7th Sunday of Easter Worship

The Seventh Sunday of Easter – 24th May 2020

The Preparation

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Great is the Lord and worthy of all praise.
Amen!
Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour,
power and might, be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.

Jesus said to them: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations; and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’       

MATTHEW 28:19–20

Hymn of Praise – Hail the day that sees Him rise, Alleluia!

The words are printed below.

Hail the day that sees Him rise, Alleluia!
To His throne above the skies, Alleluia!
Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia!
Reascends his native heaven, Alleluia!

There the glorious triumph waits, Alleluia!
Lift your heads, eternal gates, Alleluia!
Christ hath conquered death and sin, Alleluia!
Take the King of glory in, Alleluia!

Him though highest Heav’n receives, Alleluia!
Still He loves the earth He leaves, Alleluia!
Though returning to His throne, Alleluia!
Still He calls mankind His own, Alleluia!

See! He lifts His hands above, Alleluia!
See! He shows the prints of love, Alleluia!
Hark! His gracious lips bestow, Alleluia!
Blessings on His church below, Alleluia!

Still for us His death He pleads, Alleluia!
Prevalent He intercedes, Alleluia!
Near Himself prepares our place, Alleluia!
Harbinger of human race, Alleluia!

Grant, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!
Far above yon azure height, Alleluia!
Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!
Seeking Thee beyond the skies, Alleluia!

Ever upward let us move, Alleluia!
Wafted on the wings of love, Alleluia!
Looking when our Lord shall come, Alleluia!

Longing, gasping after home, Alleluia!

There we shall with Thee remain, Alleluia!
Partners of Thy endless reign, Alleluia!
There Thy face unclouded see, Alleluia!
Find our heaven of heavens in Thee, Alleluia!

Great and wonderful are your deeds
O Lord God the almighty:
just and true are your ways
O Sovereign of the nations.
Who shall not revere and praise your name O Lord?
for you alone are holy.
All nations shall come and worship in your presence:
for your just dealings have been revealed.
To the One who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb:
be blessing and honour, glory and might
for ever and ever.  Amen.                      Revelation 15:3b-4; 5:13

As God who called you is holy,
be holy yourselves in all your conduct.
Spirit of God, search our hearts.

We remember our need for God’s forgiveness.

Silence
Let us confess our sins to God.

God of mercy,
we have sinned against you and against others.
We have sinned in what we have done,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,

who died for our sins,
forgive us all that is past
and raise us to newness of life. Amen.

Almighty God, who pardons all who truly repent,
forgive our sins, strengthen us by the Holy Spirit,
and keep un in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Collect

Eternal and gracious God,
we believe your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,
to have ascended with triumph
into your kingdom in heaven;
may we also in heart and mind
ascend to where he is.
and with him continually dwell.
Through Jesus Christ our Liberator,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and forever. Amen.

The Ministry of the Word

A reading from Acts 1:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version)

The Rev’d Alister Hendery reading from Acts 1:1-11


((In the opening passage of the Acts of the Apostles the author summarises the last events and instructions of Jesus’ earthly ministry before he is lifted up into heaven.))

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 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.’

ACts 1:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version)

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

Psalm 47 (ANZPB)

1 Clap your hands all you peoples:
cry out to God with shouts of joy.

2 For the Lord most high is to be feared:
and is the great sovereign over all the earth.

3 The Lord has subdued the peoples under us:
and the nations under our feet.

4 The Lord chose a land to be our heritage:
it is the pride of Jacob whom God loves.

5 God has gone up with shouts of triumph:
the Lord has gone up with a fanfare of trumpets.

6 Sing praises, sing praises to God:
sing praises, sing praises to our king.

7 For God is the king of all the earth:
sing praises with your utmost skill.

8 God reigns over the nations:
God is seated on a holy throne.

9 The princes of the nations assemble:
with the people of the God of Abraham.

10 For the mighty ones of the earth have become the servants of God:
the Lord is exalted over all.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Alleluia! Amen.

A reading from Luke 24:44–53 (New Revised Standard Version

(Jesus leaves his followers with the promise of the Holy Spirit and is carried up into heaven.)

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 worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

LUKE 24:44–53 (NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

The Sermon Christ has no body but yours  

SEE THE SERMON below – OR just WATCH THE VIDEO

The Ascension
Christ has no body but yours
Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53

While [Jesus] was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was
carried up into heaven.
What is the Ascension about? We’re not talking about a first
century version of Star Trek: “Beam me up Scottie.” Rather,
Luke is trying to put into words what’s beyond words.
When he had said this, as they were watching, [Jesus] was
lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

When the Bible mentions a cloud it’s usually a symbol of God’s
presence. So here we’re being told that the risen Christ has
been taken into the eternal dimension, and he’ll no longer be
seen in bodily form. But what’s going to happen now that Jesus
has left the disciples?

Luke tells the story of Jesus in two parts. Part one is his
Gospel. It’s about the life of Jesus, the individual. Part two
is the Acts of the Apostles. This is the life of Jesus in the
life of the Church. The Ascension serves as a transition
between these two. Jesus’ physical presence on earth is to be
replaced by his Spirit working through his Church – through
us. We’re to be Jesus’ presence on earth. The man from
Nazareth has done his job. Now his followers must do theirs as
they learn to live and witness in the power of his Spirit.

The spiritual power of God that was at work in Jesus is
passing to his followers.
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.

We’ll celebrate this next week with the Feast of Pentecost
recognising that we’re a part of that community of believers
that’s empowered to continue Jesus’ work.

