Picture: The Ascension of Christ, on an added leaf in the Galba Psalter, Reims (France), 1st quarter of the 9th century (additions England, 1st half of the 10th century):
Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:
and also with you.
Hymn: All hail the power of Jesus’ name https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgQ9ER-fdWQ
Let us pray
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Christ has gone up on high, leading captivity captive and bringing gifts to us. As we prepare ourselves to meet him here in the courts of heaven, let us call to mind our many failures and sins.
Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Let us pray
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. Amen.
Acts 1: 6-14
Then the disciples gathered around Jesus and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God
1 Peter 4: 12-14; 5: 6-11
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God
Hymn Be still, for the presence of the Lord https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5S_-zhHfDA
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John
Glory to you, O Lord.
John 17: 1-11
Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
Sermon from Richard Austen
Today’s Gospel is a plea from Jesus to God himself on our behalf, demonstrating yet again his care for his people. But today I want to focus more on the Epistle. Peter is talking about the sufferings Christians will undergo for the sake of Jesus and, it has to be said, that a lot of what he says could be interpreted for the sufferings people are going though in a different form at present. “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you”; “Your brothers and sisters throughout the World are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” and, almost echoing the Government, “Keep – or stay – alert”!
While researching this sermon I came across some words from Malcolm Muggeridge, the journalist and broadcaster who died in 1990. Some of us may remember him and recall that he was a man who changed from being a Communist and agnostic to being an enthusiastic advocate for Christ. In an interview towards the end of his life Muggeridge said: “As an old man, looking back on one’s life, it’s one of the things that strikes me most forcibly – that the only thing that’s taught me anything is suffering. Not success, not happiness, not anything like that. The only thing that really teaches one what life’s about is suffering”. He was probably right about that. Do we learn very much about the important things in life from good health, happy days, money in the bank, and good fortune. We enjoy and value those things, but maybe we don’t learn so much from them. It seems that we all have to encounter some form of hardship or misery to learn the lessons God has for us.
This is a theme that runs through 1 Peter. Suffering is inevitable and we have lessons to be learned from it. Peter urges us to respond to suffering in a godly fashion. There are perhaps four things we can learn from this today:
Firstly, hard times develop our character
Discipleship is tough. Suffering is part of the Christian life, even painful suffering. Believers in some other parts of the world understand this better than we do. I have referred before to Release International, which campaigns for persecuted Christians throughout the World. It was founded fifty years or more ago as the Christian Mission to the Communist World, by Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Pastor who spent many years in prison because of his faith. As the scope of this organisation widened to support Christians in many different countries, from Pakistan to Iran, India to Nigeria and many others, the name was changed. But the theme was the same – supporting those who were suffering for their faith in Jesus. It would be true to say that living for Christ is the best life you can have, but an integral part of it is suffering in one form or another. However, most of us probably don’t think that way. We are surprised when trials come, how they come, and where they come from. We think we do not deserve them. But when they do happen, we probably emerge from them as stronger, better and more understanding individuals.
Secondly, hard times bring us closer to God.
By suffering for his name’s sake, we participate in Jesus’s own sufferings and become closer to him and are blessed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Many in the World do not love him, in fact some actively hate him, which is why Christians are persecuted and martyred today and have been since the beginnings of our faith. So, when we suffer for him, we find blessing. Our sufferings join us with Jesus in a way that nothing else can. Peter wants us to understand that nothing moves us closer to Christ than when we go through hard times. It’s not that suffering in and of itself brings us to Christ; it’s what suffering does to us and in us. When we are at rock bottom, that is when we cry out to God for help. Many of us can identify with that well-known story about the footprints in the sand. At first there were two sets of footprints—ours and the Lord’s. Then there was only one set. And when we asked God why he left us alone when we needed him most, he replied, “When you saw only one set of footprints was when I carried you.” God intends that our hard times should move us from where we are to where Christ is.
Thirdly, suffering should lead to self-examination.
