Call to Worship
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed!
We are a resurrected people! Alleluia!
Alleluia! We are raised up into new life!
The Spirit of God is upon us! Alleluia!
Alleluia! God’s Spirit dwells
among us, within us, around us, always!
Holy Spirit of breath and flame,
howling gale and still small voice,
We praise you in your elusiveness,
how you whirl through the world wherever you — not we — will.
You dodge every attempt to pin you down,
slipping through our fingers like thin air
when we try to claim control of you —
even as you pulse through our cells with every heartbeat,
settle deeper into our lungs with every breath.
Holy Spirit, Giver of life,
We praise you for your multifaceted movement:
Like gale force winds you stir up stagnant spirits,
upturn tables in high places,
whisk us up from apathy
into your heady dance;
Like a cooling breeze you comfort battered bodies,
refresh parched hearts;
Like oxygen you resuscitate the hopeless,
bringing life to lifeless places,
dreams and visions that revivify the future.
As you, Irresistible Wind, pour over us now,
set our hearts on fire with passion
for justice and for your abundant life.
Confession and Pardon
Call to Confession
We have come to worship the Holy Spirit who whirls around us
as wind, as breath, as the air in our lungs,
But so many of our siblings find the breath of life
squeezed from their lungs;
and God’s good creation is suffocating.
Only in acknowledging our complicity
can we join in God’s restorative work.
So let us confess our failings,
first in silent reflection,
and then as one.
Prayer of Confession
We confess that we are bystanders and collaborators
in the stifling of God’s children —
not only on national and global scales
but here in our own congregation.
Our society teaches us that to admit to being wrong
is a moral failing
instead of an act of courage,
so we stick to our side out of spite,
In our refusal to budge,
meanness and malice engulf us all.
Lord, we forget that we are one Body, your Body.
We forget that you call us not to complete
all the colossal tasks that stack up across the world,
but to do our small part, in our small place,
and to strive even when all seems hopeless.
Assurance of Pardon
Look! God is doing a new thing!
In the hopeless void of suffering and sin, God’s Spirit comes:
She revives parched hearts and desiccated bones,
opens us to visions and dreams, to possibilities for improvement.
In the new life won for us by Jesus
and breathed into us by the Holy Spirit,
we are empowered to dream bigger, to act more boldly,
to join together in God’s liberating movement.
Affirmation of Faith / Responding to God’s Word
While making room for fresh insight,
and celebrating the diversity of thought
that sets the cloud of witnesses aglow,
there are some beliefs that we in the church
commit ourselves to holding in common.
As one, let us affirm
some of that shared faith
while lifting up the wisdom
of one of our fellow witnesses.
We believe in one Triune God,
Creator of all things.
When God formed human beings from the earth,
They brought us to life by breathing
Their own breath into us,
making us in Their own image.
Though God made us for interdependence
we play-act self sufficiency,
severing ourselves with binaries and borders
and labels of “us” versus “them.”
Still, God remains faithful,
urging us ever towards justice and abundant life for all.
Professor Philip Vinod Peacock of the Church of North India writes,
“No one human or even a set of humans can claim that they are made in the image of God or are God’s representatives here on earth. Rather, only the whole of humanity together can claim that they are in the image of God. …
[Thus] God is best represented by diversity: Only the whole diversity of the world in terms of different cultures, gender, sexual orientation, and religious experience can represent who God is. This means that no [one] culture, gender, sexual orientation, or religious experience can claim superiority over another. It is only together that all of them represent who God is.”
God’s breath that divinizes all flesh,
God’s Spirit who whirls through communities
of all kinds of cultures and creeds,
God’s flame that burns and builds anew
knits all of humanity into one Body.
All glory belongs
to the God who made us varied
and the God who makes us one.
I wrote this liturgy for Pentecost, May 2021 that centered around Ezekiel 37’s valley of dry bones, but much of it would fit well in any service focused on the Holy Spirit.
An alternative prayer of confession that focuses on the Movement for Black Lives, environmental justice, and other global social justice issues can be found here.