Do you hear what I hear? – Worship@ Home Sunday, 31 May 2020

The Salvation Army, Prestonpans Corps

(Major Elizabeth Turner)

This photograph shows doves with prayers and messages of encouragement for the local community written by members of The Salvation Army, Prestonpans and displayed on the gates of our worship hall.

Song 220    Holy, holy, holy

(Tune: Nicaea)

Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy; all the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be!

Holy, holy, holy; though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
Perfect in power, in love and purity!

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Reginald Herber (1783-1826)

Chorus Move Holy Spirit

Move Holy Spirit, move in my life
Move Holy Spirit, make me like Christ
Move, move, move in my life
Move, move to make me like Christ

Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Bible Reading:

Acts 2:1-13 (The Passion Translation)

2 On the day Pentecost was being fulfilled, all the disciples were gathered in one place. 2 Suddenly they heard the sound of a violent blast of wind rushing into the house from out of the heavenly realm. The roar of the wind was so overpowering it was all anyone could bear! 3 Then all at once a pillar of fire appeared before their eyes. It separated into tongues of fire that engulfed each one of them. 4 They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!

5 Now, at that time there were Jewish worshipers who had emigrated from many different lands to live in Jerusalem. 6 When the people of the city heard the roaring sound, crowds came running to where it was coming from, stunned over what was happening, because each one could hear the disciples speaking in his or her own language. 7 Bewildered, they said to one another, “Aren’t these all Galileans? 8 So how is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages? 9 We are north-eastern Iranians, north-western Iranians, Elamites, and those from Mesopotamia, Judea, east central Turkey, the coastal areas of the Black Sea, Asia, 10 north central Turkey, southern Turkey, Egypt, Libyans who are neighbours of Cyrene, visitors from all over the Roman Empire, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs. 11 Yet we hear them speaking of God’s mighty wonders in our own dialects!” 12 They all stood there, dumbfounded and astonished, saying to one another, “What is this phenomenon?”

13 But others poked fun at them and said, “They’re just drunk on new wine.”

Song: Spirit of God, unseen as the wind

(Tune: The Skye Boat Song)

Refrain:
Spirit of God, unseen as the wind,
gentle as is the dove:
teach us the truth and help us believe,
show us the Saviour’s love!

You spoke to us – long, long ago –
gave us the written word;
we read it still, needing its truth,
through it God’s voice is heard.

Refrain

Without your help we fail our Lord,
we cannot live his way;
we need your power, we need your strength,
following Christ each day.

Refrain

© Margaret Old – Words and music arrangement Scripture Union 1971.

Do you hear what I hear?

If you have been able to take exercise outdoors since the ‘lockdown’ on account of covid-19 began, or have only been able to take in breaths of fresh air by standing in your garden, or at an open door or an open window, you will likely have noticed a change in the general noise levels around you. With less road traffic and footfall across the pavements, I wonder if you have been able to hear what I’ve heard in the chirruping of birds in the trees, or perhaps the sounds of other insects if you have very good hearing. To have been able to hear these beautiful, soothing sounds of nature, will surely have been a comforting thing to you in these times of high anxiety and perplexity.

Among the many carols I love to sing at Christmas is Noel Regney & Gloria Shayne’s ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ It’s a beautiful marriage of poetry and music with a haunting refrain, written during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Its authors wrote it essentially as a prayer and plea for peace. In the second verse from which the carol is titled, the little lamb asks the shepherd boy, ‘Do you hear what I hear? A song, a song high above the trees, with a voice as big as the sea, with a voice as big as the sea’. It is calling us to recognise God’s overall sovereignty and to work with him for the good of others as well as ourselves. But we can only do this in so far as we allow his Spirit in our lives.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out in abundance at Pentecost upon all the followers of Jesus, those who were present or who witnessed the phenomenon of that event could have looked at those around them and asked, ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ In terms of the wind and the voices speaking in a host of foreign languages, so that both residents and visitors to Jerusalem could hear and understand the wondrous stories of Jesus, this unusual manifestation was evident to all. Clearly something supernatural had occurred.

