Prayers, Readings and Reflection for 7th Sunday of Easter (Sunday after Ascension Day)
24th May 2020
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia. Christ has ascended on high; He reigns for ever. Alleluia. Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Alleluia.
Christ has gone up on high, leading captivity captive and bringing gifts for his people. As we prepare ourselves to meet him here in the courts of heaven let us call to mind our many failures and sins. Lord Jesus, you suffered a cruel death on the cross for our redemption, yet we have forgotten your pain and stayed in the realm of the evil you defeated. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you were raised from death to bring us new life, yet we have preferred the comfort of the familiar, and the empty promises of a sinful world. Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you have ascended to your Father and our Father, your God and our God; plead there at the right hand of God for our forgiveness and entry into the fullness of his presence. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. May the God of love bring us back to himself, forgive us our sins, and assure us of his eternal love in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for the day
Risen, ascended Lord, as we rejoice at your triumph, fill your Church on earth with power and compassion, that all who are estranged by sin may find forgiveness and know your peace, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Reflection by Canon Jill Leonard, Pastoral Assistant and Authorised Local Preacher
Over the past few weeks many of us have had to adapt to a new way of living which may have entailed a complete loss of our daily routines. A time when our homes may have had more or less people in them than usual, no visitors and the daily sounds have changed to an eerie silence. It has certainly been a period that has challenged each and every one of us. Possibly the greatest challenge has been to find time for regular quiet prayer or even how to start praying if you’re not use to doing so.
Throughout the Gospels we read of how Jesus found time to take Himself off quietly to talk to God. Maybe He would get up just that little bit earlier and take Himself off. Very little is known about what He prayed for but we do have a few insights such as when He raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11; “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me”.
Here in our reading today we have the start of the longest recorded prayer of Jesus and it is in three parts. Firstly He prays for Himself, then for the disciples and finally for the church.
It’s no surprise that Jesus is praying for Himself as He nears the time of His arrest and Crucifixion – the fulfilment of what He came to earth to do. Even though he knew his fate as the time drew closer he must have had cold feet, after all he was human. In this prayer he shows us the wonderful relationship that he has with God. He calls Him Father and the loving relationship is clear for us to read about. Further on in the prayer it becomes obvious that he wants us to have a similar relationship both through him and directly with the Father. If you look at Matthew 6 you will see that Jesus taught us to pray ‘Our Father’.
Often, when I talk to people they want to know ‘How do I pray? Where do I find the words?’ Well of course there are plenty of books on prayer but they don’t always say what we want God to hear. He wants to know all about us and what we want, we won’t change his mind about what is happening but he will help us to understand. What is important is making time and space to talk and listen and wait. Your answer won’t be instant but it will come, you just have to be patient something that can be difficult in our instant world.
Once we become accustomed to talking to the Father either directly or through Jesus it becomes a habit and one that can happen whenever and wherever indeed Paul in his letter to the new Christians in Thessalonica urges them to ‘pray ceaselessly’. I have been lucky in my life in that the Father became an integral part of it when, at the age of ten, my family fell apart and I found comfort in knowing I was not alone and could always talk to my Father in heaven. I don’t always like his answers but he has always been there.
As our lives move forward and our routines change I urge you all to continue to build in that quiet time for our Father in heaven. Time out just to talk, be quiet and listen and in so doing find re-assurance and peace.
Let us join our prayers with those of our Saviour Christ, seeking the Father’s blessing and the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus Christ, great high priest, living for ever to intercede for us, pray for the Church, your broken body in the world … Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us. Jesus Christ, king of righteousness, enthroned at the right hand of the majesty on high, pray for the world, and make it subject to your gentle rule … Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us. Jesus Christ, Son of Man, drawing humanity into the life of God, pray for your brothers and sisters in need, distress or sorrow … Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us. Jesus Christ, pioneer of our salvation, bringing us to glory through your death and resurrection, surround with your saints and angels those who have died trusting your promises … Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us. Jesus Christ, Lord over all things, ascended far above the heavens and filling the universe, pray for us who receive the gifts you give us for work in your service … Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us. Jesus Christ, keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at your feet; for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Eternal God, giver of love and power, your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world to preach the gospel of his kingdom: confirm us in this mission, and help us to live the good news we proclaim; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Spirit of truth lead us into all truth, give us grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and strengthen us to proclaim the word and works of God; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen. Remain in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia. Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prayers taken from Common Worship: Times and Seasons © The Archbishops’ Council 2006