We need to look at ourselves seriously. Are we living our lives as Christ would have us do? Are we proud of being a Christian? There are plenty of people out there who will make fun of us for being Christians and are we a little inclined to hide our faith for fear of mockery or rejection or being thought a little weird? Are we trying to avoid the suffering of being a Christian for fear of the reaction of others? Peter’s answer to that is clear: “Do not be ashamed.” Peter had known shame himself on the night before the crucifixion, when he denied Christ three times. He was ashamed of that and he was keen that other Christians should not go through such shame, but instead that they should be proud and confident in the name of Jesus.
Fourthly, suffering can teach us to trust God in new ways.
Suffering can make you stronger. That perhaps is a different experience for different people, but whatever else, it will certainly make you more experienced and perhaps more understanding of the problems of others. And sometimes it can make us realise that we cannot handle everything on our own. Instead of trying to work out how to solve our own problems, we need to trust in God, to cast all our anxiety on him, because he cares for us. What a wonderful instruction and relief.
So to summarise: We are loved by God; Suffering for Christ brings us closer to him; We must never be ashamed of Jesus; God uses suffering to strengthen us; We must commit our lives to God and continue to serve him. Never be surprised by hard times. Never be ashamed of Jesus and never fail to put your trust in God, who uses suffering to help us grow and make us better Christians. Hallelujah!
In resurrectione tua from Taizé https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7eh2w-pOp8u8nf7afQbNgQ
Prayers – with thanks to Veronica Willoughby
Teach us Good Lord to serve thee as thou deservest: To give and not to count the cost; To fight and not to heed the wounds; To toil and not to seek for rest; To labour and not to ask for any reward save the joy of knowing that we do thy will. Amen
Dear Lord, we miss seeing our friends from church and the loss of the routine of church services particularly over Easter had a profound effect on all of us. We are so grateful to Peter Hart and the Parish Office for arranging services on Zoom so that we can see and hear how our friends are keeping under lockdown. We pray for good health for everyone wherever they live and in every parish in London, especially this borough of Richmond.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
We are all extremely grateful to the NHS for excellent care all our lives and now with all the hard work over the Corona virus they have truly excelled and deserve all the new clinics and hospitals which we hope they will get thanks to the money raised by Sir Tom and many others. We pray that very soon there will be no more deaths of both patients and staff from the virus. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
Dear Lord we pray for all our schools which have had to close at this time and that the boys and girls are enjoying time at home with school work coming in on-line in the morning and playtime in the afternoon. We pray for all the teachers especially Mary Noyes, Jane Corpetti and Diana Ormond and all others known to us who are longing to come back and start the next lessons. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
We pray for all those people who are very ill with other physical and mental issues and need the constant care of doctors and nurses in hospital as well as in the home with families and carers, keep them close in your loving arms O Lord and give them all the strength they need to face the future. We think especially of: Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter, Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston
Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
We pray for those who alas are no longer with us but live with you in heaven. Mary Smith, John Axell, Joy Dyer, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams, Rex Thorne May they rest in peace and rise in glory. We also remember with sadness and joy Nigel Blake, as the anniversary of his death falls this Wednesday. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son Our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
God has made us one in Christ. He has set his seal upon us and, as a pledge of what is to come, has given us the Spirit to dwell in our hearts. Alleluia.
The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.
Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;
Make yourself known in the breaking of bread
Hymn: Alleluia, sing to Jesus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmz-W733sz4
The Lord be with you
and also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, almighty and eternal Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. For he is our great high priest who has entered once for all in to the heavenly sanctuary, evermore to pour upon your Church the grace and comfort of your Holy Spirit. He is the one who has gone before us, who calls us to be united in prayer as were his disciples in the upper room while they awaited his promised gift, the life-giving Spirit of Pentecost. Therefore all creation yearns with eager longing as angels and archangels sing the endless hymn of praise.
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
May the Spirit, who hovered over the waters when the world was created, breathe into you the life he gives. Amen.
May the Spirit, who overshadowed Mary when the eternal Son came among us, make you joyful in the service of the Lord. Amen.
May the Spirit, who set the Church on fire upon the day of Pentecost, bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ. Amen.
And the blessing of God almight, the +Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you and those you love, today and always. Amen.
Hymn: Crown him with many crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kPkjghup8E
Praise him on the trumpet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBQTBS_C-bE