Household Worship for the Day of Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost
May 31, 2020 

A printable PDF is HERE.

The Spirit at loose in the world?
On May 25, 1836, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and other Protestant missionaries began their journey to the Pacific Northwest where they settled close to what is now Walla Walla, in the southeast corner of Washington State. Trained as a physician, Marcus was eager to convert the indigenous population – the Cayuse People – to the Christian faith. The Whitmans and their co-workers brought a sense of urgency to their project rooted in the conviction that the Cayuse would suffer eternal damnation should they not accept Jesus Christ as their one Lord. To say the least, the Cayuse resented the encroachment of the settlers and the impression they gave of being superior in culture and religion to the natives. “An insolent people,” Narcissa wrote of the Cayuse.

Of greater significance was the importation of infectious diseases that accompanied the settlers, diseases to which the Cayuse had no immunity. In 1847, a severe epidemic of measles resulted in extremely high death rates among the native population. Indeed, all Cayuse children died, a previously unimaginable possibility that terrified the community. While the Whitmans offered care, the Cayuse saw white settlers surviving as all their children perished. The Cayuse concluded that the disease was a deliberate act to destroy their community and confiscate more land. On November 29, 1847, a small group killed Marcus and Narcissa, believing their deaths would end the deathly scourge.

At the same time, Catholic priests had been sent from Canada and Missouri to minister among the indigenous population in eastern Washington and Oregon. One of the priests, Fr. Jean Baptiste Brouillet, received news of the Cayuse attack and was able to warn Henry Spalding, a Whitman associate who had been away from Walla Walla on November 29. Brouillet’s warning saved Spalding’s life. And how did Spalding respond? In a scathing pamphlet, he claimed, falsely, that “Roman” priests had befriended the Cayuse and incited them to attack the Whitmans and other missionaries.

Well, Spalding was right about one thing: the “Roman” priests and their colleagues in the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) were friends with the Cayuse and Nez Perce Tribes. And they were friends because they viewed the indigenous people much differently than did the Protestant missionaries.

Rather than consider the Cayuse already “lost” to God because they were not Christian, the Jesuits came to listen: to listen for the presence of the Spirit among the tribes. Marked by humility and a willingness to learn from the Cayuse, the Jesuits wondered how the stories, rituals, and symbols of the tribes might connect with Christian stories, rituals, and symbols. Could it be, they asked, that the Spirit – the Great Spirit – was already present among this noble people before any white Christians ever arrived from the east? And if that were so, would it be more appropriate to engage in friendly conversation rather than pushy conversion?

Of course the Jesuits and other “Roman” priests were committed to presenting what they believed were the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Cayuse and Nez Perce People. The question they faced – which the feast of Pentecost poses for us today – was and is this: Is the Spirit confined to our stories, rituals, and symbols or is the Spirit loose and alive in the world in places and among those whom Jesus calls “other sheep of which you do not know”?


With the Day of Pentecost, we have come to the culmination of the Great Fifty Days of Easter. As noted before, household worship can take place anywhere but it is most appropriate at table. The risen Christ frequently reveals himself during meals: at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35); in a Jerusalem apartment (Luke 24:36-43); by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14). The color appointed for Pentecost is red, the color we find tinged with orange in fire, the color of blood; it is the color of love and danger. Red captures attention: it is one of the most visible colors, second only to yellow. Red focuses behind the retina and thus forces the lens to grow more convex to pull it forward: we thus perceive red to be moving – how appropriate for this day! It is not uncommon to see parishioners don red shirts or blouses or scarves when we gather for worship on Pentecost Sunday: wear your red today. Do you have a red tablecloth to dress your table? And speaking of fire, it is most appropriate to light one or many candles on Pentecost: the first reading is filled with many tongues of fire. Anglican spirituality holds that all the senses reveal God’s presence – not just texts and speaking or singing. Flowers and incense mark festive holy days among us and are rightly incorporated in household worship. Should you have a crucifix, a cross, or an image of the Spirit descending on Jesus’ followers, let this holy artifact be present when you pray.


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Make the sign of the cross and say
Alleluia. (+) Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.


Join the Christ Church Assembly, Choir, and Organist Dr. Mark Brombaugh in singing, “Hail thee festival day” (Hymnal 1982 #225) at:


Pray this prayer

Perplexing, Pentecostal God,
You infuse us with your Spirit, urging us to vision and dream.
May the gift of your presence find voice in our lives,
that our babbling may be transformed into discernment
and the flickering of many tongues
light an unquenchable fire of compassion and justice;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  


The Word of God for the Day of Pentecost
The reading of the Gospel is the primary reading of the day and should always be read. It follows after a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (on Pentecost, a reading from the Acts of the Apostles), a Psalm, and a reading from the early church. 

The first three scripture texts can be found here: 

Acts 2:1-21

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Sing with the Christ Church Choir the psalm refrain (antiphon) for this day:

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the great and wide sea with its living things too many to number, creatures both small and great. Antiphon

All of them look to you to give them their food in due season. You give it to them; they gather it; you open your hand, and they are filled with good things. Antiphon

You hide your face, and they are terrified; you take away their breath, and they die and return to their dust. You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; and so you renew the face of the earth. Antiphon

May your glory, O LORD, endure forever; may you rejoice in all your works. You look at the earth and it trembles; you touch the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being. May these words of mine please you; I will rejoice in the LORD.
Bless the LORD, O my soul. Hallelujah! Antiphon

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

John 20:19-23
Read the gospel aloud without rushing. Allow the images to enter your consciousness: let them find a home within.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Glory to you, Lord Christ

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.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Christ. 

