Read-along Service for Sunday, May 12, 2024 – Ascension Sunday/Mother’s Day

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
May 12, 2024 Ascension Sunday, Mother’s Day

Words of welcome, announcements
Lighting the Christ Candle
In this season of resurrection, we light this candle as testimony to God’s enduring faithfulness.  May the light of the risen Christ scatter the darkness of our hearts and minds. For God’s undying love and kindness shines for all to see. 

Introit – Melissa Friske

Call To worship
O sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done marvellous things. God has shown steadfast love and faithfulness to all generations. All the ends of the earth have seen the goodness of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the guitar and with the piano playing the melody. Praise God with tambourines and the sound of the drum. Make a joyful noise before our God. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands;   let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Holy One  for God is coming  to bring justice to the earth. Praise the Lord, all the earth!  Rejoice, for God is truly with us.

Hymn                  Let All Things Now Living                                   VU 242

  1. Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving,
    to God our Creator triumphantly raise;
    who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,
    by guiding us on to the end of our days.
    God’s banners are o’er us, pure light goes before us,
    a pillar of fire shining forth in the night;
    till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished,
    as forward we travel from light into Light.
  1. By law God enforces, the stars in their courses
    and sun in its orbit obediently shine;
    the hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
    the depths of the ocean proclaim God divine.
    We, too, should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
    with glad adoration a song let us raise:
    till all things now living unite in thanksgiving,
    to God in the highest, hosanna and praise.

Prayer of Approach
Gracious God, as a mother loves her child so you love us. For that great truth we praise and thank you. We owe our very lives to you. You have watched over us from our birth, tenderly nurturing us, showering us with love. When we have needed you, you have been there. You have given us strength in times of need, comfort in times of distress, encouragement in times of despair, guidance in times of uncertainty. Whatever we have faced, you have been with us.

Gracious God, we have not always appreciated your love. All too often we have ignored what you would teach us. We have taken you for granted and wandered far from your side. Yet through it all your love has remained constant. You love us with an unstoppable love. You have called us to be your children. For that great truth we praise and thank you, as we gather for worship on this special day.

Special Music – Awesome God

Scripture Reader:  Linda Boldt
*Gospel Lesson:    Luke 24:44-53

Hymn                  All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name                    VU 334

  1. All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
    Let angels prostrate fall;
    bring forth the royal diadem,
    and crown him, crown him, crown him,
                       crown him Lord of all.
  1. O seed of Israel’s chosen race
    now ransomed from the fall,
    hail him who saves you by his grace                 Refrain
  1. Crown him, you martyrs of your God,
    who from his altar call;
    praise him whose way of pain you trod,           Refrain
  1. Let every tongue and every tribe,
    responsive to the call,
    to him all majesty ascribe                                  Refrain
  1. O that, with all the sacred throng,
    we at his feet may fall,
    join us in the everlasting song,                          Refrain


Special Music – I Like Bananas

The offering
We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA and our many ministries. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us.  You can get more information about making a donation by contacting the church office or by visiting our website. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.

Offering Song    Your Work, O God, Needs Many Hands                     VU 537

  1. Your work, O God, needs many hands
    to help you everywhere,
    and some there are who cannot serve
    unless our gifts we share.
  1. Because we love you and your work,
    our offering now we make:
    be pleased to use it as your own,
    we ask for Jesus’ sake.

Offering Prayer
Pour your Spirit upon these gifts we are sharing today, O God. We offer our hands, our hearts, our songs and our treasures. Send these gifts into the world as a sign of your joyous work of love. May they help to welcome into your house of love all who are your friends. May all our brothers and sisters find their home in your love. Amen.

Special Music    Lord, I Lift Your Name on High

Hymn                  Christ Has No Body Now but Yours                            MV 171

Refrain:     Christ has no body now but yours,
                   no hands but yours.
                   Here on this earth, yours is the work,
                   to serve with the joy of compassion.

  1. No hands but yours to heal the wounded world,
    no hands but yours to soothe all its suffering,
    no touch but yours to bind the broken hope
    of the people of God.                                          Refrain
  1. No eyes but yours to see as Christ would see,
    to find the lost, to gaze with compassion;
    no eyes but yours to glimpse the holy joy
    of the city of God.                                               Refrain
  1. No feet but yours to journey with the poor,
    to walk this world with mercy and justice.
    Yours are the steps to build a lasting peace
    for the children of God.                                      Refrain
  1. Through ev’ry gift, give back to those in need;
    as Christ as blessed, so now be his blessing,
    with ev’ry gift a benediction be
    to the people of God.                                          Refrain

Pastoral Prayer, Lord’s Prayer

Hymn  For All the Saints                                                       VU 705

  1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
    all who by faith before the world confessed,
    your name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
  1. You were their rock, their fortress, and their might:
    you were their captain in the well-fought fight;
    you, in the darkness drear, their one true light.
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
  1. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
    We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
    yet all are one within your great design.
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
  1. The golden evening brightens in the west;
    soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
    sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
  1. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day
    The saints triumphant rise in bright array:
    As God to glory calls them all away.
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
  1. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
    through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
    singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!

May God, who comes to us in the things of this world, bless your eyes so you may see that which is holy in every living thing.
May Christ, who looks upon you with deepest love, bless your eyes so you may see the good that is in every one.
May the Spirit, who looks beyond the horizon with hope, bless your eyes so you may see all that is still possible in the days to come.
May God bless you and keep you, may God’s smiling face shine upon you and give you peace. Amen.

Choral Amen           Amen, Amen, Hallelujah, Amen             VU 974


“This sermon has no title” Ascension Sunday, May 12, 2024.
By Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Renfrew.

