking up some of its visual cues, decorating the worship space with colored balloons, construction paper flames and or great banners or drapery featuring the red color that the Church associates with this day. Fascination with the experience of hearing the Gospel proclaimed, as it were, in many languages simultaneously, still inspires congregations to include the Acts reading or the Lord’s Prayer in languages represented among parishioners. Occasionally, the congregation will spring for a large cake and candles to celebrate the “birthday” of the Church.

Inevitably each year, someone will ask why it is that is that the event described in Acts 2 is so different from our own experience of the Holy Spirit. The answer, of course, is that many people do experience the Spirit in a way that is not far removed from that described in this story and in Paul’s letters, nurtured and supported in the Pentecostal worship tradition. But, though charismatic expressions of the Spirit are not unknown, it is fair to say that most of us have only heard of speaking in tongues and contemporary prophecy and not witnessed them firsthand. The question arises in each generation: How does my experience of the Holy Spirit measure up to the tongues of flame and rushing wind of that day?

The point of this service is to make sense out of the Spirit’s appearance in the Pentecost story by putting it into context, that is, by hearing side-by-side the stories of how the Holy Spirit has been manifest from the very beginning of our creation to the varieties of its presence in our lives today. Then we will see that the measure of our inspiration is not based on a single outpouring, but rather on the fullness of the experience of all of God’s children.


Pentecost, 1596, El Greco from Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

Lessons & Carols for Pentecost

The Bidding Prayer is adapted from those found in The Book of Occasional Services, where the final blessing may also be found. Hymn citations are from The Hymnal 1982. We hope this service may be of use to your congregation.We would appreciate it if Emmanuel Church, Bel Air, Maryland could be credited as its original source. 

Processional Hymn 229 (Spirit of mercy, truth and love)

Introduction & Bidding

Dear People of God: On this Feast of Pentecost, it is our responsibility and joy to search the Scriptures for its testimony to God’s Holy Spirit, present in the world since the moment of creation. Let us hear and heed how this Spirit inspired prophets and sages, to be proclaimed in psalms and stories. Let us rejoice at the promise that God’s spirit would someday fill the whole earth, and exalt as the wind and fire of that Spirit was made manifest to the disciples gathered together on this great day. And let us sing as our hearts are made glad by this witness to God’s great goodness.

Let this testimony inspire us to call upon this same Spirit, now present among us, as we renew our commitment to the work God has given us to do. Let us pray in the power of the Spirit for the needs of the whole world, for peace and justice on earth, for the unity and mission of the Church for which our Lord died, and especially for Church in our country and in this community. And because he particularly loves them, let us remember in his name the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, the homeless and the oppressed, the sick and those who mourn, the lonely and unloved, the aged and little children, as well as all those who do not know and love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, let us go forth from this place filled with the same zeal of your first disciples to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and to share the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we ourselves have received.

Let us pray.

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lesson 1 – Genesis 2:4b-7

… “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”

Response – Hymn 508 (Breathe on me)

Lesson 2 – Numbers 11:16-17, 24-30

 “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’” 

Response — Hymn 546 (Awake my Soul)

Lesson 3 – 2 Samuel 23:1-7

2 “The spirit of the Lord speaks through me,
   his word is upon my tongue. “

Response – Psalm 126 (Barrett)

Lesson 4 – Joel 2:28-32

28 “Then afterwards
   I will pour out my spirit on all flesh”

Response – Choir Anthem

Lesson 5 – John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

26 ‘‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father…'”

Response – Hymn 503 (Come Holy Ghost)

Lesson 6 – John 20:19-23

“’ 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Response – Hymn 510 (Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly dove)

Lesson 7 – Acts 2:1-17

4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

Response – Psalm 104 (Barrett)

Lesson 8 – 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Response – Hymn 686 (Come thou fount)

Lesson 9 – Galatians 5:16-26

22 “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control.”

Response – Choir Anthem


Presentation Hymn 509 (Spirit divine, attend our prayers)

Holy Communion, Prayer D

Communion Hymn 304 (I come with joy)

Pentecost Blessing

May Almighty God, who enlightened the minds of the disciples by pouring out upon them the Holy Spirit, make you rich with his blessing, that you may abound more and more in that Spirit for ever. Amen.

May God, who sent the Holy Spirit as a flame of fire that rested upon the heads of the disciples, burn out all evil from your hearts, and make them shine with the pure light of his presence. Amen.

May God, who by the Holy Spirit caused those of many tongues to proclaim Jesus as Lord, strengthen your faith and send you out to bear witness to him in word and deed. Amen.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen.

Processional Hymn 225 (Hail thee festival day)

Brent Pertusio, Organist & Choirmaster

The Rev’d Canon Dr. Mark Gatza, Rector





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