Services for Ascension and Pentecost
The Day It All Comes Together
We mourned our sin during Lent, commemorated Christ’s death on Good Friday, and celebrated his resurrection on Easter. But this is the day it all comes together—this is the day we celebrate the coronation of the King!
As Jesus began his reign on that first Ascension Day, death and dying felt the effects of their Easter defeat. As Paul writes, “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25-26). On Ascension Day eternal life was applied to human beings, according to God’s promise: “Just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21).
Though our King has conquered death, he is not detached from our daily life. He knows his people because he is one of us. In contemporary politics, a president who truly knows his constituency also knows the price of a gallon of milk. If he doesn’t, he is out of touch with real life. Our King knows the price of a gallon of milk. He knows the price of a gallon of gas. He knows the cost of living. He also knows the cost of holy living—how difficult it is to live righteously while tempted from every side.
But he also knows that we can meet that cost with the resources and power given to us by the Father through the Holy Spirit. He knows the joy and peace and strength available to his people.
So King Jesus stands in the middle, asking for the resources we need from the Father, reminding the Father of the cost of holy living here on earth. He speaks to God about us, and he speaks to us about God. He ascended to the throne to reign and to conquer and to pray. This is his job description, and his job began on Ascension Day.
Call to Worship the King
Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory. (Psalm 24:9-10)
Sermon: Part 1: We Acknowledge the King (Psalm 2)
“Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” CH 377, PH 144, PsH 406, WR 320
“Be Exalted” CH 32, WR 12
“We Will Glorify” CH 105, SNC 21, SFL 18, WR 337
Prayer of Allegiance to the King
We let go of our hope in . . .
We put our hope in you.
You are our . . .
Sermon: Part 2: Those Who Don’t Remember Ascension Day (Psalm 2:1-3)
Song: “God, Be Merciful to Me” PsH 255, TH 486
“Create in Me a Clean Heart” SNC 49, SWM 153, SFL 41, WR 378
“Shine on Me” SNC 51
Prayer of Confession
Lord, we’ve forgotten you.
We’ve gotten scared.
We’ve tried it ourselves.
We’ve frozen in the face of threat.
We’ve forgotten you.
We’ve acted like you weren’t there.
We’ve shrugged you off.
In your great mercy, forgive us, we pray.
Sermon: Part 3: The Ascended King (Psalm 2:4-9)
Song: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CH 210, PsH 253, TH 53, WR 71
“We Bow Down” CH 154, SNC 42
Prayer of Awe and Wonder
You are Lord, you are King.
You laugh at any threat;
you scoff right back at the scoffers.
You are our Lord. You are our King.
Sermon: Part 4: How We Live under the Reign of the King (Psalm 2:10-12)
Song: “Wholehearted Thanksgiving to Thee I Will Bring” PsH 9
“Lord, Be Glorified” CH 186, SNC 43, SWM 206, SFL 71, WR 465
“Lord Most High” SNC 47
Offering to the King
Prayer of Thanksgiving
We are the citizens of your kingdom
and we desire to act as our King would wish
by caring for those who are hurting,
by introducing the kingdom to those who don’t know,
by keeping watch for the new country while we live in the old.
Song: “Seek Ye First the Kingdom” PH 333, PsH 209, SFL 155, WR 349
“Through All the World” SNC 279
The King’s Blessing
Song: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” PsH 637
“Amen, We Praise Your Name, O God” SNC 287
Call to Worship
Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, he helps me. (Psalm 28:6-7)
Song: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” CH 11, PH 356, PsH 486, TH 457, WR 68
“He Has Made Me Glad” CH 214, SNC 13, WR 657
Scripture Reading: John 17:6-26
Sermon: Part 1: Eavesdropping on the Mediator’s Prayer (John 17:9)
Song: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” CH 630, PH 403, PsH 579, SWM 172, SFL 52, TH 629, WR 473
“Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” CH 107, SNC 157, SWM 39, WR 88
Scripture: Romans 8:34
Sermon: Part 2: Jesus Prays For Unity (John 17:11)
Song: “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” CH 426, PH 438, PsH 315, TH 359, WR 393
“We Are One in Christ Jesus” SNC 179, SWM 235
Scripture Reading: Job 16:20-21
Sermon: Part 3: Jesus Prays for Joy (John 17:13)
Song: “Rejoice, O Pure in Heart” CH 169, PH 145, PsH 561, TH 604, WR 113
“Clap Your Hands All You Nations” SNC 156
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 7:25
Sermon: Part 4: Jesus Prays to Be Reunited with Us (John 17:24)
Song: “Day of Judgment! Day of Wonders!” PsH 614, TH 319
“There Is a Redeemer” CH 308, SNC 145, SWM 128, WR 117
The Lord’s Blessing
Song: “How Great Thou Art” CH 147, PH 467, PsH 483, SWM 150, TH 44, WR 51
“He Is Lord” CH 34, SNC 160, SFL 178, WR 305
Connecting the Power
We want to be like Jesus. We want to act like him and think like him and talk like him and love like him.
