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Worship for 21st May 2020 - Ascension Day

Thursday 21st May

A short act of worship for use on Ascension Day.

Download the Service Sheet

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
You were brought low,
yet you have been lifted high.

You were the servant of all,
yet you are above all and beyond all.

You were despised and rejected,
yet your name is exalted above all names.

Fully human, yet divine
taken into heaven, yet here by our sides.

You are higher than our highest thoughts,
greater than our minds could ever grasp.

So with all your people in every age,
we bow before you and
confess you as our risen Saviour,
the King of kings, the Lord of lords,
to the glory of God the Father.

Amen.

Hymn: At the Name of Jesus

At the name of Jesus
every knee shall bow,
every tongue confess him
King of Glory now.
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure
we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning
was the mighty Word:

Mighty and mysterious
in the highest height,
God from everlasting
very light of light:
in the Father’s bosom
with the Spirit blest,
love, in love eternal,
rest, in perfect rest.

Humbled for a season,
to receive a name
from the lips of sinners
unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it
spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious
when from death he passed.

Bore it up triumphant
with its human light,
through all ranks of creatures
to the central height,
to the throne of Godhead,
to the Father’s breast;
filled it with the glory 
of that perfect rest.

In your hearts enthrone him;
there let him subdue
all that is not holy,
all that is not true:
crown him as your captain
in temptation’s hour;
let his will enfold you
in its light and power.

Brothers, this Lord Jesus
shall return again,
with his Father’s glory,
with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire
meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him
King of Glory now.

Caroline Maria Noel (1817-1877)
6 5 6 5 

Bible Reading

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Brief Reflection:

We cannot be sure precisely what happened that first Ascension Day, just quite how figurative the language used in trying to describe an indescribable moment, but what matters most is the truth behind it.

For the Apostles it perhaps meant that, for the first time in their lives they saw, the whole picture about Jesus, instead of simply a part. They had gradually come to see him as the Messiah, revered him as a teacher, and worshipped him as the risen Lord, they had not fully grasped the fact that he was one with God. At this moment, as he was taken from them, the truth dawned. In this man, who had walked beside them and whom they had followed for three extraordinary years, they had encountered not simply the Son of God, incredible though that was, but God himself, for Jesus and the Father were one.

The Ascension reminds us that Jesus was not only human like each of us, but also divine: wholly man yet wholly God.  Lose sight of either of those truths, stress one at the cost of the other, and we will see only half the picture, missing out on the wonder of God’s revelation in Christ.

For contemplation

Jesus Christ ascended into heaven
First born of a new creation
Marking the way with his blood
Shining as a light for all to see
An advocate in heaven
Now at the right hand of God.

Holy Spirit descended from above
Indwelling presence of God
Opening our hearts
to the Good News of Christ
Leading us into all truth
An advocate within
Forever with all who are called
by God’s name.

Prayer of Response

Lord Jesus Christ,
we greet you as King of kings
and Lord of lords

We acknowledge your greatness,
we recognise your authority,
we celebrate your exaltation,
we commit ourselves to your kingdom.

Living Lord, open our eyes
to the meaning of your Ascension.

Broaden our vision,
enlarge our understanding,
widen our perspectives,
deepen our faith.

Equip us for all you would have us do,
and so we may live to your glory
and work for your kingdom.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

Final Prayer

Almighty and everlasting Father,
you raised our Lord Jesus Christ
to your right hand on high.
As we rejoice in his exaltation,
fill us with his Spirit,
that we may go into all the world
and faithfully proclaim the gospel.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Order of service leaflet compiled by Rev’d Phil Snelson.
adapted from resources of Nick Fawcett