Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ascension Sunday

Today is Ascension Sunday. It’s a day to remember a key event in Jesus’ life, His ascension into heaven. Luke reported what happened.
And when [Jesus] had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1.9
The Church has included this event in its creeds. So, the Apostles’ Creed states, ‘He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father almighty’.

As you know, He’s not going to stay there forever. One day He will descend from heaven. So, again from Acts.
And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1.10-11
And, again, the Apostles’ Creed includes this. ‘From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.’

Jesus has ascended from earth into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand, and He will, one day, descend from heaven to earth to evaluate every life.

Now, in light of all of that I have a question. It’s been about two thousand years since Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father. So, what’s He been doing all this time?

A Prayer

Lord Jesus,

We come to You this morning simply to say, 'Thank You'. And we want to say that because You are our Savior. You are the one who emptied Himself so that You could come and rescue us from the mess that we created for ourselves. You are the one who suffered the justice due our sins, justice that we should suffer. You are the one who endured the holy rage of the Father vented at our sins so that we never will.

Jesus, in our saner moments, we know that there was no good reason for You to have done this. We know that You are all about love and that You desire to give Yourself to others because of that love. But we also know that You are all about holiness, the holiness that abhors sin, that destroys sin and everything associated with it. You should have abhorred us. You should have destroyed us. But You didn't. You decided to love us. And that love brought about that emptying, that incarnation. And it brought about the Cross. Will we ever really grasp what was going on there? Will we ever understand what it meant for God to rage against God? I doubt it. But I think that we can at least get some sense of the love that made it happen.

There is no way that we can repay You for what You did. That's just impossible. And it's also insulting to try. It's not a gift if the person receiving the gift pays the giver for it. But what You have done for us does call for a response. It calls us to respond to You as Lord. That, after all, was the point of Your being our Savior, to reconcile us to You so that we can live in the way that You originally intended when You created all of this. You are God, and we are Your creatures. We are to submit to You in all things. You are to be our Lord. And becoming our Savior makes that possible.

Submitting to You as Lord makes sense. But we find that actually doing it is hard. Our habits of independence, of rebellion, go deep. Forgive us this insult. And please change us. Life for us is meant to be lived as submissive creatures. We want to be like that - at least in our better moments we do. Please continue to save us from our sin, from the power of our sin, so that we can submit to You as Lord.

We ask for this because it is good and right. It's what we're supposed to do. But we also ask for this because we want to respond to Your love with a love of our own. 


We look forward to seeing You do more of Your good work in our lives. And we thank You for it ahead of time. Amen.

Prayer for the Week

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: 

Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer

Friday, May 26, 2017

Comments on a Hymn

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

This hymn is the fruit of meditation. The hymn writer spent some time just thinking about Jesus as He hung on that cross. As a result, he was reminded of some things. He was reminded of Jesus as the despised and gory, but whom he rejoiced to call his own. He was reminded of the sin that put Jesus there, his own sin. And he was reminded to respond with his own devoted love.


O sacred head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred head, what glory!
What bliss, till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered,
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow,
To thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Oh! make me Thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God    
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3.1-4

Confession of Sin
Our Father, we find it so easy to forget who we really are. We forget that we have died to this world and have been raised with Christ. We forget that our glory is not to be found here. We forget the Gospel. And so, we set our minds on the things that are on this earth instead of the things that are above. Forgive us for our unbelief. Lift our eyes to heaven from which we await a Savior so that we might live here faithfully for Him. We pray this in the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit… 1 Peter 3.18

May God who loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be our Saviour forgive us our sins and make us holy to serve him in the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Book of Common Prayer

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scripture to Meditate on this Week

This is something that I wrote and emailed to the folk at my church.


'And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit let us also keep in step with the Spirit.' Galatians 5.24-25

I have begun using the ‘Fighter Verse’ program from Desiring God. Each week the app on my phone lists a new passage of Scripture to memorize. Recently, Galatians 5.24-25 popped up. I included that Scripture at the bottom of last week’s announcement sheet. I did that because I was thinking that it would be good for you to have some Scripture to think about during the week.

What follows is just one result of my own meditation on this Scripture.

Verb tenses are important. Paul instructed the Galatians that their flesh (that’s Paul’s way of referring to the sinful orientation that we all inherited from Adam) has been crucified. That means that it’s dead. And that offers great hope. To be sure, we still have sinful habits. But none of them are being fed by the flesh like they used to be. That means that we can be very optimistic about getting rid of each sinful habit we set our sights on. We can be freed. I think that that is so very encouraging especially when some sinful habit seems completely unaffected by our attempts to be rid of it. It may take great effort, but there is no sinful habit that we have that cannot be tossed. This is another gift of the Gospel.And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5.24-25

I have begun using the ‘Fighter Verse’ program from Desiring God. Each week the app on my phone lists a new passage of Scripture to memorize. Recently, Galatians 5.24-25 popped up. I included that Scripture at the bottom of last week’s announcement sheet. I did that because I was thinking that it would be good for you to have some Scripture to think about during the week.

What follows is just one result of my own meditation on this Scripture.

Verb tenses are important. Paul instructed the Galatians that their flesh (that’s Paul’s way of referring to the sinful orientation that we all inherited from Adam) has been crucified. That means that it’s dead. And that offers great hope. To be sure, we still have sinful habits. But none of them are being fed by the flesh like they used to be. That means that we can be very optimistic about getting rid of each sinful habit we set our sights on. We can be freed. I think that that is so very encouraging especially when some sinful habit seems completely unaffected by our attempts to be rid of it. It may take great effort, but there is no sinful habit that we have that cannot be tossed. This is another gift of the Gospel.