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The Heartbeat of Pentecost - Pentecost Sunday - Acts 2

A worship service focusing on the heartbeat of Pentecost which is the call to proclamation.

The Heartbeat of Pentecost
Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1-13


Sermon Notes
Music Notes
Liturgy Notes

Theme of the Service

This service marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This event emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit who enters the church to empower it for its mission of proclaiming the truth of the resurrected Lord.

The theme of this service will focus on the heartbeat of Pentecost which is the call to proclamation. We celebrate the Lord's Supper in this service as an expression of the oneness of the Church in the work of the Spirit. The liturgy notes at the end of the service will provide some suggestions that will help your worshipers become more aware of fellow Christians in the worldwide church.

* * * * *


Prelude: “Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow” [see music and liturgy notes]
              “This Holy Covenant Was Made”

The Call to Worship
             The God of the whirlwind and fire
             sweeps into our presence in this hour.
             Glory be to God, who strengthens us,
             and blesses all people with peace.
             God, who called all the world into being,
             calls forth new life in us today.
             Glory be to God, in whose creative
             purpose we are claimed and empowered.
             God, whose Spirit unites all people in a common language of love,
             confirmed God's gifts in us as we gather here.
             Glory be to God, who created light in which
             we can walk in confident expectation. (TWS, Q.1.2.5)

*Songs of Praise: “This Holy Covenant Was Made” SNC 173 [see music notes]
                            “Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow” PH 131, SNC 169, TWC 294, Falcone: UMH 538

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
              Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, who do you trust?
             Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Song of Response: “Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid” PsH 425


The Call to Confession

The Prayer of Confession:
             Spoken [see liturgy notes]
             Sung: “ 'Abba, Abba, Hear Us,' We Cry” SNC 211

The Assurance of Pardon: Romans 8:15-17

Our Song of Dedication: “For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free” SNC 66 [see music notes]

God's Guide for Grateful Living: Galatians 5:1, 16-26


The Prayer for Illumination

The Children's Moment

The Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
             The Word of the Lord.
              Thanks be to God!

Bell Response: “Dry Bones,” Boersma

The New Testament Reading: Acts 2:1-13
             The Word of the Lord.
             Thanks be to God!

Children's Anthem Response: “Pentecost Fire!,” Cool

Sermon: The Heartbeat of Pentecost

The Prayer of Application

*Our Affirmation of Faith: [see liturgy notes]
             At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given to the church.
             In pouring his Spirit on many peoples
             God overcomes the divisions of Babel;
             now people from every tongue, tribe, and nation
             are gathered into the unity of the body of Christ.
             Jesus stays with us in the Spirit,
             who renews our hearts, moves us to faith,
             leads us in the truth, stands by us in our need,
             and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant.
             The Spirit thrusts God's people into worldwide mission.
             He impels young and old, men and women,
             to go next door and far away into science and art,
             media and marketplace with the good news of God's grace.
             The Spirit goes before them and with them,
             convincing the world of sin and pleading the cause of Christ.
             The Spirit's gifts are here to stay in rich variety—fitting responses to timely needs.
             We thankfully see each other as gifted members of the fellowship
             which delights in the creative Spirit's work.
             He gives more than enough to each believer
             for God's praise and our neighbor's welfare. (From "Our World Belongs to God," par. 31-33)

*Song: “Lord, You Give the Great Commission” PH 429:1-3, PsH 523:1-3, RN 305:1-3, TWC 715:1-3, WOV 756:1-3, UMH 584:1-3 [see music notes]


God's Invitation and Promises [see liturgy notes]

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

Preparing the Bread and the Cup

Our Communion

Response of Praise and Prayer

The Prayers of the People [see liturgy notes]

The Offertory Prayer

              The Offering of Music: “Lord, You Give the Great Commission” [see music and liturgy notes]
              We offer our gifts for….


