A service for the Seventh Sunday of Easter - The Sunday after Ascension Day

The sun shines directly through the East Window of St Nicholas' Church Studland in the early morning at Ascensiontide

The sun shines directly through the East Window of St Nicholas' Church Studland in the early morning at Ascensiontide


A Service for the Seventh Sunday of Easter - The Sunday after 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.  

 

We begin during these days immediately following the Ascension of Christ, to celebrate the season of Pentecost, as we approach its festival on Whitsunday, or the Day of Pentecost, which has its roots in the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which was completed on the fiftieth day after Passover. 

 

On the fiftieth day of Easter, which will be next Sunday, we recall that God sends his Holy Spirit to empower the Church to perform the mission which the risen Christ has entrusted to it. Pentecost celebrates both the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian Church. The risen Lord is no longer present to the Church in the body of his flesh; the Church is now to be the new body of Christ, filled with his life through the gift of the Spirit.

 

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

 

 

Alleluia.  Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed.  Alleluia

 

Let us pray in penitence

 

Lord Jesus, you suffered a cruel death on the cross for

our redemption,

yet we have forgotten your pain

and stayed in the realm of the evil you defeated.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

 

Lord Jesus, you were raised from death to bring us new life,

yet we have preferred the comfort of the familiar,

and the empty promises of a sinful world.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

 

Lord Jesus, you have ascended to your Father and our Father,

your God and our God;

plead there at the right hand of God

for our forgiveness and entry into the fullness of his presence.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

 

The Collect

 

Silence is kept.

 

O God the King of glory,

you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ

with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:

we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,

but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us

and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen

 

 

The First Hymn

 

Come Let Us Join our Cheerful Songs  - please access Simon’s accompaniment here: 

https://youtu.be/fDfRzieP568

 

 

1 Come, let us join our cheerful songs

with angels round the throne;

ten thousand thousand are their tongues,

but all their joys are one.

 

2 'Worthy the Lamb that died,' they cry,

'to be exalted thus';

'Worthy the Lamb,' our lips reply,

'for he was slain for us.’

 

3 Jesus is worthy to receive

honour and power divine;

and blessings, more than we can give,

be, Lord, for ever thine.

 

4 Let all creation join in one

to bless the sacred name

of him that sits upon the throne,

and to adore the Lamb

 

The Reading:

Acts 1: 6-14

 

In preparation for reading the Gospel let us say:

 

Alleluia, alleluia.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people

and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Alleluia. 

 

The Gospel:

John 17: 1-11

 

Homily

 

The Sunday after Ascension Day finds us in an interim period; we are waiting, but waiting expectantly, as we enter the mindset of the disciples in that first hiatus of the affairs of the Kingdom; Jesus having gone, the Holy Spirit promised from some time before his coming in power and comfort, in direction, and as a flame to ignite the embers of the timorous faith that the followers of Jesus clung to.

 Jesus seems, throughout the Gospel accounts, to have been at his most visionary when the chips were down, as we might see it, and he would demonstrate to his followers that, in the face of doom and gloom, the light of Christ shines forth so remarkably and so strongly.  When you are weak, then you are strong.  Time and again the people of God needed to find their knees before they could move forward and regain strength. 

 What we have before us today, in eleven verses from John 17, are the opening words of what we call Christ’s “High Priestly Prayer”.  We need to note that this prayer is absolutely astonishing.  What it proclaims is of crucial importance to us and to all followers of Christ. Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you….’

Jesus prays for his followers, but not only for them, he prays for all who will hear his disciples’ words and through them come to believe.  In our day, a global view is how things are.   We are very aware in beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, even before the current health crisis, that the Church’s context for mission is significantly changed from what it was even five to ten years ago. As a Church we have a massive challenge to interpret and communicate - to proclaim - the message of Jesus Christ, that isn’t just appearing in people’s lives as an adjunct to some social occasion or what has become to them a secular festival, but actually addresses the real life and death issues of their day to day concerns. 

