Service for Pentecost Sunday 31st May 2020 – Rev Louis van Laar

Servicing the Bald Hills and nearby Communities

Service for Pentecost Sunday 31st May 2020 – Rev Louis van Laar




Lighting the Candle:

Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness

but will have the light of life.’

Let us be mindful of each other as we engage in worship:



The Lord be with you AND ALSO WITH YOU

We Focus on God   PSALM 104 

How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
    teeming with creatures beyond number—

29 when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;



Through you, and in you, O God,

all things live and have their being…



you, O Christ Jesus,

breathed the Spirit upon us

and we are forgiven and forgiving



you, O Holy Spirit,

are always with us,

gifting Christ’s people for service in our world



therefore we pray as our Lord taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and forever. Amen



1 CORINTHIANS 12:1-13, 

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

ACTS 2:1-21

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, each of us, in our own native language?… —in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13 But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 “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 men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

In this is the Word of the Lord 


JOHN 20:19-23

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

This is the Gospel of our Lord


Prayer of Confession

God of mercy,

we come only too aware

of how much mercy we have received from you

and how stingy we are in offering the same to others!

We call on the name of the Lord, LORD HAVE MERCY

Jesus, you are Lord

we come only too aware

of how varied and numerous

are the gifted skills necessary for the common good

and how reluctant we are in recognising these in others!

We call on the name of the Lord: CHRIST HAVE MERCY

Holy Spirit, active presence of God,

we come only too aware

of your pervasive influence through all and in all,

and how blind we are to see you at work beyond ourselves!

We call on the name of the Lord: SPIRIT HAVE MERCY

Declaration of Reconciliation (Acts 2:21, Psalm 104:30,31)

The promise on Pentecost is that

everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord

shall be saved’

Having called upon the name of the Lord,

we are assured of mercy,

and renewal through the Spirit of God

so that God may rejoice in God’s works!

therefore we say with joy in our hearts


Passing the Peace..

as we raise our hands in blessing to those unseen…
The peace of the Risen Lord be with you all 



Songwriters: Miriam Therese (sister) Winter Spirit of God lyrics © Vanguard Music Corp.

Spirit of God in the clear running water,
Blowing to greatness the trees on the hill.
Spirit of God, in the finger of morning,

Fill the earth, bring it to birth and blow where you will.
Blow, blow, blow till I be, but breath of the spirit blowing in me.

I saw the scar of a year that lay dying,
Heard the lament of a lone whip poor will,
Spirit of God, see that cloud crying,

Fill the earth, bring it to birth and blow where you will.
Blow, blow, blow till I be, but breath of the spirit blowing in me.

Spirit of God every man’s heart is groaning,
Watching and waiting and hungry until
Spirit of God, man longs that you only

Fulfil the earth, bring it to birth and blow where you will.
Blow, blow, blow till I be, but breath of the spirit blowing in me.

Contemporary Word    A SPIRIT PEOPLE

   The gym of which I am a member, is now, of course, closed.

I decided to make use of the permission to leave home for exercise

by walking. I began simply by walking out of the door

in the direction of the Centenary Lakes Park about 1.5 kilometres away.

I walked for 30 minutes, before heading back.

Within two weeks I had an established route which takes me around the circumference of the Park (2.2 km) and the return journey of 3.00 km,

a total of 5.2 km. This takes me past the Caboolture Central shopping centre, with Coles, and the Market Square shopping centre in Caboolture South, with Woolworths.

This proved very useful in the early days of shortages of a variety of items. The actual walk (not including any shopping) takes me between 55 – 57 minutes. I can reduce it to 50 minutes, if I wish to. Achieving the 50 minute time depends on one key factor.

How I breathe!

   If I immediately and intentionally regulate my breathing upon exiting the house, get it into a rhythm with my pacing,

then it takes me 50 minutes to complete my route.

   Breathing is of course what keeps us alive!

Breath after breath,

most of us do it without thinking about it.

Breath after breath…

All of humanity sustained generation after generation,

in an interminable echo of that initial act of God,

then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,

and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;

and the man became a living being. Gen 2:7

We do well to affirm for ourselves the self-awareness of Job:

The spirit of God has made me,

and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job33.4).

This sustaining act of God proves as essential to our living

as us breathing in the air around us.

Air which has become remarkably clear and clean

in those countries which enforce a lock-down

to deal with the Corona virus pandemic.

Photographic comparisons of major cities before and after shut-down

show amazing contrasts!

The interconnections between the themes of wind, breath, spirit,

and new creation occur in the psalm of today, Psalm 104,

and most graphically in Ezekiel 37, in the valley of bones

enlivened by God’s breath, Spirit!

