Sunday Service 24th May 2020

Altar

Sunday Service
24th May 2020

Sunday Service

Rev David Osborn speaks on this seventh Sunday of Easter, 24th May 2020.

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Prayer for today the seventh Sunday of Easter

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.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour Christ has taught us

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.

Amen.

 
 

Address

Ascension Day: last Thursday in case you missed it

Always a Thursday, 40 days after Easter Day with no days off for festivals and Sundays unlike
Lent: And always a source of debate; just how did Jesus ascend? A ladder, like Jacob?
Did he make use of a rocket, a jet pack, a Star Trek style transporter?
Perhaps using that famous Latin phrase, probably learned from the Roman invaders
‘Me transmitte sursum, caledoni’: or ‘beam me up Scotty’
And we can see that being concerned with the mechanics of transport in first century Palestine
isn’t as easy as it looks : Therefore all that we know from the story of the Ascension should be
summarised as follows- ‘what goes up, always comes down’

A gentle reminder that the definition of a good landing is one that you can walk away from (an
excellent landing for those of you not versed in RAF folklore is one that you can walk away from
and re-use the aircraft)

‘what goes up, always comes down’

Which is why everyone gets excited about Elijah; he, as you remember, was taken up into
heaven in a swirling wind. And every time the Jewish nation heads into murky waters the
Israelites expect Elijah to return, presumably following the ‘what goes up, always comes down’
principle

So we can see that the disciples expect something to happen. They expect our Lord to return
and they pay no attention to his words of comfort; scattered throughout the gospel readings and
also found in our New Testament reading this morning

Yet the promise that Jesus of Nazareth gives us can’t be clearer that another person, form,
comforter, advocate – however described, will arrive very soon. A way of God supporting the
people of faith without the presence of the human Jesus. People should be on their guard, they
should be alert to this event. Instead of looking to the heavens, looking up into the skies they
should look around themselves. Seek the kingdom of God on earth as our Lord asks us to do
rather than debate how heaven will run and who sits on whose right hand.

The Ascension marks the end of the earthly ministry of our Lord and that in turn marks the start
of the Christian Church on earth with the arrival of the Holy Spirit at the Jewish feast of
Pentecost. We all know this, but still find ourselves trying to work out the mechanics of the
Ascension, whilst at the same time trying to analyse the impact of the Holy Spirit in the life of the
early church

None of this is necessary; most of it is a waste of time.
The Ascension is about nuance and reality; Jesus of Nazareth is no longer with us in human
form. The Holy Spirit arrives instead, literally in the stead of Jesus to provide us all with hope
and strength and support in our daily lives.

When a human being dies we lose that ability to reach out and touch them, hug them, Jesus
knew that this is how the disciples would feel as he left them. He knew that they would need
something to hold on to as their world changed and their previous understanding of life
undergoes transformation

He knew that we have come to the end of a road; one which started on Advent Sunday, took us
through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week and Easter; through the life and earthly ministry
of Jesus and it brings us to our destination

The birthplace of the Christian Church
The challenge for the disciples and for all of us is to make that church work to the benefit of all.
As the season of Easter draws to its close, defining and accepting that challenge is what the
next six months is all about. We move from Jesus as teacher and preacher to Jesus as mentor
and friend as we set out to build a contemporary church of Christ
To achieve that we will need the guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit: and of course that is
another story for another day......
Next week in fact, the feast of Pentecost and the start of something really big.........

 
 

Bible Reading

John 17 verses 1-11

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

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.