We have reached the week before Pentecost – the 7th Sunday of Easter (Ascension).
In the virtual service for 24 May 2020, you’ll find 4 readings, some prayers, a musical choice and Rev. Geoff McKee’s sermon, based on Ephesians 1: 15-23.
Call to Worship
Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory. Psalm 24:9-10
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Almighty God, we draw near in worship this morning reminded of your greatness and glory, your sovereign power and eternal purpose, all expressed so wonderfully in Jesus Christ, our Lord, Risen and Ascended.
We thank you for the wonder of Ascension, that marvellous yet mysterious moment in the life of the Apostles which left them gazing heavenwards in confusion yet departing in joy.
We thank you for the way that it brought the earthly ministry of Jesus to a fitting conclusion; signifying his oneness with you, and demonstrating your final seal of approval on all that he had done.
We thank you that through his Ascension Jesus is now set free to be Lord of all: no longer bound to a particular place or time, but with us always – able to reach even to the ends of the earth. We thank you that through his departing Jesus prepared for his coming again: through his Spirit, his Church, and his coming again in glory.
Gracious God, forgive us for so often failing to grasp the wonder of Ascension, for living each day as though it had never been. Forgive the smallness of our vision, the narrowness of our outlook, the weakness of our love, the nervousness of our witness, our repeated failure to recognise the fullness of your revelation in Christ.
Give us a deeper sense of wonder, a stronger faith, and a greater understanding of all you have done, that by faith we may live each day to his glory and honour.
Acts 1:1-11 (New International Version)
Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.”
9 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.”
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.
5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The Ascension of Jesus
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Our Musical Director, Katherine Robertson explains: “I chose the song “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord” for today’s service as it talks about showing our love to others and the importance of unity with one another. Through the Holy Spirit living within us, love flows freely in every aspect of our lives and produces joy, peace, harmony, understanding and a desire to have fellowship with each other. We so need our world today to see that, as Christians, we really are one in the Spirit and the Lord, as the song clearly says.”
Prayers of Intercession
We thank you Lord that, outside the limitations of time and space; you are free to be here with us now, in our worship with the words;
“Lo! I am with you always
even to the very end of time.”
We pray, Lord, for those in this time of social lockdown who need to feel you close, who need the assurance of your love and the encouragement of your Spirit.
We pray for those suffering sickness and illness today. We pray for those who are in discomfort, who are afraid, because they are ill in body, mind or spirit. We pray for those who are numbed, who are angry and are desolate because they have been bereaved.
We pray for exhausted medical workers and carers who have given all that they have. We remember those in our community who go the extra mile to care for those in need.
We pray for those who are persecuted, who are discriminated against, who are mocked because of their faith or race or colour.
We pray for those who are imprisoned, who are tortured, who are exiled, because they have fought, struggled and spoken out for the rights of their people.
We pray for those who are destitute, who are hungry, who are refugees, because of the selfishness and apathy of the world.
We pray for those who are filled with guilt, who are broken-hearted and perplexed.
We pray for those caught up in war, and violence, and hatred; especially the innocent victims of these evils.
We pray at this time of crisis, for those who have lost jobs, those who struggle to pay bills, and those who have the power to affect positive change.
Be with us all, Lord: in all our daily struggles as we seek to follow you.
Be with us all, Lord: in our periods of doubt and despair; and in our times of happiness, health and loving.
Be with us all, Lord: until that time when in your Kingdom of Love our joy will know no end and now we offer again the prayer Jesus taught his disciples…
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 debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
The photos on this page were all taken in and around Lossiemouth between 17 and 21 May 2020.