Worship for Sunday 21st May 2023, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to the one who rides upon the clouds.

Sing to God, exalt God’s holy name and be glad in his presence;
lift up a song to the one who rides upon the clouds.

Sing to God, bring your whole life before him, because he cares for you; lift up a song to the one who rides upon the clouds.

Sing to God, the companion of the lonely;
lift up a song to the one who rides upon the clouds.

Sing to God, the strength of the weak, the light of our darkness;
lift up a song to the one who rides upon the clouds.

Opening hymn: StF 65 Sing of the Lord’s goodness

Sing of the Lord’s goodness Father of all wisdom,
come to him and bless his name.
Mercy he has shown us, his love is forever,
faithful to the end of days.

Come, then, all you nations,
sing of your Lord’s goodness,
melodies of praise and thanks to God.
Ring out the Lord’s glory,
praise him with your music,
worship him and bless his name.

Power he has wielded, honour is his garment
risen from the snares of death.
His word he has spoken, one bread he has broken,
new life he now gives to all.


Courage in our darkness, comfort in our sorrow,
Spirit of our God most high;
solace for the weary, pardon for the sinner,
splendour of the living God.


Praise him with your singing, praise him with the trumpet
praise God with the lute and harp;
praise him with the cymbals, praise him with your dancing,
praise God till the end of days.                                               Ernest Sands and Christopher Walker

Prayer of praise

Almighty Father, we come before you.
You are the King of glory, the King of kings.
You created the world and rule it from your sacred throne.
You formed humanity for yourself and called women and men to tell of your glory.
You sent your Son, who spoke of your kingdom but he was rejected and killed.
You raised him from death and he walked with his disciples, sending them to the ends of the earth.
You carried him into the heavens where he rules with authority and power.
Lead us in our worship today, that we may share your glory to the ends of the earth.

Praise song: StF 770

Amen, siakudumisa!

Amen, we praise your name, O Lord                                      Traditional South African

Prayer of confession

Loving God, you live forever in glory. We are not worthy even to call upon your name, but we know that you are merciful in judgement. Forgive us our false pretences, our prejudices, our arrogance and disrespect for the world you created and for the people you give us to love and to respect. Turn us away from the sins we have committed. Amend what we are and help us to walk with you. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Reading: Acts 1:6 – 11

The Ascension of Jesus

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

 Hymn: StF 568  Alleluia! Sing to Jesus

1 Alleluia, sing to Jesus!
his the sceptre, his the throne:
Alleluia! his the triumph,
his the victory alone.
Hear the songs of holy Zion
thunder like a mighty flood:
‘Jesus out of every nation
has redeemed us by his blood!’

2 Alleluia! not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now:
Alleluia! he is near us;
faith believes, but knows not how.
Though the cloud from sight received him
when the forty days were o’er,
shall our hearts forget his promise,
‘I am with you evermore’?

3 Alleluia! bread of heaven,
here on earth our food, our stay:
Alleluia! here the sinful
flee to thee from day to day.
Intercessor, friend of sinners,
earth’s redeemer, plead for me,
where the songs of all the sinless
sweep across the crystal sea.

4 Alleluia! King eternal,
thee, the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary,
earth thy footstool, heaven thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered,
robed in flesh, our great high priest;
thou on earth both priest and victim

in the eucharistic feast. WC Dix (1837 – 1898)


‘You’ll just have to wait’. It was one of the more irritating comments that came my way in childhood, as a birthday or an outing drew nearer. Time seemed to pass so slowly as I looked forward to the big day and wondered what it held in store.

‘You’ll just have to wait’. It’s not so far from what the men clothed in white said to the disciples as they stood gazing, open-mouthed, towards heaven. Jesus had already told them that they should wait in Jerusalem, where they would receive all that the Father had promised them, above all the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But when the moment came and he was lifted up from their sight, they must have found themselves wondering all over again where this journey with Jesus would take them.  What were they waiting for? Why had Jesus left them? Would the Holy Spirit make up for the disappearance of the Lord? So many questions as they waited for the day which Jesus had promised.

Yet despite all the uncertainty, they managed to keep on trusting Jesus’ words. Perhaps they needed the waiting time to remind them that if they were faithful to God, then God would be faithful to them. It’s a theme drawn from the Old Testament: ‘God works for those who wait for him’, Isaiah tells us (Isa.64:4). And from very recent times, there’s a lovely prayer from the Iona Community:

“You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
want us to wait for the right time in which to discover who we are,
where we must go, who will be with us, and what we must do.

So thank you…for the waiting time.

I wonder if the disciples ever looked back on those days of waiting, from the hurly-burly of their lives as ambassadors of Christ and founders of the new church. Did they remember the peace and uninterrupted quiet, the chance to be still in the presence of the Lord? There is something special about waiting together, holding a shared space and trusting that soon it will be filled with God’s power.

As we look forward to Pentecost, we are also invited to wait in faith and trust until God moves among us again, changing lives and hearts through the gift of the Spirit. The ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative helps focus this waiting time by inviting Christians to pray for five people to come to know Jesus. It’s an ecumenical and international call to prayer during these days between Ascension and Pentecost, praying that folk we know may come to faith in Jesus. You can find out more about Thy Kingdom Come via its website, thykingdomcome, and there is a beautiful prayer journey to share on our own website over these eleven days of waiting.

As we wait for the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost, let’s remember the disciples, looking up into heaven. In all their confusion and uncertainty, they never lost sight of the promise of the Spirit, so that when the wind and flame roared around them on the day of Pentecost, they were ready to follow God’s call. So too we wait, holding space and peace in prayerful stillness, until God’s gift of the Holy Spirit comes upon us and we find ourselves caught up all over again in the wonder of God’s love.

Prayers for our world

We bring before God our concerns for our world:
where there is war we pray for peace;
where there is sickness we pray for health;
where there is despair we pray for hope.

Cast all your anxiety on God, who cares for you.

Guide our activity in the church:
may we find ways to grow;
may we always honour you;
may we serve our communities.

Cast all your anxiety on God, who cares for you.

We hold in your love those whom we love:
those who are sick;
those who are sorrowful;
those who need guidance and direction.

Cast all your anxiety on God, who cares for you.

Come to us, God of glory.
Hear us, heal us and shine through our lives.

Cast all your anxiety on God, who cares for you.

Hymn: StF 669  The Saviour, when to heaven he rose

The Saviour, when to heaven he rose,

In splendid triumph o’er his foes,

Scattered his gifts on us below,

And wide his royal bounties flow.


Hence sprang the Apostles’ honoured name.

Sacred beyond heroic fame;

In lowlier forms, to bless our eyes.

Pastors from hence and teachers rise.


From Christ their varied gifts derive,

And, fed by him, their graces live;

Whilst, guarded by his mighty hand.

Midst all the rage of hell they stand.


So shall the bright succession run

Through all the courses of the sun;

While unborn churches, by their care,

Shall rise and flourish large and fair.


Jesus, our Lord, their hearts shall know

The spring whence all these blessings flow;

Pastors and people shout his praise.

Through all the round of endless days.

Philip Doddridge (1702 – 1751)


Why do you stand looking toward heaven?
This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
will come in the same way as you saw Him go –
loving, teaching, feeding, forgiving.

So go and find Him.
Go and be like Him.
And may the God who called you into being,
call you into the world to be a blessing there.

Worship material drawn from RootsontheWeb and re:worship