May 31, 2020
Pentecost Sunday

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   Grace and peace to you.  I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor here at Trinity United Methodist Church.  Our worship today is a mix of pre-recorded videos like this one and printed text.  All are welcome.

   Today the church celebrates the day of Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit of Jesus filled the disciples with fire and power to speak of God’s deeds to folks of different nationalities and languages.  Christians often call this day the birthday of the church universal.
   Today’s worship includes music featuring Zach Shiraki and Rev. Steve Young and a credo affirmation of faith by Tika Hamel.  

   Let us worship with the Spirit of Christ within us.

PRELUDE                                                           Chorale and Fughetta on “Come, Holy Spirit”

Arranged by Elery Rogers
Tune by Martin Luther
Rev. Steve Young, organ

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Lord, our hearts are on fire this day!
Set the blazes of hope that burn away fear!
Lord, we come here to be empowered to serve you.
Cause the winds of change to blow away doubt and alienation!
Praise to God who has brought to us the Holy Spirit!
Let us worship and rejoice,
  for God is challenging and empowering us this day!

Spirit of wind and fire, come to us this day, freeing us from our fears.
Lift us up when we have fallen.
Dust us off and set us squarely on the path to hope.
Remind us that we are never far from your presence.
Get us ready for the great ministries and opportunities before us.
Help us to be good and willing workers for you.
In Christ’s Name, we pray. 

Sing!  Learn about Pentecost!  Pray the Action Prayer!

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ANTHEM                           Come, Spirit, Come

Words and Music by Mary Kay Beall
Solo: Zach Shiraki    Piano: Rev. Steve Young

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Come, Spirit, come.
Come, like the wind on the water.
Come, Spirit, come.
Blow over my soul.


Come, Spirit, come.
Come,  like flame in the darkness.
Come, Spirit, come.
Shine over my soul.

Come, Spirit, come.
Come, like a dove of the new day.
Come, Spirit, come.
Soar over my soul.


Like the wind, like a flame,
like a dove, Spirit, come.

SCRIPTURE     Acts 2:1-21
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   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 this, each of us, in our own native language?
      In our own languages, we hear them speaking
        about God’s deeds of power!

   (For there were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phyrgia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs).
   All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another,  
       What does this mean?  
  But others sneered and said,
       They are filled with new wine.
   But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them,
       People of Judea, and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you,
       and listen to what I say.  Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose,
       for it is only 9:00 in the morning. No, this is what was spoken
       through the prophet Joel: 
           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 shall see visions,
             and your old shall dream dreams. 
           Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
             in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…. 
           Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

SERMON                                   No More Towers
A Pentecost Sermon on Acts 2:1-21
                                                   Rev. Joe Cailles

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   When I was 7 or 8, my father and step-mother took my sister and me to Kings Island, an amusement park in Ohio.  My sister and I weren’t old enough or tall enough for the big rides, so we rode the kiddie rides.  We stood in line to ride in a 2 seater airplane, one person in the front, one person in the back.  The plane and round and round and up and down.  Big fun for little kids.   As we were waiting in line, a park attendant was helping little kids find a seat and buckle in. She helped a boy who was black into the front seat of a plane, and then went to help another boy, who was white, into the back seat of that plane.

   The white boy didn’t want to get in.  I was standing close enough that I could hear the boy say he didn’t want to sit in the plane near a black boy.  After speaking with the white boy for a minute, the attendant led him back to his parents, who quickly walked away with him.  

   I have no idea what that experience was like for the black child or for his family.  I don’t doubt that he would experience prejudice again and again as he grew up.

   Why is the world so divided?  Why do we form these isolated tribes of people based on religion and wealth and race and nationality?  Why are we so divided….and not just divided, but, too many times, pitted against each other?  

   Those questions come to my mind especially after the grim headlines this past week about race and nationality and those who have access to health care, and those who do not.  Why are we like this?
   We are not the first people to ask that question.  The story of the tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11 is one answer to the question of why we are so divided.  Do you remember the story of the tower?  Humanity shares a common language and they join together to build a city with a tower that would reach all the way up to the firmament, all the way up to heaven.  Now that sounds like an awesome thing to do:  United humanity working to break barriers and build something big.  What could be wrong with that?
    The problem with that comes in the intentions which drive the humans to build their tower.  The tower itself isn’t the problem. The problem is that they are building it because they are afraid.  Scripture says they want to gather together “lest we be scattered abroad.”  They build the tower to lock themselves within it so that they won’t have to change, or grow,  or encounter anything different from what they already know.  

    Scripture says that God sees their actions and their intentions and won’t allow them to stay locked in their tower.  God scatters humanity and each scattered group develops its own languages and its own customs.  The tower is abandoned and named Babel or confusion.  

    Now I would be very surprised if archaeologists ever found the remains of the great tower, but we don’t have to look any further than our own hearts to find that fear-driven desire to form isolated towers to keep our people safe and protected from others and from a changing world. 

    This past week we have learned more about the deaths of 3 black Americans:  George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.  We’ve seen righteous anger and peaceful protests, and we’ve seen the outrage and violence in our cities. 

   This past week, the total number of deaths from the covid-19 virus reached 100,000 Americans and over 350,000 people world-wide.  These deaths are revealing the contrast in communities and countries, between those who have access to health care and safety measures and those who do not.

