Resources for Pentecost 2012

He Qi pentecost

Pentecost by Chinese artist He Qi

Sunday May 27th is Pentecost. This is the day when we celebrate:.

  1. The coming of the Holy Spirit and the infilling of Jesus’ disciples with the power to go out and change the world
  2. The great multi cultural gathering that we catch a glimpse of as we watch the spirit fall and suddenly everyone is able to understand each other – not all speaking the same language but able to understand each other in their own languages.  Acts 2:11.
  3. Pentecost is traditionally the time that many churches pray for the peace of our world in which at times there seems to be so little cross cultural understanding.

Each year I like to add to my resource list from the previous years so that this becomes a rich array of helpful suggests for everyone. So what kinds of resources do we need?  First I think we need to provide our congregations with resources that help them to see Jesus from other cultural perspectives.  In a visual society like ours art is one very powerful way to do this.  Liturgy is another powerful tool because as we read the words aloud they resonate deep within our souls and take root.

Matt Stone at Glocal Christianity still has the best collection of art from different cultural contexts – not just European, Asian, African, South American, Middle Eastern, Australian and Celtic but also other more unusual perspectives – goth, alien, feminist and tattoo.  We may not agree with all these perspectives – after all how many of us can relate to Jesus as a Cyclon – but it important for us to see the different ways that people perceive if we want to “understand them in their own language”.

The Text This Week has one of the best online collections of links to Christian art I have come across – all indexed according to Biblical/liturgical subjects.  They also provide an interesting list of movie clips that correspond to biblically related themes as well as a rich array of other resources on Pentecost

Another great collection of pentecost art is available at Biblical Art on the WWW

In terms of Pentecost liturgies there are endless possibilities out there so please don’t expect this to be a comprehensive list.  My own liturgies from past years are

A Prayer for Pentecost

A Liturgy for Pentecost

Others that I have enjoyed browsing this year are:

The Worship Well with great resources mainly from Australia & New Zealand always provides wonderful liturgical resources for the seasons including these excellent Pentecost resources

re:Worship has a very rich array of resources available – make sure you take time to follow the links provided to songs, liturgies and videos.

If you are looking for alternative approaches to worship  for this season I would heartily recommend Jonny Baker’s worship tricks

Steve Taylor a – sustain:if:able kiwi is another very creative worship leader.  I love his Ascension Day suggestion – the footprints of Jesus



Ascension Day Getting Us Ready for Pentecost

Ascension Jesus mafa image

Ascension Jesus mafa image

Today is Ascension Day, but like many of us I am already thinking about Pentecost in 10 days time. Then we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, though for many churches it has become a day of prayer for peace. The following prayer came to me this morning as I thought about these two celebrations and the amazing impact on our world of Christ’s ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit and our heart burning desire to see God’s peace come in our world.

Peace O Lord to all whose lives entwine with ours,
Peace to all who walk this earth with us.
Peace to friend and to stranger, to neighbours near and far,
Peace to all who struggle,
Peace to the lost, the broken and the hurting.
Peace from the Christ who has redeemed and saved us,
Peace from the One who sits at the right hand of God,
An advocate for all God’s children,
May we follow him into the new creation and join him in making all things whole.

Last year I spent time reflecting on these two events as well and thought I would repost that reflection here too – I love this art piece that I found thanks to Matt Stone to go with it.

African art - Zaire Jesus

African art – zaire Jesus

Jesus Christ ascended into heaven

First born of a new creation

Marking the way with his blood

Shining as a light for all to see

An advocate in heaven

Now at the right hand of God

Holy Spirit descended from above

Indwelling presence of God

Opening our hearts to the Good News of Christ

Leading us into all truth

An advocate within

Forever with all who are called by God’s name

Turbulent Times are here to Stay – How Do We Maintain our Stability?

This last week the Washington State government announced a new budget with major cutbacks that will impact social programmes, education and societal infrastructure. It is but one of a long line of federal, state and local governing bodies around the world that have done so. And all this with a backdrop of uncertainty for all of us, not just because of the economic volatility of our time but also because of our growing concern for environmental and societal upheaval that seem to face our planet.

Repairing the damages of the earthquake in Christchurch NZ, the tsunami in Japan and the tornadoes in the midwest of the US are daunting challenges that will impact all our lives for years to come. And these are but the last of a long list of disasters that have hit our global neighbourhood in the last few years. In the midst of all this I find myself once more asking the question How do we maintain our stability in the midst of such change? and probably more importantly How do we equip ourselves to be God’s compassion and care during such times?

Pentecost is not far away and as I mentioned yesterday we are about to launch ourselves into that season of the church year that many of us refer to as kingdomtide – the season to be God’s representatives reaching out into our world. It is a good time to take stock of our resources and strengthen the foundations that will maintain us and even grow us and God’s church through these turbulent times.