In a normal week, I put the order of service together first thing on Monday morning. The hardest part of putting the bulletin together is giving a title to the sermon, because I only start to write the sermon on Thursday. This week I couldn’t come up with a sermon title, since I really wasn’t sure how I was going to tie together the Ascension of Jesus with the celebration of Mother’s Day. I really wasn’t sure what direction I should take this message.

A friend of mine once said the only time he really enjoyed preaching on the Ascension was the Sunday they dedicated a new elevator in the church. On that Sunday it was easy to talk about how God lifts us up as well. While we don’t have an elevator to dedicate today, I do hope my message will lift you up.

The Ascension of Jesus is the last of his appearances after the resurrection. We can only make sense of the rather fantastic events of this day when we see how it sums up his life’s work.   When Jesus returns, there is no talk of guilt or blame or violent revenge for what happened. Instead he quietly demonstrates one more time the love and forgiveness that is the cornerstone of his teachings and his miracles.

Jesus’ being taken up into heaven brings to a close the earthly ministry of Jesus and it kickstarts the ministry of his followers. A lot of churches skip over the ascension because it is so hard to understand. There aren’t a lot of good scientific explanations as to how a physical body could suddenly levitate and float off into outer space. If we get bogged down into an argument about whether this really happened or not we will have missed the point.

The message of the ascension is simply this.  On Ascension Day, who Jesus is, is taken into the heart of God. Who Jesus is, is the heart of God. Jesus reveals the love of God to us in powerful ways. He demonstrates what the love of God can do in our daily lives. He uses his abilities to forgive people and to set them free from guilt and shame. He heals people of the problems that are holding them back. He feeds people who are hungry. He shows respect to people that society treats as invisible. He shows people who are important how to live with a healthy sense of humility. He challenges the coercive power we use to control others. He demonstrates how the un-controlling love of God has the power to set us all free.

When the powers and principalities of this world are threatened by his teachings, they put Jesus to death in an effort to stop the spread of his ideas. That should have been the end of the story. But it isn’t. It isn’t the end because his followers realize that what he has shown them about God is just as alive in them as it had been alive in Jesus. They experience his message of love and compassion as still ringing true after his death. Even death on a cross can not destroy God’s love for us. The ascension of Jesus is the affirmation that the love which Jesus shows in life, in death, and even after death, is God’s love.  On Ascension Day, who Jesus is, is taken into the heart of God. Who Jesus is, is the heart of God. This is the message we are called to take to heart today. We are called to live our lives as if the humble servant Jesus is the heart of who God is.

Now when we speak of love, we usually speak of the people we have chosen to love. We all have the circle of close friends and family for whom we would give our life for. Yet the love which Jesus speaks of does not have such a limited boundary. He wants us to love all of humanity, as he has loved us, both as individuals and as a world. This may seem like too huge of a challenge at first glance, but it is not.

For what does it mean to love someone? You seek to give of yourself for the purpose of nurturing the other person’s well being. You care for the other person, risking contact and knowledge of the person, so both of you might grow by the encounter. It is to have the basic attitude of wishing the other person well. Simple as that. By Jesus’ commandment, we are to seek to wish well everyone we meet.

We practice this well wishing in many different ways. Next week when we will share in Holy Communion, the prayers start with the minister saying “The Lord be with you.” to which the congregation responds “And also with you”. This is wishing one another well. It is a blessing, which is shared. To love one another is for each of us to seek to be a blessing to everyone we meet. Such a love is not just with those we have chosen to call our own.

For a loving relationship to truly work, there must be mutual devotion and sacrifice. I do think one word of caution needs to be spoken here. It seems to me, on this day set aside to honour mothers, that’s it’s usually the women in the family who are told this message. Our society has traditionally taught how it is the mother who has to deny themselves, and they are the ones who must give up everything for their family. But this commandment to love as Christ loves is for ALL of us – husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Love does not mean you must be a door mat for everyone to step on. Indeed, sometimes the most loving thing to do in such situations is to confront it. To not let it continue. The loving thing to do is to hold each other accountable. We need to hold even our own families accountable for how we treat one another.  When Christlike love reigns in a family, no one, no one is treated as second class. Everyone is valued, cherished, and their needs held as sacred.

We need such a radical egalitarianism, a treating of all people as equals, if we are to mature and grow. For the ability of people to grow up and mature depends upon the love and acceptance they feel today.  It also helps us deal with each other’s imperfections. When you have been around people long enough, you get to know every little fault each of us has. This knowledge includes the sins and mistakes we have made in the past. When we know each other this closely, we have to make a choice. Do we complain and judge the other person, or do we love them the way Jesus does? Do we put up a wall which separates us from them, or do we seek to be reconciled, healed and made whole? This is the kind of love which helps us build healthy families, strong churches and good communities. For most people, the way they experience God is through the healing forgiveness shown by God’s people. Only out of forgiveness and this reconciling love are people enabled to move from their past into God’s hopeful future for their lives.

The purpose of holding each other mutually accountable is to correct each other, to guide each other in the ways of love. Holding each other accountable helps to inspire the need for repentance. It helps us to be changed, and to grow in Christ.  The purpose of God’s judgement is never punishment and hellfire. It is never about payback. Judgement day is really change for the better day.

The theologian Bruce Epperly says “The point of Ascension is perspective. Jesus’ rising to the clouds gives us a broader perspective on our lives and the planet. Rather than individualistic images of salvation and personal well-being, Ascension challenges us to bring heaven to earth. For we are to live Jesus’ values in our world. As the Lord’s Prayer proclaims, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When we live from a higher perspective, we can transcend our own self-interest to embrace the well-being of the whole earth. For this reason God wants to lift you up.  Just as a mother’s love can shape the lives of her children, God knows your love has the power to lift others up as well.