This week we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Let it inspire in us feelings of joy and hope, rather than fear and separation as we anticipate the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Please pray that the Spirit will be known widely and abundantly in our lives. Pray for the power of the Spirit to be evident in all our churches and pray especially for our friends in the Methodist church, celebrating the conversion of John Wesley on 24th May 1738. May we all share his faith. “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt that I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins”
Please pray for all whom we meet in our daily lives, personally or through the internet and social media. Pray for hope and joy to be experienced in spite of the frustrations, difficulties and fears which many are feeling. Help us to recognise Christ in one another and to share the joy He brings.
Please pray for those returning to work and for those who have been keeping us safe. Pray that they will feel supported and be able to take some rest as the crisis seems to be receding. Continue to pray for all who are sick, broken hearted or afraid. Pray that they will feel the love of Christ for them.
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
2 May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
3 But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
7 When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8 the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9 You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
1 Pet 4:12-14, 5:6-11
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
On Thursday this past week, the church celebrated Ascension Day. The risen Lord Jesus, having met his disciples many times during the weeks since Easter, was with them near Bethany. The risen Jesus blessed them. Luke tells us that even while he was blessing them, Jesus was taken up from them into heaven and a cloud hid him from their sight. “Don’t leave Jerusalem”, he had told them, “but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you’ve heard me speak about. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Next Sunday we shall celebrate Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit came in power, just as Jesus had promised.
Jesus had spent a lot of time training and encouraging people to be not just ‘followers’, but ‘disciples’. Disciples are people who sets their lives on a track to become like their teacher. Doing the things he did, and even more than that – being like him themselves. This is what Jesus calls us to do and to be.
Thankfully, he understands that we simply can’t do this on our own. And so he promises that his spirit – the Holy Spirit – will come and live within us, giving us power greater than our own can ever be. The promise was not only to those first disciples, but to all disciples-in-training, throughout the ages - to us. Come, Holy Spirit!
Today’s reading from 1 Peter speaks of a ‘fiery ordeal that has come to test us’; that we ‘participate in the sufferings of Christ’. Jesus’s disciples can expect to suffer and be tested as our master was. Does it feel like that sometimes? Peter also says that we can expect joy as we see his glory’. He promises that ‘the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you’.
‘The family of God worldwide is going through the same things as you’, says Peter. ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert!’
Now where else have I heard those words recently?
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus prayed to his Father God for his disciples. “You gave them to me”, said Jesus. “You’ve given them eternal life; that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. We are called not just to know about God, but to know him. And it’s only through the Holy Spirit that this happens, as he comes to live within us.
Jesus prayed for us! “I pray for them…not for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. And glory has come to me through them. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” And Jesus continues to pray for us. Sometimes people say they sense when others are praying for them. Can you sense Jesus praying for you today?
The name of Jesus has power. That’s why people pray ‘in the name of Jesus’. And Jesus told us we could use his name when we pray ourselves.
When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’s disciples that first Pentecost, they were not in the temple. They were in a home. Our church buildings have been closed because of the Corona Virus, but the Church has never been as open, with vibrant faith and prayer in the powerful name of Jesus, in homes up and down our village and nation. Thank you, God! Amen.
THROUGH ALL THE CHANGING SCENES OF LIFE,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.
O magnify the Lord with me,
with me exalt his name!
when in distress, to him I called
he to my rescue came.
The hosts of God encamp around
the dwellings of the just;
forgiveness he affords to all
who on his succour trust.
O make but trial of his love!
experience will decide
how blessed are they, and only they,
who in his truth confide.
Fear him, you saints, and you will then
have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight,
your wants shall be his care.
To Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
the God whom we adore
be glory as it was, is now
and shall be evermore!
MAJESTY, worship His majesty,
Unto Jesus be glory, honour and praise.
Majesty, kingdom authority,
Flow from His throne unto His own,
His anthem raise.
So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus,
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King.
Majesty, worship His majesty,
Jesus who died, now glorified,
King of all kings.
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.
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.