Worship Connection: May 20, 2012

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Ascension Sunday

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53

CALLS TO WORSHIP

[Note: Churches may be celebrating Easter 7 or Ascension Sunday. The Gospel Lessons for May 20 differ somewhat. Calls to worship #1 and #2 focus on John 17: 6-19; Calls to Worship #3 and #4 focus on Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1: 1-11]

Call to Worship #1: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, Prayer, God’s love, Hope, Personal Holiness]

L: Jesus prayed for his disciples, giving them into God’s eternal care.

P: Jesus prays for us, giving us into God’s care.

L: Know that you have been blessed with the love of the Savior.

P: We live in that love and seek to serve God.

L: Open your hearts and spirits now to hear God’s word.

P: May our lives be open to God’s Spirit and reflect God’s love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, God’s love, Strength, Witness, Peace]

L: Come, quench your thirst in the love of God.

P: We come, hungering for a place in which we can be gently nourished.

L: Be like trees planted by the streams of living water, ready to receive God’s nourishment.

P: Strengthen us, O God, to receive your blessed peace.

L: Hallelujah!

P: Hallelujah! AMEN.

Call to Worship #3: [WBW: Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Rejoice, Praise, Resurrection, Witness, Hope, Celebration, Peace]

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2028 "Clap Your Hands", offer the call to worship as follows: Have the choir begin the song (as an entrance song if possible), and continue to sing the song through three times before the Worship Leader’s opening line. Make the invitation to the congregation exciting and have the musicians play through an introduction. The congregation will have already heard the music several times, so it should not be difficult for them to follow]

Choir (singing): Clap your hands! Clap your hands! Sing a new song in celebration! Clap your hands! Clap your hands! Sing a new song in celebration! Clap your hands! Clap your hands! God is great we praise our God with song! God is great! We praise our God with Song!

L: Shout to the rooftops! Our Lord Jesus Christ is seated at God’s right hand!

P: The same Christ who was given by God to help us learn how to live together and love each other is now seated with God!

Choir (singing): Clap your hands! Clap your hands! Sing a new song in celebration! Clap your hands! Clap your hands! Sing a new song in celebration! Clap your hands! Clap your hands! God is great! We praise our God with song! God is great! We praise our God with song!

L: Don’t stand staring into the heavens! Christ’s spirit is with us, in us, and through us!

P: Rejoice and dance happily! It is not time to mourn!

L: Come, join us in song, praising God with our whole lives and spirits!

All (singing): Clap your hands! Clap your hands! Sing a new song in celebration! Clap your hands! Clap your hands! Sing a new song in celebration! Clap your hands! Clap your hands! God is great! We praise our God with song! God is great! We praise our God with song!

L: And all the people shouted

P: AMEN!!!

Call to Worship #4: [WBW" Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Wonder, Celebration, Witness, God’s love, Ministry, Praise]

L: Today is Ascension Sunday when we celebrate Christ’s return to God.

P: We look up in wonder as he is lifted from us into heaven!

L: But this is not a time to gaze upward. There is work to be done.

P: Jesus has entrusted the ministry of God’s love to us.

L: Let’s get to work!

P: Let’s make our hearts ready for the task ahead with prayer and praise!

L: Amen

P: AMEN!

 

PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION

[Note: prayers will be designated as to whether their focus is Easter 7 or Ascension Sunday]

OPENING PRAYER: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, Witness, Guidance, God’s presence]

O Lord, Easter had such an impact on our lives. We walked the by-ways with Jesus, ate with him and wept at the Crucifixion. Easter morn dawned brightly in our lives at the news of the Resurrection and we sang songs of great joy. Watch over us, gentle God, as we pray and work to do your will. Keep our hearts open to your loving word and ways. AMEN.

OPENING PRAYER: [WBW: Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Surprise, Hope, Witness, Peace, Hope.]

