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Weekly Bible Notes  Sunday after Ascension Day

Easter 7

Year C, Colour = White or Gold

Easter 7 - Sunday after Ascension Day


This importance of dependence and sharing with each other is a fundamental part of being, not just as Christian people, but human beings. We know the importance of sharing and intimate and supportive relationship. The concept of a Christian who is isolated from others is fundamentally flawed, we exist only in community - as a part of a body. Feeling lonely is painful, but is it nature's way of telling us that this is not how we should be. So  Jesus takes this on in his prayer that we might be one, even as he and the father are one - absolutely. We are made to share the joys and sorrows, the burdens and triumphs together.

“Christian unity is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Opening Verse of Scripture    Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. God has ascended amid shouts of joy. God reigns over the nations; he is seated on his holy throne.

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Common Worship

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. Common Worship

Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope: strengthen us to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace, to the glory of God the Father. Common Worship

Lord of hosts, purify our hearts that the King of Glory may come in, even your Son, Jesus our redeemer; for he is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Methodist Worship

Eternal God, you have given authority in heaven and on earth to your Son, our savious Jesu Christ. Grant that we may never lose the vision of your kingdom but serve you with hope and joy; through him who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading   Acts 16:16-34

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her. When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice." The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God--he and his whole family.

Second Reading  Revelation Chapter 22:12-21

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.

Gospel Reading   John 17:20-26

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

Post Communion Prayer

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.


Have you ever entered one of those competitions on cereal packets or some other commodity from the supermarket. They ask you simple questions and then conclude with a final challenge to write a slogan. It will say something like ‘now describe in less than 10 words why Shreddies are the best cereal.’ It focuses the mind to try and make a simple and easy to understand slogan which encapsulates the goodness of Shreddies.
When we have to boil things down in this way it helps us to get rid of the unimportant stuff and go to the heart of the matter. This is what marketing is all about, getting to the core of the product and then explaining it in a few words so that it captures the imagination and sells!

I suspect that if the church employed marketing consultants, they would pronounce the verdict that we are failing to get our message across. Most people 'in the street' have very little clue what the church is really about. Ask the typical man on the bus what Methodists are about and he is more likely to say something like ‘they don’t drink’ than any theological understanding about grace. If he was asked the same question about Anglicans he would probably start thinking about internal divisions over sexuality.

There is an urgent need for Christians to eradicate the negative and accentuate the positive. We have to recognise our shared common goals, the things which really matter, and then find ways of getting our core message across. Too much of our time is wasted on internal struggle and strife, vociferous debates in which we condemning particular things, or people or ideas. The stuff that we hate we make sure everybody knows about!

This is not very profound, but the church has found it very difficult. It is no surprise that because Christian people have failed to put into an understandable way what we are about, others have failed to catch on. This might seem like sound bite religion, and perhaps it is, but we need to recognise that Jesus was excellent at sound bites! Jesus deliberately took very complicated messages and reduced them to a few words, a simple picture or even a short story. People instantly knew the things he was about, love, forgiveness and living a better life, he made them understandable.

In the passage from the Gospel of John today Jesus draws attention to one of these core principles of being a Christian. Jesus gives the same simple treatment to the complicated idea of unity, but like all of his teaching it simple, not simplistic.

Somebody asked me recently ‘what does it mean to be a ecumenical.’ I suppose I could have gone to great lengths to explain the development of the ecumenical message but I simply drew attention to the words of Jesus from the reading in John’s Gospel today. Jesus makes it clear that he expects his followers to be drawn together in unity. He captures this principle with the wonderful catch phrase ‘that they may be one as we are one’. If this had been a contest to find a slogan, it would have been a surefire winner. This is what it means to be ecumenical, it is obedience to the deep desire of Jesus that his followers should be united. It is not a suggestion, it is not a complicated theological idea, it is just the straightforward prayer of Christ. When we read these words we might wonder what all the fuss has been about with different denominations and Christian churches. To be faithful to Christ our divisions must fall and we must learn to be as one.