    I’m safe and I’m healthy and I’m protected in my tower.  My people are safe and protected and healthy.  I’ve never felt my life was endangered because of my skin color, and I can keep my job without risking my health.  And I could stay safe and protected inside my tower while the world outside gets angrier and gets sicker.

     But God doesn’t like locked up towers, and God does not like locked-up hearts.  God does not like it when any of us are endangered and afraid.  God doesn’t seem to have too much patience with people who are only looking after themselves and react with fear or isolation in a changing world. 
     And that is really good news for us.
     Just after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, his followers are all together in a single house.  They are observing the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, a celebration of both the spring harvest and the time when God gave Moses the 10 commandments and the law.  A group of united people shut up in a single building, cut off from the rest of the world.

       Well that won’t do at all, will it?
       Scripture says that the Holy Spirit of Christ himself descends among them with wind and fire.  The disciples are surrounded and filled with power from on high, and they can’t keep the noise and the power contained in the house.  They can’t keep themselves contained in their tower.  Out into the world they go.  Outside their tower is a veritable United Nations of folks from all over the known world.  Folks from foreign empires and great cities, locals, and visitors each with unique cultures and languages and heritages, and the disciples start speaking about God’s great deeds of power, and the folks outside are hearing the disciples in their own different languages.  The disciples speak and those around them understand.  There is no confusion.  There is no babble.  The Holy Spirit of Christ has knocked down the tower and empowered his disciples to go out and meet folks where they are, as they are, to share God’s power and mercy and love.  With Christ, we don’t have to be the same.  Christ’s love is for all people, all nationalities, all languages, all the skin colors.   Anyone and everyone can understand the languages and the deeds of love and justice and mercy and forgiveness.

     The very good news for us today is that same Holy Spirit is knocking on our doors and empowering us to go out into the world to speak and to listen and to meet people where they are.  We have a rushing wind and a righteous fire inside of us, empowering us to call for justice, to stand with the oppressed, and to be generous with our kindness and mercy.  

        For the past two months, we United Methodists in Virginia have been praying every day at noon for the health and safety of our world.  In the days to come, I am praying for the health and safety of my own soul, and my community, and my country.  I am praying that God will heal the divisions in my soul. I am praying that the Spirit of Christ will lead me from my tower to listen to those experiencing racism and hatred and violence.  I am praying that more and more of us will speak words of justice and peace and mercy.  I am praying that more and more of us will use our blessings for the enrichment of those around us.  I am praying that my prayers will be expressed in actions here at Trinity and in Lexington and in Rockbridge County.  

No more towers!

No more fear!   

No more Babel! 

Only wind and fire and Spirit!

Thanks be to God!

read by Tika Hamel, who just completed 7th grade at LDMS
and is a confirmation student at Trinity UMC.
After watching the video, read the credo to affirm your faith.
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We believe God is with us always.
We believe Jesus was sent to earth to show us a better way to live.
We believe the Holy Spirit is here
   to guide us and helps us live a better life.
We believe the church is a family.
We believe resurrection means there is more than this life on earth.
We believe love is our greatest strength.
We believe the best ways to be a Christian are
  to love one another, pray, share kindness, and trust God.
We sometimes doubt ourselves and others.
We believe in forgiveness and hope.

We pray in thanksgiving for Rev. Bill Klein, who retires today as senior pastor of Lex. Presbyterian.

Pray with anyone who has had their fears heightened or feels their anger raging within.
Pray that we might find courage and wisdom
  that will lead all of our people to understand
  that in the name of Jesus we have a responsibility
  to work tirelessly so that all people are valued and treated with dignity and respect. 
Almighty God,
inspire the sons and daughters of your church
for a prophetic witness to your truth.
Give clarity of vision for all our people
to see your saving power in the world.
We pray for Trinity and the church universal.
   (silent prayer)
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Teach us to be good neighbors,
to live in peace with one another
and in harmony with the natural resources around us.
We pray for our communities.
  (silent prayer)
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Clarify the babble of misunderstanding among the nations
Guide all people to hear in their own language and 
recognize in their own cultures your unifying message of love.
We pray for our country and all peoples of the world.
   (silent prayer)
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In silence, we speak to you of our hopes and needs.
In silence, we listen to your Spirit.
   (silent prayer)
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

And we pray together the prayer Jesus teaches us,
   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
   Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
      on earth as it is in heaven.
   Give us this day our daily bread,
      and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those
      who trespass against us.
   And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
   For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.

Come, Holy Spirit!
Come, Fire and Wind!
Fill us and empower us to follow you into the world,
to share, to love, and to serve!

Daily Devotions return in early June.

Pastor Joe’s statement on Worship at Trinity UMC:

“Come Spirit Come”  Words and Music by Mary Kay Beall
 CCLI License #20549683

Each day at noon, we Virginia United Methodists are praying for healing in our homes, communities, and in the world.

Email me your prayer joys, concerns, hopes, and gratitudes to be included in Sunday worship.

Thank you for sending your tithe and offering to the church.  Have you considered sending your contributions to Trinity using your bank’s autopay feature?  Some members have found this a convenient way to manage regular contributions.  This method does not cost the church or the giver any additional fee.