Over the next few days I plan to write a series of posts that are my attempt to address these issues. I look forward to your feedback and contributions. The future into which we are moving is uncharted territory and we need to work together to better equip and inspire each other to grow in our faith and serve more effectively in God’s world.

What enables you to not only maintain your spiritual, and emotional stability during this season but also provides you with the resources you need to reach out into God’s world with compassion and love?

The posts I am planning are:

Believe in the future – God’s vision to inspire and encourage

Build on the rock – spiritual foundations for a rapidly changing world

Cultivate change – building foundations in turbulent times

Grow together – accepting limitations and strengthening the church & our communities in times of change.

If you have suggestions for other posts or would like to contribute one yourself that enables others to be better equipped for the future I welcome your help and contributions.

To end here is a prayer that is part of a liturgy I wrote a couple of years ago for these turbulent times

God, who sent Joseph into Egypt to prepare a place for your people,

We believe you still provide for the needs of all who cry out to you.

God, who fed the five thousand with a handful of fish and loaves,

We believe you are still able to multiply our efforts and feed all who are empty.

God, who asks us not to worry about tomorrow but to trust in your daily provision,

We believe you still desire to transform our scarcity into your abundance and plenty. God, who sent your Son to share our fears and carry our anxieties,

We believe we can give up our burdens and open the floodgates for your mercy and compassion to flow.

God whose heart aches for all who are hurting and in need

May we be your hearts of compassion and your hands of caring this day and ever more


Ascension Day & Pentecost – Distant neighbours

African Christian art - Zaire Jesus

A couple of days ago I was thinking about the juxtaposition of Ascension day and Pentecost.  One to commemorate the ascent of Jesus the other to remember the descent of the Holy Spirit.    Ascension Day and Pentecost are closely linked.  It was because Jesus ascended into heaven that the Holy Spirit could descend and fill us all.  I thought that you might enjoy the prayer that my reflections inspired

Jesus Christ ascended into heaven

First born of a new creation

Marking the way with his blood

Shining as a light for all to see

An advocate in heaven

Now at the right hand of God

Holy Spirit descended from above

Indwelling presence of God

Opening our hearts to the Good News of Christ

Leading us into all truth

An advocate within

Forever with all who are called by God’s name

Prayers for the Journey

Pentecostal rhapsody - Emmanuel Garibay

This is my last day at Overseas Ministries Study Center and though I have had a wonderful week, it will be great to be home with Tom & our dog Bonnie.  Interacting with the students who come from a rich variety of cultures including China, Korea, Myanmar, Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines and Malaysia as well as listening to my co-facilitator Stanley Green, has inspired many of my prayers in the last week.

I am always challenged by this week as many of these students face constant persecution for their faith.  One student belongs to the church in Beijing China in which several members were detained recently so we have heard first hand the struggles and fears they face.  This is one of the richest learning experiences I participate in each year and I am already looking forward to next year’s programme.  The art is by current OMSC artist in residence Emmanuel Garibay from the Philippines

I thought you would appreciate the prayers this week has inspired:

God may we breathe in your presence

And let go of our our fears and anxieties

May we soak in your grace and love

And throw off our busy distractedness

May we sit quietly in the place where you draw close

And know the intimacy of your sustaining touch


God you give us the power to transform the world

Power to heal the sick and to set free the oppressed

Power to forgive our enemies and care for our friends

Power to love our neighbours as we do ourselves

God may we unleash the power you place within us

And reach out as your hands and hearts of love


God may we share as you would have us share,

and care as you would have us care

May we be generous towards all

And freely give from that which you have given us


In the quiet of the morning I wait for you O God

May I turn my eyes from worthless things

And search eagerly for your paths

May I listen carefully for your voice

And follow diligently wherever you lead


O God impart to us today all we need to represent you faithfully

Fill us with mercy and compassion

Sustain us with love and peace

Breathe into us your spirit of life


God breathe life

On us, in us, through us

God breathe love

On us, in us, through us

God breathe hope

On us, in us, through us


God help us to ask the questions you would ask

And seek the answers you want to give

Quiet us to listen for your words and look for your ways

May we discern your purposes and faithfully follow your instructions


God breathe on us

Fill us with your living presence

Christ breathe in us

Restore our joy in your salvation

Spirit breathe through us

Renew our compassion and mercy


God may I listen for your words of peace

And look for the paths of righteousness

May I practice justice in all my ways

And immerse myself in your truth

It’s Allergy Season But Don’t Hold Your Breath Too Long

I am in New Haven CT for a week of teaching at the Overseas Ministry Study Centre and it is definitely allergy season.  Pollen count is at an all time high, and like almost everyone around me, my eyes are gritty, my sinuses are aching and I am not sure if I really want to breathe the air that is coming through the window.  To top it off I went for a walk yesterday and found that my daily walks around Greenlake in Seattle had definitely not prepared me for the hills of New Haven.  I kept having to remind myself to breathe in sync with my steps.

