These Bones Will Live

These Bones Will Live

The Day of Pentecost, Year B

Do you ever feel like planning for Pentecost is like planning a birthday party? This momentous day is almost here, and you find yourself rushing around, collecting all of the bright colored streamers and tablecloths, curating the best party playlist, and wracking your brain for how to make this one day extra special.

Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).

Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, have participants respond to the following: How do you experience the Holy Spirit in your everyday life? Are there certain times you are aware of God’s guiding presence?

Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Acts 2 and Ezekiel 37.

  • What first comes to mind when you hear the terms “Holy Spirit” or “Holy Ghost”? [When we pray in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are stating our belief in a trinitarian God. The Holy Spirit is a triune Spirit that encompasses the Spirit of Jesus Christ and our Creator God. The Holy Spirit exists so that we, God’s people, might intimately know and experience God in our everyday lives.]
  • What does the Pentecost narrative in Acts 2:1-21 have to do with the Holy Spirit? [Acts 2:1-21 is traditionally understood as the moment when the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples of Jesus for the first time after the Resurrection. It is a moment that fulfills Christ’s words in Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”]
  • What strikes you as odd or confusing about the passage in Acts or Ezekiel? Acts 2:12 says “All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’" [Bones, breath, rattling (in Ezekiel) … tongues, language, fire, wind (in Acts). What is going on in these passages!? Both scriptures are full of vibrant and poetic imagery used to help explain the unexplainable—God’s mysterious blessing of the Holy Spirit.]
  • Do you often talk about the Holy Spirit in Church or Christian study? [The study or doctrine of the Holy Spirit is called pneumatology. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is known to be one of the most neglected doctrines in Christian teaching. Why? For many, it is often hard to describe the Holy Spirit and its function in our life. ]
  • What does it mean for God’s Holy Spirit to be within us? Ezekiel 37:14 says “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live…” [In the scripture, the word for breath is the same as the word for Holy Spirit. In the Hebrew language, it’s the word ruach (pronounced “roo-akh”). In the Greek language, it’s the word “pneuma” (the root word for pneumatology.)]
  • What seems to be the importance of the Holy Spirit’s function in our faith? [John Wesley says the Spirit of God is “the immediate cause of all holiness in believers.”[1] As United Methodists, we believe in “holy living;” the act of loving God and neighbor. The only way we can do this is through the grace, presence, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. ]

Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.

Sending Forth (2 minutes). End with the following prayer, a similar prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer:

We, the people of the Cross and the Flame, pray to you O God!
Lord, fill us with your Holy Spirit!
We pray your Holy Breath might rattle and shake within us— dismantling the old and resurrecting the new.
We pray your Holy Wind will blow the embers of our souls afire— giving warmth to our hearts and light to our lives.
We pray your Holy Language of love will override all barriers— bringing us closer to one another in life and in faith.
We, the people of the Cross and the Flame, know your gospel story is alive within us—granting us the power through the Holy Spirit to transform the world for the sake of the kingdom!
May it be so!
We pray this in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.

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Rev. Ani Missirian-Wilson, an Armenian-American, serves as the Associate Minister and Director of Missions & Outreach at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. She is ordained as an elder within the California-Nevada Annual Conference with a specialization in community development. Her passion is creative writing.

[1] Randy L. Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology (Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1994),123.

In This Series...

The Day of Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes