Sunday, 1 June 2014

Can't make it to church? - June 1

How refreshing it it to find that we're not the only one looking to Jesus to get stuck in and make things work for us - and how more refreshing is it to know that everything is in hand and working to a plan. A plan that was enacted on earth when Gabriel visited Mary was visited, brought Jesus into the world and then saw Him minister, tried, crucified and killed, rising again from the dead and (as we celebrated this week) ascended back into the heavens - something that had to be done for the next part of the plan: the age of the Spirit to be implemented.

Jesus has gone up into the heavens and we, with the benefit of hindsight await the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into our lives. An Act that brings boldness, power and, as Jesus prays in our Gospel passage, protects us against the powers that oppose.  God's power in us cements - no demands - unity between all believers. But in all of our endeavours the devil (who truly does exist folk) prowls around looking to strip and divide us and this is no more evident than in the area of unity.

But we have the power of the Spirit and the resolve of many and in my experience this unity is a reality that we need to celebrate and build upon. Standing together we are a force for good and as soul providers (sic) a place of safety, solace and support.

So wherever you find yourself - be the difference because Jesus has ascended and the plan is still running on track.

Wait expectantly and look to God for your healing, health and joy (because that's what He does) and reach out and touch those who have needs around you.

Risen, ascended Lord, as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Acts 1.6-14
So 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 towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards 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.

Psalm 68.1-10, 32-35
Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; let those that hate him flee before him.
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. But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them make merry with gladness.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; exalt him who rides on the clouds.
The Lord is his name; rejoice before him.
Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, God in his holy habitation!
God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.

O God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, 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. You sent down a gracious rain, O God; you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary. Your people came to dwell there; in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor.

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; make music in praise of the Lord; He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel, whose power is above the clouds. How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people!
Blessed be God.

1 Peter 4.12-14; 5.6-11
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

John 17.1-11
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal God, giver of love and power,
your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world
to preach the gospel of his kingdom:
confirm us in this mission,
and help us to live the good news we proclaim;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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