At last, we come to the end of the long Eastertide series. But, of course, living the Resurrection will go on. It will be our way of life as long as we remember the risen Christ is among us. That might seem an odd thing to say on this day when we remember the Ascension. Isn’t that the time that Jesus left us to go reside at the right hand of God? That depends on how you define, “left us.”
Even as we celebrate the risen Christ taking full possession of the place to which he is entitled, we also acknowledge the ongoing presence of the Word among us. Next week, we will claim the gift of the Spirit as the manifestation of that presence. But for now, we are pledging our allegiance to the Christ we worship. “We are Yours” defines our stance to the one who claims us. In our Gospel text today, Jesus lays claim to the followers, which is us. And we give thanks for that claiming today.
We celebrate the body today. We rejoice in the fellowship of believers, even as we encourage one another to even more growth in grace. This is a moment of claiming our discipleship path. We are on the way to fulfilling the commission to go and make disciples of all nations, even as we are being made into disciples. So, while the focus, as always, is on Christ, we can also give thanks for the church and the mission we have been given and are living out each and every day.
Meditations for Gathering
(Based on John 17:6-9)
Jesus, God Incarnate, the Anointed and uniquely born Son of God believed in the great power of prayer! Throughout the Gospels, we find Jesus journeying to far away places at early hours of the day to pray. In John 17, Jesus prays for himself, for God to do with his life as God wills. Then, he prays for his disciples – for God’s provision, direction, and protection to guide them. Later in this same passage, Jesus prays for us; yes, even before any of us were born, we were inscribed upon the heart of the Holy One. What great love and what an honor it is to be ushered into the room where Jesus is praying. John 17 creates that space for us. Listen to Jesus’ words. And let God speak to our hearts that they may be fertile ground for the power and testimony of God’s Holy Word.
Stacey Cole Wilson, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, Valerie Bridgeman Davis, and Safiyah Fosua Eds., 2007, p. 32.
God, Help Us!
A Call to Worship, Inspired by John 17:6-19
Leader: Jesus Christ has ascended into the heavens and sits at your right hand while we are down here laboring doing the best that we can to survive.
People: God help us!
Leader: We are keeping our heads above water, but (God forgive us) sometimes drowning seems to be an answer.
People: God help us!
Leader: We keep our faith and trust in you in spite of how we are being treated.
People: God help us!
Leader: We are abused, misused, and accused.
For this reason, we understand more and more
That this world is not our home
And we are just strangers passing through the night.
People: God help us!
All: God, we are your children and we need you to help us
So that our feet won’t slip
And our faith won’t waver.
We believe in you and trust in your Holy Word.
Do it God! Do it today!
God help us!
Curry F. Butler, Easter Liturgical Resources from Africana Writers, edited by Safiya Fosua, 2020.
Prayer for Assurance of Grace
God of Grace, you call us to be different from the world,
but the world is seductive, and so we come here to be strengthened.
God of Vision, you hold before us an alternate way of life,
different priorities, different loyalties, different values.
But we know that the world is not only seductive but powerful,
and so we are drawn in to following its priorities,
accepting its values, showing loyalty to its gods.
God who blesses the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful,
forgive us when we lose sight of these qualities,
when we misunderstand their role in the world.
. . . time of silent prayer . . .
Rejoice and be glad!
God is gracious and God offers blessings.
God calls us to life in the world,
God offers us the chance to explore how to live out God's vision.
We are called, we are forgiven, we are blessed.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Posted by Rev Gord on his blog, Worship Offerings. http://worshipofferings.blogspot.ca/. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2015/06/prayer-of-confession-and-commitment.html.
Prayers of the People: Easter 7
(inspired by John 17:6-19, Acts 1:15-17, 21-26)
Our gracious, eternal God, we thank you for the challenges which life brings. It also brings changes which sometimes throw us into crisis. Be with us in such times in our Christian community. Like the early disciples help us in our common life to find your guidance in our collective decisions.
Help us to approach our decisions, seeking your guidance through prayer.
Help us to examine our own hearts for any unseemly motives.
Help us to focus on the common good and not be driven by our own selfish interests.
Help us to seek consensus and never be satisfied with power plays and divisiveness.
Help us all to share in our mutual ministry.
Lead us forward and help us to create a community where love, acceptance, and mutuality are expressed, where joy abounds, and where results are achieved because we are all working hand in hand together. May it be said of us as it was said of old: “See how those Christians love one another.”
We ask that you would save us from ever being a cloistered cell which seeks escape from our world. Instead, open the windows of our souls to the world and its needs. Send us forth to herald the good news of Jesus, to be your servants to those in need, to visit the sick and the imprisoned, to remember the forgotten in our society, and to work for justice and peace. Use our varied gifts so that as Peter suggested we all might do our fair share in this ministry. Bolster us in moments when we feel inadequate for the task and give us courage. Amen.
Written by Richard J. Einerson, from his collection of prayers, Prayers of the People. http://www.richardeinerson.com/. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/04/prayer-of-intercession-easter-7-b.html.
Confession: Easter 7 B
Call to Reconciliation
Called to proclaim repentance, we are reluctant to look at our own failings. Invited to witness to God's loving forgiveness of sins, we would rather not speak aloud of our own. Let us trust in the One who offers us hope and healing, as we pray together, saying,
Unison Prayer of Confession
You call us to proclaim a gospel we find difficult to practice, God Most High. We watch our clocks to make sure we spend more time with ourselves than with you. We are hesitant to witness to your power from on high, as we are uncertain of your presence in our lives.
Forgive us, God of Light. Fill us with the healing presence of your Spirit, that we may proclaim your good news, as we participate in the life and suffering of our world, as did your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Choosing to set aside judgment, God gives us justice; choosing to let go of punishment, God fills us with peace; choosing to release anger, God's steadfast love rests upon us.
Forgiven, redeemed, restored—we will tell everyone, through the lives we lead, what God has done for us. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Written by Thom Shuman, and posted on his Lectionary Liturgies blog: http://lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.ca/. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/04/confession-easter-7-b.html.
Leader: Let us go forth into the new seasons of our lives.
People: We go forth into growing and changing and living.
Leader: Let us go with caring awareness for the world and all that is in it.
People: We go to discover the needs and opportunities around us.
Leader: Let us go forth in peace and be led out in joy.
All: We go in God’s continuing presence, with the power to love and the strength to serve. Amen.
Mary Ann Neevil, Bread for the Journey, Ruth Duck, ed., Pilgrim Press, 1981, p.49.