May 31st Service

pentecost

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday the birthday of the church.  Each year at Pentecost the denomination takes a special offering to support young people and inspire them to share their faith.  You may find more information about the special offering by clicking here.  You may donate online or send it to the church and we will forward it on.

You will find this morning’s service along with beautiful music by Dave Caudill and Chip Houston by clicking here

Dave has provided additional information about the hymns and videos and you will find those following the prayer below.

Today doesn’t much feel like a day of celebration because of all that is happening in the world around us.  Today I share with you this prayer provided by the denomination and printed in the Presbyterian Outlook.

Join together as we pray.

Holy One, whose Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, whose children you empower to prophesy,  whose youth see visions and whose elders dream dreams, we cry out to you with a loud “Hosanna!” Where else shall we go, O Savior? You alone have the words of eternal life.  

You came that we might have life more abundantly, but that abundance eludes too many of us, O God. Our news cycles are filled with despair. Our hearts ache as we wade through a global pandemic, reaching grim milestone after grim milestone. But even as we navigate a new threat, old ones still linger. Communities of color bear the uneven weight of a new disease, yet we see that racialized violence and the systemic injustice undergirding it have by no means given way to the demands of a pandemic. We speak some of the most recent names: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Tony McDade. We add them to the litany already in our macabre collection: Aiyana and Emmett, Eric and Sandra, Jordan and Rekia, Trayvon, Atatiana and Tamir, and the myriad others in far too long a list. This great cloud has witnessed persistent injustice and our perseverance in the face of it. Yet, how can they rest when so many keep joining their ranks? 

We are slow to confront our complicity and investment in white supremacy and dominance. We live in a world in which Indigenous, Black and Brown siblings are expected and compelled to offer forgiveness at a discount. When the cheeks are turned, they are met with another hand to the face — or knee to the throat. Forgiveness is too infrequently met with repentance. This, O God, we name as sin. It is our sin. Many of us lament and strive against that sin. Help and empower us to continue that work with diligence and faith. Too many of us still waver and are unconvinced that there is a problem. Remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that are softened toward our siblings. Help us to reckon not only with our personal failings, but also with our institutional history and the ways the church has helped to create systems of inequity. By your Spirit, help us to corporately live into our creeds and confessions and provide sanctuary for all God’s children. When we say that “God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged” and that “the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination,” help us to truly mean it. 

We humble ourselves and cry out to you in the hope that you will hear us and heal us. We lift the communities of Louisville, Minneapolis, Glynn County, and all where racialized violence has occurred and unrest has been stirred. Holy God, we recall the words of our ancestor Dr. King, who reminded us that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Open our hearts, minds, and understanding to your movement in the margins, so that when your people speak, they are indeed heard, and when they tell the truth about your deeds of power, they are not dismissed as something other than sober and of a clear mind. In this way, let the fires of uprising give way to the fires of your Spirit, where your people hear the Good News of your kin-dom, hear it with joy, and make haste to take part in it. Let us release our attachment to our current world order and walk bravely into the world you’ve intended for us, even and especially when it costs us something. We are mindful that, as Rev. Dr. Cornell West states, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” 

Your kin-dom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus is still Lord. To the one and only God, our Divine Parent, Jesus, our Gracious Sibling, and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Blessings,

Rev. Melissa

Pentecost Hymns

You may watch a video of Every Time I Feel the Spirit by clicking here.

Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness – Tune: SPIRIT

Text and Music: James K. Manley, 1978

Recorded in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church, Memphis, 2018 As the author/composer reminds us in the refrain, the Spirit is both gentle and restless. The stanzas reinforce a sense of the Spirit’s activity through a wide range of verbs, initially in the past tense; but they become more urgent in the present tense of the fourth stanza. Spirit, spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness, calling and free.Spirit, spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea. 

1) You moved on the waters; you called to the deep;

then you coaxed up the mountains from the valleys of sleep;

and over the eons you called to each thing,

“Awake from your slumbers and rise on your wings.”

 

4) You call from tomorrow; you break ancient schemes;

from the bondage of sorrow the captives dream dreams.

Our women see visions; our men clear their eyes.

With bold new decisions your people arise.

 

Every Time I Feel the Spirit – Tune: PENTECOST

Text: African American Spiritual; Music: arr. Joseph T. Jones, 20th cent., adapt. Melva Wilson Costen, 1989 The Chip Houston Quartet Vocals: Chip Houston; Keys: Dave Caudill 

Like many African American spirituals, this one mixes the language of biblical narrative with veiled but effective allusions to the hope of escape from slavery, either by crossing rivers into free states or by participating in organized efforts like the Underground Railroad. Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart I will pray. Yes, every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart I will pray.

1) Upon the mountain, when my Lord spoke,

out of God’s mouth came fire and smoke.

Looked all around me, it looked so fine,

till I asked my Lord if all was mine.

 

2) Jordan River, chilly and cold,

it chills the body but not the soul.

There is but one train upon this track.

It runs to heaven and then right back.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. sacheeese says:

    Thank you, Rev. Melissa. Thanks also for the beautiful music each week performed by David Caudill and Chip Houston. All of you are amazing.
    Dianna

    Like

    1. bethelpcusa says:

      Thank you so much for all you do as a leader, elder, and member of Bethel! See you soon!

      Like

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