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Worship Resources - 02 June 2019

Worship Suggestions

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Ascension of the Lord

LUKE 24:44–53/24:44–52 IV

Sent with Good News

Additional Scriptures

Acts 1:1–11, Psalm 93, Ephesians 1:15–23, 1 Corinthians 11:23–26, Doctrine and Covenants 153:9a–b


Preparation

Make the Responsive Prayer handout and pens or pencils available to everyone as they enter the sanctuary. These materials will be used in the Disciples’ Generous Response.

Prelude

Gathering Hymn

“As God Is Joy” (sing twice) CCS 366

OR “God Is Here!”     CCS 70

OR “Pray to the Lord”          CCS 85

Welcome

Draw attention to the Responsive Prayer handout everyone received and the fill-in-the-blank spaces. Invite people to prayerfully contemplate three ways they will share the good news that Christ lives, and write in their commitment to be spoken as part of the prayer during the Disciples’ Generous Response. Allow some time for people to complete the sentences. Soft music can play as they write.

Time of Sharing and Caring

Share announcements, celebrations, and prayer concerns—ending with a pastoral prayer appropriate to the sharing.

Hymn of Rejoicing

“Now Sing to Our God”       CCS 108

OR “Creation Flows Unceasingly”  CCS 107

OR “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”       CCS  101

Light the peace candle.

Prayer of Praise and Meditation on Peace

Lord, Creator of all life, we are aware of your presence in this space and in our hearts.

Pray in silence.

Thank you for this time of holiness. We gather in worship and praise for all you have given, shared, and done. We gather in peace, seeking your peace.

Pray in silence.

Grant us your grace. Forgive us for all we have left ungiven, unshared, undone.

Pray in silence.

Help us more fully understand the gift of your Son in our lives, and to all peoples.

Pray in silence.

Open our hearts and minds. Connect us through our worship that we might deeply embrace the call of your kingdom as a congregation, mission center, and global faith community.

Pray in silence.

Lord, we thank you for all things. In Jesus’ name, amen.

For more ideas, the Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Scripture Reading

Luke 24:44–53/24:43–52 IV

Focus Moment: Christ’s Ascension

Select the option below that best suits your congregation. This could also be a good place in the service to involve youth. These moments can be adapted to be intergenerational. The options could also be expanded and substituted for the message based on Luke 24:44–53/24:43–52 IV. Mix and match the options that work best for your group, setting, and time frame.

Option 1: Movement

Encourage everyone to reflect on the words from Luke and repeat softly to themselves the good news, “Christ lives now. Christ lives here.” Invite all who are able to raise their hands and arms to the sky and imagine what “heaven on Earth” might look like, feel like, and  sound like. Continue to repeat, “Christ lives now. Christ lives here.” Hold this experience between your uplifted hands, and gradually lower your arms and hands to bring that experience down to your body and to the floor or ground, continuing to softly repeat, “Christ lives now. Christ lives here.” Slowly bring everyone’s attention back to center noticing their own breath. What is different? What has changed? Invite everyone to say aloud, “Christ lives now! Christ lives here!”

Option 2: Small Group Setting

In groups of two or three, have people share their responses to the following reading which has been projected or printed in the bulletin, or written on a separate insert.

As Christians, we strive for and hope in “heaven on Earth.” What does this mean to you personally? What does this mean for our community?

After small group sharing, ask several people who perhaps prepared in advance to briefly share their thoughts with the group as a whole.

Option 3: Outdoor Worship Setting

Invite people to be aware of nature around them, especially looking upward in the sky or “heavens.” Encourage them to select and pay attention to one object. Reflect on how this part of nature teaches or is a metaphor for creating “heaven on Earth.” After reflection time, invite brief sharing within the group.

Hymn of Transformation

“Christ Is Alive!”        CCS 473

OR “Transform Us”   CCS 569

OR “The Risen Christ”          CCS 477

OR “Christ Is Living/Cristo vive”     CCS 481

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

Communion Scripture

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 —1 Corinthians 11:23–26

Communion Message

Based on the sacrament of Communion and Luke 24:44–53/24:44–52 IV

Hymn and Preparation of the Emblems

“Spirit of Christ, Remember Me”   CCS  221

OR “When We Are Living/Pues si vivimos”          CCS 242

OR “I Know Not What the Future Hath”   CCS 246

Invitation to the Table

In Community of Christ the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, and living presence of Jesus Christ. Through partaking of the emblems, we renew the covenant we made through baptism, reconcile and strengthen relationships, and commit ourselves to Christ’s mission in the world (Doctrine and Covenants 164:4). Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so as an expression of the love and peace of Jesus Christ, in whose name we worship. All are welcome at Christ’s table.

Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine

Disciples’ Generous Response

The first Sunday of each month focuses on Abolish Poverty, End Suffering which includes Oblation and World Hunger ministry.

Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 153:9a

Blessing of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Responsive Prayer (use handout distributed at the beginning of the service)

You may receive the offering before or after this prayer, depending on your congregation’s custom. The presider will need to wait until all people have voiced their commitment before saying the next phrase.

Leader: Heavenly Creator, we worship with hearts, minds, and souls full of blessings from you, O God. Your love and grace are boundless.

People:    I will share the good news when I __________.

Leader: We pray through songs sung, words spoken, and silence shared. We live to be a blessing in this time, this place, for all your people.

People:    I will share the good news when I __________.

Leader: We thank you for your gifts of time, talent, treasure, and testimony. We are grateful. We are willing. We are ready.

People:    I will share the good news when I __________.

Leader: May our every breath speak of your love, and every action declare your presence. May we be bold in our pursuit for your peace.

All:      I will share this good news today!

Leader: Lord, bless these offerings of money and resources today, we pray. Bless all the ways we commit to share the good news of Christ with others. In the  name of your Son, amen.

As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true  capacity of time, talent, and testimony.

Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.

Hymn of Mission

“Church of Christ Now Poised Anew”        CCS  373

OR “In Nature’s Voice We Hear You, Lord”          CCS 368

OR “We Are the Singers Who Celebrate Jesus”   CCS  352

OR “Christ, You Call Us All to Service”       CCS  357

Benediction Response

Sending Scripture

Doctrine and Covenants 153:9b

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Seventh Sunday of Easter Ascension of the Lord

LUKE 24:44–53

Exploring the Scripture

Today’s passage is part of the longer account in Luke 24 that includes the empty tomb and the encounter of two disciples with Christ on the road to Emmaus. These stories are in harmony with Luke’s entire message that Jesus has come to bring restoration to Israel. In other words, Jesus’ mission is fulfilling God’s promise.

Specifically, the text encompasses Christ’s appearance in Jerusalem and includes Christ’s blessing and his ascension. Consistent with author’s purpose, verses 44–53 provide continuity between the past and present, then move toward the future. In verse 44 Jesus refers the disciples to the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. Jesus stresses this link with the past. God was involved from the beginning. God is faithful and engaged in history.

People in modern cultures have a tendency to discount the past. But it is important to recognize that tradition and history have much to contribute. The Holy Spirit has encountered many who have gone before us. We are not the first to be blessed by God. We would do well to listen to their stories and testimonies about their encounters with the Divine.

In verse 45 Jesus opens their minds. In the following verses the disciples witness where God is moving at their particular moment in history. He describes divine events they witnessed. It is a reality for them. They know it as truth. Now, Christ has their attention. He challenges them to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sin to all.

As disciples, we, too, need to be aware of where God is moving today. When we allow God’s grace to enter our lives, transformation occurs. When we worship, pray, study, hear the Word, and share in the sacraments, God appears and blesses. We are called to share that good news with the world.

Then, in the text, Jesus brings the future into the story. Jesus tells the disciples he is sending what God has promised. He directs them to stay in Jerusalem until they have power from on high. The power they will receive is not theirs. Rather, it is God’s power. It is a gift. This power will come from the Divine. Because they are to wait for it, they have a heightened sense of expectancy and excitement. Something is going to happen. How will the power be revealed?

In verses 50–53, Jesus leads his followers to Bethany and blesses them before he ascends. The Greek word the author uses for bless means “to speak well of.” So, in this text Jesus speaks well of them and praises them. He is asking God to help them gain peace, well-being, and wholeness. We, too, receive Christ’s blessing. As disciples, we are called to share that blessing with others. There are many among us who need blessing. We are to “speak well of” them and ask God’s Spirit to give them peace and wholeness.

In the text, after being blessed, the disciples worship Jesus. They return to Jerusalem with great joy and continually “speak well of” God (vv. 52–53). Our families, congregations, and faith community should also be continually full of joy and praise. Today we speak “well of God” because of our experience that God’s unbounded love and unconditional grace embraces all.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus came to fulfill everything written about him in the Law of Moses, the prophets, and in the psalms.
  2. The power we receive is from God. It is a divine gift to be used for God’s purposes. It is not power to use for our own benefit.
  3. We are called to be witnesses—proclaimers of repentance and forgiveness of sins—to all nations. Christ’s mission is our mission.

