Sunday 24th May 2020

 

Sunday 24th May 2020      7th Sunday of Easter   Aldersgate Sunday

Compiled by Rev Liz Singleton

This short act of worship has been prepared for you to use at home.  If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you.   

 

Sing praises to God and to his name!

Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.

His name is the Lord – rejoice in his presence!

HYMN:     We sing the praise of Jesus   (StF 315)    sung to the tune of ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus’

1] We sing the praise of Jesus,                                   3] Therefore with saints and angels

of our ascended Lord;                                                 and all the hosts above

the triumph of our Saviour,                                           we lift our hearts and voices

of Christ the Son of God.                                             To bless the God of love;

The forty days are over,                                                to sing of our Redeemer

earth sees his face no more;                                        who intercedes and prays,

but Christ the King of glory                                           that God the Holy Spirit

we worship and adore.                                                 may guide us all our days.

 

2] Rejoicing in Christ’s promise                                  4] With songs of alleluia

we wait in prayer and praise,                                      let earth and heaven ring;

the Spirit sent from heaven                                         and praises to the Father

to set the earth ablaze;                                              let all creation sing.

we wait with expectation,                                           All honour be to Jesus,

we praise with one accord,                                         God’s own eternal Son;

we wait for living fire,                                                  and to the Holy Spirit

the power of the Lord.                                                 Let endless praise be done!

                                                                                                                                Norman Wallwork (b 1946)

Prayer

Ascension Lord,

we would probably have wanted, like Peter, to linger with you

on the Transfiguration mountain;

like Mary, to cling to you in the Easter garden.

Like Cleopas and his companion, we would have been saddened by your Emmaus departure;

like the apostles, we would have wished that the Ascension skies had never closed.

But these were all just moments in time

and you have taught us that there is a deeper and eternal truth:

that you are never absent,

your presence is with us always and everywhere.

 

And so we give thanks,

that the mountain top experiences equip us for the darkness of the valleys;

that you are as near to us in a crowded street as in a quiet garden;

that you are the guest at every meal;

and that, through you, heaven has come down to earth.

We give thanks that you, the ascended Lord,

travel with us each and every day.      Amen

 

READING:   Acts 1:  6 - 14       NLT

When the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

   He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

   After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.  As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.  “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven?  Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

 

A time to reflect

There are times when I’m not sure if I should tremble in fear and anxiety or if I should give thanks for the opportunities that God lays before me.  I wonder if that’s how the disciples were feeling when Jesus left them.  Our reading from Acts sees the beginning of the Church’s ministry, a ministry without the physical presence of Jesus, and his followers are still perplexed as to how they are to carry out the work of the kingdom of God without Jesus being with them.  They will come to experience the empowerment of the Holy Spirit but that day hasn’t yet come and so, as they reflect on watching Jesus ascending into heaven, they must have been feeling very alone and vulnerable, wondering how their ministry will develop and what the future may look like.  Jesus knew that they would need reassurance and he has already given it to them.  In John 14: 16 we hear that Jesus told them “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.”  And then in the words at the beginning of Acts 1 he says to them “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.  John baptised with water, but in just a few days, you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”  At this point the disciples had no idea what this meant, only that they were to be patient and wait for God’s Spirit to come to them.

   Over the past few weeks we, as God’s people, have found new and innovative ways of sharing and expressing our faith in prayer and worship.  We have reconnected with people who haven’t been to church for a long time and people who have never been to church have come to value online worship and digital prayer.  Zoom has become the new meeting room and we have rediscovered the art of letter writing and talking on the phone.  All opportunities that God has laid before us and as we move into the unknown future I wonder if they make us tremble in fear and anxiety or whether we give thanks for what change might bring.  As we wait for certain restrictions to be lifted so enabling us to engage once more with one another and the world, do we wait patiently and with anticipation at where the Spirit of God may lead and guide us?  Or are we just impatient to get ‘back to how it was’?

   In the early years of his ministry John Wesley, and indeed his brother Charles, had a strong faith but one based on finding philosophical answers to his questions rather than looking at himself and his personal relationship with God.  Both brothers had a longing for the deeper experience of the love and forgiveness of God that they saw in the faith of the Moravians, with whom they spent time in America and in England.  John had experienced that Moravian depth of faith during his passage to America when such a ferocious storm blew up in the Atlantic that, as he describes in his journal, it was ‘as if the great deep had already swallowed us up.’ Wesley trembled with fear and anxiety, the Moravians calmly continued to pray.

   The moment the brothers had longed for and sought finally came within days of each other in May 1738; a moment that far from being a ‘conversion’, as it is often referred to, was one perhaps better described as being when the ‘penny dropped’.  After attending a church meeting in Aldersgate Street on 24th May it finally dawned on John Wesley, as he felt his heart strangely warmed, that he was a child of God, loved and accepted by God; and he found forgiveness, peace and assurance.  Something that he was to go on to preach as a possibility for all people and which Charles wrote about in his hymns, one of which we will sing together in a moment.

