Visit our new site at

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Many Tongues Edition

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear (divided, fractious, sometimes [often?] disappointing) church.
Happy birthday to you!!!!

OR maybe a more formal prayer?
Spirit God,
blow into our lives,
move us to action,
break down the walls that separate us.
Where our language divides, offer us translation.
Where our fear overcomes, fill us with the fire of courage.
Where our lives are becalmed, fill our sails with wind,
moving us forward into the unknown future.
Fill us with the hope and promise of Pentecost!

 Yes indeed we have reached the end of the Easter season.  The great 50 days are over (or will be soon anyway).  And it is time for the early church to move from a small private movement sharing their stories and memories to a quickly growing movement that will, eventually, conquer the Empire [only to become a new Empire itself, but  perhaps that is a chapter for another day].  Pentecost is here!

You can read the Pentecost readings for Year C here.

The powers that be give us an interesting pairing of readings this year in the RCL cycle.  The tower of Babel and the Pentecost story.  Language divided and the divisions of language overcome.  Is this the equation the writer of Luke-Acts was intending?  Or is this an overlay we have added in later years?

or the same language as usual--just louder
As I write this I remember the role of the Babel-fish plays in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (and of course the website of the same name)  Surely there is a sermonic connection to be made there????

Or maybe you are tired of hearing (and preaching) about people speaking in many tongues every year.  So is this the year you preach on John's Jesus promising to send the spirit of truth that the world can not receive?
WE could use some peace

What does Pentecost worship look like in your context?  Will people wear red?  Wave ribbons?  Will you open the windows and let the wind blow through?  Last Sunday after worship this area was hit by a microburst with winds up to 102 kph (about 64 moh) which left a trail of destruction in its wake.  Is that the sort of wind that blows through the church on Pentecost?  (and what about the fire....)

Share ideas, ponderings, confusions et al in the comments...


  1. Gosh, I'm first. Time zone thing I guess. Using this space to "think aloud". We don't systematically use the RCL. The person leading worship is going to go with parts of John that talk about the Counsellor/Advocate. I'm kind of thinking that I want to read Acts 2, then link across to Ephesians 5 where Paul talks about not getting drunk with wine, but being filled with the Spirit. And talk about what that might mean and how we might do that. Planning to use the list of verbs that follow (singing, giving thanks, encouraging and mutual submission) not just as consequences of being spirit filled but as things to pay attention to in order to be spirit filled (if there is a fantastic Greek exegete reading this please tell me if that is unjustifiable text wise, ditto with my decision to read "submitting" as part of the previous list rather than as a new section :-) ) Might get some flack for that from some of our traditionalists - as I will probably end up pointing out that lots less ink - and many fewer tears - would have been shed if we had paid attention to the fact that all are called to mutual submission.

    Also trying to decide whether to write a manuscript or whether to go with just prompts. (Did that last time I preached and it worked really well, but it was with a more narrative text.)

    We have also received a call to pray for Christians in Syria. Feels appropriate for Pentecost.

    phew ! And with that, back to my day job!

  2. I am preaching the Acts text in a very liturgical church this Sunday. I am never quite sure how to approach Pentecost in this context. I am thinking that I will have members of the congregation lead the various parts of the liturgy from where they are sitting in the assembly (the many voices of the church), but beyond that I am not sure where this text is leading.

  3. This will be my last worship service at my field placement. The reading is Romans 8:14-17, but I'm incorporating Acts into the sermon - "Drunk with New Wine."

    I'm going to continue the theme from the last time I preached - Easter 2 - about the transition from the spirit in Jesus to the spirit in the apostles to the spirit in the church. I'm using the Romans text to emphasize that this is a family business, and we're all part of the family. And we need not be afraid that people think we're acting funny: discipleship is not about appearances. It's about reaching people where they are.

  4. Help, anybody? I want to read just Acts 2:1-6 (not the whole thing!) in New Testament Greek...but it's been 16 years since I was in Greek school and my attempts to sound out the words are pretty scary. Anyone know if there is an online site where you can listen to someone read this text in Greek so I can be sure I'm pronouncing the words right?

    1. On YouTube you can find other passages read in Greek. I didn't see this one. But you might be able to find enough of the words in the other passages to be helpful. Good luck! Good idea!

    2. has some help but you have to do it word by word.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Well no-one really knows what Greek sounded like at that time, so I figure if you do it with confidence, no-one will contradict you !

  5. I'm mulling over the nature of Pentecost/Shavuot, "the Feast of Weeks:" the remembrance and celebration of God giving the Torah to the Jewish people. Luke Timothy Johnson calls it "a covenant renewal feast." Pentecost, as Christians celebrate it, is also renewal of God's covenant, yes? As well as fulfillment of Jesus' promise. In my (Episcopal) tradition, this is also one of the Sundays each year on which we customarily offer baptism and/or renew baptismal vows. God's covenant with us being renewed, again.

  6. It's my last Sunday before a three month sabbatical (there's a SLIGHT chance I have may have mentioned sabbatical before! so excited!) - and there's a lot of other "stuff" happening in the service. I know the service is already going long, but I'm slung between wanting to say Everything I Ever Wanted to Say, and just reading the poem found here.

    precheresse - bless you, tentmaker! I'll be thinking of you this weekend.

  7. I have this ridiculous desire to take a cake with me on Sunday, so that I can light candles and get the congregation to sing "Happy Birthday" to the church. Trying to decide if it is "too much"! I would do it after the benediction, and get the kids down the front to blow out the candles !

    1. We do birthday cake for coffee hour on Pentecost.

    2. WE will have cake this week. Mind you that is because we have baptisms and awe always have cake on baptism Sundays. We had birthday cake last week.

    3. I was going to use mini cupcakes during the children's sermon.

  8. I am going with the Tower of Babel reversed imagery this week. Even though I am not convinced this interpretation is what the author had in mind...


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.