Worship Resources for May 12, 2024—Ascension Sunday, Seventh Sunday of Easter, Mother’s Day

A note on Rev-o-lution:

After seventeen years of blogging, first on an old Blogger site and then for the past thirteen years at this domain, providing worship resources on the Revised Common Lectionary (and for the past ten years on the Narrative Lectionary), it is time to hang up my blogging hat.

I will continue to post new resources through Pentecost (May 19, 2024) and keep the website up through at least November 2024, perhaps longer, for access to the archives.

It has become more difficult to say something new week after week, and also, I’m now writing novels, and it has taken more of my time than I can give. Thank you for your support of Rev-o-lution over all these years. It has meant a lot to me that my resources are useful to local pastors and that I have been able to provide them for free. But all things come to an end and there are other people blogging on the lectionary currently, with fresher words than mine. Thank you for all your kind words over the last few weeks.

Revised Common Lectionary
Ascension of the Lord: Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47 or Psalm 93; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53

Seventh Sunday of Easter: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

Narrative Lectionary: Death Swallowed in Life, 1 Corinthians 15:1-26, 51-57 (Mark 12:26-27a)

Acts 1:1-11 contains the second of Luke’s account of Jesus’ ascension (the first is the gospel lesson, Luke 24:44-53). In this version in Acts, the author of Luke begins with a similar introduction to the Gospel in his name, speaking of Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection, in which Jesus “presented many convincing proofs” and stayed with the disciples for 40 days. Jesus speaks to the disciples before his ascension that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit soon. The disciples, however, ask the question about the kingdom being restored to Israel. It seems they are still focused on worldly concerns. Jesus tells them it is not for them to know, but they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Then Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Two angels ask them why they are still looking up toward heaven, for Jesus will return in the same way they saw him go. In other words, Jesus has told them what is to happen soon, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, and they are to go to the ends of the earth—not to be fixated on what has happened, or to wait passively, but to go and share the Gospel. Twice the disciples seem stuck, on an ideal of a worldly kingdom, or on the Jesus they thought they knew. First Jesus, and then the heavenly messengers, remind the disciples they must move on from where they were and how they previously thought.

Psalm 47 is a song calling the congregation to praise God. God chose the people to be God’s heritage. God is the one who reigns over all the nations of the earth, and the people praise God as their king.

Psalm 93 is similar to Psalm 47, belonging to a group of psalms that are songs of praise for God who is the people’s king, the ruler over all the earth’s nations. In this psalm, God also rules over creation, and God is greater than the roaring floodwaters. All of creation praises God, who is everlasting and reigns from ancient times. The psalmist concludes by proclaiming God’s law as trustworthy and true.

In the introduction to the letter to the Ephesians, the writer (purporting to be Paul) prays for “a spirit of wisdom and revelation” for those coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord. The writer declares that Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God, and all power and authority and dominion falls under his feet. Christ is the head of the church, which is his body, and the fullness of Christ is known through the church.

In Luke’s first account of the ascension of Jesus, Jesus explains the scriptures from the Torah, prophets, and writings, so that the disciples have a new understanding of who Jesus is as the Messiah, that he was to suffer and die and on the third day rise. The disciples are witnesses of what Jesus has done, and Jesus tells them to wait until they have “been clothed with power from on high” (received the Holy Spirit). In this account, as he was blessing them, he withdrew to heaven and the disciples returned to the temple in Jerusalem to praise God.

For the seventh Sunday of Easter, the Revised Common Lectionary readings also begin in Acts 1, just a few verses later, when Peter speaks in front of the gathered believers. At this time, before the day of Pentecost, there are only one hundred twenty left. Peter declares that they need someone to replace Judas. Two names were brought forward, and they cast lots. Matthias was chosen to be added to the disciples to be among the twelve, though Matthias is not mentioned elsewhere in the scriptures.

Psalm 1 is a wisdom psalm, reminding the listener/reader that those who meditate on God’s instructions and find delight into living into God’s ways are blessed and happy, trees who are nourished by streams of water. Those who are foolish and wicked are like chaff blown about in the wind and will not stand in the congregation of the faithful. God watches over those who live into God’s ways; the foolish will fall away.

The Revised Common Lectionary concludes its epistle series of 1 John with 5:9-13. Those who believe in the Son have this testimony in their hearts: God’s love. God’s testimony is greater than human testimony. The testimony is this: God has given us eternal life that is found in Jesus. Whoever has Jesus has life, and whoever does not have the Son of God in their life does not have this life. The writer states this so that those who have Jesus in their life will know that they have eternal life.

Jesus prays for his disciples in John 17:6-19. As part of his final discourse with the disciples, Jesus prays for God’s protection to be with them as he is returning to God. Jesus prays that they would be one, as he is one with God. Jesus has sent them out into the world with God’s word, and the world has hated them, but they do not belong to the world, they belong to God. However, Jesus prays that they might be sanctified in truth and protected, for he knows his own betrayal, arrest, and death are coming.

