1 Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered;
let those that hate him flee before him.
2 As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away;
as wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at
the presence of God.
3 But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;
let them make merry with gladness.
4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; exalt him who rides on the clouds.
The Lord is his name; rejoice before him.
5 Father of the fatherless, defender of widows,
God in his holy habitation!
6 God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome,
but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.
7 O God, when you went forth before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8 The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain, at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai,
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 You sent down a gracious rain, O God;
you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary.
10 Your people came to dwell there;
in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor.
O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Acts 1: 6-14
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 toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward 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.”
Then they 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, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
As with a lot of passages lately, I’m seeing a whole new perspective on this passage that I’ve never seen before.
I had never noticed the similarities with Easter. The disciples are with Jesus at the Mount of Olives then at the end they go from there to the Upper Room where they were staying - the room where they had shared the passover, that same room where the doors had been locked for fear of the Jews 6 weeks ago.
And yes, it was 6 weeks ago in their time, this isn’t one of those times when we jump around from passage to passage and time isn’t relevant, this is a time when we follow the same timescale as the original events.
I’ve “done” Ascension Day over (incoherent mumble) years, but just always accepted they were in that Upper room all the time, I’ve never wondered how much it took to endure that.
Now I wonder if they got Cabin Fever, if they put on weight or started to feel and get sloppy, or maybe argued as they sat around in that upper room. Or did they get into a routine and exercise as a lot of the current advisors suggest?
It doesn’t tell us if they’re still afraid or not, but I imagine they’ve probably got used to a new normal (now that’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot recently) with Jesus appearing periodically and teaching them.
The parallel with Easter doesn’t end there. Ascension to Pentecost is itself almost like a repeat of Good Friday to Easter Day. it takes longer, but there’s still that losing and regaining, leaving and returning.
The passage starts with a real facepalm moment “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus was crucified, resurrected, appeared to them, taught them, there’s at least one of them that doesn’t get it.
At Easter Jesus had left them and returned changed, but Easter alone would make Jesus a martyr. A holy martyr of course, but still just a martyr. Someone to tell stories about in times to come, but no more.
The leaving and return at Pentecost changed the world! Now each person in it is invited into experiencing that holiness and participating in the ongoing mission that Jesus started. He is alive and seated at the right hand of God, but he is also alive and walking the earth in each of his followers.
So from Ascension, we watch, we wait, we pray,
We continue Jesus’ mission as we pray those extra prayers for this mini-season and as we pray and work towards “Thy Kingdom Come”.
- The Church
We pray for those people we are especially praying for at this time, that they too may accept Christ as their Lord and come to know the joy of belonging to His Body.
- The World
For a new normal where all the insights gained have a place going forward.
- Our Community
- The Sick and Suffering
- Give Thanks
For the many ways other people and businesses have adapted to help keep us safe.
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference
Lord God, you are always with me.
You are with me in the day and in the night.
You are with me when I’m happy and when I’m sad.
You are with me when I’m healthy and when I am ill.
You are with me when I am peaceful and when I am worried.
Today I am feeling (name how you are feeling) because (reasons you are feeling this way).
Help me to remember that you love me and are with me in everything today.
May the Father, whose glory fills the heavens,
cleanse us by his holiness
and send us to proclaim his word.
May the Son, who has ascended to the heights,
pour upon us the riches of his grace.
May the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
equip us and strengthen us in our ministry.
And may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.