This importance of dependence and sharing with each other is a fundamental part of being, not just as Christian people, but human beings. We know the importance of sharing and intimate and supportive relationship. The concept of a Christian who is isolated from others is fundamentally flawed, we exist only in community - as a part of a body. Feeling lonely is painful, but is it nature's way of telling us that this is not how we should be. So  Jesus takes this on in his prayer that we might be one, even as he and the father are one - absolutely. We are made to share the joys and sorrows, the burdens and triumphs together. As individuals we need to recognise the importance of being a part of others and we have to grow into mature adults so that we are able to know ourselves and others well enough to be able to get along without falling out. Immature Christians and churches need to grow up sufficiently that they will be able to get on with other Christians and churches whose only failure may be that they think or act differently. We are living some kind of fiction if we fail to realise that the fracturing of the church of Christ owes more to immaturity, tantrums and a determination by those seeking power to get their own way, than to any pursuit of godly truth.   Charles Royden



While we wait for Jesus’ return and for all things to be completed in him, we trust that Jesus’ promise has been fulfilled. We are Spirit-powered and so able to put aside grudges and give forgiveness. Because of his Spirit our lives are marked by the same love Jesus had. Through the Spirit we are learning to trust day by day and to surrender our lives more and more into God’s hands. We live each day in the present moment as we offer service and love to our neighbours. In all our words, actions, thinking, loving and giving, we pray that Jesus would join us at home, work and in all parts of our lives, to help us do good works in his name. We pray, "Come, Lord Jesus." For we need his Spirit to help us sustain our hope and efforts as his disciples in a frequently-unreceptive and even hostile world.
As we come forward to receive Communion today we will see a reflection of our already-existing unity: we will be receiving the same Body and Blood of the Lord. But we can’t close our eyes to our lack of unity. Communion time will offer an opportunity to pray with Jesus today that the unity he has with the Father might be more perfectly reflected in our own church and among all believers.


  1. All hail the power of Jesus name Miles Lane
  2. Alleluia sing to Jesus Hyfrydol
  3. Jesus is Lord
  4. Glorious things of thee are spoken Austria


Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

Almighty and everlasting Father, you raised our Lord Jesus Christ to your right hand on high. As we rejoice in his exaltation, fill us with his Spirit, that we may go into all the world and faithfully proclaim the gospel. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Ascension collect

O God, seeing as there is in Christ Jesus, an infinite fullness of all that we can want or desire, may we all receive from him, grace upon grace; grace to pardon our sins, and subdue our iniquities; to justify our persons and to sanctify our souls; and to complete that holy change, that renewal of our hearts, Which will enable us to be transformed into the blessed image in which you created us. O make us all acceptable to be partakers of the inheritance of your saints in light. Amen. (adapted from the original by John Wesley )

O LORD God Almighty, Father of angels and men, We praise and bless your holy name for all your goodness and loving kindness to humanity. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and for your unceasing generosity to us throughout our lives; But above all, we bless you for your great love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. We bless you for bringing us safe to the beginning of a new day. Grant that this day we fall into no sin,
Neither run into any kind of danger. Keep us, we pray, from all things hurtful to body or soul, and grant us your pardon and peace, So that, being cleansed from all our sins, We might serve you with quiet hearts and minds, and continue in the same until our life's end, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. Amen. (adapted from the original by John Wesley )

A Collect for Aldersgate Sunday
God of immeasurable grace Your Spirit has from age to age, confirmed your work of salvation in the hearts of those who love you. Grant to your people a true spirit of worship, That renewed in their calling They might achieve the vision you have given to them. May we become your people, United and equipped to proclaim the god news of Salvation for all, By faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, Who reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit One God, now and for ever. Amen.

Eternal and gracious God, grant that as we believe your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to have ascended with triumph into your kingdom in heaven, so may we also in heart and mind ascend to where he is and with him continually dwell; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Methodist Worship Let me see you, O Lord, in those I meet today. In serving them may I minister to you. May I recognise you disguised in the unattractive and the irritable. Bear with my faults, O Lord, and look upon the good intentions of my heart. Increase my faith and bless my work, now and for ever. Amen. Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Gracious God, fountain of all wisdom, 
we pray for all Christian people;
for Bishop N, for all Christian leaders,
and for those who teach and guard the faith …
May the word of Christ dwell richly in our hearts,
and knit us together in the bond of your love.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for the leaders of the nations,
and for those in authority under them …
Give them the gift of your wisdom,
and a right discernment in all things.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for our … (city/town/village/community);
for those who live and work here,
and for those who visit this place . . .
Speak your word of peace in our midst,
and help us to serve one another as Christ has served us.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for those who do not believe,
and yet who long to know you, the very Word of life …
Open their ears to hear your voice,
and open their hearts to the knowledge
of your love in Christ.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for those bowed down with grief,
fear or sickness,
especially …
May your living Word bring comfort and healing
to all those in need.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We give thanks for all those who have died in the
faith of Christ
and we rejoice with [N and] all your saints,
trusting in the promise of your word fulfilled.
Lord of life,
hear our prayer,
and make us one in heart and mind
to serve you with joy for ever.

