G+M Worship – May 27, 2012 (Pentecost Sunday)

The following was assembled and written by Joshua Hearne for the worship service of Grace and Main Fellowship.

Worship on Pentecost Sunday – May 27, 2012

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Be present among us, Lord. Fill this place with your Spirit.

Lighting of the Christ Candle

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us—sinners that we are—and hear these ours prayers:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

As we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon our brothers and sisters so long ago, let us sing.

Singing


Bless the 
Lord, O my soul. Praise the  Lord!

Psalm 104:24-34

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—
who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.


The Telling of the Pentecost Story

Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord! 

Mechthild of Magdeburg, a 13th century mystic nun, was known for her poetic prayers and ecstatic writing. She once wrote:

Effortlessly,
Love flows from God into man,
Like a bird
Who rivers the air
Without moving her wings.
Thus we move in His world,
One in body and soul,
Though outwardly separate in form.

As the Source strikes the note,
Humanity sings–
The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
And all strings
Which are touched in Love
Must sound.


Listening for the Movement of the Spirit

Singing

As you go from this place, hear the words of our brother Rev. Mychal Judge, a martyr of charity in 2001, who often prayed: “Lord, take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way.” May you go where the Spirit guides, meet who the Spirit ordains, speak what the Spirit teaches, and not get in the way of God’s grace and mercy.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Amen.

The Path of Humility

The following was written by Joshua for Grace and Main Fellowship‘s weekly devotional project: G+M Devotionals. It was also posted on the site of Third Chance Ministries.

St. Anthony the Great, who some call the “Father of All Monks” and the “Father of Monasticism,” was a third and fourth century Christian leader and teacher who confined himself to the wilderness of the Egyptian deserts so that he might undertake a life of devotion to, and pursuit of, his Lord Jesus. It was in the wilderness that Anthony was pushed away from comfort and predictability and into the forming hands of God. He once wrote, “I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, ‘What can get through from such snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.’ ” It was these snares that Anthony fled to the desert to escape, but his writings and prayers make it clear that he found temptation even in a land of lack. As he would often indicate in his later writings, it seems that we cannot ever escape sin or temptation as we carry them with us wherever we flee.

But Anthony points to a sublime truth in his reflection on the snares of sin in this world. The only path that leads us through countless obstacles will be the path that forces us to become more dependent upon our Lord and less dependent upon ourselves and our abilities: the path of humility. This is a notoriously difficult path to walk because it begins with sacrifice, continues through struggle, and finishes in releasing all that we are to a God who is at times elusive and speaks with a still small voice. Anyone who sets out on this path without fear or hesitation must not be deeply considering what it means for their life, for we know that God can and will ask for nearly anything from us and the path of humility demands our sacrifice before we’ve even reviewed the terms of of our devotion. In short, the path of humility carries us into the Kingdom of God, but prohibits us from carrying anything with us through the doors. It is along this path that we learn slowly to utter the words of our brother, Job: “Even if God slays me–even then I will trust in God.” (Job 13:15)

But, how do we take up such a path? If we want to be saved and to seek out a Lord who asks us to make ourselves less, then what are the first steps along that path? Almost 1,000 years later, one of Anthony’s spiritual descendants, Gregory of Sinai, encouraged Christians who sought the path of humility not to wonder whether they were or were not a “greater sinner” than their neighbor. Instead, each of us should assume, like Paul in his letter to Timothy (1 Tim 1:15), that we are the foremost of all sinners. Of course, to do this in word only is to gratify the ego and to drink deeply from the subtle sin of spiritual pride–it is to speak truth while harboring arrogance in the heart.

But, if we’ll make ourselves less and make our Lord more, while knowing that our sin is more than sufficient to make us the slaves of evil and death, then we will find that the path of humility leads us out of death and into life–we will find that no snare can restrain us from fleeing to our Father who waits by the road and eagerly searches for his prodigal sons and daughters to come over the hill with repentance on their lips and hearts now empty enough to welcome in a Lord who loves them more than life itself. After all, this is the path–the path of humility–that leads to life both before Anthony said it and continuing now and into the as yet unconsidered future.