notre dame montreal

Weekly Bible Notes and Worship Resources



Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem The picture opposite is of the Dome of the Rock, which was completed in 691 AD. It is greatly venerated by the Muslims. The building covers a huge rock from which, according to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven at the end of his Night Journey. In the Jewish tradition this is the Foundation Stone, the symbolic foundation upon which the world was created, and the place of the Binding of Isaac
Chapel of the Ascension

The next picture is of a much more humble nature, it is a small chapel on top of the Mount of Olives. It marks the place from where Jesus is said to have ascended into heaven.

The picture below shows a place in the centre of the chapel where a footprint in the stone, is said to be the last footstep of Jesus.

The reason why it is so much more modest is probably because most Christians would hopefully not take the ascension of Jesus quite so literally. It might be a nice idea of Jesus floating on up into the sky, but fortunately Christians have tended to think of the ascension in a less literal sense. Jesus walked off and left his disciples behind, he did not fly.

The truth is that apart from this little chapel, Christians do not have a special place where the ascension of Jesus is specially remembered. The early Christians discovered that whilst Jesus was no longer physically present with them, nevertheless he was very close spiritually. When Jesus ascended to his Father, he was no longer confined to earthly places, wherever the Christian went Jesus was by their side.


Ascension footprint of Jesus

No wonder that those first Christians were unafraid to go and proclaim the good news of Jesus. He had not disappeared, rather he had become even more present.

Perhaps the most significant assurance of the truth of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus is just how energised these disciples became in their commitment to spreading the good news of who Jesus was. They were ready to die for what they believed to be true, because Jesus had not left them behind, he was now always by their side. 




Opening Verse of Scripture   Ephesians Chapter 1:20

He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

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. Amen  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

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 all authority in heaven and on earth to your Son, our Saviour Jesus 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 1:1-14

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Second Reading  1 Peter 4:12-14 & 5:6-11

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel Reading  John 17:1-11

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one.


Post Communion Sentence

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


In our Gospel reading Jesus looks towards heaven and speaks to the Father, summing up what’s about to happen and praying for His disciples and for all believers. In verses 1 - 5 Jesus reports that he has completed the task of making the Father known and asks to return to the Father’s glory. In verses 6 - 8 He amplifies His report. He has passed on to the believers that which he received from the Father. But the focus is not about communicating information but about the establishment and confirmation of a special relationship with God. In this relationship is life itself, here on earth and for eternity, in the world and beyond the world. And for all those who have entered into this relationship, they too are special. Special because they belong to the Father through this new relationship, and because of this they are invited to share in the task which the Father gave the Son. As we are called to carry on this task today, we, like them will face many challenges, the same challenges that Jesus highlights in His report back to the Father. The challenge of a hostile world, the challenge of temptation to give up when the going gets tough, and the challenge of disunity among believers. How could they, or we, ever succeed?

This passage from John is Jesus’ prayer for what the Father will do for the world, through his risen Son, through the church. It is not a declaration of what is, but a heartfelt prayer for what shall be. It is not a blueprint for how unity will take form or mission take place, but a plea for the Father’s strong name to protect those who are in the world who are called and open to the task of doing mission with joy and hope. A passionate appeal from Jesus to His Father that the believers may withstand the challenges which will lie ahead.

As Jesus ascended into heaven and left the earth in bodily form, the believers must have wondered what the future held. In an uncertain, sceptical and hostile world they must have felt alone and overwhelmed by the task to which Jesus had charged them. Paul, in his pastoral letter to Peter gives an indication of just how hard the task might be. It’s not for the fainthearted. The enemy is prowling round like a lion, ready to devour anyone it can get its teeth into. For early Christians with memories of their friends and families being thrown to the lions by the Romans this can’t have been a comforting image. Fortunately Paul goes on to say how these Christians can resist. They need to stand firm in their faith, confident in the hope that lies before them as God restores and strengthens them for the task in hand. It was a two way street. God would strengthen and restore them if they stood firm in their faith. Presumably the weaker their convictions, the more difficult it would be for them to stand firm. A challenge for them to be deeply rooted in their embryonic faith. Strength coming not from years of experience or tradition, but strength in believing that the God who came to earth in Jesus would do what He said and transform their lives and the lives of others by His gentle, yet all powerful touch.