As I sat here thinking about this, I could not help but contemplate the importance of breathing and the significance of the times the Bible talks about the breath of God.  God breathes on us and we live.  In other words we are only truly alive when we are filled with the breath of God and thinking of that inspired this prayer:

Breathe out empty yourself: of hate, of fear, of anxiety

Breathe in fill yourself with love, with life, with mercy

Breathe out empty yourself of busyness, of selfishness of greed

Breathe in fill yourself with peace, with joy, with hope

Breathe out empty yourself of idolatry, of self worship, of false gods

Breathe in fill yourself with God, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit

When I wrote my book To Garden with God, one of the references I used commented on the fact that human beings did not come to life until God breathed His life into us (Genesis 2:7).  Then after the resurrection Jesus breathed into the disciples and filled them with the Holy Spirit – the life of the new creation.  (John 20: 22) I was stunned as I realized the implications of this verse.

In our present reality, it is the Holy Spirit that is the breath of God – something that is very good for us to remember and contemplate as we approach the season of Pentecost.  It is the Holy Spirit breathed into us by Christ our Saviour that gives us new life  and the ability to become all that God intends us to be – love of God, love of neighbour, a life lived for others and not for ourselves all become possible when we breathe in the breath of God’s Holy Spirit and give ourselves to God’s purposes and not our own.  Which lead to the writing of this prayer:

God breathe on us

in the valley of dry bones; in the midst of mourning; in the place of death

God breathe in us

on our dried up promises; on our abandoned dreams; on our unfulfilled hopes

God breathe through us

may your spirit bring back hope ; may your love renew your promises; may your word refresh and renew

Three in one, one in three

breathe on us; breathe in us; breathe through us

Fill us with resurrection life

Over the years I have posted a number of breathing prayers and have revisited and used several of these over the last few days so thought that I would remind all of us of these this morning.  Some feel that the very name Yahweh is designed to sound like breathing so being reminded of this on a regular basis is important.

Jonathan Brink commented on one of my posts that at the Emerging Church Conference in Albuquerque, Richard Rohr talked about breathing YHWH as a way of saying the name of God.

Yoh – Breathe in
Hey – Breathe out
Hah – Breathe in
Veh – Breathe out

Here are links to some of the other posts about breathing prayers that I have written in the past

Another Breathing Prayer

Breath of God Breathe on Me by Tom Brackett

Is Breathing a Spiritual Practice

A Breathing Prayer by AB Simpson

And let me finish with the original breathing prayer I wrote which I know has been widely used in worship and meditation.  it is also my favourite so I thought that I would repost it here

Breathe in the breath of God

Breathe out your cares and concerns

Breathe in the love of God

Breathe out your doubts and despairs

Breathe in the life of God

Breathe out your fears and frustrations

We sit quietly before the One who gives life and love to all creation,

We sit in awe of the One who formed us in our mother’s wombs

We sit at peace surrounded by the One who fills every fibre of our being

Breathe in the breath of God

Breathe out your tensions and turmoil

Breathe in the love of God

Breathe out your haste and hurry

Breathe in the life of God

Breathe out your work and worry

We sit quietly before the One who gives life and love to all creation,

We sit in awe of the One who formed us in our mother’s wombs

We sit at peace surrounded by the One who fills every fibre of our being

What Do I Believe About the Holy Spirit? – Advocate & Guide

The Holy Spirit tends to be the least understood of the part of the tripartate nature of God.  Those of us that were nurtured in the charismatic movement often think of tongues of fire and speaking in tongues, manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

However the Holy Spirit is far more than a few showy effects that are meant to convince us that God is with us.  The Holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of our loving God “the seal of our inheritance”, counsellor, comforter, revealer of truth.

I believe it is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our world to bring us out of hiding and help us to confront those parts of our lives that are still distorted and disconnected from God.  It is the  power of the Holy Spirit that reveals the sin still hidden within us, draws us to repentance and  and brings about the transformation that will reveal God’s image deep within us.

It is, I believe, the Holy Spirit that is the ongoing revelation of God in our lives and our world, helping us to understand mysteries about God that have been hidden earlier in our life and often even earlier in the history of the world.  As counsellor the Holy Spirit instructs us in the ways of truth (like making us aware of issues of slavery in cell phone production that I mentioned in my last post) and helps us to turn our lives around to live more authentically as God’s representatives in the world as it is today.