Until the Ascension, Jesus was seen only where he was, in and
around the towns surrounding Galilee. Now, with his Ascension,
Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth, and is present to all
believers – in all places and at all times. It’s a paradox.

As they were watching, [Jesus] was lifted up, and a cloud took
him out of their sight. While he was going and they were
gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood
by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking
up toward heaven?”

“Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” That’s a good
question, because what’s happening in the Ascension isn’t that
Jesus is suddenly taken from his disciples, but that he’s
present in a radically new way. By removing himself from the
world, Jesus is no longer confined to a single place or a
single moment. Now he’s alive and present through his Spirit
to all people for all time. The Ascension opened the way for
his presence to spread throughout the world. The Letter to the
Ephesians says:

And [God] has put all things under his feet and has made
[Christ] the head over all things for the Church, which is his
body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Today the Church is the body of Christ. It’s through us that
the gospel spreads throughout the world. We are Christ’s
presence here and now, seen by others in our relationships, in
our work, and in our worship. This gives us an awesome
responsibility, because the story of the Ascension has a
missionary thrust to it. Empowered, as promised by Christ, we
are to become his witnesses.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.

We’re called to be Christ’s witnesses. Not just the clergy,
not just a few extra-committed lay people, but all who are
baptised. As A Catechism puts it: ‘From baptism, their
vocation is to witness to Christ in the world using the gifts
the Spirit gives them.’’

How can we get started on this? In Acts we’re told that the
disciples ‘were constantly devoting themselves to prayer.’ The
disciples don’t rush off to do some useful activity. Their
first response is to pray. If we’re going to work with God,
then we need to wait for, to pray for, to be open to the
giving of the Spirit. Without that our effort is futile.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,”
Jesus said.

Pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all of us,
because it’s only when we allow the Spirit to enable us that
we can do the work Christ calls us to do. That presents a
question. What priority does prayer have in our lives, and
specifically, prayer for us to be witnesses to Christ? What
place does prayer have in the life of our faith community?

You’ll be my witnesses… I recall the comment, “Proclaim the
gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Think of
those in your own life who have witnessed to you. Recall those
who have inspired and encouraged you, both by their word and
by their example…

We’re asked to be witnesses. But before you think that I might
be suggesting that you preach at passers-by on the street
corner, relax. Witnessing to Christ begins with how we live
our lives and the quality of relationships we build up with
those about us. It’s from that basis that we can talk about
what Christ means to us. It not necessary for us to do great
things in the world – only good things that make real Christ’s
love to the person before us.

At our baptism we were given the Spirit of God. This is the
same Spirit that empowered Jesus and the first disciples. Now
it’s our turn to make the good news real to others. May our
prayer be that that those who seek Christ find him, not as
they gaze heavenward, but as they look around them – as they
look at us, the body of Christ today.

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. (Teresa of Avila)

Alister Hendery
St Matthew’s, Hastings – 17.5.2020

Song: It only takes a spark to get a fire going – Words and Music by Kurt Kaiser

IT ONLY TAKES A SPARK TO GET A FIRE GOING

It only takes a spark to get a fire going
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it, you spread His love to everyone,
You want to pass it on

What a wondrous time is spring, when all the trees are budding
The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it, you want to sing
It’s fresh like spring, you want to pass it on

I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found
You can depend on Him, it matters not where you’re bound
I’ll shout it from the mountain top
I want the world to know, the Lord of love has come to me,
I want to pass it on

Prayers

Risen and ascended Lord, we worship you with adoration and awe.
Rule in our hearts and be the centre of your body, the church.
Jesus Christ, risen and ascended,
Hear the prayers we raise to heaven.

Exalted Lord, at your ascension your disciples still didn’t understand the nature of your kingdom.
Expand the vision of all in leadership and government that they may reflect your just and gentle rule.
Jesus Christ, risen and ascended,
Hear the prayers we raise to heaven.

Lord Jesus Christ, your name is above every name.
Open our minds to understand your ways and to persist when things get tough.
Shape us to be witnesses of your love and hope.
Jesus Christ, risen and ascended,
Hear the prayers we raise to heaven.

Lord of hope and comfort, look with compassion on those in anguish, those who are hurting, and those who have lost hope.
Be our strength and hope in times of adversity.
Jesus Christ, risen and ascended,
Hear the prayers we raise to heaven.

Jesus, risen, ascended, and glorified, we lay our lives before you in faith and trust.
Raise with you all who have died and may we share with you your undying love and glory.
Jesus Christ, risen and ascended,
Hear the prayers we raise to heaven.

A virtual choir of 50 young adults from all over the world sings ‘In resurrectione tua Christe coeli et terra laetentur!’ (In your resurrection, Christ, heaven and earth rejoice!).
This very inspiring celebration of Easter, shared by these young people from their homes, is an expression of the hope we have in the risen and ascended Lord Jesus.


Eternal 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.
Lord, you have called us to serve you.

The risen Christ is in our midst, and so we pray

Our Father in heaven,
   hallowed be your name,
   your kingdom come,
   your will be done,
       on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
   as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
   and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours    now and for ever.    Amen. 

Christ make us faithful and strong to do his will that we may reign with him in glory..

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

KEEP IN TOUCH

Our St Matthew’s website is being updated regularly:  https://stmattshastings.com

Also our St Matthew’s Facebook

CONTACTS

The Rev’d Alister Hendery: 021 742 434
Email: alister.hendery@waiapu.com

Parish Office (Tracey at home):  06 878 9476
Email: stmatthews.hastings@gmail.com

~ This copyright material is taken from A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, © Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and is used in accordance with regulations.

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