Service of Communion – Ascension Day:
God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Psalm 47.5
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Grace, Mercy, and Peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you - and also with you.
Dear 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.
The Ascension Reading
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (1.4-11)
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.’
Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia
Seeing we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us offer him the praiseworthy of his name.
Gloria in Excelsis
Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
The Collect for the Feast of the Ascension Let us pray
Let us pray that our risen and ascended Lord will lead us to eternal life
Silence is kept.
Risen Christ, you have raised our human nature to the throne of heaven: help us to seek and serve you, that we may join you at the Father’s side, where you reign with the Spirit in glory, now and for ever. Amen
New Testament reading Ephesians 1.15-end
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Gospel Reading Luke 24.44-end
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.
Glory to you, O Lord.
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.
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
A couple of weeks ago the family were round at the Vicarage and the subject of films came up. My son in law is a knowledgeable guy when it comes to films (ask him anything you want to about James Bond.. and annoyingly he will know the answer) but that evening it came out that he had never seen the sound of music – Shock/Horror around the dining table turned to the light-hearted banter that my children in particular as so good at!
Today as you know is Ascension Day, and as I was thinking about our readings whilst making notes for this sermon, a strange/abstract thought crossed my mind when I thought that a possible anthem for this day could be that unforgettable song from the finale of the ‘Sound of Music’:
“So long, farewell, auf-wiedersehen, goodbye; adieu; to you and you and you and you and you …”
I suspect there are some worried people sitting in front of me wondering where I am coming from – but it speaks of leaving, of farewell but also gives us just the possibility of return as in a literary sense the word Adieu is not as final as farewell.
Today, Jesus leaves his disciples, or more correctly, today 40 days after his resurrection he leaves this earthly realm for his Father’s heavenly Kingdom. No other human being, that we know of has ever disappeared after a resurrection as he did. Quite how he ascended is a bit vague and those paintings and stained-glass windows that show his feet dangling below the clouds don’t really help to solve the mystery either. Suffice to say this is an act of faith and we know that in some way Jesus departed from us on earth but with a promise to return.
Jesus was born into our fleshly life and today he takes his leave of us in this earthly, fleshly form. He was born as we are but was both God and human at the same time.
Jesus came to us in flesh, both human and God.
He came ‘God incarnate’ to prove God’s love for us, his love for his creation, and he did so by atoning for our sins on the cross. In doing so he cleansed each and every one of us for all eternity; and by the example of his life, we are shown the path to eternal life in God.
When we die, we in our turn and in our own way will ascend to God. Our souls return to our Creator, to the One who made us, and made us of his very self. Throughout our lives our souls are restless and yearn for God – we journey towards him with a desire to be one with him again. I believe this in part explains our restlessness in life, as we are forever seeking to return to God as Jesus did.
Like Jesus, when we die, we die in the hope of and with the promise of new life at the end of time. Quite what this means is unclear, but we hope, and indeed we have faith, that it will be a glorious restoration of all whom we love into one new Kingdom of God. That is our Christian hope, and it is this that Jesus affirms for us today, in his ascension.
By his ascension, Jesus shows us that by taking his leave of us, he will and can return at another time. Just as we hope and have faith that we too will return at the day of the final resurrection.
But as we know I our day to day lives, in order to return, you do have to leave in the first place. Once you have gone you can come back and can do so in the knowledge that those who love you will be glad to see you again. We need to remember the old saying:
“You have to let them go, in order for them to come back.”
Our parents and perhaps we ourselves, will have said or heard this phrase many times in relation to ourselves and those we love. In letting our loved ones go, we hope to see them again because we will always leave the door ajar for them to push open. This is what we are doing today, we are saying; “Au revoir” to Jesus and trusting that we will see him return one day in this life or the next.
Today we are letting him go free, we are not clinging on to him, or trying to stop him; we are letting him go comforted in the knowledge that he has promised to return.
Let us declare our faith in God.
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high. We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you have exalted your Son Christ Jesus to your right hand, and made him the head over all things for his body the Church: hear us as we pray for the Church throughout the world.
Make us and all your people receptive to the gifts he pours upon us, that we may use them to your glory, and the building up of the body of Christ.
Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Lord God Almighty, the Ancient of Days, you have given your Son all authority in heaven and on earth: hear us as we pray for the world he came to redeem.
Grant that we may know even in this time the things that make for peace, and may strive for the reconciliation of all people in his kingdom of justice and love.
Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Father of all, whose Son has promised to be with us always, to the end of the age: hear us as we pray for those among whom we live and work.
Grant that we may be so aware of his presence with us, that people may take note of us, that we have been with Jesus. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
O God our Redeemer, whose Son ever lives to make intercession for us: hear us as we pray for those in any kind of need.
