Worship Connection: Ascension Sunday 2021 (Option 3)

April 3rd, 2021

Ascension Sunday

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

Call to Worship #1

L: Jesus promised to be with us always
P: Lord, we are thankful for that promise.
L: In all times, this promise gives us hope.
P: Lord, we rejoice in the hope you give us.
L: Come and celebrate the eternal promises of Christ.
P: Lord, we are so grateful that you have given to us so much and that you promise God’s presence with us always. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Welcome! We are gathered here to celebrate the great promise!
P: Our hearts are ready to receive this good news.
L: Jesus asked all of his friends to live lives reflecting the love of God.
P: We are numbered among these friends!
L: Open your hearts today. Hear God’s special word just for you!
P: Lord, help us to be ready to receive your word and to live in your love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

Using The Faith We Sing, p. 2070, “He Is Exalted”, singer’s edition, have the choir or a small group sing the sing through one time (do not use the descant).

L: Welcome! Today is filled with excitement!
P: What’s going on?
L: We are celebrating the promise Jesus made just before he ascended to heaven.
P: What was that?
L: He promised to send the Spirit of truth to be with us always, reminding us of God’s love.
P: That’s good news for us at all times: God is with us! Hooray!

Gathering Prayer

Lord of justice and mercy, be with us today as we seek healing for our pain, hope for our spirits. Encourage us in our various ministries in life. Help us to be faithful witnesses to your good news. In Christ’s Name we pray. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

Gracious Lord, this morning we come to you with so many things on our hearts. Keep our hearts and our minds open to your words of healing and of hope. Give us spirits of courage for all the times ahead. We ask your blessing on all those this day who are afflicted with illness and debilitating diseases, for those who mourn, for those who feel lost and alienated from family and from friends. Be with these dear people. Help them to feel your comforting and restoring presence. Give to us also, Lord, a spirit of peace and joy that we might llive your love through our attitudes and actions. In Jesus’ Name we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Patient God, it hasn’t been easy for us to be disciples or witnesses to your love. We get caught in traps of anger, impatience and fear. Our words and spirits become cynical and jaded. Yet, at all times, you are with us, guiding and guarding us. On this day in which we celebrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven, we are reminded that we are not being left without guidance. The promise of the Spirit is given and in that promise we have hope and courage to become true disciples. Forgive us when we forget that! Forgive us when we act as though you didn’t care about us or about this world. We are called to be those who live the faith of hope and reconciliation, of courage and understanding. Lift us up when we have fallen, guide our hearts when we speak, for it is in the name of our risen Savior Jesus that we ask these things. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Celebrate, dear friends! God’s Spirit will be coming to you to give you hope and courage. AMEN.

Morning Prayer

Dear Lord, we are so fortunate to be gathered here this morning to hear the good news of the promised Spirit of Truth. We celebrate that we are a community of people, each at a different point on his or her faith journey, each seeking your healing love and mercy. We are called to witness to the good news of Jesus who taught us about God’s love for each one of us and for God’s magnificent creation. But there are those for whom this word seems a distant hope or experience. They struggle with the difficulties of everyday living, with addictions, with illness, with alienation. Help us to bring the good news to them in gentle kindness and compassionate understanding. Let our actions and attitudes reflect all that Jesus taught us. For just a moment we take a deep breath and remember those we love who are in difficulty.

(Silent prayer)

You have heard the cries of our hearts, O Lord. We ask for your healing mercies on all whom we have mentioned by voice and by prayer. We also ask for your healing in our own lives. Keep our hearts open to your love. Help us be witnesses of mercy and hope wherever you place us. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.


Prayer of Dedication

With joy and confidence in your abiding love and presence with us, we present these gifts, tokens of our lives, as an offering for service in and to this world which you have entrusted to us. Bless these gifts and bless all those who place their trust in you. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

Go forth in hope. Go forth with the knowledge of God’s presence with you. Go to serve God by taking care of each other and God’s worldl. Go now in peace! AMEN.

Children’s Time

We’ve been thinking about Jesus for a long time. We talked about the many people he called disciples, or special friends. We remember the stories of how he healed people and made people who were sad feel better. He was always truthful with his friends, and we were glad to hear about that. He told stories, called parables, that made us think a little differently about ourselves and our world. If we had lived in the time of Jesus, we probably would be feeling the samee way the disciples felt when Jesus died, and then we would have felt so very happy when we learned about his resurrection. We, just like them, would want Jesus to stay right by our sides always, but Jesus could not do this. There was a special day when he had to leave his friends and go into heaven to be with God. But he made a promise……he said that there was a special friend coming into our lives that would be with us forever. He called that friend the Spirit of truth. Wow! That’s pretty ice. He said that we would not have to be afraid because this spirit would help us and guide us and teach us many things. That might be the way we felt if we lived in Jesus’ time. Now it’s over two thousand years later and all during that time people have come to know and trust the Holy Spirit. You will learn that also. Right now, however we are asking you to be patient, to wait. Next Sunday is a very special day. It will be exciting and you will hear more about the Holy Spirit. For now, just wait. Things will be Okay!