We are Christians; we wear his name. But being like him is impossible for us to accomplish. That is why the Spirit came.
On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit began helping people look and act and think like Jesus. The connection between Jesus and human beings was established, and the power started to flow from our Lord to us. Beginning with the disciples in the upper room, and flowing out to 3,000 people, the Spirit began to transform sinful human beings into people who looked like Jesus. Little Jesuses. Little Christs. Christians.
What Jesus is, we become. Jesus is holy. He is pure. And because of the Holy Spirit, we become more holy and pure. Jesus’ priorities become ours. We value the things he values. The things that bother Jesus also bother us.
Jesus is one with the Father and the Spirit, living in perfect unity. And because of the Spirit, we also begin to be one with each other and with the Lord. We begin to actually love each other rather than just tolerating each other.
Jesus is able. He is very capable. And because of the Spirit, we become capable. Each of us is made able to do wonderful things because of the gifts of the Spirit. None of us can do all of them, but all of us can do some of them. We are capable of moving through this world and having an effect because the Spirit is making us like Jesus.
It all started on Pentecost. The day we began to be Christlike. The day we began to be like Jesus.
God unites the people of the world through his Spirit at Pentecost and in the Lord’s Supper.
Call to Worship: Acts 2:1-4
Opening Song: “Come Christians, Join to Sing” CH 225, PH 150, TH 302
“Come All You People” SNC 4, SWM 4
Song of Praise: “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship” SWM 5
Discerning the Body: 1 Peter 3:8-12
Promise of Unity: Ephesians 4:4-6
Song of Response: “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” CH 405, PH 441, PsH 510, TH 353, WR 549
“We Are One in Christ Jesus” SNC 179, SWM 235
Song: “Come Now, O Prince of Peace” SNC 209, WR 157
A baker mixes many different-tasting ingredients (dry flour, raw eggs, bitter baking powder) together to make something that tastes good. The Holy Spirit is like a baker too, taking many different people, mixing us well, and producing something good.
Scripture Reading: Genesis 11:1-9
Sermon: “Take One People, Mix Well”
Hymn of Response: “The Church’s One Foundation” CH 401, PH 442, PsH 502, TH 347, WR 544
“O Christ, the Great Foundation” PH 443, SNC 177
The Lord’s Supper
Hymn: “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” CH 426, PH 438, PsH 315, TH 359, WR 393
“Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song” PH 314, SNC 171, WR 327
Passing of God’s Peace
Parting Song of Praise: “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” CH 429, WR 595
“Jesus Is Our King” SNC 18
The Spirit came bearing gifts.
