Song Lord I come before your throne read by Diana & Gil S
What a faithful God have I, what a faithful God What a faithful God have I, faithful in every way
Prayers of Praise Faithful One, so unchanging
Jam Club we celebrated Dominic's involvement with 100 splats certificate and Jam Club teddy prize awarded
Jam Club challenge? Find ... postcard of somewhere in the UK (how far can we get?), picture of somewhere abroad (how far can we get?)
"Go into all the world" - commission on Ascension Day (this Thurs!)
Bible reading Acts 1 v1-14 (The Message) read by Ann N
1-5 Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said good-bye to the apostles, the ones he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”
6 When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”
7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
9-11 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
Returning to Jerusalem
12-13 So they left the mountain called Olives and returned to Jerusalem. It was a little over half a mile. They went to the upper room they had been using as a meeting place:
Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas, son of James.
14 They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers.
Sing Sing we the King who is coming to reign
WRBC Object Communion plate
W W Parkinson (d April 1950); Alice Parkinson (d April 1951)
"... you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes"
Prayers for Others
P Pause “Be still and know”
R Rejoice (Thank you for … x3)
A Ask [hand on heart (self); hand on hand (those around us); hand pointing through window (for others/ the world)]
Y Yes! Our Yes to God’s way (“Not my will but yours”)
Sing Praise my soul the king of heaven
Praise my soul is a hymn based on Psalm 103; Psalm 103 is a favourite, but was also the text within the service on my first preach at WRBC 18 years ago before being called as minister (the preach with a squint!). Remember?!? That lots of us here today were not connected with WRBC then is how it should be – we’ve grown! Motif used is perhaps more memorable than the words said – when a stone drops into calm water, think of the circles of ripples that we see.
In Psalm 103, the application is Praise, as the truths about God (stones) drop into our lives (water) and create ripples (praise). But the outward moving circles are also present in Acts 1, our reading this week, but also last week! It’s worth considering the complementary but contrasting message from last Sunday, where the theme was Together, as the bits are gathered, as the pieces are reconstructed, as the blocks of a Lego model as assembled. An inner dynamic – gathering, assembling, coming together. And the reading in Acts 1 helped us to think about this. But it’s not the only dynamic in that same reading, which includes Luke’s version of the Great Commission as Jesus ascends back to his Father in heaven – it’s Ascension Day on Thursday, and we’ll gather for an act of worship and prayer (7.30pm).
Inwards is important, but so too is outwards. Jesus is at the centre, but he sends us out. Ripples move, because a stone is dropped, and it’s a great parable for our faith and our mission. In our Prayers, we have just considered the invitation to Pause, and to Rejoice, before we Ask. Into our stillness, our motionlessness, even when we feel frozen, inanimate, in our isolation and separation - or when we feel busy, frantically overloaded with cares and duties - and even as we sense that the freedom to go out and about is nearly upon us, yet into our stillness comes to the glorious truth of the person of Jesus – who He is – why he came – these things dawn in our spirits, creep with realisation into and through our minds. Stones are dropped: God loves me! Jesus came for us! Jesus died to save, to forgive, to set free! And Jesus is raised from the dead!!! Wow! And the ripples move outward, ever outward.
For some it is “to the ends of the earth” – we’ll hear some stories, meet some people (hopefully) as we explore this again, even through Zoom, in the comfort of our own homes. For others it is “to Judea and Samaria” – the two kingdoms of the old Israel, southern and northern, separated for 700+ years, with a dynamic of conflict and suspicion, as much as argument and difference. Judea == “people like us”; Samaria == “people different from us”. And for both the message of Jesus is intended, and to both the messengers of Jesus are sent (that’s you & me!). For many it is “to Jerusalem” - our home setting, right where we are; among the people of our everydays, our family, our colleagues (even on MS Teams, Webex, Google Duo); those with whom we interact.
We’ve identified our ripples in reverse order, somewhat counter-intuitive – ripples move outwards, but let it be so then!
Our current season causes us to consider what’s important, meaningful, at the heart of who I am, what I am about; who we are, what we are about.
But it’s offering us such an opportunity too, to reach beyond, to move out (yes, we’re obliged to isolate the church premises, but moving out is so much more!). Church without walls – yes! Scattered church – yes, it’s what we are called to be.The ripples move out.
Fresh horizons, new opportunities, and challenges and responses.
We can’t simply go back to how we were, when in due course the lockdown ends.Let’s consider the benefits as well as the frustrating restrictions; we are called to move out, up, on.
The ripples are moving, moving out, and so the great commission of Jesus is to be fulfilled
Song I the Lord of sea and sky - Here I am, Lord