Join our mailing list

When the Breath of God Blows - Pentecost Sunday - Ezekiel 37, Acts 2

A worship service for Pentecost Sunday celebrating the broad range of the Spirit's work that was reinforced and entered a new chapter at Pentecost--though it did not begin there.

When the Breath of God Blows
Pentecost Sunday
Ezekiel 37:9, 19; Acts 2:1, 2


Theme of the Service

Since this is Pentecost Sunday, worship will focus on the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is easy for worship, and sermons, to leave the impression that the work of the Holy Spirit began at Pentecost. We will instead be thinking of the broad range of the Spirit's work that was reinforced and entered a new chapter at Pentecost, though it did not begin there. The liturgy of the service will draw in multiple dimensions of the Spirit's work, the sermon will expand on them, and our celebration of the Lord's Supper will evidence the common salvation to which the Spirit has drawn us.


Prelude: "Choral No. 3,” Franck
[Use this prelude to help you reflect on the different ways in which the Spirit has moved throughout history and within your own life.]

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

The Call to Worship
     God will pour out the Spirit on all flesh,
     and our daughters and sons shall prophesy.
     Our old ones shall dream dreams,
     and our young ones shall see visions;
     and all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered.
     Come, let us call upon the name of the Lord. (TWS, Q.1.2.1, p. 689, based on Acts 1:17-21)

*Song: "Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid" (st. 1, 3) PsH 425

"Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
     Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
     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.           

*We Greet Each Other

The Children's Moment

Song of Response: "There's a Spirit in the Air" (st. 1, 2, 5) PH 433, RL 380, RN 282, SFL 192, TWC 120, UMH 192


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession
     Come, Holy Spirit!
     Rain upon our dry and dusty lives.
     Wash away our sin
     and heal our wounded spirits.
     Kindle within us the fire of your love
     to burn away our apathy.
     With your warmth bend our rigidity
     and guide our wandering feet.
     Amen. (TWS, Q.2.2.3, p. 696)

The Assurance of Pardon
     "I will take you out of the nations;
     I will gather you from all the countries.
     I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.
     I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
     I will remove from you your heart of stone and give a heart of flesh.
     And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.
     You will be my people, and I will be your God." (from Ezekiel 36:24-28, NRSV)

*Our Song of Thanksgiving: "For Your Gift of God the Spirit" PsH 416, TH 339, TWC 285

Our Gifts of Thanksgiving
     Our Offerings
     The Offertory: “Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow” [see music notes]
     or "Like the Murmur of the Dove's Song"


Anthem: “Spirit, Now Live in Me," arr. Bock
     or "Like a River That Overflows," Medema  
*Hymn: “Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow” PH 131, SNC 169, TWC 294

The Prayer for Illumination

          Eternal God,
          Your Spirit inspired those who wrote the Bible
          and enlightens us to hear your Word fresh each day.
          Help us to rely always on your promises in Scripture.
          In Jesus' name we pray. (TWS, Q.3.1.7, p. 701)

     Sung: “Gracious Spirit” SNC 166, WOV 687

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

The New Testament Reading: Acts 2:1-4
     The Word of the Lord.
     Thanks be to God.

Sermon: "When the Breath of God Blows"
Texts: Ezekiel 37:9-10 and Acts 2:1-2

The Prayers of the People


Anthem: "Come to the Table," Pote

The Words of Welcome

The Words of Institution

The Prayer of Consecration

Our Participation in the Bread
     (A time for personal reflection)

Our Participation in the Juice
     "Spirit of the Living God" (st. 1) PsH 424, RN 90, SFL 184, TWC 297, UMH 393
     "Have Thine Own Way, Lord" (st. 1-4) PsH 287
     "Spirit of the Living God" (st. 2)

The Prayer of Thanksgiving


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song of Thanksgiving: "Now Thank We All Our God" (st. 1, 3) PH 555, PsH 454, RL 61, SFL 33, TH 98, TWC 374, UMH 102

Postlude: "Now Thank We All Our God" [see music notes]

     * you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

1. Basic to this entire message is the understanding that the "breath of God" in Scripture is often a reference to the "Spirit of God." A concordance will aid you in locating some of those references and it may be wise to include several to reinforce the idea with the hearers. The title of this sermon is based on the understanding that the "breath of God" is the Spirit of God.

2. Visit the narrative that the prophet Ezekiel was involved in. You may tell the story (it's a dramatic and interesting one!) of the valley, dry bones, and how they came together. The big question confronting him is "Can these bones live again?" The answer is found in Ezekiel 37:9-10.

3. The sermon can expand on the idea of the wind/breath/Spirit with multiple other references—see Genesis 1 and 2, Genesis 2:7, Psalm 104:30, John 3:5-8, and others.

4. The scene may now shift to Pentecost. Remember this was a previously established Old Testament festival—the feast of firstfruits or harvest. Now God pours a whole new meaning into it with his "breath." The "blowing breath" brought a new day for the church with new challenges. See Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 1:8. In that light we can better understand the events of Acts 2, especially verses 5-6.