A Blessing

Now, to God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved;
to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood;
to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts,
be all love and all glory in time and to all eternity.
Amen. (John Wesley )

Additional Resources


At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I wonder whether you have ever used Head and Shoulders hair shampoo? The commercial shows a classic dandruff situation as a 'before' and then a beautiful head of shiny black hair as the 'after' shot. There are lots of these kinds of advertisements with 'before and after,' I mention this one because it is one I know people say is normally true, ie it works!
The product mention in these commercials claims to make such a remarkable difference that life before and after the event is qualitatively different. In our Bible reading today the church is told that there is something of importance about to happen that there will be a transforming before and after difference The product is of course the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit the church must stay at home and wait, because it is just not worthwhile bothering. With the Holy Spirit things will be remarkable, a total change. 
 The Church lives in the in-between time, between the "already" of Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, and the "not yet" of his return. And yet that interim is not a passive waiting that is marked by inactivity, for the church is given a mission to be a witness to the world of the redemptive activity of God in Jesus the Christ. It is called to proclaim the good news of forgiveness and reconciliation, and the hope of newness that is given voice in the resurrection itself. It is a grand vision of being God's people, God's agents of transformation in the world. The mission of the church here is nothing less than to go into the world as God's people, and proclaim a subversive, transforming message about a suffering God who calls anyone without discrimination to respond. It will not be a popular message. In fact, it will be scandalous. And people will not be so eager to accept just anyone into their fellowship, as we learn all too quickly in Acts. The task will be far more enormous than anyone imagined, confirmed by the fact that the church still faces the same issues today.
However, the message today is to wait. Before the church can be the church, it must wait for the power, for the ability to carry out that mission. There is a clear realisation from the very beginning of Luke's Gospel, that we simply cannot do what God has called us to do on any level without God's help. That enabling power for which they are waiting is not something they can generate or make happen by their own efforts. It is a gift of God, in his own time and in his own way. Perhaps this Ascension Sunday, as we observe the return of Jesus to the Father we can remember Luke tells us that the church cannot be the church without the power of the Holy Spirit enabling Jesus' followers to carry out their task as witnesses. Luke is clear that the church is the church only when it has waited until it has been clothed with power from on high.
We have something about which we can bear witness! And yet, we realise that we cannot possibly do that in a world that does not really want to hear that message. So we are left with an utter dependency on the work of God to empower us for that task (cf. 1 Cor 3:6). And so we wait. But we wait with the full expectancy that the power will come, that the Spirit will so enable us as his people that we can boldly bear witness and proclaim the message.


The passage from Acts today describes Paul and Silas being thrown into the jail at Philippi. Although they were falsely imprisoned after being beaten up, the two men kept up their spirits by singing praises to God. Even such a disastrous set-back did not crush their sense of God’s purpose in sending them on their journey. Instead, imprisonment became an opportunity to proclaim their faith. And so it was that the first two converts in Europe were Lydia, who was not only a woman but a trader and their jailer, a minor public servant. Hardly the kind of converts who seemed to add prestige to the Church! But the story of Paul and Silas’ adventure reminds us that Jesus too often was found spending time on the unimportant or the marginalized. Jesus placed a value on everyone equally, regardless of their wealth, status or gender. His Jewish contemporaries who favoured their own faith over that of foreigners; men over women; well over sick; rich over poor; found Jesus hard to understand. Jesus’ radical message of human equality in the eyes of God is still challenging. Today, Aldersgate Sunday, we will be thanking God for the ministry of John Wesley and his brother Charles. Their sense of God’s calling took them into the newly industrialised cities of late eighteenth century England, where they reached out to the poor and exploited factory workers. The Wesleys were often treated with violence and hostility but they persevered and won thousands over to belief in Jesus. At His Ascension Jesus charged His disciples to spread the Gospel and to be the church until He should come again. Paul and Silas took up that challenge, the Wesleys took up the challenge in their time and we have the same duty to proclaim the Lord in our own age. The era is different but the message of love, forgiveness and joy remains the same.

Joan Crossley

Read more about Aldersgate Sunday


'Immature Christians and churches need to grow up sufficiently that they will be able to get on with other Christians and churches, whose only failure may be that they think or act differently. We are living some kind of fiction if we fail to realise that the fracturing of the church of Christ owes more to immaturity, tantrums and a determination by those seeking power to get their own way, than to any pursuit of godly truth.'  