As they stepped out in this fledgling belief, would they be ignored as irrelevant, ridiculed for trying to speak out about their faith, brushed aside as they tried to show God’s love? Would they be paralysed by fear and uncertainty? Would the pressure to conform to the prevailing lax attitudes overwhelm them? Would they be split by arguments and dissention? Time would tell. It did. History shows that through the power of the Holy Spirit who did indeed strengthen them they, and countless others through the ages, were more than ready and able for the task. The question is, are we? Sam Cappleman



The three days immediately before Ascension Day, which was on Thursday this week, are sometimes know as Rogation Days. The word comes from the Latin 'rogare', meaning to ask, and these were the days when God's blessing was asked on the crops, planted a few weeks earlier and hopefully just beginning to show signs of life in the early Spring. The custom came from Europe where it was initiated by the Archbishop of Vienna in the year 470 after terrible plagues and minor earthquakes had devastated the community. He ordered special prayers to be recited as the villagers processed around their fields asking God blessing on their crops. The custom spread rapidly around Western Europe, and by the eighth century was established in Britain. These processions were also useful to show people their parish boundaries, boundaries. The custom of 'Beating the Bounds' grew up to show people, and especially the younger members of the parish, where the parish boundaries lay. At the boundary-marks of the parish such as a pond, a big tree or a rock, the country vicar or parson would stop and read the Gospel, and when this had been done the boys of the parish traditionally was thrown over a hedge, pushed into a stream or beaten with willow wands to imprint the boundary on their minds. These willow wands come from the straight suckers of a pollarded willow. Stripping the soft bark from the outside revealed the beautifully smooth white wood of new willow and it is from this action of removing the bark that we get the title of the country dance 'Strip the Willow'.  Sam Cappleman

The disciples must have wondered what was going on. Over the last three years they had come to know Jesus not only as the Son of God, but as a friend and companion. Someone who was always there for them and loved them whatever they did, good or bad. When they got things wrong, Jesus didn’t love them any the less, when they go things right, Jesus did not appear to love them any the more. It was absolutely unconditional love. And then all of this was shattered when He was taken away to be brutally crucified. Their world fell apart. And then He was back. A new Jesus, one who couldn’t be destroyed. And He stayed with them for a while. And then He was gone again and somehow the disciples didn’t get the feeling they’d see Him again in person this time, at least not on earth. And then it dawned on them. They were to be Him on earth, His hands, His feet, His eyes, His mouth, His very presence.


  1. Rejoice the Lord is King (Tune Gopsal)

  2. Praise Him

  3. The Saviour when to heaven (Tune Gonfalon Royal)

  4. Hail the day that sees him rise (Tune Gwalchmai)

  5. Mine eyes have seen (Tune Battle Hymn)


Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

O Almighty God, who by thy holy apostle hast taught us to set our affection on things above: grant us so to labour in this life as ever to be mindful of our citizenship in those heavenly places whither our saviour Christ is gone before. Book of Common Prayer South Africa

You are not only risen and alive, you are Lord.
This is your ascension, your ascendancy over the whole universe.
You stand over and above all that is best in life as its source.
You stand above all that is worst as ultimate victor.
You stand above all powers and authorities as judge.
You stand above all failure and weakness and sin as forgiveness and love.
You alone are worthy of total allegiance, total commitment.
You are Lord ‘My Lord and my God’ Rex Chapman

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, for ever and ever. Amen


Additional Material

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. Amen


‘After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.’ Acts 1

We know that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. But these resurrection appearances did not go on indefinitely. Luke tells us that after forty days of teaching the disciples, Jesus was taken up (ascended) to heaven. The final meeting with the disciples took place on the Mount of Olives, outside Jerusalem. But what exactly happened ?

Wandering around a museum in Rome recently, one of the most interesting pieces I saw was the one shown opposite. It relates to the legend of Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Rhea Silvia and the god Mars. According to ancient legend, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by these twins. They were, together with their mother, cast into the Tiber, but the god Tiberinus saved Rhea Silvia from drowning, and the brothers were miraculously rescued by a she-wolf sent by Mars. The wolf reared the twins together with her cubs underneath a fig tree, then after a few years they were found by the shepherd Faustulus, who took the brothers home and gave them to his wife Acca Larentia to raise. The Roman historian Dionysius wrote about Rhea Silvia (Ilia) being visited by a god, who tells her she will bear the twins Romulus and Remus. The god is then "hidden by a cloud and taken from the earth and borne upwards through the air".

In the Hellenistic world, such ascent of a king, prophet, hero or holy man to the heavens, the place of the gods was a well known motif. It signified divinity. Hence Heracles was deified through ascent into heaven and Ganymede became immortal when Zeus lifted him into heaven to serve as cupbearer to the gods. It was also the Greek Philosophy of Plato which taught that human souls were immortal and ascended to the heavens.

The point which I am making is that it was once very normal and understandable for people to think of a flat world with heaven above the clouds, to which people ascended. Hence over time we have thought of Jesus as taken up to heaven through the clouds and that in this solid area above there was a physical throne upon which Jesus would sit. This was all thought before we had the opportunity to send spacecraft and satellites into space to reveal a huge universe bigger than any of us can fully appreciate. We now know that if Jesus embarked upon a physical journey through the clouds to place called heaven, then it would have been a very long journey indeed.

Today some might prefer to think of the Ascension as a metaphor.
Nowadays we do not regard heaven as place beyond the sky, we think of heaven as somewhere where God is where we will be forever. Jesus need not have floated up like Mary Poppins but could have been taken from the disciples in a much more ordinary way. Jesus going on up the mountain into the cloud is perhaps the most natural way for him to leave the disciples. However, if Jesus wanted to reassure his disciples that he was returning to glory with God, then the Ascension would need to make it clear that he was ‘going up.’ In the Old Testament when God met with people, a cloud often represented his presence and glory. The cloud may or may not have been a supernatural, nevertheless is was most surely a cloud with deep symbolic significance.

For the disciples and for us the meaning is clear, Jesus has gone before us. He has left this world and is exalted to the place from which his reign will be acknowledged as he is Lord of all. This separation of Christ from his followers was the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to be given to the disciples to enable them to have God’s presence with them intimately, wherever they might be. The disciples lost the physical presence of Jesus, but they gained the spiritual presence of Jesus in a very real way. This we celebrate next week at Pentecost. Charles Royden

Additional commentary

After years of telling my children to avoid computer games, I have just discovered why they are so compulsive. I have not changed my mind on some points, they can consume far too much time and many of them areStar Wars - Rogue Trader (computer game) completely mindless. But Star Wars Rogue Squadron is amazing! You can fly a fighter jet just like Luke Skywalker and destroy hundreds of ‘drones’ and other evil enemies. I achieved a gold medal in one game but alas I am still only a cadet pilot. Max on the other hand is a Colonel. I was impressed by his obvious skill until I discovered that he has learned a very naughty trick. Apparently these games have ‘cheats’ built into them and Max had learned how to tell the computer that he could not be killed. By typing ‘I am Dolly’ you are apparently immortal. So he flies anywhere and he never gets shot down in flames, he has escaped the power of death.

