A Service for use on Ascension Day - 21st May 2020

A Service for Ascension Day

Preparation:

Before beginning to read this short service, you may wish to find a space for prayer in front of a cross, a candle, or a special place.  During the Ascension to Pentecost days we look to the fulfilment of the Easter season with the coming of the Holy Spirit and the promise of renewal.  The Ascension of Christ and the Day of Pentecost are closely linked.

 

May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

 

God has gone up with a shout,

the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.

 

The Greeting:

Grace, mercy and peace

from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ

be with us all

 

Introduction

As brothers and sisters in Christ, for forty days we have been celebrating with joyful hearts the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, his bursting from the tomb and his defeat of the power of sin and death. He appeared to his disciples many times and told them about the kingdom of God.

Today we recall how he left this earth and returned to his Father, ascending into heaven to take his throne over all dominions and powers. Trusting in his reign over all creation, and submitting to his kingly yet loving rule, let us hear the story of his parting as we read from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel according to St Luke in this service today.

Let us pray that our risen and ascended Lord will lead us to eternal life.

 

Silence is kept.

 

Grant, we pray, almighty God,

that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ

to have ascended into the heavens,

so we in heart and mind may also ascend

and with him continually dwell;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

 

The First Hymn

 

The Head That Once was Crowned with Thorns: - please access Simon’s accompaniment here: https://youtu.be/5o9oT7NYBWk

 

 

The head that once was crowned with thorns

is crowned with glory now;

a royal diadem adorns

the mighty Victor's brow.

 

The highest place that heaven affords

is his, is his by right,

the King of kings, and Lord of lords,

and heaven's eternal Light;

 

The joy all of all who dwell above,

the joy of all below,

to whom he manifests his love

and grants his Name to know.

 

To them the cross with all its shame,

with all its grace is given;

their name, an everlasting name;

their joy, the joy of heaven.

 

They suffer with their Lord below,

they reign with him above,

their profit and their joy to know

the mystery of his love.

 

The cross he bore is life and health,

though shame and death to him:

his people's hope, his people's wealth,

their everlasting theme

 

 

The Reading:

Acts 1: 1-11

 

Then in preparation for the Gospel reading we proclaim:

 

Alleluia, alleluia.

Go and make disciples of all nations, says the Lord.

Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Alleluia.

 

The Gospel:

Luke 24: 44-end

 

Homily - given today by Solveig 

 

For Luke’s Gospel, the story of the Ascension is the last chapter of his book, it is the last chapter of Jesus’ story, and where the Gospel ends.

It is, in many ways, a very strange story. The passages recording the Ascension in our New testaments don’t spend much time on it. Jesus gives a few words of hope and encouragement to his disciples, and then he’s off. Luke, in the Gospel and the Acts, gives us one sentence in each passage to cover this very important defining moment when Christ ends his earthly time. Thinking about it, I have found some artistic depictions of the ascension hugely fascinating for their abilities to imagine and interpret something so mysterious, be it in paintings or drawings or in cinema. We can depict many of Jesus’ life events, some of them very poignant, a lot of them famous and renowned even in the secular world, for their artistic prowess and poetic depths. However, the Ascension remains for the most part, a mystery, making it rather difficult to pin down with a brush. 

The ascension is, of course, an ending. Looking at Salvador Dali's painting of the Ascension (you can find a small copy at the bottom of the sermon). In the painting, much like with most of Dali’s paintings, it inspires a new look at that key moment in Christ’s life. In it, all we can see are Jesus’ feet, from the perspective of mere earthly human beings looking upward. Those feet are the ones that walked the dusty roads with disciples, with friends, with strangers, on his own, and they will not walk the earth again. Those feet were so lovingly anointed just before the crucifixion, and they will no longer carry Christ to the sites of miracles and healings. Those feet represent so much. 