How else can we put this?  The disciples were holding themselves ready in these ten days between the Ascension and Pentecost.  They were full of joy and anticipation; they were daily in the Temple praising God.  They were preparing in one way; by waiting and prayer and praise, but they were being prepared at the same time, through being told not to do anything until they received the power from on high to do so.  

The writer and broadcaster, critic and poet Clive James, in one of his last books, contemplated the way that he, as an atheist, approached his death, as he had been very open to the prognosis of his illness.  Amongst many interesting, and indeed deeply moving, things that he writes, he gives advice to those who would be creative in writing poetry, for example, just not to bother, as they would be better stacking shelves in a supermarket. 

At first hearing, such words shock us, until we realise that what he means is that if we are truly creative, we do it because we can’t stop ourselves.  We are not choosing to do so from amongst a range of possibilities - the compulsion is too great.  Thus it became for the disciples during these days of prayer; they were learning that they were to be fired by the Holy Spirit to such a degree that no power on earth could overcome it.

That is surely the message of these days as we consider these followers of Jesus huddled in the Upper Room, praying in the Temple, sharing with each other the words and works of their risen and ascended Lord. They themselves were to become the exceptional people of God, but it came through the humility of the realisation that they were weak; several of them had failed big time - in fact all had failed to some degree - and THAT IT DIDN’T MATTER!  

Why?  Because this was not their notion; their plan - it lay in the very heart of the glorifying of God, as Jesus prayed with them and for them, as their unity became critical, and the resurrection from the dead the sign, that they were the followers of he, who, through the scourging and pain of crucifixion, became the man to save not only them, but to give life to the world.  It is comfortable to draw the blinds and worship beyond sight, but it is liberating and sometimes very uncomfortable to accept Christ’s undying friendship and prepare ourselves to be compulsively launched into something new.  That is what the disciples were preparing themselves for - whether they liked it; knew it; or even begun to understood it fully, or not!

John Mann

 

 

Second Hymn

 

All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name https://youtu.be/d4Oy-G-FGrQ

 

 

1 All hail the power of Jesus' name!

Let angels prostrate fall,

bring forth the royal diadem

and crown him Lord of all.

 

2 Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race

ye ransomed of the Fall,

hail him who saves you by his grace,

and crown him Lord of all.

 

3 Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget

the wormwood and the gall,

go spread your trophies at his feet

and crown him Lord of all.

 

4 Let every tribe and every tongue

before him prostrate fall,

and shout in universal song

the  crown-ed Lord of all

 

 

Prayers

 

We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit.

Generous God,

we thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit.

We ask that we may be strengthened to serve you better.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to make us wise to understand your will.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to keep us confident of your love wherever you call us.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness

where there is division, sickness and sorrow.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit,

given us by the risen Lord.

We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed,

in the joy of eternal life.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

Generous God,

you sent your Holy Spirit upon your Messiah at the river Jordan,

and upon the disciples in the upper room:

in your mercy fill us with your Spirit,

hear our prayer,

and make us one in heart and mind

to serve you with joy for ever.

Amen.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

A few moments of silence before we say the….. 

 

Acclamations:

 

Christ has gone up on high.

Alleluia.

 

God raised Christ from the dead

and enthroned him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.

God put all things in subjection beneath his feet

and gave him as head over all things to the Church.

We died, and our life lies hidden with Christ in God.

We set our minds on things above.

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed,

we too will be revealed with him in glory.

 

Christ has gone up on high.

Alleluia.

 

A moment of silence

 

Reading

 

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.

 

A moment of silence

 

May the Spirit,

who hovered over the waters when the world was created,

breathe into us the life he gives.

Amen.

 

May the Spirit,

who overshadowed the Virgin when the eternal Son came among us,

make us joyful in the service of the Lord.

Amen.

 

May the Spirit,

who set the Church on fire upon the Day of Pentecost,

bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ.

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.

 

“Fugue” from Sonata 6 - Mendelssohn https://youtu.be/FGKq-gdQj5g