   The disciples staring into heaven and the Wesley brothers discovering the true nature of God.  What hope do these stories give us for today?  They tell us that we do not need to fear or be anxious but rather we should give thanks because there is no lockdown on the love of God nor on the moving and working of the Holy Spirit.  All things are possible with God and through his grace and mercy we can all ‘boldly approach the eternal throne and claim the crown, through Christ, my own.’

 HYMN:   And can it be  (StF 345 / H&P 216)   (for those joining us on YouTube we omit v2)

1] And can it be that I should gain                                             3] He left his Father’s throne above -

an interest in the Saviour’s blood?                                            so free, so infinite his grace -

Died he for me, who caused his pain?                                      emptied himself of all but love,

For me, who him to death pursued?                                        and bled for Adam’s helpless race.

Amazing love!  How can it be                                                      ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;

that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?                                for, O my God, it found out me!

 

2] ‘Tis mystery all: the Immortal dies!                                      4] Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Who can explore his strange design?                                       fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

In vain the first-born seraph tries                                              thine eye diffused a quickening ray -

to sound the depths of love divine.                                          I woke, the dungeon flamed with light,

‘Tis mercy all!  Let earth adore,                                                  my chains fell off, my heart was free,

let angel minds enquire no more.                                             I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

 

                                                    5] No condemnation now I dread;

                                                    Jesus, and all in him, is mine!

                                                    Alive in him, my living Head,

                                                    and clothed in righteousness divine,

                                                    bold I approach the eternal throne,

                                                    and claim the crown, through Christ, my own.                       Charles Wesley (1707-88)

                                                                                                                                                     

Let us pray together:

God of today, yesterday and tomorrow,

we find it very hard to let go of the familiar things in our lives;

we want to hold on to what we love

just like the disciples who held on to the ascending Jesus

with their eyes cast to heaven.

 

Yet when Jesus was let go from human constraints,

he became alive to his people for evermore,

and the power of your Holy Spirit was released

to move through the world, making things new.

Loving God, we ask you to help us to learn to let go

of all that stops us giving ourselves to you,

that stops your Spirit working through us.

Help us to let go of the old ways

that hold us back from following you

into a challenging future.

 

Loving God, some of the disciples desperately sought

the reassuring touch of Jesus after his resurrection.

We too seek his touch on our lives

giving us the courage to accept your challenge

to work with you and not hold you back.

And we seek the touch of Jesus

on the lives of those we love and care about.

Those who we know who are sick, in pain, anxious or depressed,

we name them before you now………

Those who are struggling with home schooling, financial or business worries,

we name them before you now………

Those who we long to be with, to share the same space with, and to reach out and hug,

we name them before you now………

 

God of today, yesterday and tomorrow,

we bring you our prayers in the name of the ascended Lord,

Jesus our Saviour.      Amen

 

The Lord’s Prayer

‘This holy ground’

Cradled in the mystery

that where I stand

is holy ground,

I rest

in awe.

 

Embraced

in the truth

that he loves me

with a love beyond all knowing

is both with me

and within me

in this place,

I rest

in the joy

of being deeply blessed.

 

He

is in me

and I in him.

 

What mystery………

 

What precious holy ground……..

 

What a gift.

 

HYMN:       Jesus the name high over all  (StF 357 / H&P 264)   words from H&P

1] Jesus – the name high over all,                                              4] O that the world might taste and see

In hell, or earth, or sky!                                                                 The riches of his grace!

Angels and men before it fall,                                                     The arms of love that compass me

And devils fear and fly.                                                                  Would all mankind embrace.

 

2] Jesus – the name to sinners dear,                                        5] His only righteousness I show,

The name to sinners given!                                                          His saving grace proclaim;

It scatters all their guilty fear,                                                     ‘Tis all my business here below

It turns their hell to heaven.                                                       To cry: ‘Behold the Lamb!’

 

3] Jesus – the prisoner’s fetters breaks,                                 6] Happy if with my latest breath

And bruises Satan’s head;                                                            I might but gasp his name;

Power into strengthless souls it speaks,                                 Preach him to all, and cry in death:

And life into the dead.                                                                   ‘Behold, behold the Lamb!’

                                                                                                                                               

Charles Wesley (1707-88)

               

A prayer of blessing as we move from this space:

Go in the grace of Christ who goes ahead of you;

in the mercy of the Father who waits to receive you;

and in the company of the Spirit who enfolds and empowers you.

And may the promise and peace of God be yours forever.        Amen

 

Original materials by Rev Liz Singleton

Prayers of intercession adapted from ‘Open with God’ by Christine Odell      Inspire 2004

'This Holy Ground' written by Pat Marsh published in ‘Whispers of Love’ Inspire 2003

Songs published under CCLI No 558764


Page last updated: 21st May 2020 5:30 PM