Questions to Consider

  1. How do the traditions of your congregation reflect God’s presence? (past)
  2. When has your “mind been opened to scripture”? (present)
  3. Have you ever felt expectant to receive from God? (future)
  4. What are some ways you and your congregation witness of and proclaim the Risen Christ?
  5. How would you explain the ascension of Jesus to a new disciple?

 

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ascension of the Lord

Luke 24:44–53 NRSV

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


Gathering

Welcome

This is the final Sunday of the Easter season called Ascension of the Lord. Ascension Sunday also is known as the Feast of Ascension and is an important Christian holiday celebrated around the world. This day marks Christ’s last appearance to his disciples after his resurrection. As followers of Jesus we recognize that although Jesus is not physically present with us, we are equipped with his message and ministry and guided by the Holy Spirit as we continue his work of healing the world.

Prayer for Peace

Say: After each phrase of the prayer I will pause for a period of silence. During the moments of silence you are invited to pray silently. I will conclude today’s prayer with “Amen.”

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

Lord, Creator of all life, we are aware of your presence in this space and in our hearts.

Pray in silence.

Thank you for this time of holiness. We gather in worship and praise for all you have given, shared, and done. We gather in peace, seeking your peace.

Pray in silence.

Grant us your grace. Forgive us for all we have left ungiven, unshared, undone.

Pray in silence.

Help us more fully understand the gift of your Son in our lives, and to all peoples.

Pray in silence.

Open our hearts and minds. Connect us through our worship that we might deeply embrace the call of your kingdom as individuals, small groups, and a global faith community.

Pray in silence.

Lord, we thank you for all things.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Contemplative Reading

Read the following to the group:

Today our spiritual practice is contemplative reading. Today our reading is a poem. It was written by Teresa de Avila in the 1500s.
Listen as I read the poem. Pay attention to phrases and images that come into your mind. Allow them to rest in and with you. After a brief pause I will read the poem a second time. During the second reading, consider how God is speaking to you through this text.

Read aloud:

Christ Has No Body
By Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Pause.

Say: Now consider how God is speaking to you through this text. Read the poem through a second time. Invite group members to share responses to the following questions:

1. What words, phrases, or images captured your attention?
2. How is the Spirit inviting you to action through this poem?

Sharing Around the Table

Luke 24:44–53 NRSV

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Today’s scripture reading reminds us that God’s work continues across time, beginning with “the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms” all the way to now, and leads into the future when they (disciples) will be “clothed with power from on high.” God was involved from the beginning, God is faithful and engaged in the present, and God will continue to work in the future, empowering disciples for the work to which they (and we) have been called and sent.

Although we may discount the past, it is important to recognize that tradition and history have much to contribute. The Holy Spirit has encountered many who have gone before us. We are not the first to be blessed by God. We would do well to listen to their stories and testimonies about encountering the Divine.

We also must be aware of how God is working in our midst. Jesus describes divine events witnessed by the disciples of his day. It was a reality for them, and it is a reality for us. As present-day disciples, we, too, need to be aware of where God is moving. When we allow God’s grace to enter our lives, transformation occurs. When we worship, pray, study, hear the Word, and share in the sacraments, God appears and blesses. We are called to share that good news with the world.

We know God’s love and presence have been consistent throughout time and continue to be with us today. Because of that, we can, like the disciples of Jesus’ time, live with a heightened sense of expectancy and excitement for what God is yet to do in the world and how we are yet to be equipped to be co-laborers with God.

The passage closes with Jesus’ ascension into heaven. But before he goes, he leads his followers to Bethany and blesses them. He asks God to help them gain peace, well-being, and wholeness. We, too, receive Christ’s blessing—a blessing that brings great joy. As disciples, we are called to share that blessing with others.

Questions

  1. What testimony from the past has strengthened your faith or given you a sense of connection to God’s faithfulness across time?
  2. Where and how do you experience God’s presence in your daily life? How might sharing about it bless others?
  3. How does the promise of God’s blessing help you live with a heightened sense of expectancy and excitement for what is yet to come?

Sending

Generosity Statement

“Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:9). The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

The offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God of wisdom and love,
May the gifts we share be in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the monetary offerings we give be received in love and used with wisdom. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 336, “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Thoughts for Children

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