21st Century Africana Worship Resources for Ascension Day (Or Ascension Sunday)
Lord, we've come this morning seeking your presence, but it's hard to settle in when so many things cloud our minds. Even in Your House, it's hard to pay attention. We are here trusting that you will get our attention, through some song sung, some witness raised, some Scripture unfolded, some gesture offered.
All: Come, Lord Jesus, lift us up by your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Meditation With Music: Listen meditatively to "Holy Spirit Rain Down" in Rain Down (CD) by Alvin Slaughter.
Or sing softly "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," 334, United Methodist Hymnal.
Psalter: Psalm 66:8-20, 790, United Methodist Hymnal.
(Sung Response: "Sing the wondrous love of Jesus; sing his mercy and his grace" from United Methodist Hymnal, 701 the first lines of "When We All Get to Heaven.")
Prayer of Confession (unison): God, we confess that we rarely recognize the Holy Spirit at work, even when it smacks us in the face. Worse yet, even when we do recognize this work of the Spirit, we don't acknowledge that it is you at work in our lives and in the world.
This week you sent angels to watch over us. We barely uttered our thanks; then hurried on our way. Forgive us our inattentiveness and reluctance to credit you loudly and joyously. Teach us to tell our children and our children's children of your goodness. Teach us to tell our parents of your goodness. Teach us to tell even the supermarket clerk of your goodness!
We long to hear the good news of the resurrecting love of Christ Jesus. Still our hearts long enough for us to hear that you are with us. Amen.
Assurance and Pardon
Jesus said, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Scripture: Acts 1:6-14
Sermon Suggestion: "Waiting for the Holy Spirit."
(Sermon summary: Whether God sends men or angels, the good news is that Jesus has paid it all. We're free. Free to serve God. Free to serve others. But the only way we can do something bold and outlandish in the name of Jesus is for the Holy Spirit to fall upon us. Can we count all the ways in our lifetimes we've witnessed the Holy Spirit at work?)
- Who is the Holy Spirit, and how does the Holy Spirit work?
- God sent two angels to proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected (Matthew 28:3-5). God sent two men to tell the disciples that Jesus had ascended to heaven (Acts 1:10-11). How do we receive the good news?
- Whatever great thing you are attempting, pay attention to the people and to the ways God sends you accomplish God's work. It might not be whom you expected. It might not be how you expected.
Liturgical Dance: "Angels (Watching Over Me)" from Richard Smallwood's Adoration: Live in Atlanta CD.
(An easy-to-use sacred dance resource with step-by-step illustrations is Dancing through the Christian Calendar by Sylvia B. Bryant, nationally renowned, African American liturgical dance artist.)