Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Pentecost Celebration of Baptism

Text for the week:   Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and whoever believes in me should drink. As the scripture says, ‘Streams of life-giving water will pour out from his heart.’ ” Jesus said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were going to receive. John 7:37-39

Welcome to our services for Pentecost and a special welcome to any who are worshipping with us for the first time. It’s the fiftieth day after the day of Resurrection and it’s the festival of Pentecost, the day when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. Flowing water, living breath, powerful wind, cleansing flame. There are so many ways of thinking of the Holy Spirit! Our service opens as Helen Bloxham invites us to turn to the one who ‘breathes life’ who restores and renews. We’ll then focus on that wonderful image Jesus shared with his friends of life-giving water that’s poured over us and brings us a newness of life as we share in Baptism with Bethany. Then in the second part of the service Karen Waldock and Karen Haden have been putting some thoughts together out of our Explore group about that transformative power of the Holy Spirit for us all which Karen Waldock is going to share with us. This is the faith we share: Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace, in which we now live. And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God's glory! We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God's approval, and his approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us. Romans 5:1-5

You breathe life, you restore – Hill song – introduced by Helen B
Welcome - Helen
582 O day of joy and wonder
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

It’s Pentecost – what do you associate with the Sprit of God?

For Jesus it began at his baptism by John in the Jordan … in water –
 and water became a wonderful symbol of new life – as he shared with the Samaritan woman at the well

Jesus answered, “If only you knew what God gives and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would ask him, and he would give you life-giving water.”

11“Sir,” the woman said, “you haven't got a bucket, and the well is deep. Where would you get that life-giving water? 12It was our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well; he and his sons and his flocks all drank from it. You don't claim to be greater than Jacob, do you?”

13Jesus answered, “All those who drink this water will be thirsty again,14but whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring which will provide him with life-giving water and give him eternal life.”

Water, Breath, Wind and Fire

On the last and most important day of the festival Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and38 whoever believes in me should drink. As the scripture says, ‘Streams of life-giving water will pour out from his side.’ ” 39Jesus said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were going to receive. At that time the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not been raised to glory.

Breath – was another wonderful image – the breath that gives life –

John 21

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 22Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive people's sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

For forty days Jesus appeared to them … and then his last words to them asked them to wait …

Reading: Acts 1:4-5

and when they came together, he gave them this order: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. 5 John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

They waited and they waited

A day and a night,

Another day

A week passed

And another day and night

And another day and night

And another day and night …

And then it happened

Wind and fire …
Reading: Acts 2:1-4

When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. 2Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. 4They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

They had a remarkable strength – they could get up – they had a new strength about them.

But it was only the beginning of something new. We’ve heard the Christmas story and the Easter Story now it’s time for the Story not just of Pentecost but the beginning of something that’s still going on!

We share in Baptism

In our font we have a scallop shell – it’s a very special one. When your Mum and Dad got married there was a sea shell theme – and you’re your mum was baptized here we used a scallop shell to pour the water over – so that’s a great family connection. But also the scallop shell has been significant in pilgrimages Christians have made down through the centuries. They would wear a scallop shell to show they were pilgrims. Maybe as you profess your faith today it’s part of a journey you are on – and that journey is a journey with God always with you, Christ in your heart and the Spirit to guide you.

In some ways Baptism is a sign of belonging to the church, being part of a church family. But much more than that, at heart it’s a wonderful reminder that being a Christian doesn’t start with anything we do – as if we could do something to persuade God to accept us. Neither does it start with anything we believe as if we needed to have exactly the right kind of faith to be accepted by God. It all starts with the free gift of God’s love that’s poured over us because God loves us and accepts us just as we are. That’s the wonderful message of God’s grace – a free gift given to us all.

So, I am going to pour water over you – and it’s real water. Just as the water is real, so too God’s love is real – and it’s poured over you completely. It’s the water Jesus experienced in his baptism, it’s the life-giving water he shared with the woman at the well and spoke of in the temple – it’s the water that pours over us.