After Easter the disciples must have felt as though Jesus had discovered such a ‘cheat’ in the game of life. They were now following a leader who could not be killed. After suffering such a terrible feeling of loss at his death, hope was alive again at his resurrection. Perhaps this was now the opportunity for Jesus to conquer the world. Listen to the words from Acts which the disciples used to question Jesus 

‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 

BUT! Today is the Sunday after the Ascension and we remember that Jesus did not use his power to keep on cheating death. Instead of leading them on, he was leaving them on their own. How must they have felt as they watched him go away with these words ringing in their ears, 

‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ 

The disciples were reminded that Jesus had not gone forever. He had gone before them and he had left them a task to complete. This task would not be accomplished by them on their own. The Ascension was not an end to Jesus’ ministry, it was the beginning of a new kind of relationship with his disciples. Jesus had said that he would send the Holy Spirit. As they waited and prayed after the Ascension, they too found the power of God and discovered that Jesus had not deserted them, he was with them still and would continue to be with them at all times even to the end of the earth.

The secret of success for all of us is to remember that we are not alone. God promises us his Holy Spirit too. All that we have to do is like the disciples wait for that power from on high. Success is not achieved through our greater effort, but through our greater dependence. For in the words of Isaiah ‘it is those who wait on the Lord who shall renew their strength.’ Charles Royden


Jesus tells the disciples that they must not leave Jerusalem. They must wait for the transforming gift of 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. 
Our Church today 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.

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.


As we prepare for Christian Aid Week

If you cannot feed one hundred hungry people, 
feed just one.
Mother Theresa


  1. Lo! He comes, with clouds descending
  2. All heaven declares    sung after confession
  3. All earth was dark
  4. All hail the power of Jesus' name!
  5. Jesus shall reign
  6. Rejoice, the Lord is King!

Prayers for Sunday and the Week ahead

Saviour Christ, of ourselves we cannot love you, cannot follow you, cannot cleave to you; but you came down that we might love you; ascended that we might follow you, bound us round you as your girdle that we might be held fast to you. You loved us, so make us love you; you sought us, so make us seek you; you found us when we were lost, so be yourself the way, that we may find you and be found in you, our only hope and everlasting joy. Amen

Heavenly Father, You gave your Son, Jesus Christ to show us the Way of justice, truth and peace. Help us hold his example before our eyes, in the way that leads to a better world on earth and eternal life in the Heaven. Amen

We have a great high priest who has passed into the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God. Amen

Blessed are you, Lord God almighty, who gave your Son, Jesus Christ, to be our redeemer and the author of everlasting life; and exalted Him above all for ever; that at all times and in all places we might be partakers of His power and His glory. Amen

Almighty and ever-living God, give us new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd, and lead us to join the saints in heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, establish, strengthen and settle you in the faith; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen


Picture of scales for Christian Aid What do you know about... scales? 
Scales feature on Christian Aid's trade badge, highlighting the imbalance of global trade. The figure in the middle reminds us that the imbalance is the result of human rules; but it also gives us hope, because people are the solution – we must all take action to help tip the balance of trade in favour of poor people.

We dare to pray: Lord, let the world be changed, for we long to see the end of poverty; We dare to pray: Lord, let the rules be changed, for we long to see trade bring justice to the poor; We dare to pray: Lord, let our lives be changed, for we long to bring hope where good news is needed. In the strength of your Spirit and inspired by your compassion, We make this promise to work for change, and wait confidently for the day when you make all things new. Amen.

Holy Father, we commend into your hands our family and our friends, our neighbours and our benefactors. Strengthen and confirm all faithful people and convert all sinners into your ways of goodness and love. Rouse the careless, raise the fallen, heal the sick, and grant your peace to the dying; and all for your own love's sake. Amen Brooke Foss Westcott, 1825-1901

Lord, you make all things new. Give me fresh energy to face this day's challenges and responsibilities. Help me to concentrate when my mind wanders. Prevent me from feeling guilty when I need to take time for myself. Save me from pride when people praise my efforts. Renew my desire to serve when my enthusiasm wanes. Help me to trust you for the things I cannot change or understand. Let me know your love in my life that it may touch others also. Amen.