5. Our application must be a balance of two facts: that God is sovereign and his wind blows wherever he wants it to, and, on the other hand, the promise of Jesus that the wind blows in response to our requests (see Luke 11:13.) And we must admit that at times the wind is blowing and our sails fail to catch it!

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)
UMH     The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV     With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

1. The first prelude suggestion is “Choral No. 3” by César Franck—a classic organ piece that can engage listeners in reflecting on the different avenues in which the Spirit comes to us. It can be found in the following collections:

  • Franck, César. Organ Works. Dover [1987] (D).
  • Franck, César. The Organ Works of César Franck, vol. 1, Three Chorals (Alphenaar). Marks 66 [1948] (D).

2. The alternative suggestion for organ prelude based on the hymn tune MELITA (“Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid”) can be found in the following:


  • 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).
  • 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 0-8006-7569-X [2003] (M).

3. Alternative harmonizations for organ based on the opening hymn “Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid” can be found in

  • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964].

4. Offertory music suggestions, based on the tunes ABERYSTWYTH and BRIDEGROOM, can be found in the following sources:

ABERYSTWYTH [“Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow”]

  • 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).
  • Young, Gordon. Preludes on the Familiar. Fischer 0 4886 [1972] (E-M).


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

BRIDEGROOM [“Like the Murmur of the Dove's Song”]

  • Hobby, Robert A. Six Preludes for the Church Year. Morningstar MSM-10-716 [1996] (M).
  • Wallace, Sue Mitchell. Hymn Prisms. Hope 270 [1985] (E-M).


  • Carter, John. Today's Hymns and Songs for Piano. Hope 244 [1995] (E-M).

5. Alternative accompaniments for “Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow” can be found in the following:


  • Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980] (a setting in canon).


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

6. A choir or ensemble could also offer an anthem based on the theme of Pentecost. We suggest the SATB anthem “Spirit, Now Live in Me,” arranged by Fred Bock and published by Fred Bock Music BG2204 [1991] (E-M), or “Like a River That Overflows” by Ken Medema, published by Hope GC995 [1997] (E-M).

7. If your congregation is familiar with the sung prayer for illumination, consider singing it a capella with African drum accompaniment.

8. “Come to the Table,” an SATB anthem by Allen Pote, is published by Coronet Press 392-4178 [1992] (E-M).

9. Alternative organ accompaniments for “Now Thank We All Our God” can be found in

  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983].
  • Wood, Dale. New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9292 [1968].

10. Suggestions for postlude on NUN DANKET (“Now Thank We All Our God”) can be found in the following sources:


  • Bach, J.S. Now Thank We All Our God (arr. Fox). H.W. Grey 868 [1959] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-754 [1991] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 5. Morningstar MSM-10-755 [1993] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Postludes on Well Known Hymns. Augsburg 11-10795 [1997] (M).
  • Helman, Michael. Five for Autumn. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7671-8 [2004] (E-M).
  • Johnson, David N. Hymns Settings for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7498-7 [2002] (E-M).
  • Johnson, David N. Now Thank We All Our God. Augsburg 11-9330 [1982] (E-M).
  • Karg-Elert, Sigfrid. A Collection of Thanksgiving Music. H.W. Grey [1938] (M).
  • Karg-Elert, Sigfrid. Music for a Celebration, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-565 [2004] (M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (adaptable for piano, E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 8. Concordia 97-5342 [1979] (M).
  • Wold, Wayne. Harmonies of Liberty. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7575-4 [2003] (E-M).


  • Carter, John. Hymns for Piano II. Hope 8197 [2003] (E-M).
  • David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (M).


  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Now Thank We All Our God. Agape 2155 [2000] (3-5 octaves, level 3).
  • Wiltse, Carl. Now Thank We All Our God. Stained Glass [1984] (3 octaves, E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. The service of renewal deliberately includes multiple references to the Holy Spirit, not only because it's Pentecost Sunday, but for broader reasons also. We are told it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and bring us to assurance. It would be wise to raise this awareness in the Call to Confession. Note the Prayer of Confession is addressed to the Spirit and the assurance of pardon from Ezekiel is based on the Spirit's work. The song of thanksgiving is for the "gift of God the Spirit." The worship leader will use thoughtful transitions to help worshipers catch this relationship.

2. The liturgy for the Lord's Supper can be designed in light of the traditions and practice of your local congregation. The Worship Sourcebook will provide general resources in Section 8 (pages 305-349) and resources appropriate for Pentecost in Section Q (pages 707-712).

3. Your local customs will probably determine how you plan a time for personal reflection during communion. If your worshipers come forward to be served, or to practice intinction, you likely will plan this section differently. However, if your practice is to serve them in the pews, we suggest a time for reflection while bread is distributed (including quiet reflective music and/or several Scripture readings) and congregational singing while the cup is distributed.

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.