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: “Gracious Spirit” SNC 166, WOV 687 [see music notes]

Postlude: “Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid” [see music notes]

*You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes

As with any sermon that begins with a historical narrative, this sermon should include a retelling of the story of that "noisy Sunday" as recorded in Acts 2. Those in attendance at the first New Testament Pentecost (there was an Old Testament Feast of Pentecost; check it out in a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia) asked a fundamental question in Acts 2:12, "What does this mean?" Today the church is often puzzled about the meaning of Pentecost so this sermon should begin with the same question. What is the core heartbeat of Pentecost? Did the Holy Spirit come for the first time? (Wasn't the Holy Spirit present in the Old Testament?)

Of all the possible descriptions of the heartbeat of this event, verse 11 captures it best. This is about "declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" The three concepts in this phrase all merit careful attention:

  • "The wonders of God"…Think of the preaching of Jesus, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, and his final statement before he ascended found in Matthew 28:18-20. Think also of John 12:32. God is ready through the message of the risen Lord to draw "all" to himself.
  • "Declaring"…The word means verbal communication that comes with authenticity and authority. Jerusalem is not filled with babble, but proclamation that is designed to communicate an important message.
  • "in our own tongues"…Review the list of locations and their languages mentioned in Acts 2, and imagine how international the sound was. No longer was the language only Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. No language is excluded for no nation is excluded!

The heartbeat of Pentecost, therefore, is the proclamation of the gospel of Christ to all the nations of the world!

Pentecost is about Spirit-filled power giving prophetic voice to the church so that the doors of the church are opened to all nations and peoples. This message is authenticated as part of God's plan by the book of Acts. Note the extension of the Pentecost event and its message to Samaria (Acts 8:9-17), to the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48 and 11:15-18), and to Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7). Paul's missionary journeys throughout Acts also show this plan. Our effort to bring the gospel to all nations is another step in this God-designed process. And all this finds its fulfillment in the vision of Revelation 7:9ff.

Music Notes

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:

PH        The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH      The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL        Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)|
RN        Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL      Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC     Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,      Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH        Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great        Commission Publications)
TWC     The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV    With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Prelude suggestions are based on the two opening songs of praise:

ABERYSTWYTH [“Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow”]
             Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
             Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H. W. Grey GB643 [1978] (E)
             Held, Wilbur. Those Wonderful Welsh, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-842 [1992] (E-M)
             Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 5. SMP KK323 [1984] (adaptable for piano, E-M)
             Linker, Janet. Suite for Holy Week. Beckenhorst OC5 [1989] (E-M)
             Swenson, Warren. Seven Hymn Preludes in a New Style. H. W. Grey GB 637 [1977] (E-M)
             Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 1. Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M)
             Young, Gordon. Preludes on the Familiar. Fischer 0 4886 [1972] (E-M)

             Organ, Anne Krentz. Christ, Mighty Savior. Augsburg 11-10819 [1997] (E-M)

LASST UNS ERFREUEN [This Holy Covenant Was Made]
             Burkhardt, Michael. Five Psalm Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997] (E-M)
             Callahan, Charles. Partita on Lasst uns Erfreuen. Morningstar MSM-10-700 [1989] (M)
             Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 5. AMSI SP-102 [1985] (D)
             Held, Wilbur. Hymn Preludes for the Autumn Festivals. Concordia 97-5360 [1976] (E-M)
             Hobby, Robert A. Three Easter Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-421 [1999] (E-M)
             Kemner, Gerald. Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-5919 [1990] (E-M)
             Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 2. SMP KK235 [1982] (E, adaptable to piano)
             Leavitt, John. With High Delight. Concordia 97-6845 [2000] (E-M)
             Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 6. Concordia 97-5305 [1975] (E-M)
             Rowley, Alec. Choral Preludes based on Famous Hymn Tunes, vol. 2. Ashdown [1952] (E-M)
             Sedio, Mark. Augsburg Organ Library – Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M)
             Sedio, Mark. Organ Tapestries, vol. 2. Concordia 97-6861 [2000] (E-M)

             Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M)

             Dobrinski, Cynthia. All Creatures of Our God & King. Agape 1737 [1995] (3-5 octaves, M)
             Honoré, Jeffrey. Alleluia Passacaglia. Agape 1552 [1992] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
             Hopson, Hal. H. All Creatures of Our God & King. Agape 1546 [1992] (3-4 octaves, E-M)

Alternative harmonizations for the two opening songs can be found in:

LASST UNS ERFREUEN [This Holy Covenant Was Made]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
             Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
             Burkhardt, Michael. 5 Psalm Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997]
             Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000]
             Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986]
             Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H W Grey GB 644 [1978]
             Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
             Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

ABERYSTWYTH [“Wind Who Makes All Winds to Blow”]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
             Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
             Albrecht, Mark. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003] 

Alternative harmonization for the Song of Dedication can be found in the following:

AZMON [“For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free”]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
             Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
             Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

The bell response “Dry Bones” arranged by James Boersma for 3-5 octaves handbells is published by NMP NMP-169 [1984] (M).

