Sunday, May 26, 2019
7th Sunday of Easter or Ascension Sunday
First Reading: Acts 16:16-34
Second Reading: Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26
Or, alternatively, the texts Ascension
First Reading: Acts 11:1-11
Psalm 47:1-9 or Psalm 93:1-5
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23
Gospel Reading: Luke 24:44-53
The liturgical color for the day is: White
It is appropriate to preach from the given texts for the 7th Sunday of Easter or use the texts from the Ascension of the Lord.
The Ascension of the Lord is one of the festival days that occurs on the liturgical calendar that does not fall on a Sunday. The day has been on the liturgical calendar since the 4th century, and by tradition the day has been celebrated on the 40th day of Easter—this year that falls on Thursday, May 30, 2019. (Recall that the season of Easter lasts 50 days.)
As most congregations will not hold a special Day of Ascension service, it is appropriate to celebrate the ascension of the Lord on the Lord’s Day and use the reading from the festival day.
This far into the season of Easter, and the Sunday before the Day of Pentecost, the dynamic movements in the story of the ascension are worth noting and could form the outline of a sermon. Notice what happens: 1. Jesus is blessing the disciples out on the high mountain where he has taken them. He continues to bless them even as he his ascended. 2. The disciples response was worship. There on the mountain they worshiped him. 3. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
From blessing to worship to great joy—those movements are gifts to us. Just at that moment when we don’t feel any joy…when we can be about to pull our hair out in frustration…or when the blahs come along…stop. Here is what we are to do—stop right in our tracks. Lift up your head. Lift it up. Look up. See that Jesus is blessing you.
See that Jesus is blessing you and allow that joy to inhabit you. Just look up and worship for a moment and allow that blessing of God to fill you. It is there…
In the Gospel Reading for the 7th Sunday of Easter we hear Jesus, in the High Priestly Prayer say: “I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Perhaps this is the message of the ascension—that we ought to take confidence in the oneness we know with Christ whether our proximity is near or far.