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Summary: I designed the whole service to be a celebration of the Jewish holiday Shavuot, with the NT fulfillment of Pentecost. Order of Service and transitional notes included.

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ORDER OF SERVICE – June 12, 2011 – Pentecost

Welcome

Scripture: Psalm 117:1-2

C172 – Come into His Presence

Invocation

Announcements, offering

Pre-amble to Pentecost

H272 – Thy Word

H275 – How Firm a Foundation

Scripture: Ruth 1:16-17

Waving bread loaves, giving thanks for our blessings

H274 – Break Thou the Bread of Life (v1-2)

Communion

H274 – Break Thou the Bread of Life (v3-4)

Message

H257 – The Comforter Has Come

Prayer

Birthday cake

ORDER OF SERVICE – June 12, 2011 – Pentecost

Welcome

Scripture: Psalm 117:1-2

C172 – Come into His Presence

Invocation

Announcements, offering

Today we are doing something quite different from anything I have done before. We are celebrating the OT feast called Shavuot, which goes by other names: the Day of First Fruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest, or Pentecost. It is held 7 weeks – a week of weeks – after Passover, on the 50th day. It was originally commanded to the Israelites back in Leviticus 23 as a celebration of the wheat harvest.

Today we will be celebrating this Jewish feast with a Christian flavour. You see, part of the feast of Pentecost is the sacrificing of animals: 7 lambs and 2 rams. Obviously we don’t need to sacrifice animals anymore because Jesus has become our sacrifice, as we will observe shortly in communion. But this is why Christians in the 1st century stopped celebrating the Jewish feasts: because they came to understand that Jesus fulfilled them.

Now, we are not obligated to celebrate feasts; we don’t have to do this. Romans 14:5 says, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” And Colossians 2:16-17 says, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Paul doesn’t condemn Christians who celebrate them, and he doesn’t condemn those who don’t. However, there is value in knowing about them, and much can be gained in taking part in them. I hope that through this celebration today, you will feel drawn closer to God.

Going way back in time… the Israelites were living in Egypt, slaves to the Pharaoh. God sent a deliverer, Moses, who would free the people and bring them to the land God had promised to them 430 years earlier. God broke the hold of the Egyptians by sending plagues, up to the 10th and final plague, the death of the firstborn. Moses led the people from Egypt, towards Canaan, the promised land.

Hebrew scholars use Exodus 19:1-2 – “In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt--on the very day--they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain” – to determine that the Israelites camped out at Mt. Sinai on what we now call Pentecost. Mt. Sinai was a very important place, for it was there that God gave the Law.

Up until that time, there had been words from the Lord. There had been people who spoke with God intimately. There had been the occasional appearances by God. But never had there been a set of regulations, letting the people know how to live lives that pleased God. This was law. The nation of Israel had been born for hundreds of years, but it had only been a wandering infant. The giving of the Law meant that the nation was ready to grow up and be productive.

Today we will sing a little about God’s laws, God’s Word.

H272 – Thy Word

H275 – How Firm a Foundation

Part of the Jewish tradition about Shavuot or Pentecost is the reading of scripture, in particular, the book of Ruth. This short book tells the story of Ruth, a Gentile woman brought to faith in the true God, Jehovah or Yahweh. The story takes place in an agricultural setting, so it is appropriate for the celebration. Let’s read together from Ruth 1.

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."

Another element of the Jewish celebration is the waving of loaves of bread. What’s interesting about this, besides the fact that I’m going to wave loaves of bread in thanks to God, is that the bread is supposed to be leavened, that is, made with yeast. The OT always uses yeast as a symbol of sin or separation from God. Using leavened bread, commanded by God, was taken to be a symbol of Gentiles being brought in to faith in the Lord, which is the message of the book of Ruth.

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