Lord Jesus Christ your Church was founded on unity and love. Yet we confess to you Lord that we can't love other people all the time, sometimes we don't even love ourselves. There are some people we don't even want to love, or like, or help, or understand, or go through the agony of forgiving. We wonder how we can start to try and love them at all. Yet you, most Gracious Father, gave Christ for us in love. And in turn he poured out love upon us and prayed for our unity with one another and with you. Loving God, help us to love, bring us closer to you and to one another. As we turn to you, pour your Spirit out upon us and lead us in the way we should go that your light might shine in us and through us. Amen.

Lord, God of peace, we thank you for the hopes, the efforts and the achievements which your Spirit of peace has inspired in our days - stirring up love where there was hate, sympathy where there was suspicion, care where there was indifference. Open our minds and our hearts even more to the specific demands which love for others makes upon us, so that we may be more truly makers of peace. Remember, God of mercies, those who are oppressed, those who are suffering and dying for the birth of a world in which all people will be more truly a single human family. May your kingdom come for all people of every race and language your kingdom of justice, of peace, of love, and may all the earth be filled with your glory. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Lord, lead us to be peace-makers, building connections between individuals, focusing on what unites people rather than on what separates us and highlights our differences. Lord, it's easy to harm relationships; instead, give us the power of your Spirit that we may build up and make new the bonds between people.


In 1863, the "Football Association" was founded, to set out clear rules for the game and to distinguish it from rugby football and other similar games. With the foundation of the Football Association, the game began to be called "association" or "assoc", giving the word "soccer". In May each year the Cup Final is held at Wembley. After the First World War it became a tradition for community singing to take place at the Football Cup Final at Wembley. King George V suggested that a hymn be included, and "Abide with me" was chosen. It is still sung before the Cup Final every May.
The words were written by Henry Lyte in the fishing village of Brixham in Devon, where he had been the Vicar since the age of 30. His words are particularly touching because he wrote them whilst dying of tuberculosis. On the 4th September 1847 he said goodbye to the congregation of his church. He had been given early retirement because of his chronic health. In his last sermon he preached about the time when two disciples were walking along a road towards a village called Emmaus. Jesus had been killed a few days before, but now he joins them and walks beside them. He is risen from the dead. At last they recognise him and say to him: "Stay with us. It is nearly evening." Henry Lyte took this theme and wrote his hymn as he walked by the sea. He heard the ebb and flow of the tide and, for the last time there, he watched the sun set. The following day he was to go abroad on the advice of his doctor, who had told him that in a drier climate he might live a little longer. And so he wrote "Abide with me" (meaning "stay with me"), "it is fast becoming evening." As he wrote his words, Henry Lyte also thought of his own life coming to a swift end. No earthly helpers or comforts could make much difference to him. 2 months later, on his way to sunny Italy, he died in Nice, France. His last words were "Peace, joy," as he pointed his hand towards the sky. We can use our imagination and place ourselves on the seashore as the sun is setting. We listen to the words of his hymn as the prayer of this sick man who knew he was at the "evening" of his life, about to die from tuberculosis - but at peace with himself and God.
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide; 
the darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, 
help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; 
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see; 
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence every passing hour; 
what but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be? 
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.


Many offices have a little note on the wall which reads “You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps!”. Perhaps we could adapt that to “you don’t have to be mad to be an evangelist but…..” . Our duty as Christians to proclaim Jesus and to offer the love that He showed can be dangerous. As we live in a country which seems ever more angry, rude and self-centred, love is often snarled at or thought weak. It can be, if not physically dangerous, but it can be tough to try and be a Christian! For example I stopped to see if a young woman who was collapsed over a shopping trolley in the middle of the road wanted help – she bit my head off for invading her privacy! We are called to offer love and kindness to strangers and we will often be rejected. If we try and tell what we believe, we will often be ignored. But we are called to offer and to keep on offering so that the work of Jesus can be accomplished. So “be of good cheer”, as Wesley would have said, and do not be downcast when your kindnesses are rejected. The example of great Christians of the past is to keep on in the face of rejection, for the Lord’s sake.

Hymns Crown him with many crowns

  1. All earth was dark-on notices
  2. Christ is the world's true light
  3. Christ Triumphant ever reigning
  4. The head that once was crowned with thorns
  5. All people that on earth do dwell. (Tune: Old hundreth: long first note)
  6. Be thou my vision (Tune: Slane)
  7. O for a thousand tongues(Tune: Lyngham )
  8. Amazing Grace ( Amazing Grace)