The Ascension is when the story of Jesus in Luke's gospel comes to an end. Immediately after Luke’s Gospel we have the Acts of the Apostle, thought to have also been written by Luke. This time Luke starts his book with the Ascension, in a way making this event the end and the beginning at the same time. Because I suppose it is, the end and the beginning at the same time. It is the end of Jesus’ time on earth but it is the beginning of our story as Christians. Now Luke focusses on what we are to do as followers of Christ. When, after Jesus has gone, those who are present are standing looking up, two angels appear and ask them why they are standing there looking up towards heaven. I wonder if this was their way of saying “Don’t just stand there, do something!”. It is the end of the Incarnation and the beginning of the Church. In Luke the disciples have understood that, and they joyfully return to Jerusalem and begin their and our new chapter as followers of Christ.

The Ascension of Jesus Christ is for us the end of one story, the incarnated presence of Christ among us. However, it marked the beginning of our new life as a Christian community, as a family in God’s church, as sharers of the Good News. Before he ascended, Christ promised us the Holy Spirit would be sent by God for us. And with that we look to Pentecost. Amen.

 

 

 

Second Hymn

 

Hail the day that See Him Risehttps://youtu.be/ZqwmV6inxUk

 

Hail the day that sees him rise, Alleluia!

to his throne above the skies; Alleluia!

Christ, the Lamb for sinners given, Alleluia!

enters now the highest heaven! Alleluia!

 

There for him high triumph waits; Alleluia!

lift your heads, eternal gates! Alleluia!

he hath conquered death and sin; Alleluia!

take the King of glory in! Alleluia!

 

Lo! the heaven its Lord receives, Alleluia!

yet he loves the earth he leaves; Alleluia!

though returning to his throne, Alleluia!

still he calls mankind his own. Alleluia!

 

See! he lifts his hands above; Alleluia!

See! he shows the prints of love: Alleluia!

Hark! his gracious lips bestow, Alleluia!

blessings on his Church below. Alleluia!

 

Still for us he intercedes, Alleluia!

his prevailing death he pleads, Alleluia!

near himself prepares our place, Alleluia!

he the first fruits of our race. Alleluia!

 

Lord, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!

far above the starry height, Alleluia!

grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!

seeking thee above the skies. Alleluia!

 

 

Prayers of Intercession

 

Let us join our prayers with those of our Saviour Christ,

seeking the Father’s blessing and the gifts of the Spirit.

 

Jesus Christ, great high priest,

living for ever to intercede for us,

pray for the Church, your broken body in the world.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

Jesus Christ, king of righteousness,

enthroned at the right hand of the majesty on high,

pray for the world, and make it subject to your gentle rule.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

Jesus Christ, Son of Man,

drawing humanity into the life of God,

pray for your brothers and sisters in need, distress or sorrow.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

Jesus Christ, pioneer of our salvation,

bringing us to glory through your death and resurrection,

surround with your saints and angels

those who have died trusting your promises.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

Jesus Christ, Lord over all things,

ascended far above the heavens and filling the universe,

pray for us who receive the gifts you give us for work in your service.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

Jesus Christ,

keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit

and in the bond of peace,

and bring the whole created order to worship at your feet;

for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

A few moments of silence 

 

Reading

The Acts of the Apostles chapter 1, verses 12,13a, and 14

 

Then the disciples returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. They were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

 

Silence is kept.

 

Responsory

 

As we wait in silence,

make us ready for your coming Spirit.

As we listen to your word,

make us ready for your coming Spirit.

As we worship you in majesty,

make us ready for your coming Spirit.

As we long for your refreshing,

make us ready for your coming Spirit.

As we long for your renewing,

make us ready for your coming Spirit.

As we long for your equipping,

make us ready for your coming Spirit.

As we long for your empowering,

make us ready for your coming Spirit.

 

 

The Blessing

 

 

God the Father,

who has given to his Son the name above every name,

strengthen us to proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord.

Amen.

God the Son,

who is our great high priest passed into the heavens,

plead for us at the right hand of the Father.

Amen.

God the Holy Spirit,

who pours out his abundant gifts upon the Church,

make us faithful servants of Christ our King.

Amen.

 

And may the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among us and remain with us always.

Amen.

 

 

Heut Triumphiret Gottes Sohn - J.S.Bach: https://youtu.be/lkQY99pHH2M