The wonderful thing about the love of God is that it can really make a difference in our lives – help us through difficult times, open up for us a way of living that’s based on that love and involves love for God and love for our neighbour and love for everyone around us.

So, that’s the same with the love of God. The love of God reaches out to us, pours over us just as we are, however young, however old, but for it to make a difference in our lives we have to make it our own.

You, Bethany, have grown up here very much as part of the Church Family – but you have not been baptized. You have said that you want to be baptised because your faith has become important to you. So in baptism we are celebrating the way God’s love reaches out to you and is poured over you – just as the water is real, so too the water of life, the life-giving Spirit of God is real and can transform your life – For it to make a difference you need to respond to that free gift of God’s love in faith – and so after you have been baptized I am going to ask you to rise up in the strength of God’s spirit – the strength of God in your life and I am going to ask you to make your profession of faith.

So I ask you, Bethany, to kneel

Bethany, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

Bethany, do you believe in God and in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?       I do.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

I will take your name to our Church Meeting at the beginning of June and then at a Communion Service we will extend the right hand of fellowship and welcome you into membership of the Church of Jesus Christ here at Highbury and the Church worldwide.

I am now going to ask the whole Church Family here which of course includes your Mum and Dad to stand together with all those who have come specially for today’s service. I invite you to share in a statement of faith using words of Paul from Romans 5 in which he takes that imagery first used by Jesus of the living water that flows out from Christ in the power of the spirit and is poured over each one of us and makes the world of difference in the living of our lives. The words are on our notice sheet and on the screen.

Now that we have been put right with God through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace,
in which we now live.
And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God's glory!
We also boast of our troubles,
because we know that trouble produces endurance,
endurance brings God's approval,
and his approval creates hope.

This hope does not disappoint us,
for God has poured out his love into our hearts
by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us. Amen.

Prayer – Mary B

We have a gift for Bethany – a Bible – with a guide to help you get into the Bible. Think of it as a guide on that journey of faith you are on.

Hy-Spirit are going to lead us in a song

A Hy-Spirit Song

It’s the end of Christian  Aid Week – we are going to dedicate the Christian Aid Week collection.

A prayer for the building of God’s Kingdom
Give us, Lord God,
a vision of your Kingdom as your love desires it:
a world where the weak are protected, and none go
a world where life is shared, and enjoyed by all,
a world where all races, nations and cultures live in
tolerance and respect,
a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is
guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to build your
Kingdom here and now.

Activities for All Over 3

The Difference the Spirit Makes – Karen Waldock

As part of the Holy trinity the Holy Spirit has been around since the beginning of time. It has always been a powerful and active presence in the world from the beginning of Genesis where it plays its part in creation hovering over the water expectantly waiting for things to come into being and is there all the way through the story of the people of Israel, in the Hebrew scriptures, from Joseph through to the prophets . In the Old Testament we read of the Holy Spirit only being with great chosen leaders like Moses and Gideon, kings like Saul, David and Solomon and the prophets. It empowered them to lead the people of Israel, to make the right choices, to call for justice, to convict the people of their sin and reassures them of God’s willingness to forgive. It gave those chosen ones courage, intelligence, wisdom and skill needed to do what God wanted them to do. All of this was not for the benefit of the individual, but for the good of all the people of Israel

When we move into the New Testament we read how the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism to show God’s approval and marking Jesus as a chosen person, it remained with him throughout his ministry and even played a part in his resurrection. But something momentous happened after Jesus was taken back into heaven, he promised a helper and that helper arrived in a most dramatic way and it is that which we celebrate today, Pentecost. Firstly the Holy Spirit was poured out on all those gathered in the house and then on all the believers male, female, young old, Jew, gentile and later on even the Samaritans!

