A Service for Ascension Day

A Service for Ascension Day


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



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.



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

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But 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.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’


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.



The Gospel:

Luke 24: 44-end

Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.



The Ascension of Christ, that we think of today, ends the record of our Lord’s physical presence with his disciples, and marks the beginning of a new era as the crucified and risen Jesus is lifted to his place in glory.  It is hard for us to take in the monumental change for the followers of Jesus, but we can observe the changes.

Consequently, as we consider these things, we recognise that this day is about many things: the passing of the responsibility to the disciples for the spread of the Kingdom of God, the return of the Saviour to the Father; the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit - and all the genuine joy that St Luke records was felt by the disciples.  But for me it also speaks of how the truth that makes us free is understood by those who are searching to understand what all of this means.  In the Acts of the Apostles the angel asks the disciples, “Why do you stand looking up into heaven?’ He doesn’t give an answer and nor do they.  He tells them that Jesus will return, but says no more, and no one reflects on what is happening.  

So, how do we receive this question from the angel? It seems to me that we are conditioned to accept the words, “Why do you stand looking up into heaven?” as a dismissal; as if the angel is telling them to go back to the city, as their staring into heaven is now a waste of time and effort.  But two thousand years later, and in our own context of not being able to physically see Jesus, we still find many of us who are so stunned at partings and loss, that we actually want the answer to the angel’s question - and are not satisfied to simply join the crowd and run on to the next thing, however obvious and exciting that may be.  

Let is think of them now; of those who are in a period of their lives when separation and mourning is their daily experience: The Mount of Olives is their place – the place of contemplation, as Jesus looked over the city - as he wept over it - as he prayed at the foot of the Mount in the Garden of Gethsemane and knew his own aloneness, and as he with joy and glory ascended to the Father.  But, he left his followers alone.  Now they could move from there and they did move from there, they went back to the city and stayed together, but it cannot have been easy.  

The Ascension Day is a day of revelation, a day when we might seek to understand why we cannot know the reasons for another’s separation; why even those we love may find it necessary to be parted from us for a while.  Jesus expected this of his followers – in love he found the way to part from them and keep them positive and forward-looking.  This comes over to us in the writings of Saint Luke that we read today, but let us not expect people always to run our way, for they may still be on the mountain top asking themselves, “What does all this mean?” – to such searchers we need to listen; none of us have all the answers, and especially that is true when we celebrate such an amazing and mysterious festival as the Ascension of Christ.

John Mann


Second Hymn


Hail the day that See Him Rise: https://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.



The Lord’s Prayer


A few moments of silence 



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.




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.


God the Son,

who is our great high priest passed into the heavens,

plead for us at the right hand of the Father.


God the Holy Spirit,

who pours out his abundant gifts upon the Church,

make us faithful servants of Christ our King.



And may the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among us and remain with us always.




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