This worship outline is adapted from the opening service of the “With a Shout: What Difference Does the Ascension Make for Everyday Life?” conference held on Ascension Day 2006 at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Litanies and prayers marked TWS are from The Worship Sourcebook, 2004, Faith Alive Christian Resources (www.faithaliveresources.org).
Call to Worship
as we prepare to worship today,
we ask that you will stretch our imaginations
to sense the majesty and mystery of your ascension.
Help us perceive how Jesus’ presence in heaven
can give us confidence in our praying
and hope for the future.
Through Jesus, our Lord. Amen. (TWS O.1.1.1)
Grace to you and peace from him who is
and who was and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness,
the firstborn from the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Rev. 1:4-5, NRSV)
Opening Hymn: “God Has Gone Up With Shouts of Joy!” SNC 154
Father, O God most high,
who dwells in the highest of heavens,
we praise you.
Father, O Lord most exalted,
beyond our thoughts and imaginations,
we praise you.
We celebrate the victory of your Son,
who has overcome death
and saved us from the power of sin.
We rejoice in his exaltation!
Our great high priest
has gone before,
has entered into the Holy of Holies,
and has opened up a way for us to follow.
In his name, we too would enter into your eternal presence,
for he is our priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.
To him be all praise,
together with you, O Father,
and the Holy Spirit,
one Lord, the same in every age.
Amen and Amen.
(Hughes Oliphant Old, Leading in Prayer: A Workbook for Ministers. © 1995, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
Song of Praise: “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” CH 377, PH 144, PsH 406, WR 320
Service of Confession
Call to Confession
While we claim to celebrate the ascension of our Lord,
the way we live proclaims our lack of faith
in his power to deal with the world.
Let us confess the incongruity between our faith and practice.
Let us pray.
Prayer of Confession
We come, O Lord, on this day of glory to confess our lack of trust.
While we sing of your lordship over all creation,
we have too often acted as though you are powerless
in the face of today’s events.
Help us to live with confidence in your presence today
and in hope for life with you forever. Amen. (TWS O.2.2.2)
Hymn of Confession: “Lord, Have Mercy on Us” (sing twice) PH 565, 572-574, PsH 258, SNC 52, SFL 43
Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news of the gospel:
If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous;
and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
In Christ, we are forgiven! Thanks be to God.
(based on 1 John 2:1-2, NRSV)
Hymn of Response: “Christ Triumphant, Ever Reigning” WR 336
Scripture Reading: Psalm 47
Meditation: “Ascension Audacity” (listen to this sermon by Rev. Scott Hoezee at tinyurl.com/Hoezee-Ascension)
Sung Response: “Clap Your Hands, O Faithful People” (Michael Morgan)
Profession of Our Church’s Faith
[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation;
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created,
things visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—
all things have been created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that he might come to have first place in everything.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
and through him God was pleased to reconcile all things,
whether on earth or in heaven,
by making peace through the blood of his cross.
(Col. 1:15-20, NRSV)
Ascension Day Prayer
Jesus Christ, mediator and high priest,
we thank you for becoming human and for experiencing
the joys and sorrows of life, which assures us that you
are able to sympathize and rejoice with us.
We praise you for the many joys of life:
for the beauty of creation,
for your work in this world,
for the growth of your kingdom,
for the greatest source of our happiness: the gift of eternal life.
As our mediator, you stand before God, petitioning him on our behalf,
so we boldly bring before you our prayers
for creation and its care,
for the nations of the world,
for our nation and its leaders,
for this community and those in authority,
for the church universal as it works on your behalf,
for this local church in its ministry,
for persons with particular needs.
We pray this in your strong name, O Christ,
our mediator and high priest. Amen. (based on TWS O.4.4.1)
Grace and peace to you
from him who is, and who was, and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—
to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Closing Hymn: “Jesus Shall Reign” CH 375, PH 423, PsH 412, TH 441, WR 341