What effect did the Holy Spirit have on them? The disciples had been waiting quietly together, waiting for the helper that Jesus had promised and after a dramatic scene with a violent wind and tongues of fire the Holy Spirit came and they all became bold, excited and they went out into the street speaking in different languages. The Spirit also gave them the words to use to convince the people of the good news of Jesus Christ and about three thousand became believers that day. But this was not a one off event, the Holy Spirit did not just come once and then leave and it remained with them. They continued to seek the spirit’s leading all the way through the building of the early churches, from choosing new leaders, and to making key decisions about the distribution of food. It led them to see different people, speak boldly in difficult situations, to take the gospel to so many different people in so many different countries and to create unity amongst all the believers whatever their religious or ethnic background.

This Holy Spirit is as active and powerful force today as it was it the times of the early church, there are so many ways in which the Spirit can work through people today. There are the fruits of the spirit and the gifts of the spirit, for Explore I had a list of 27 different ways in which the spirit work in people in the Bible, but there are more than I had listed. It is available to all believers in all circumstances, to help us and strengthen us when to go through difficult times, to do the things we cannot do in our own strength and at other times the Holy Spirit can inspire us to new and different things, guiding us and making us bolder and braver than we could ever be alone. Even when we struggle to pray, not knowing how best to pray or what to pray for Romans 8:26 tells us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. “ The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. It empowers us for our foremost commission, to go make disciples and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. It is power, it is knowledge, it brings us closer to God and helps us to encourage others. The Holy Spirit is a vital partner in the creative redemptive work of God and it draws us into that process.

The Holy Spirit can work in a private, quiet way within an individual or sometimes it works in more obvious and visible ways in groups and churches. The Holy Spirit is not just important for us as individuals it is vital for the church. It brought the early believers together, bound them in unity and helped them to function as a loving and cohesive group. Different gifts were given to different members of the church so that all of the work necessary for the functioning and growth of the church could be carried out effectively and to the benefit of everyone.

The Holy Spirit is here in this church, it is real and it is moving not solely for our individual benefit, but also for the benefit of the whole church.  It works in us so that we can love each other, work together for justice, peace and healing in this broken world. It helps us to serve God, our community and each other. How can we tap into this power and understand where the Holy Spirit is leading us? We have to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit. Just as the first disciples did we need to regularly meet together, to pray, to read the Bible and to wait for God to reveal his will to us. When we have a church meeting we are trying to “find the mind of Christ” through the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not force us, it does not shout, but guides gentle and it is a very real power source we can tap into.

I have to say that I, along with many others, found the address given by Bishop Michael Curry at the Royal wedding very inspiring and I encourage you to read the whole transcript, but this part in particularly caught my attention, he said  “Someone once said that Jesus began most revolutionary movement in all of human history, a movement grounded in the unconditional love of god for the world-and a movement mandating people to live that love and in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I'm talking about power, real power, power to change the world.”

He was talking about love, but not the fickle and imperfect kind of love that we, as human beings, are capable of in our own strength, but the real unconditional love that we are capable of through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So here is our challenge as individuals and as a church. Do not worry about what is ahead of us, God knows what we need and he will not abandon us. We need to wait and listen for God to reveal his plan for us through leading of the Holy Spirit. Wait, listen and share God’s love with each other and all those around us and remember that as  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Spirit of wisdom and understanding, enlighten our minds to perceive the mysteries of the universe in relation to eternity. Spirit of right judgment and courage, guide us and make us firm in our baptismal decision to follow Jesus' way of love. Spirit of knowledge and reverence, help us to see the lasting value of justice and mercy in our everyday dealings with one another. May we respect life as we work to solve problems of family and nation, economy and ecology. Spirit of God, spark our faith, hope and love into new action each day. Fill our lives with wonder and awe in your presence which penetrates all creation. Amen (from

595 O Breath of life

Prayers of Concern

A Hy-Spirit Song

The Lord’s Supper

615 Holy Spirit, ever living

Words of Blessing

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