The Narrative Lectionary focuses on the defeat of death, swallowed up in life in 1 Corinthians 15:1-26, 51-57. Paul began his argument for belief in resurrection with his understanding of scripture in that Christ died for our sins, that Christ appeared to the disciples and others, and that Paul himself had an encounter with the risen Christ. Paul then shifted his argument against the Corinthians who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead—if they don’t believe this, they deny that Christ rose. Paul uses the metaphor of Adam as the first human being, in which we all share in death, and Christ as the firstborn of the resurrection, in which we all share in eternal life. Christ rules over everything, even death. Paul declared that we will all receive the resurrection, our bodies transformed, mortality conquered by immortality and death swallowed up in victory.

In the supplementary verses of Mark 12:26-27a, Jesus spoke of the resurrection to some Sadducees who had questioned him. Jesus reminded them that God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, and how Scripture records that God said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”—the patriarchs long gone—for God is the God of the living, not of the dead.

In a sense, Ascension Sunday and/or the Seventh Sunday of Easter mirrors Reign of Christ Sunday. As Reign of Christ Sunday prepares for the new year, for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, seasons of the Incarnation, Ascension prepares us for Pentecost, the season of the Holy Spirit. This is Christ triumphant over death and sin. This is Christ who not only rose from the dead but now is seated with God in the heavenly realm. This is Christ who conquered death. This is Christ who has promised something more to us—the Holy Spirit as our Advocate and Comforter and Sustainer—and who will be with us forever. This is Christ who reigns over all, and will see us through.

Call to Worship (from Psalm 47:1-2, 6-8)
Clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
God reigns over the whole earth.
Sing praises to God, sing praises,
For God reigns over the whole earth!
Sing praises with a psalm,
For God reigns over all!

Prayer of Invocation
God of New Beginnings, today is a new day. We have this fresh start. Help us to turn our hearts and minds to You, to realign our lives this week to Your ways. We remember and give thanks for all You have taught us, and for the ways You continue to surprise us, through the stories of old and the new testimonies we receive, for You are the Living God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.

Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Eternal One, we confess that sometimes we are stuck in the past. We can only look back and want to restore what once was, without remembering how things actually were. Like the Hebrews in the desert, we long for Egypt, forgetting the oppression and hardship and only remembering the bright spots. At times we are stuck on visions of a future we want but may not be what is best for everyone, even ourselves. Holy One, You are always present with us, not stuck in the past or dangling a glimpse of a future that is better, but You are with us, in this life and world, now. Help us not to hope for something different without changing the world today, and may we not long for a past with rose-colored glasses. Instead, guide us to live into Your way, Your truth, and Your life, here and now, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

The psalmist tells us that God is from everlasting to everlasting, from before time to beyond time, but most of all, God has searched us and knows us and is in the stillness of our being. Know how much God loves you, how God has molded and shaped you and breathed life into you and loves you. God has never left you and will never leave you. Trust in God’s presence, and love one another, for it is in our care for each other that we know God’s presence best. Love, forgive, and serve one another, as Christ has done so for us. Amen.

Loving God, Mother and Father and Creator of us all, we give thanks for all the ways You have nurtured and cared for us, knowing each flaw, each hurt, each tender and sore space. You care for us as a parent cares for their children. You guard our hearts like a mother hen gathers her chicks for protection. May we know Your love and care, Gentle and Fierce God, and may we love wildly and fiercely. May our love drive us to demand the world to change, for the oppressed and marginalized, the most vulnerable among us. May we be fierce in our call for justice against systems of oppression, and gentle in our treatment of each one made in Your image. May we be open to Your transformative love in our lives and in our world. Amen.

More resources for Mother’s Day can be found here: http://rev-o-lution.org/worship-resources-for-may-8th-2022-fourth-sunday-of-easter-mothers-day-u-s/

3 thoughts on “Worship Resources for May 12, 2024—Ascension Sunday, Seventh Sunday of Easter, Mother’s Day

  1. Rev. Melanie Kirk-Hall

    While I am personally saddened by the news that you are going to be ending the weekly posts, I am mostly just so thankful for the years that I have been able to turn to this site for meaningful liturgical offerings. It truly has been a gift to me and to my people.
    Blessings to you as you work on your novels!
    Thank you again so much!


    Greetings from North Carolina. Thank you so much for providing your information all these years. I’m the secretary for a very small church, and have used your Call to Worship and Prayer for Confession for many years. Is there another site you could recommend for this information?

    Enjoy your new journey, and Blessings to you.
    Juanita Barefoot
    Philippi Presbyterian Church
    Raeford NC 28376

  3. Adam Hange

    Thank you for your ministry! It’s been a blessing to me, and to our church over the past 7+ years. Wishing you the best in this new chapter of your life and ministry.
    Rev. Adam Hange, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Hillsboro, OR 97124


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