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them,

‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 

This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones:

I will make ruakh (breath, spirit, wind) enter you,

and you will come to life. 

Jesus identified the ever present,

all pervading wind with the Spirit

through the use of the pneuma,

which can be translated as both wind and spirit.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you,

no one can enter the kingdom of God

unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spiritgives birth to spirit. 

You should not be surprised at my saying,

‘You must be born again/from above.’

 The wind blows wherever it pleases.

You hear its sound,

but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.

So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Not surprisingly therefore,

scholars argue that in this morning’s gospel text

Jesus’ breathing the Holy Spirit on his disciples

is describing a new, or a renewed humanity.

I suggest what the psalmist exclaims about creation’s creatures,

when you send your spirit/breath,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:30

Jesus enacts in parallel fashion here…

when he breathes on his disciples

they are a renewed humanity…

We are a renewed humanity!

The language used suggests that this is God’s initiative,

in fact God’s demand!

The act of creation described in Genesis

has God as the initiator and enactor of the process!

Whilst logically impossible,

imaginatively it is O.K. to think of the possibility of God checking

with creation, its creatures and humanity,

‘what do you think?… should I go ahead?

do you really want to be?’ 

God does not…

God dreams, God has a vision, God acts and creates.

Similarly here, with the gathered disciples,

not just the eleven remaining Apostles, note carefully,

but the extended community…

“Receive the Holy Spirit,” Jesus says.

He does not offer an invitation

or allow an opportunity for avoidance.

The Greek indicates a command,

not “if you like” but “here, take it.” [1]

We think we have learned sufficient about the ‘other paraclete’,

as comforter, advocate, companion, coach…

to perhaps grab what is offered with both hands

before the significance of what follows

sinks into our consciousness!

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;

if you retain the sins of any, they are retained John 20:34.

Do we want that responsibility?

Too late…  we have obeyed, received…

The Spirit is upon us and the power that comes with it,

the forgiving and retaining of sins.

Note again this awesome task

is not merely the prerogative of ordained priests, ministers…

Jesus commanded the whole community;

just as the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost

descended on all gathered in that room, 

not just the leaders…

What now?  How are we to understand this charge?!

A strong argument can be made that within John’s gospel

the discernment called upon is a theological one…

Jesus as recorded by John,

is not asking us to assess the moral transgressions of anyone.

The underlying issue is acceptance or rejection

of the God who loved the world so much that he gave Jesus

inviting all to love as we have been loved, are still loved… [2]

Our task is to bear witness to this

as the Father has sent me, so I send you John 20:22,

and the forgiveness or retaining of sins,

from this perspective, the reasoning goes,

is self-selective through a person’s response

Yet to all who did receive him,

to those who believed in his name, 

he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

Human thinking about, and response to God,

informs Paul’s assessment in Romans,

that all moral transgressions ultimately

derive from a theological fault line,

namely: For although they knew God,

they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,

but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21 and 24, 26 and 28).

Paul develops this even further:

he goes on to illustrate how this plays out in life,

and then to declare,

that ultimately this fault line

distorts everyone’s perception of the God

who acts out of unconditional grace and compassion;

a concept even those who acknowledge God

and the God given Law may fail to recognize:

For there is no distinction,

 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 

24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift,

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus Romans 3 and

For by grace you have been saved through faith,

and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 

not the result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2

One would think we would be very hesitant

in assessing anyone for sins

to determine their eternal destiny

in the light of these theological truths!

Mind you, I do not for a moment think

the text refers to anyone’s eternal destiny.

This is what I think:

In John’s gospel,

the final scene has Jesus engaged with Peter in a conversation,

which begins with a simple question, asked three times:

 ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me…? (21:15-17)

Commentators agree this serves to remind Peter

of the three times Peter denied knowing Jesus

whilst Jesus was being questioned by the high priest…

All suggest that through this process Jesus is offering Peter

the knowledge that he is forgiven for his betrayals…

My reading of this has me wonder about

Peter’s emotional response; it hints at a frustration,

you know everything Lord, you know that I love you!

Sort of like, do you have to keep reminding me about this?

Well Peter, maybe not keeping at it!

Maybe just that one time!

Perhaps the gifted Spirit helps us discern

what sins need to be kept in our collective forefront,

and what can be let go off at an appropriate time.

Martha Spong emphasises:

Yet I think we must trust that the aid of the Spirit is part of the gift, empowering the receivers with not only authority and responsibility

but also the capacity to discern

when sins can be forgiven or must be retained.

