ImageIt’s a miracle!  Several people came to me following a worship service and said how the Lord spoke to their particular need through a song that was sung by congregation, choir, or soloist.  The miraculous part to me was that those expressions implied such a wide variety of specific needs that were completely unrelated to each other.  How could these various needs been addressed through the lyrics and musical expression of the same song?  In some cases I could not, for the life of me, even draw a logical line of thought connecting what the person heard, felt, or sensed and the lyric of the song that touched them so deeply.  It has happened time and time again over my 40 years of ministry.  Perhaps it is the Lord’s way of reminding us that He works in mysterious ways and does what He pleases.

In settings where preaching pastors had the confidence and relationship to do so, I recall them sharing similar stories related to their sermons and the scriptures upon which they were based.  In church staffs where this level of sharing was a weekly occurrence (a healthy practice for staff meetings, by the way), I recall hearing it over and again.  I wondered sometimes if we were all in the same room, singing the same songs, hearing the same sermon, partaking of the same fellowship.  Nevertheless, stories of efficacious word, spoken and sung, were abundant and faith-building.

In one service, the sermon was the dramatic reading of an extended passage of scripture – the story of the woman at the well in John 4.  The choir sang the 1990’s chorus, Come Just As You Are.  The response was unlike anything expected.  The previously divided congregation began to make their way to one another.  The choir’s song became the congregation’s song as they joined in singing, while estranged church members embraced in the aisles, knelt in prayer, embraced in restoration.  The result was restored community, a condition that remained in that church for the next twenty years.  Miracle?  I believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit.  This is the power of gathered worship, just as the Spirit is the sole power at work in mission and ministry of witness and healing.

For some unexplained reason many evangelical churches look past an observance of Pentecost Sunday, celebrating the Sunday when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles.  I will not attempt to presume those reasons, or use this space to contend for its observance at a level of Christmas or Easter, though certainly a case could be made for such ceremony.  Instead, I want to appeal to the mindset and sensitivity of the worship planner – service designer, who will program materials for use in worship this coming Sunday, May 19, 2013, the Sunday this year that the Western Church recognizes as Pentecost Sunday (Eastern Church observes June 3 this year).

Even if this is not the pastor’s sermon topic planned for this coming Sunday, I would encourage prayerful attention to opportunities for the church to engage in recognition of the Spirit’s coming to the Apostles as they met (Acts 2), the need for His Holy Presence among us every time we gather, and the glorious mystery of His evidenced work in and among us when we worship around the WORD and TABLE, as well as in our mission.  The hymn says it well, “All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down.” (Brethren We Have Met to Worship) 

Perhaps on this Pentecost Sunday your church can read together Acts 2, or any of many other Acts passages, Romans 5:5; Romans 15:13; 16; 1 Cor 12:3; 2 Cor 13:14; Eph 3:5; Heb 2:4, among other optional passages.  Perhaps your church can sing a song recognizing or even praying to the Spirit:

Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Breathe on Me

Come, Holy Spirit, Dove Divine

Holy Spirit, Rain Down

Come, Thou, Almighty King

 Or the Getty song (free 4-part setting if you email request), Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God


Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Uncategorized, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship


  1. Cameron Dahl Says:

    Hey Paul

    Hope you are well. I would like a copy of the Getty song you mentioned in your blog. We my try it this Sunday. And yes, I do recognize Pentecost as one of the big three regardless of sermon topic each year. Have a great week


    Sent from my iPad

  2. […] May 19 will be observed by part of the Christian church as Pentecost. While the kingdom of God is one body, and has existed in all eras of human history, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the church certainly marks the beginning of our current period of mission and ministry. If one chooses to mark Christmas and Easter, it would seem that recognising Pentecost is helpful in remembering our response to why Jesus came and what he has done for us. Paul Clark Jr writes some more about corporate worship and Pentecost here. […]

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