May 29, 2022 - Ascension Sunday

05/29/2022 – Ascension Sunday

Morning prayer: Everliving God, Your eternal Christ once dwelt on earth, confined by time and space. Give us faith to discern in every time and place the presence among us of Him who is head over all things and fills all, even Jesus Christ our ascended Lord. Amen. (Laurence Hull Stockey UM hymnal #323)

Hymn #696 America the Beautiful

  1. O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain;
    for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
    America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
    and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
  2. O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
    who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
    America! America! May God thy gold refine,
    till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.
  3. O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
    thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
    America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
    confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.

Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy.

For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.

He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.

He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom He loves. Selah

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.

For God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.

God is king over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.

The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted.

Children’s message:  Ephesians 1:15-23

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward 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.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Do you know that song? I used to sing and do the bending to that song with my kids when they were little and now I am doing it with my grandchildren. It is a song that reminds us of our whole body. Our reading from Ephesians today also calls us to remember our whole body and of Jesus’s whole body, because our bodies and Jesus’s body is important for our worship and our living witness. Now that Jesus is ascended – which is a big word for raised up with God – we become Jesus's body here. Our eyes are called to see the needs of God’s world. We have hands to serve and feet to take us where we need to go to serve God.

 

Let us pray: Father God, remind us that You dwell in our bodies and You have called us to be Jesus’s body, serving and loving Your world. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Lord we sing the words, asking for Your grace to be shed on us; asking for Your mercy; asking that the gleam of our cities not be dimmed by our tears.  This week in particular, there are many, many tears.  Mend the flaws of our nation.  Give our souls self-control.  May our laws contain Your liberty.  We now pray as You have taught us: 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 sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlightThe United Methodist Children’s Home is more than an institution providing for the needs of vulnerable children; it cares for needy children with love and guidance.  The Missions team has designated $500 of your Mission tithes for the United Methodist Home for Children.    

Offering prayer: God of new life, out of the abundance of our lives we offer these gifts to You. Through Your blessing and our willingness to share, may these offerings become a source for hope and love in this church family, and in the community beyond us, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.  (St Martins Presbyterian Church, Christchurch)

Hymn of Preparation #157 Jesus Shall Reign

  1. Jesus shall reign where'er the sun does its successive journeys run;
    His kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.
  2. To Jesus endless prayer be made, and endless praises crown His head;
    His name like sweet perfume shall rise with every morning sacrifice.
  3. People and realms of every tongue dwell on His love with sweetest song;
    and infant voices shall proclaim their early blessings on His name.
  4. Blessings abound where'er He reigns; all prisoners leap and loose their chains;
    the weary find eternal rest, and all who suffer want are blest.
  5. Let every creature rise and bring honors peculiar to our King;
    angels descend with songs again, and earth repeat the loud amen!

Luke 24:44-53

Then He [Jesus] 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 worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Message:  Lifted Up for Us                              Pastor Becky Cuddeback

I love the rhythm of the Church seasons. They keep me keenly aware of what God has done, is doing and what God will continually do. Today ends Easter, not in the sense that we lock it away in a closet, only to be trotted out again next spring, but in the unlocking of what Jesus is doing now. Today we celebrate Jesus’s enthronement at the right hand of God.

This enthronement changes everything for us and we should be living into that reality, that belief – not as some historic event but as a living reality that informs how we live and have a being now, today and tomorrow and the next day.

The fact that Jesus was resurrected from the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father is the source of our hope (1Peter 1:3). This hope is the promise of eternal life, that we will be found in Jesus, whom the Father has accepted as our great priest. Jesus is our intercessor. “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus is going before God for you. Think about that for a minute – in all that you do, all that you speak in prayer – Jesus is going to God for you. Jesus the one who died our death and rose, is pleading for us to God.

We know from Jesus’s last prayer concerning us found in John 17:20-25, what Jesus is perpetually praying for in regard to us. Let’s look at it: “I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one. As You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given them, so that they may be one, as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that You have sent me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that those also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know You, but I know You, and these know that You have sent Me.”

Jesus is praying for our unity with Him so that we are in unity with God. Now, before we get too far – unity is not uniformity. As we know, God is vast, Isaiah 6:2-3: Seraphs were in attendance above Him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of His glory.”

and what is needed in one place is not needed in another, and what leads people to Jesus in one place, may not in another. God is big enough to hold the tension of culture and context. Jesus is praying for our unity, through infinity.

What happens in unity? When hearts and minds are set to the same focus? Lives change, Jesus’s vision where the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the stranger is welcomed, the sick cared for, the imprisoned, visited. The world changes, when we are unified. We see the Kingdom of God blossom out before us, we see the breaking through of God’s domain, a Kingdom of Peace: Isaiah 11:6-9

The wolf shall live with the lamb;

the leopard shall lie down with the kid;

the calf and the lion will feed[b] together,

and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,

and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy

on all My holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

Let us pray: Father God, King of the Universe, unify us. Work on our hearts, make them soft and moldable again. Release from us our determination to be outside of God’s will for God’s Kingdom. Make us desire to see Jesus’ glory for all the world. In Jesus we pray. Amen.

Closing Hymn #431 Let There Be Peace on Earth

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me;

Let there be peace on earth the peace that was meant to be.

With God our creator, children all are we.  Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me let this be the moment now. 

With every step I take let this be my solemn vow:

To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.

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