May he who has borne our infirmities strengthen and heal them, that they may find grace to help in time of need, and rejoice in his salvation.
Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Heavenly Father, whose Son has borne our humanity into the heavenly realms, and gone before us to prepare a place for us: hear us as we remember before you those whose earthly sojourn is over, and whose life is now hidden in him with you.
Make us joyful and expectant, that at his coming with all his own we too may go forth to meet him, and share in his eternal joy.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Liturgy of the Sacrament
Jesus says: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. If you love me, rejoice because I am going to the Father’. Alleluia. John 14.27,28
The peace of the Lord be always with you and also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.
All may exchange a sign of peace.
Preparation of the tableBlessed be God, by whose grace creation is renewed, by whose love heaven is opened, by whose mercy we offer our sacrifice of praise. Blessed be God for everEucharistic Prayer The Lord is here.His Spirit is with us.
Lift up your hearts.We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.It is right to give thanks and praise.It is indeed right, it is our duty and our joy,at all times and in all places to give you thanks and praise,holy Father, heavenly King, almighty and eternal God,through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.For he is your living Word;through him you have created all things from the beginning,and formed us in your own image.To you be glory and praise for everThrough him you have freed us from the slavery of sin,giving him to be born of a woman and to die upon the cross;you raised him from the dead and exalted him to your right hand on high.To you be glory and praise for ever.Through him you have sent upon us your holy and life-giving Spirit,and made us a people for your own possession.To you be glory and praise for ever.Born of a woman, he came to the rescue of our human race. Dying for us, he trampled death and conquered sin. By the glory of his resurrection,
he opened the way to life eternaland by his ascension, gave us the sure hope that where he is we may also be. Therefore the universe resounds with Easter joy
and with choirs of angels we sing for ever to your praise;
Holy, holy, holy Lord,God of power and might,heaven and earth are full of your glory.Hosanna in the highest.[Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.Hosanna in the highest.]Accept our praises, heavenly Father,through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,and as we follow his example and obey his command,grant that by the power of your Holy Spiritthese gifts of bread and winemay be to us his body and his blood;who, in the same night that he was betrayed,took bread and gave you thanks;he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;do this in remembrance of me.To you be glory and praise for ever.
In the same way, after supperhe took the cup and gave you thanks;he gave it to them, saying: Drink this, all of you;this is my blood of the new covenant,which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.To you be glory and praise for ever.
Therefore, heavenly Father,we remember his offering of himselfmade once for all upon the cross;we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension;we look for the coming of your kingdom,and with this bread and this cupwe make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord.Praise to you, Lord Jesus: Dying you destroyed our death,
rising you restored our life: Lord Jesus, come in glory.Accept through him, our great high priest,this our sacrifice of thanks and praise,and as we eat and drink these holy giftsin the presence of your divine majesty,renew us by your Spirit, inspire us with your loveand unite us in the body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.To you be glory and praise for ever.Through him, and with him, and in him,in the unity of the Holy Spirit,with all who stand before you in earth and heaven,we worship you, Father almighty,in songs of everlasting praise:Blessing and honour and glory and powerbe yours for ever and ever. Amen.Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught usOur 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.Breaking of the BreadThe president breaks the consecrated bread. Lord, we died with you on the cross. Now we are raised to new life. We were buried in your tomb. Now we share in your resurrection; live in us, that we may live in you. Giving of CommunionI heard the voice of a great multitude crying, Alleluia. The Lord our God has entered into his kingdom. Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb. Alleluia.
The president & Congregation receive communion.Prayer after CommunionSilence is kept. God our Father, you have raised our humanity in Christ and have fed us with the bread of heaven: mercifully grant that, nourished with such spiritual blessings, we may set our hearts in the heavenly places; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.We thank you, Lord, that you have fed us in this sacrament, united us with Christ, and given us a foretaste of the heavenly banquet prepared for all peoples. Amen. Reading A reading from the Acts of the Apostles: 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. (Acts 1.12,13a,14) No responses are used at the end of the reading. 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 SpiritThe Blessing God the Father, who has given to his Son the name above every name, strengthen you to proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord. Amen.
God the Son, who is our great high priest passed into the heavens, plead for you at the right hand of the Father. Amen.
God the Holy Spirit, who pours out his abundant gifts upon the Church, make you faithful servants of Christ our King. Amen.
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen. The Dismissal Waiting expectantly for the promised Holy Spirit, go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia. Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia. The ministers and people depart.Copyright acknowledgement: Some material used in this service is copyright The Archbishops Council; Common Worship and Common Worship Times & Seasons 2002 & 2006; CCLI number - 804157