God of incredible surprises, as we gaze into the clouds, remind us that we are standing on holy ground. Place our feet on the pathways of peace and hope. Draw our attention from the vision of the Lord rising to the heavens to be with you and help us to focus on the ministries that you would have us do. Keep us ready and willing always to serve you all our days. AMEN.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, Confession, Forgiveness, Trust, Peace, Hope, Personal Holiness, God’s love]

Forgiving and gracious God, you have called us to be the church, to live out our Resurrection faith. You have asked us to place our trust in you and to bring to all the good news of your saving love. But we have failed to do this. We have given our faith a back seat to the troubles of the world and to the stresses in our own life. We look for the quick and easy answers. Forgive us for the smallness of our faith. You, who raised Christ from the dead, have promised to raise our spirits and bring us to new life. You have done this and yet, we remain static in our response to you. Clear our spirits of the clutter of everyday living. Help us to be open always to your word and your love. Challenge us to move in directions of peace and hope for all people. These things we pray in the name of our risen Lord. AMEN.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION: [WBW: Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Hope, God’s presence, Witness, Confession, Forgiveness, Patience, Peace]

Lord, we are impatient! We want everything right now, instantly! We don’t want to wait for anything. We rush our holidays, our celebrations, our very lives and then wonder why our spirits are exhausted and depressed. Slow us down, Lord. Help us to enjoy the process of waiting for the wondrous things you offer us. Let us feel the power and beauty of praising you and singing your praises. Clear away our "high gear" mentality and place us on paths of peace and hope. Forgive our arrogance and impatience. Help us to overcome those traits which pull us away from you and from appreciating all that you have done for us. As we listen to the scriptures this day in which the disciples witnessed Jesus’ ascension to you, let our hearts be at peace knowing that you have taught us what we need to know to serve God joyfully in this world. Inspire us and give us delight for what is to come. AMEN.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, God’s love, forgiveness, Blessing ]

God loves and forgives us. We are no longer numbered with the wicked, but rather are placed with those whom God has blessed. Be a blessing to all whom you meet, in God’s name. AMEN.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE: [WBW: Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Forgiveness, Witness]

Forgiveness and love have been poured out upon you, to offer hope to all nations. You are called and blessed to be messengers of God’s good news to all people. AMEN.

PASTORAL PRAYER: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, Faith, Hope, Confession, Forgiveness, Prayer, Witness, Healing, Mercy, Ministry]

Lord, we sometimes wonder why you bother with us. Throughout history, you have called to humankind to be your witnesses. You have given to each a special blessing. But the historical record reveals the stubborn, selfish responses of your people. We think that we deserve your blessing and don’t have to do your will. We have acted in wicked ways far too often. Today you have called us together to hear the words of Jesus as he prayed for his disciples, telling you that his love for them is complete and that he believes in them. We would like to think that we are included in that number, that Jesus prays for us and loves us. And, indeed, he does. He has given his life for us. Now we are called to give our lives for him, to offer to all the good news that God’s love is real and powerful. God’s healing mercy is for all people. We offer our prayers for our families and our friends who are in situations of need, asking God’s blessings upon them. We raise our voices in choruses of pleading for you to be present to all your people, creating pathways of peace. Be with us, gracious Lord. Help us to witness to the world, not only by our words and our thoughts, but by our actions that your peace may be known. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

PASTORAL PRAYER [WBW: Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Wonder, Witness, Ministry, Peace, Justice, Healing, Hope, Faith]

With mouths gaping open and eyes looking heavenward, we trace the ascension of our beloved Savior Jesus Christ back to you. We would like to stand here, looking heavenward and thinking about how much Jesus means to us, but we are called to lower our eyes and get moving to serve you in this world, Lord. We can hold the image of his ascension in our hearts, but our hands and spirits must be ready to do the work that you have set before us. You have asked us to live out our Resurrection faith in service, offering peace and justice, hope and healing to all whom we meet. It is easy for us to lift the names of those near and dear to us in prayer in our worship service. We want your healing mercies for all who are ill, who mourn, who are lost and alone. We want to rejoice in prayer with those who have received special joys during this week. All these things are important to us and we know they are important to you. Help us to live the prayers we ask. Help us to be agents of healing and mercy, of peace and hope. We offer our lives and prayers to you in the name of our ascended Lord, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

LITANY: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, Thanks, Witness, Teaching, Praise, Healing, Compassion, Hope]

L: For those who bring the words of scripture to us

P: We give you thanks, O Lord.

L: For those who teach us the great truths of your scripture,

P: We give you thanks, O Lord.

L: For those who raise their voices in songs of praise,

P: We give you thanks, O Lord.

L: For those who serve you in ministries of healing,

P: We give you thanks, O Lord

L: For those who work with children and youth

P: We give you thanks, O Lord

L: For those who offer their time and loving presence to people who are lost, alone, feel shut-in our shut-out

P: We give you thanks, O Lord

L: For those who participate in ministries of justice and hope,

P: We give you thanks, O Lord.