A meditation by Annie Dillard
Annie Dillard is a Pulitzer Prize winning author whose works have highlighted her love of the natural world, nature mysticism, and occasional forays into Christian churches. In 1975 she moved to Lummi Island and taught at Western Washington State University. This is an excerpt from her book, Teaching A Stone To Talk.

“Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? Presumably someone is minding the ship, correcting the course, avoiding icebergs and shoals, fueling the engines, watching the radar screen, noting the weather reports radioed in from the shore.

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.

Listen or sing with the Christ Church Choir, “O Holy Spirit” (Hymnal 1982 #501) 

O Holy Spirit, by whose breath life rises vibrant out of death,
come to create, renew, inspire; come, kindle in our hearts your fire. 

You are the seeker’s only course, of burning love the living source,
protector in the midst of strife, the giver and the Lord of life. 

In you God’s energy is shown, to us your varied gifts made known.
Teach us to speak, teach us to hear; yours be the tongue and yours the ear. 

Flood our dull senses with your light; in mutual love our hearts unite.
Your power the whole creation fills; make strong our weak, uncertain wills. 

From inner strife grant us release; turn nations to the ways of peace.
To fuller life your people bring that as one body we may sing: 

Praise to the Father, Christ, his Word, and to the Spirit: God the Lord,
to whom all honor, glory be both now and for eternity.


Prayers for the church, the world, and all who are in need
These intercessions may be used, adding others in each household

Give us grace to respond to the Spirit’s presence in our lives and our church
as we serve each other and the many who call out for help in this time of distress.
Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth.

Restore with your breath your beloved creation, especially the lands and waters laden with pollution and the animals and fish whose habitats are threatened.
Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth.

Bestow your Wisdom on the leaders of nations, cities, and towns,
that earth’s people will experience your justice and its gift, your peace.
Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth.

Bring holy Comfort to all who suffer, all who feel hopeless,
all who have contracted the virus, and all who live in the shadow of death.
Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth. 

O great Protector of the poor, give jobs to the unemployed, food to the many
who are hungry, strength to healthcare workers, and wisdom to medical scientists.
Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth. 

Welcome into your heavenly country all who have died in the faith
and all whose faith is known to you alone. [Speak their names at this time] Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth.

Concluding Collect
Grant, O God, that inspired by your Spirit,
we may confess Christ as Lord
and combine our diverse gifts with a singular passion
to continue his mission in this world
until we join in your eternal praise.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as 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. 

Before your prayer ends, listen to the people of St. John’s Anglican Church, London, and the Adventist Vocal Ensemble sing, “There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place”

Make the sign of the cross as you say,
May Almighty God, who enlightened the minds of the disciples by pouring out upon them the Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith, lead us into all truth,
and make us rich with his blessing,
that we may bear witness to Christ in word and deed;

And the blessing of God Almighty, (+) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us, and remain with us always. Amen.

Music for Organ
Listen to Dr. Mark Brombaugh play “Veni Creator Spiritus” by Nicolas De Grigny 


Giving thanks at table
Use this thanksgiving whenever you are at table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

All eyes look to you, O God,
and you give them their food in due season;
You open wide your hand
and feed every living thing.

Bless, O God, these gifts of your grace,
and us to your service in this world,
Through our Lord Jesus Christ who said:
I am the bread of life.



Introduction: “The Spirit at loose in the world?” Fr. Samuel Torvend

Image 1: Edward Curtis, “Cayuse Woman in Ceremonial Dress,” 1910

Centering Cross: Early Byzantine

Opening acclamation: The Book of Common Prayer 1979

Hymn: Text by Venantius Fortunatus; music by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Collect: Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, Nashville: Consultation on Common Texts, 2002; administered by Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Image 2: Ni Ketut Ayu Sri Wardani, “Pentecost,” 2013

Biblical readings: The New Revised Common Lectionary adapted for Episcopal Use, 2006

Psalm 104: Anglican Chant by John Goss

Gospel reading: New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, Washington, DC: The National Council of Churches, 1989

Image 3: Peter Warden, “Pentecost,” 1985

Meditation: Annie Dillard, “An Expedition to the Pole,” in Teaching A Stone To Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, New York: Harper Colophon, 1982

Hymn: Text by Rabanus Maurus; Music from Eyn Enchiridion

Prayers: Revised ELCA Worship in the Home for May 31, 2020

Concluding Prayer: Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, Nashville: Consultation  on Common  Texts, 2002; administered by Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Lord’s Prayer: The Book of Common Prayer 1979

Blessing: The Book of Occasional Services, Seasonal Blessings, p. 25, adaptation of the Three-fold and Single Pentecost Blessings

Thanksgiving at Table: Psalm 104 and traditional grace at table

Image 4: Nicolaes Maes, “Old Woman Saying Grace,” 1656





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