Trinity Sunday is Coming

Next Sunday is Trinity Sunday a celebration that is not well known in the Protestant side of the church in spite of the fact that what this day celebrates is a doctrine at the very centre of our faith – our belief in the Triune nature of God.

The theme this week is clear – the nature of God as Triune. This “difficult” doctrine of the Church is a tough one to address in a sermon or in worship, which tempts us either to treat it as an academic exercise, or to skip over it completely. However, the very mystery of this doctrine – and of the texts that are wrapped around it this week – provide a wonderful array of options. There is the opportunity to acknowledge again the limitations of our language and thinking about God, and to embrace God’s glorious, infinite mystery. There is the chance to recognise how God has chosen to reveal God’s self to humanity in flesh and Spirit, and how Jesus and the Spirit really do show us what God is like. There is also the chance to recognise the work of all three Persons in the life of every woman and man. There is also the opportunity to explore God’s nature as community, as Love, as relationship, and what this means for us. Ultimately, though it is wise to bear in mind Richard Rohr’s words: “Trinity leads you into the world of mystery and humility where you can not understand, you can only experience.” And perhaps the heart of that experience is ‘mutuality’ – of God within God, and, miraculously, of God with humanity.  Read more on Sacredise

This Lakota painting is my favourite Trinitarian art

And here are a couple of my favourite Celtic trinitarian prayers to finish with:

High Cross Clonmacnois Ireland

Three folds of the cloth yet only one napkin is there,

Three joints in the finger, but still only one finger fair,

Three leaves of the shamrock, yet no more than one shamrock to wear,

Frost, snow-flakes and ice,

all in water their origin share

Three persons in God,

to one God alone we make prayer

My walk this day with God,

My walk this day with Christ,

My walk this day with Spirit.

The threefold all-kindly;

Ho! Ho! Ho! The Threefold all-kindly

My shielding this day from ill,

My shielding this night from harm

Ho! Ho! Both my soul and my body,

Be by Father, by Son, by Holy Spirit:

By Father, by Son, by Holy Spirit.

Be the Father shielding me,

Be the Son shielding me,

Be the Spirit shielding me,

As Three and as One:

Ho! Ho! Ho! As Three and as One.

How The Holy Spirit is Moving Today is hosting a series on “How the Holy Spirit is Moving Today” Contributors were asked to respond in 100 words or less.  Unfortunately I did not have time to respond because we were away on retreat the last few days.  However great responses posted have really made me think, look and listen.

I see the Holy Spirit moving every time I watch a mother comfort her child or kiss her kids good night.  I see the spirit move each time I kneel at the altar rail with friends to share communion. And I see the spirit move each time I watch someone become passionate about issues of justice and take a stand with the marginalized, the oppressed and the abandoned.  And I see the spirit move in the midst of  a church’s community garden.  The spirit of God is at work in so many aspects of our world renewing, transforming and making all things new.

So check out  for the great responses from the people listed below or respond here and tell me what you think .

Monica A. Coleman, Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont School of Theology
Sam Hamilton-Poore, Director of the Program in Christian Spirituality and Adjunct Professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary
Brian McLaren, emergent author, speaker, pastor, and networker
Callid Keefe-Perry, a Member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and a co-convener of the Emergent Cohort in Rochester, NY
Carl Gregg, Associate Pastor at Northminster Church in Monroe, LA
Amy Julia Becker, a writer and a student at Princeton Theological Seminary
Tripp Fuller, a Baptist minister serving Neighborhood Church and Ph.D. student at Claremont School of Theology
Byron Wade, Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a Presbyterian pastor in Raleigh, NC
Alyce McKenzie, Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology
Thomas Turner, Senior Editor, Literary Arts of GENERATE Magazine, an adjunct English professor at Nyack College, and a leader at The Plant in Mahwah, NJ
Bruce Epperly, Professor of Practical Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary and co-pastor of Disciples United Community Church in Lancaster, PA.

A Native American Gathering Prayer

I have just returned from our MSA staff retreat – a good couple of days to renew our focus and refresh our vision.  For gathering each morning I used the following prayer which was given to me the previous Saturday by Elsie Dennis who conducted a workshop on Native American spirituality at a conference Tom & I participated in.  Elsie is from the Sinixt tribe and works with the Diocese of Olympia.  It is a beautiful prayer to use for a Pentecost gathering.

Creator, we give you thanks for all you are and all you bring to us for our visit within your creation.  In Jesus, you place the Gospel in the centre of this sacred circle through which all of creation is related.

You show us the way to live a generous and compassionate life.  Give us your strength to live together with respect and commitment as we grow in your spirit, for you are God, now and forever, Amen.