Many heard and responded to the sound of God’s Holy Spirit coming among them. For not only were the established followers of Jesus to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but 3,000 others enlightened by the good news of Jesus in their own language, responded to Peter’s appeal. It was as if in exclaiming ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ and acting on what they heard, they experienced the truth of it in a life transformed by hope in place of despair.

smart

The song ‘Praise is rising’, written by Paul Baloche, could well have described what was happening on that particular Pentecost day; indeed, it describes what can still happen when a person, having heard the good news, responds to the love of Jesus. ‘Hear the sound of hearts returning to You, we turn to You. In Your Kingdom broken lives are made new, You make us new. ’Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day In Your Presence all our fears are washed away, washed away…’

What does the tone of a heart that is returning to God sound like? Following Peter’s sermon, we read: ‘When they heard this they were crushed and realized what they had done to Jesus. Deeply moved, they said to Peter and the other apostles, “What do we need to do?”’ (Acts 2:37) What they heard caused them to recognise their guilt and appeal for salvation. In answer to their question they were led to repent, to experience Jesus’ unconditional forgiveness, and in so doing be baptised by the Spirit of God himself coming upon them. Now that they were freed from their burden of guilt, the Holy Spirit was able to surge through them, and in partnership with them make a real difference in their neighbourhoods. With God’s great love flowing through them, effervescent thankfulness and praise would have made a positive difference to their outlook, significantly changing the atmosphere around them. For words that are spoken and heard make their mark for good or ill.  Jesus says in Luke 6:45, ‘For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will be seen by your fruit and will be heard in your words.’

In addition to the wondrous words of the person and works of Jesus that were being heard, discordant, dismissive voices were being heard also. “They’re just drunk on new wine.” (Acts 2:13). Just as an untended garden sprouts weeds, these sounds will always be there. But let weeds feel the capabilities of a well-timed hoe, then beauty and good order can flourish. Give the voices of discord the heave-ho in the Holy Spirit’s choice words of life, then peace and confidence in the power of God can soar.   

smart

So what is it that is being heard by others in your words? Is it ready praise for what God has done for you, in you or through you? Are you speaking positive words of life, love, hope and blessing? Or is the devil using you to do his work of smearing negativity around, using words that blame, curse, criticise, moan or generate despair? Such expressions do no earthly good in the life of another and they certainly don’t leave you feeling any better for having voiced them; rather they pull you down. Certainly these are difficult days to say the least, but we know, love and serve the one whose power is infinite, who can and will make all things new, and who wants to be allowed to fulfil his most loving purposes in the heart, mind and life of everyone who would turn to him.

In the Spirit of God at Pentecost, something akin to being engulfed by the velocity and magnitude of a mighty ocean was being experienced and the people were ‘dumbfounded’, as the Passion Bible translation states. The Spirit of God had come to be present in the receptive hearts of his people on earth. On that occasion, the Spirit of God came in undeniable power to wow and woo people to Christ. But equally, the Spirit of God may descend with a feather-lightness of touch to heal and restore the most fractured of souls.

What are you and those around you hearing? Why not make sure that it is a song or word of praise to God which soars ‘high above the trees’ over any discordant voices of anger, bitterness, despair and fear, to help people realise that God – whose ‘voice [is]as big as the sea’, indeed, whose voice can fill the universe, and slide through the slightest of spaces – is able to conquer storms of any magnitude or terror to bring peace, love, hope and joy to all. 

Prayer for Life-Changing Power

Breath of Life, on this Pentecost Sunday, we ask that You breathe on us once again. Make our consciences tender to Your touch. We hunger for the life-changing power that Your Holy Spirit brings. May our lives exemplify the fruit of Your Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May we use the gifts of the Spirit that You have distributed to bless the church and build Your Kingdom on earth. Amen.

Song           Praise is rising

(Video with lyrics)

Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You
We turn to You
Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You
We long for You

When we see You
We find strength to face the day
In Your presence all our fears
Are washed away, washed away

Hosanna, Hosanna
You are the God who saves us
Worthy of all our praises

Hosanna, Hosanna
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus

Hear the sound of hearts returning to You
We turn to You
In Your kingdom broken lives are made new
You make all things new

Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche
©Copyright 2005, 2006 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music
(Admin. by Integrity Music)

Benediction

May God’s blessing surround you each day,
As you trust Him and walk in His way.
May His presence within guard and keep you from sin,
Go in peace, go in joy, go in love.

About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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1 Response to Do you hear what I hear? – Worship@ Home Sunday, 31 May 2020

  1. Danièle Norton says:

    Both the article and the pictures of the doves were a blessing. Thank you Elizabeth!

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