The children's anthem “Pentecost Fire” by Jayne Southwick Cool is scored for unison voices and is published by Choristers Guild CGA-502 [1990] (E, but plan ahead because of length of text).

Alternative harmonizations for the hymn following the affirmation of faith can be found in these resources:

ABBOT'S LEIGH [“Lord, You Give the Great Commission”]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
             Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
             Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

The offertory music based on ABBOT'S LEIGH [“Lord, You Give the Great Commission”] can be found in:

             Cherwien, David. Two Hymntune Preludes. GIA G-4477 [1997] (E-M)
             Hobby, Robert A. 2 English Hymn Tune Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-856 [1995] (E-M)
             Lovelace, Austin C. Abbot's Leigh. Hope 274 [1985] (E-M)

             Afdahl, Lee J. Abbot's Leigh. Agape 2103 [1999] (3-5 octaves, level 2+) 

Alternative harmonizations for the closing hymn can be found in:

NJOO KWETU, ROHO MWEMA [“Gracious Spirit”]
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
             Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000] 

The postlude suggestions based on a hymn used earlier in the service are found in these resources:

MELITA [“Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid”]
             Barr, John G. Three Preludes on Hymn Tunes. H. W. Grey. GSTC 01079 [1992] (E-M)
             Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (M-D)
             Stearns, Peter Pindar. Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use. Flammer HF-5145 [1987] (E-M)
             Wold, Wayne L. Suite for Organ on Eternal Father, Strong to Save. Augsburg
             ISBN 0-8006- 69-X [2003] (M-D)

Liturgy Notes

1. The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has provided links that will put you in touch with resources from other parts of the global church of Christ. These are helpful options for the prelude, offertory, or communion music. Materials from other countries are also available through Anne Zaki, Resource Development Specialist for Global Focus at

2. You may choose either to lead the congregation in a prayer of confession or allow a time for silent confession.

3. The Children's Moment is deliberately located within the Service of the Word and is placed between the Prayer for Illumination and the Scripture Reading of Ezekiel 37. This gives the leader the opportunity to point out to the children the uniqueness of both the Ezekiel passage (dry bones!) and the event of Pentecost (wind and flames!). Tell the children to listen carefully to these unique stories, and imagine what it must have been like. Then wonder with them about how they would feel. Explain that the disciples had some of the same wonderment. When this is followed by the Bell anthem "Dry Bones," it will be even more intriguing to them.

4. The affirmation of faith is taken from the contemporary testimony of the Christian Reformed Church, "Our World Belongs to God." A copy of this testimony is available from Faith Alive Christian Resources, 1-800-333-8300 or Faith Alive Resources. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

5. In order to enhance the multi-nation character of the Holy Spirit's work, we offer two suggestions for the Scripture readings.

  • The Scripture passage we have suggested (Acts 2:1-13) can be read by one reader as a narrator and multiple other voices for each of the national/language groups of verses 9-11. The Narrator would read verses 1-8. The next two verses are read by various persons seated in different places around the worship space. As many as 15 persons can be included, each standing up and speaking loudly, "Parthians…" etc. Your group can also be smaller if some of the references are combined and spoken by one person. The narrator continues again with verses 11b-13.
  • Another possibility is to include various languages in the service. The words of John 3:16, or some other key gospel reference, can be read by those in the congregation who know languages other than English. These readings can be included as the invitation and promise before the Lord's Supper.

6. For the liturgy of the Lord's Supper, we refer you to The Worship Sourcebook, section 8, pp.s 305-350, and to section Q, pp. 707-709.