Call to Worship: Psalm 146:1-2
Song: “Spirit of God, Dwell Thou Within My Heart” PH 326, PsH 419, TH 338, WR 132
“We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise” CH 213, SNC 12, WR 651
Song of Praise: “Dwell in Me, O Blessed Spirit” PsH 427
“Send Us Your Spirit” SNC 163, SFL 96
Washing Up for Supper: Exodus 20:1-17
God’s Assurance of Cleansing: Ezekiel 37:23
Song of Response: “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” CH 393, PH 316, PsH 420, TH 334, WR 461
“Lord God Almighty” SNC 9
Prayers of the People
Song: “Spirit of the Living God” CH 389, PH 322, PsH 424, SFL 184, TH 726, WR 492
“Gracious Spirit” SNC 166
Hand out popsicle/craft sticks to kids and ask them, “What can you do with these?” (build a little house, stir something, use as a bookmark, use as a tongue depressor). Then talk about the gifts God gives, and ask kids what we can do with them.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Sermon: Bearing Gifts
Hymn of Response: “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove” PH 126, TH 332
“Gift of Christ from God Our Father” SNC 167
The Lord’s Supper
Hymn of Thanksgiving: “Creator, Spirit, by Whose Aid” PsH 425
“This Holy Covenant Was Made” SNC 173
Passing of God’s Peace
Song of Praise: “Lead Me, Guide Me” PsH 544, SFL 220, WR 498
“Song of Hope” PH 432, SNC 282, SFL 82
Sermon Outline: Psalm 2
Part 1: Introduction
- Politics: Everyone has an opinion.
- Politics are uncertain. They change with every election.
- We live within a democracy, but we live under a different set of rules. We live in a kingdom, the kingdom of God, established on Ascension Day.
Part 2: Verses 1-3
- Many don’t know this is Ascension Day.
- Many don’t know about the kingdom.
- For some who don’t know, the world is frightening.
- Forgetting the king leads to rebellion against God.
Part 3: Verses 4-9
- The King scoffs at the rebels.
- The King terrifies the rebels.
- The King slowly, surely, subdues the rebels.
Part 4: Verses 10-12
- Those who stand with the King rejoice in awe.
- Those who ignore the King will be destroyed.
- Ascension Day is the day we stand with the King.
Sermon Outline: John 17:6-26
Part 1: Introduction, verse 9
- We’re curious about what Jesus is doing right now.
- We’re comforted when we hear Jesus praying.
Part 2: Jesus Prays for Unity, verse 11
- Our unity brings protection.
- Our unity brings a witness.
- Our unity will come because Jesus is praying.
Part 3: Jesus Prays for Joy, verse 13
- Jesus knows the need for joy.
- Jesus knows the source of joy.
- Jesus passes on the full measure of joy from the source to us.
Part 4: Jesus Prays to Be Reunited with Us, verse 24
- Jesus also wants evil to end.
- Jesus also prays for his return.
- Jesus also wants us to be together again, forever.
Sermon Outline: Genesis 11:1-9
Part 1: The world needs to hear the good news of Jesus, verses 1-4
- God told us to fill the earth and subdue it.
- We congeal in one place instead of spreading out.
- The world cannot hear the good news.
Part 2: God moves his people into the world, verses 5-9
- God does not bless the work that is not from him.
- God forces his people out into the world to be witnesses to him.
- The people moved out, but failed to be witnesses.
Part 3: The Spirit provides witnesses to the world at Pentecost
- God’s people were concealed in one room.
- The Spirit came and moved them out onto the street and into the world.
- The nations finally heard the good news.
Celebrating Ascension and Pentecost with Kids
- Help kids understand that Jesus didn’t just “disappear” when he ascended. He is physically present with God in heaven, but he’s also spiritually present in our hearts and on the earth through the Spirit. Jesus has promised to be with us always (Matt. 28:20).
- Encourage kids to illustrate Jesus’ ascension. Ask questions to help them think creatively: What do you think it looked and sounded like when Jesus was “taken up into heaven” (Luke 3:51)? Was there a big wind or swirling clouds? Was it loud or quiet? How do you think the disciples felt when Jesus left? How would you feel? How does it make you feel to know that Jesus is still with us every day?
- Ask kids if they can remember any stories from the Bible where fire was a sign of God’s presence. Some examples: Moses and the burning bush (Ex. 3), a pillar of fire leading God’s people (Ex. 13), the “fire of the Lord” burning up Elijah’s altar (1 Kings 18). A flame always burned in the tabernacle to remind people that God was present there (Lev. 6, 12,13). The tongues of flame at Pentecost were a sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
- Cut flame shapes out of yellow felt or cardstock. Let kids draw on more small flame shapes with orange and red markers. Pin the decorated flames onto each child’s shirt over his or her heart with a safety pin as you say, “God is with you, (name), through the Holy Spirit, who helps you to be like Jesus.”