Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Daniel Iverson

The poem for this week is by the Polish-American poet, Czeslaw Milosv, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. It is a poem that expresses a universal longing – the desire for God to give us a visible sign when we struggle to believe – “I am only a man: I need visible signs. I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.” Even though we may not be building stairways of abstraction right now, many of us are tired. This pandemic and the social distancing that it has necessitated has taken away many of the very things that most help us when life gets us down: social gatherings, in-person worship, and even simple pleasures like going to the gym or going out to eat. This week’s psalm, on the other hand, reminds us that God’s works are manifold, and that simply looking at creation, the works of God’s hand, can renew our faith and lead us to rejoice. Here is this week’s devotion:

Opening Prayer

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. In you, O God, I place my trust. Help me now to quiet myself and listen, that the thoughts and prayers of my heart might be pleasing to you. Amen

Opening Psalm: Psalm 104:24-34

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
   In wisdom you have made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
   creeping things innumerable are there,
   living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
   and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

These all look to you
   to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
   when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
   when you take away their breath, they die
   and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
   and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;
   may the Lord rejoice in his works—
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
   who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
   for I rejoice in the Lord.

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-4

When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Devotional Poem: “Veni Creator” by Czeslaw Milosv

Come, Holy Spirit,   
bending or not bending the grasses,   
appearing or not above our heads in a tongue of flame,   
at hay harvest or when they plough in the orchards or when snow   
covers crippled firs in the Sierra Nevada.   
I am only a man: I need visible signs.   
I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.   
Many a time I asked, you know it well, that the statue in church   
lifts its hand, only once, just once, for me.   
But I understand that signs must be human,   
therefore call one man, anywhere on earth,   
not me—after all I have some decency—   
and allow me, when I look at him, to marvel at you.

Closing Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit; come to us again, as you did on that glorious day of Pentecost. Fall afresh on us, set our hearts on fire, and inspire us to new ways of sharing our faith and hope in you. Especially in these days of social distancing and uncertain futures, we know that there are many around us who struggle to believe. Through your Holy Spirit, renew our faith, and help us to be the sign that others may need to have their faith renewed, too. A simple word, an offer of prayer, a text or call, a helping hand, all given in love, can – with the help of your Holy Spirit – cause another to marvel at you again. We ask for that, Lord, trusting in your promise to help us as we bear witness to your love. Come to us again, Spirit of that love, in whatever way you think best, for we place our trust in you. Amen

This is a picture that I took from the balcony at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. It came to mind when I reflected on this week's poem.
Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Georgia

9 thoughts on “A Poem, Prayer, Psalm, and Promise for the Day of Pentecost

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