Altar Art for this Sunday

Equipment and Supplies: Sheer fabric (may be netting or sheet white window panels) These will be bunched on the altar/table like clouds. Make sure that the two hymnal stacks are covered with bunched up fabric, but place it lower than the candles on the hymnal stacks. Cover the center hymnal stack and, if a vase is used to hold the dowel, cover the vase.

Hymnal Stacks: Three sets of books, two stacks about two books high, the third stack about 4 books high

Dowel with Cardboard Heart: 24” dowel free standing or placed in a clear glass bud vase. The red heart should be 18” across and it is to be affixed to the top of the dowel.
Tan altar fabric, used in previous weeks, should drape all the way to the floor.
Medium to Dark green fabric to be draped across the altar from the upper left corner to the lower right corner, spilling onto the floor.

Three white pillar candles: 2 candles, 6” tall; 1 candle, 10” tall. The two 6’ candles will be placed on the lower hymnal stacks, the larger will be placed in front of the heart dowel.
This altar/worship center setting is an interpretation of the Ascension setting with the sheer fabric being used as the clouds and the heart rising above the clouds. You may place large green leafy potted plants at the base of the worship center near the green cloth.

Scripture as Script: (Reflection on 1 Peter 4)

Reader One: It seems as though we are being tested all day long. Things are tough and no one seems to be helping us. We are set adrift in a turbulent sea.
Reader Two: Darkness surrounds us and we wonder if we will ever see light again.
Reader Three: Dear friends, Jesus said not to be afraid of the turbulence or the darkness. These trials may test us and challenge us to remember that Christ is with us. We are not alone; we are not abandoned. The promise has been made by Christ himself that there is One who will be sent to us to be with us forever. It doesn’t mean that there will never be difficulties, but it does mean that we can rely on God to be with us through them giving us courage and strength.
Reader One: Really? God is going to be with us in the power of the spirit of truth?
Reader Three: That’s the promise.
Reader Two: Will God take care of the problems, solving them for me?
Reader Three: God will work with you to solve these difficulties. God may not solve them but God will surely open a way for you to go that gives you hope and healing. God is with you..

Message Movers

We can look at the Ascension and relegate it to “nice story” status. But, what’s the point of this? We are challenged to dare to believe in something beyond what we can see and touch. We are called to trust totally in God’s love and in the provision of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is not yet present in today’s scripture but Jesus promised that the Spirit would be made manifest to us. So, again, what difference does that make? We cry out in our desperation for God’s healing power and somehow it is sent to us. We weep in our loneliness and God’s presence is given to us in many ways.

I have a friend whose husband died several months ago. This has been a difficult time for her. Due to a host of circumstances, she lost contact with a beloved grandson. Only recently has there been any communication, once through his high school graduation and nothing until a few days ago when she received a letter from him. He is studying in Japan and has written to her that he will be home in June and would love to see her. Her heart was bursting with joy as she was telling me of this. She is so eager to see him. Her loneliness and sorrow at being separated from this dear child has been solved. He asked her “What is God doing in your life lately?” {An amazing question to be asked by this young man). Now you may say he just remembered his grandmother and thought he would get in touch with her and that is probably true, but he wanted to know what God has been doing. She can answer with great joy that God has given this grandson back to her.

The disciples thought they had lost Jesus forever at the Crucifixion and were bursting with joy at his resurrection and the times he spent with them. But now he was going again, only to return on the final day. They would be alone, or so they thought. Times would be very difficult without Jesus. What would they do? How could they survive? These were perfectly normal questions. He had been their constant companion and beloved teacher. Now they were on their own and they would have to rely on their memory of all that he had said and done, some much of this is recorded in our Bible. But he promised that they were not being orphaned, nor being set adrift on the turbulent sea. There would be one who would come to encourage, empower, comfort, strengthen and give hope to them in all times and in all places. The Ascension was a new beginning for them – it was the entrance into a life of trust and hope, or peace, love and joy. It would still have great difficulties, but these were surmounted by their faith.

As Jesus said, “Dear friends, do not fear! You will receive a Spirit of truth who will be in your hearts forever”. We need to place our trust in that promise! Darkness is for but a time; then God pours the light into our lives. We have dwelled in darkness in order to understand the loneliness and alienation that darkness offers. We are called to be those people who can bring courage and hope to those who dwell in darkness, who fear, who feel lost or alienated. The Ascension is for us – it is our time to shine with Christ’s love. Dear friends, do not fear!

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