I repeat, I do not for a moment think

that the text refers to anyone’s eternal destiny.

The text refers to what in human behaviour disrupts

human relationship with God, with others and with creation…

We are urged to discern what sin must be named repeatedly

because of its consequence on human or creation’s well-being.

The lock down has brought about an increase

in violence within households.

The sin of violence perpetrated against spouse, child or parent

surely must be kept in the public domain,

we cannot let it slip back behind closed doors!

Clean air, clear water… unexpected consequences of the lock down

because of the pandemic sweeping the world…

Surely the sin of polluting God’s gifted creation

is one of those we must keep before us,

retain in our collective consciousness!?

The Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit empowers the new humanity

to speak truth to power!

The renewed humanity includes ‘all flesh’

and goes on to list young and old,

male and female, free and slave…

the young shall speak out God’s word:

witness Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental activist,

speaking at the United Nations climate conference in December 2018, berated world leaders for behaving like irresponsible children.

And in January 2019 she rounded on the global business elite in Davos: “Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular,

have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing

to continue making unimaginable amounts of money.

And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”

Your old men shall dream dreams:

Captain Tom Moore had a dream, to raise £1,000

by doing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday.

But after capturing the affection

and attention of 1.5 million supports worldwide,

he raised almost £33m for the health service’s charitable wing,

NHS Charities Together.

He was recently knighted for his effort, and is now known as Sir Tom.

How do we live each day?

Routinely? just taking stuff for granted…

sort of how I walk my route,

breathing without thinking about it,

appropriating God’s gift of breath, spirit

without appreciation…

Or do we live intentionally?

That is deliberately remaining alert to where we might see

evidence of the Spirit’s activity?

Determining to coordinate our Spirit inhaling

with the routines of life,

opening our eyes and ears to the dreams and visions

and proclamations of Spirit driven people and groups…

A very plausible theological reasoning suggests

God’s Spirit, similar to God’s love,

is not limited only to people

who acknowledge Jesus as Lord. [3]

As a people infused with God’s Spirit

we celebrate wherever we notice the Spirit at work,

we name whatever distorts God’s intention

for human and creation’s well being!

As a people alive to God

we work with God who is both within and beyond us

to achieve that well-being for creation and all within it!



We Bring Our offering to God

setting aside our gifts to support the local and wider work of the church

and bless our gifts in an act of praise…

Prayer of Dedication

O God, we return some of what you have given us in the first place

for your work through the church, locally and beyond here…

what we retain we also commit to your service

through how we live as your people,

acknowledging you as Lord. AMEN

We Share Our Community Life 

Be mindful for a moment of those known to us,

rejoicing over the good news with praise,

offering prayer for their needs..

Prayers of the People

(Based on Uniting in Worship 2)

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Holy Spirit, life of creation,

you moved on the face of the waters,

and creatures that were not came to be.

We thank and praise you, Spirit of life.

Holy Spirit, courage of the prophets, 

you surged in the hearts of your servants,

and they were inflamed with a message

of justice and mercy.

We thank and trust you, Spirit of courage.

Holy Spirit, fire of Jesus,

you came upon him like a dove,

and through his words and deeds the land was filled

with the glory of the Lord.

We thank and adore you, Spirit of Christ.

Holy Spirit, joy of the Church,

you created a new people

and gave them the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control

We thank and worship you, Spirit of joy.

Holy Spirit, bestower of gifts and graces,

you bring forth unexpected and unimaginable skills,

to effect dreams and visions

of a world and people

in harmony with you and all

We thank and serve you, Spirit of Community

Holy Spirit, companion and comforter,

you are within each of us,

offering prayer

we are unable to utter ourselves

to help us in every situation life brings us,

We thank and listen to you, Spirit of God




Sending Out

Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you.

As the father has sent me, so I send you.

We go as a people who have received

the breath of Christ,

the company of the other Paraclete,

the Spirit of God

to awaken to, and utilise,

those gifts and graces

diverse and varied within each of us,

which strengthen the common good!

So we go to encourage faith, hope and love

that dreams may seed visions

and visions grow into expressions

of the way, the truth and the life offered by God!May the God of hope

fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

so that you may abound in hope

by the power of the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15:13, NRSV

[1] Martha Spong May 12, 2020 Christian Century

[2] O’day, G. R. (1994–2004). The Gospel of John. In L. E. Keck (Ed.), New Interpreter’s Bible (Vol. 9, p. 848). Nashville: Abingdon Press.

[3] Charles Hefling CHRISTIAN CENTURY  3RD NOV 2015

[3] Charles Hefling CHRISTIAN CENTURY  3RD NOV 2015