L: For those who offer prayer, seeking your healing love,

P: We give you thanks, O Lord.

L: For all those who have witnessed to your love by the way in which they lead their lives, by their compassion to others, by their understanding

P: We give you thanks, O Lord. For all anywhere who love you and praise your holy name, who are willing to be the Resurrection Church, we are grateful. AMEN.

LITANY: [WBW: Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Rejoice, Celebration, Praise, Blessing, God’s presence, Christ’s presence, Holy Spirit]

L: Clap your hands! Let your spirits rejoice!

P: God has done wondrous things for us!

L: Praise God to the highest heavens!

P: Christ has blessed our lives with his presence and his teachings!

L: We have joyous work to do for our God.

P: God is with us in all that we say and do!

L: We can do this work with confidence!

P: Christ is with us in all that we say and do!

L: We don’t have to be afraid to proclaim the good news!

P: The Holy Spirit is with us in all that we say and do!

L: Sing, rejoice! God loves us!

P: Let all the people shout "AMEN!"

All: "AMEN!"

BENEDICTION: [WBW: Yr B, Easter 7, God’s love, Peace, Witness, God’s presence]

As Christ has loved you and prayed for you, go now in peace, bringing Christ’s loving words to all you meet. Know that Christ is with you in all that you do. AMEN.

BENEDICTION: [WBW: Yr B, Ascension Sunday, Jesus Christ, God’s love, Witness, Good News, Healing, Ministry, Justice, Peace]]

The power and love of Jesus Christ is with you. You are sent forth to be his witnesses in the world, bringing the good news, healing, establishing ministries of justice and peace. Go in confidence and the power and love of God goes with you. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

Note: Some churches choose to celebrate this day as Easter 7; others as Ascension Sunday. Below are listed two visual arts displays: one for Easter 7 and one for Ascension Sunday]

The traditional color for this day is WHITE.

EASTER 7: Visual Arts Display for Worship

SURFACE: Place 3 risers on the main worship table. The tallest of the risers, about 6" in height, place in the center back of the worship center. Place the other two risers, about 3" in height, on either side of the 6" riser, slightly forward of the center riser.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center with white cloth, making sure that all risers are covered. The fabric may drape down over the worship center and puddle on the floor to the right or left side.

CANDLES: Place a white pillar candle, about 10" high in front of the tallest riser; Place two pillar candles, about 3" high on the two side risers. You may place votive candles elsewhere in the setting as you choose (these will represent the prayers and hopes of all the people)

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Leafy foliage plants may be used in this setting. Ferns are particularly attractive, placed on either side of the tallest riser. Smaller plants may be placed near the other risers on the worship center. Larger, leafy plants may be placed on the floor in front of the worship center, to soften the lines.

ROCKS/WOOD Not recommended for this setting

OTHER: If you have a picture of Jesus praying or the praying hands, place it on the top of the tallest riser. Sunday School curriculum might have such pictures available.

Ascension Sunday - visual arts display:

SURFACE: Place five risers on the worship center. Place the tallest riser, about 8" in height, to the left rear of the worship center. The remaining risers, two of them being 4" in height; and two of them being 2" in height, should be placed creatively on the worship center. Place two risers in front of the worship center, as follows: one riser about 1 ½ feet high near the right side of the worship center; the other riser about 1 foot high in the center, but slightly in front of the one on the right.

FABRIC: Cover the whole worship center with white fabric, making sure that it covers all risers and puddles down over the risers in front of the worship center onto the floor. With streamers of gold ribbons, run the ribbon from the tallest riser across the table and trailing down the front onto the risers. If you have white netting, you may bunch it at the back of the tallest riser and across the back of the worship center, particularly on the right side and then trailing it over the side of the center. This represents the clouds.

CANDLES: Place a 10" white pillar candle in front of the highest riser on the worship center. Place as many white votive candles as you desire on all other risers. These represent the witness of all the disciples for whom Jesus prayed and for all of us for whom he continues to pray.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: The ferns or leafy plants may be placed on the right side of the worship center, behind the white netting. Some larger leafy plants may be placed on the floor around the base of the worship center to soften the lines. Place other plants as you desire.

ROCKS/WOOD Not recommended for this setting.

OTHER If you can get a picture of Jesus ascending (often found in Sunday School Curriculum), place it on the top of the highest riser and make sure that some of the netting is bunched under it and around the sides of the picture. If no picture is available, use a brass cross with the netting around it, again placing it on the highest riser.

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