7. For the pastoral prayer we offer the prayer that was formulated by Rev. Naji Umran, Minister of Outreach at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, MI . This prayer was written for and included in one of the worship services at the Symposium on Worshipat Calvin College, January 27, 2005. We are grateful for his willingness to approve its inclusion here. The prayer is based on The Worship Sourcebook, Section 4.4, Complete Model Prayers #5:
              O Lord and Father of the household of faith,
              We thank you for the gift of life,
                            working within us by your Holy Spirit.
              We thank you for having called us to yourself,
                            for consecrating us to your service,
                            for having set us apart at this time, to the ministry of prayer,
                            and for lavishing on us all, gifts with which to worship, serve, and glorify you.
              Lord, our Lord, accept our praise and be pleased with our thanksgiving.
              Lord, hear our prayers.
              Father of this whole household of faith,
              We pray for the living body of Christ, the church—
                            represented here, this day, in breadth and variety,
                            gathered here from many nations, families, and tongues,
                            to be everywhere a kingdom of priests to you and to all creation.
              Lord, we pray for this church—across this whole earth—
                            for the church in Europe, Africa and the Middle East,
                            for churches in all of Asia, and North and South America,
                            for churches young and old, small and large, weak and strong.
              Give us genuine humility where there is pride, and unity where there is division.
              Bring your truth where we are in error and a godly wisdom where there is folly.
              Let each part of this body have a heavenly lowliness,
                            that your purposes for our time are fulfilled.
              Lord, hear our prayers.
              O Lord and Father of the household of faith,
              We pray for our stewards, managers, teachers and leaders across the world,
              We pray for these instruments to which you've entrusted the affairs of your house,
                            for our pastors and lay leaders, for elders and deacons,
                            for volunteers and committees.
              Give them a spirit of willing service and true humility.
              Bless them with a greater sense of spiritual devotion.
              Enable them to delight in those whom they serve.
              And grant that they may lead your people in the way of Christ.
              Lord, hear our prayers.
              O Lord and Father of the household of faith,
              Creator of all, we pray for all peoples, and all nations, everywhere.
              Have mercy, O God.
              Have mercy on those whose lands lay ravaged by water and drought.
              Have mercy on those who suffer from disease and starvation.
              Have mercy, O God.
              We pray that in every land the rights of citizens and aliens would be equally respected.
              That governments would be concerned about more than economies and a status quo.
              And that false religion everywhere, of every kind, would be seen for what it is.
              And we pray now especially, O Lord, for the Middle East, and for (list other areas in need)…
              Have mercy, O God.
              Lord, hear our prayers.
              We pray, O Lord God, not only for them, but also for us…
              For our own nations and those who lead them:
                            For presidents, prime ministers, and advisors,
                            For congress, parliament, and the courts,
                            For diplomats, generals, and representatives.
              Cause them all, Holy Lord, to negotiate for peace—and for your justice.
              Have mercy on us…
              Grant that in our own communities:
                            Those with special needs are cared for lovingly.
                            Those sick and weak can find new health and strength.
                            Those who are disturbed or troubled will feel rested and understood.
                            Those who grieve and sorrow will be comforted and assured.
                            The young and the alienated will know fellowship and love.
                            The aged and frail will either live safely or die mercifully.
                            And for all others, Lord, that they could be helped,
                           and would be willing to accept help.
              Have mercy, O God.
              Use every member of our congregations and every agency of our denomination,
                            and enable us all to learn from others, to work together, and to hallow your name.
              Lord, hear our prayers.
              Father of mercy, Lord of all, these requests we present to you
                            in the strong name of Jesus Christ:
                            who even now is seated at your right hand to intercede for us
                            and who will come at the last trumpet to gather us into
                            his holy city, the new Jerusalem that is above,
                            and toward which we journey even now.
              To him be all glory, power, might, majesty, and dominion—forever and ever.

This weekly worship service has been provided for your use and encouragement by Howard Vanderwell and Norma de Waal Malefyt, Resource Development Specialists at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. You can reach them with your suggestions and comments at or

Any materials included here from The Worship Sourcebook are used by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, © 2004, CRC Publications. This permission is granted for one time worship use in an order of service for a congregation, or in a special program or lesson resource, provided that no part of such reproduction is sold, directly or indirectly. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.