Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
Please stop this audio recording to watch the video sermon from our Bishop
Please continue with the service in part 2, below
Transcription of today’s service and sermon for those who prefer to read…
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for forty days, despite this coronavirus pandemic we have been celebrating in our homes with joyful hearts the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, his bursting from the tomb and his defeat of the power of sin and death. He appeared to his disciples many times and told them about the kingdom of God. In this Ascension Day service we recall how he left this earth and returned to his Father, ascending into heaven to take his throne over all dominions and powers. Trusting in his reign over all creation, and submitting to his kingly yet loving rule, let us hear the story of his parting.
Acts of the Apostles (1.4-11) read by David Fielding
While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ 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.’
Seeing we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us offer him the praise worthy of his name in the words of the Gloria in Excelsis
The Gloria in excelsis led by Beth, Julie and David Corps
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.
The Collect Prayer led by Pat Parkinson
Let us pray:
you have raised our human nature to the throne of heaven:
help us to seek and serve you,
that we may join you at the Father’s side,
where you reign with the Spirit in glory,
now and for ever.
A reading from the Gospel of St 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.
Sermon from the Right Reverend Jonathan Gibbs, the Bishop of Huddersfield.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It’s very good to be with you as we celebrate the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems to me that three themes have dominated the public mood over the last 7 or 8 weeks since the start of the Corona Virus crisis. Fear – fear of illness, fear of death, fear of the loss of loved ones. Uncertainty – about what the future holds, about what will happen, uncertainty about whether anyone is in charge of all of this. ….. and thirdly and more recently, impatience about the lockdown, we want to get on with things, to resume normal service and get back to our normal lives.
Three themes reflected also in the lives of the Disciples between Good Friday and the Ascension of Jesus.
Fear following the death of Jesus, fear that evil had really won after all, fear of those seeking to snuff out the infant Christian community. Uncertainty, also about what did it all mean, what was going on, what would the future hold? …… yes anxiety about that and then thirdly of course perhaps – right now at Ascension, impatience. Jesus ascended into heaven but he told the Disciples to stay where they were and do nothing until the time came.
I would suggest that the message and meaning of what happened between Good Friday and Ascension answered all of these questions and responded to each of these emotions for the Disciples and for us today.
Firstly, the Disciples fear was answered by the resurrection of Jesus, he had conquered death, evil had not had the last word and their fear was answered also by the words of Jesus to his Disciples – Peace be with you.
Jesus speaks those same words to us today in our fear – Peace be with you, I am with you always to the end of the age and then secondly, their uncertainty was answered by Jesus’s resurrection and by his Ascension. In the end, evil had not had the last word and more than that the crucified one had now ascended into heaven to be seated at the father’s right hand. Of course there are still questions, of course there is still chaos and confusion around us but the one who was crucified now reigns in heaven at the father’s side, he is the sovereign Lord of all creation and he holds us in his hands.
And then finally, the Disciples’ impatience and their desire to get on with things really the flip-side of their anxiety and for us, answered by the promise of the spirit at Pentecost. Jesus said stay here until you have been clothed with power from on high, then you will go out and be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.
The Disciples were given a new mission and a new purpose, which was to share in God’s plan to reconcile all people to himself in Christ. I do believe that what is going on at present for all the sadness and chaos that it has brought represents a new opportunity and a new challenge to us as Christians to go out into the world with the good news of Christ and to be as witnesses in both word and deed offering a new way of living to the people of our generation, a new way of living that accords with God’s reign of justice and peace instead of the crazy destructive way of living that preceded the coming of this crisis.
Jesus is risen, Jesus is our ascended King. Jesus promises his spirit to equip us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Let us pray…..
Lord Jesus Christ
We celebrate your victory over death and your ascension into heaven
Thank you that you are the King of creation who rules over all
Help us to wait in patience and trust for the gift of your spirit and as we receive that gift so to be sent out to your witnesses to a troubled and needy world, we ask it for your name’s sake.
Intercessions led by Martin Lowles
Let us join our prayers with those of our Saviour Christ,
seeking the Father’s blessing and the gifts of the Spirit.
Jesus Christ, great high priest,
living for ever to intercede for us,
pray for the Church, your broken body in the world …
Lord, hear us.
Jesus Christ, king of righteousness,
enthroned at the right hand of the majesty on high,
pray for the world, and make it subject to your gentle rule …
Lord, hear us.
Jesus Christ, Son of Man,
drawing humanity into the life of God,
pray for your brothers and sisters in need, distress or sorrow …
Lord, hear us.
Jesus Christ, pioneer of our salvation,
bringing us to glory through your death and resurrection,
surround with your saints and angels
those who have died trusting your promises …
Lord, hear us.
Jesus Christ, Lord over all things,
ascended far above the heavens and filling the universe,
pray for us who receive the gifts you give us for work in your service …
Lord, hear us.
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at your feet;
for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (1.12,13a,14)
Then the disciples 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. They were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
God the Father,
who has given to his Son the name above every name,
strengthen you to proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord.
God the Son,
who is our great high priest passed into the heavens,
plead for you at the right hand of the Father.
God the Holy Spirit,
who pours out his abundant gifts upon the Church,
make you faithful servants of Christ our King.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ, our Lord, Amen