This Week’s Theme
Jesus’s Parting into Heaven
After his appearance to his disciples, Jesus underscored that all the things written about him in the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e., the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms) had to be fulfilled. Having opened their minds to understand the biblical testimony about the sufferings and the glory of the Messiah, Jesus assured them that the Word’s testimony about himself would be accomplished. “And He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem’” (Luke 24.46-47 [NASB]). The apostles were eyewitnesses of the Christ, and therefore in a sound place to provide authoritative testimony of what occurred and what it means for the world.
Jesus exhorted the disciples that soon he would be sending down on them the promise of the Father, but it was needful for them to stay in Jerusalem until the power of God clothed them from on high. With this word, Luke declares that the Lord led his disciples out as far as Bethany, lifted up his hands, and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he parted from them and was “carried up into heaven” (i.e., ascended to the Father’s right hand). After worshiping him, they returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy, continually being in the temple praising God and awaiting the promise from on high.
Through the Holy Spirit Jesus is with us and remains here. His ascension to the Father’s right hand represents the ultimate verification that Jesus is Lord, the Son of the Most High God. The angels who gave testimony of his ascension (Acts 1.10-11) also gave assurance that this same Jesus would come again, in like manner, as he left. Yes, he will return from his exalted place at God’s right hand from above, not to endure suffering again, but rather to establish God’s rule in all places among all peoples. Glory to the risen and ascended Christ! “In splendor, now he reigns!”
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
O God, Whose most dearly beloved Son was, by Thy mighty power, exalted into the heavens, that He might prepare a place in Thy Kingdom of glory for them that truly love Thee, so lead and uphold us, O merciful Lord, that we may both follow the most holy steps of His life here on earth, and may enter with Him hereafter into Thy everlasting rest; that where He is, we may be also; through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ Rev. W. E. Scudamore, A.D. 1850 (Fox, p. 230)
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, Amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Thursday: Isa. 1.21-5.30
Lectionary Readings for the Day
*During Eastertide, a reading from Acts is often substituted for the lesson from the Hebrew Bible.
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in 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, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
O Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of the sheep, who came to seek the lost and to gather them to your fold, have compassion on those who have wandered from you; feed those who hunger, cause the weary to lie down in your pastures, bind up those who are broken in heart and strengthen those who are weak, that we, relying on your care and being comforted by your love, may abide in your guidance to our lives’ end; for your name’s sake. Amen.
~ Anonymous (Fox, p. 138)
Affirmation for the Day
Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God, the Almighty.
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Jesus has ascended to the Father’s right hand, glorified as head of the Church, sovereign over the nations, and Lord over all.
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Holy Spirit, Teacher of All Things
Metaxas, Martin Luther