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Thursday, 13 May 2021
This evening at 7:30 we held a Eucharist in celebration of the Ascension of our Lord. The celebrant was Father Roger, who also preached, the text of his sermon can be found below. The Choir sang three hymns, and as the Anthem 'God is gone up' By William Croft. This was a joyful service marking the end of Easter tide, and looking forward to the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The service on Sunday is Mattins, and we welcome Father Luke, the Archdeacon to St Marys. There will be an 8am Holy Communion service taken by Father Roger.

 Acts 1:1-11

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

In the first book, Theophilus, 
I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 

until the day when he was taken up to heaven, 
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit 
to the apostles whom he had chosen. 

After his suffering he presented himself alive to them 
by many convincing proofs, 
appearing to them during forty days 
and speaking about the kingdom of God. 

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, 
but to wait there for the promise of the Father. 
“This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 

for John baptized with water, 
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit 
not many days from now.”

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. 

While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, 
suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 

They said, “Men of Galilee, 
why do you stand looking up toward 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.”

Luke 24:44-53

Jesus said to the disciples,
“These are my words that I spoke to you 
while I was still with you—
that everything written about me in the law of Moses, 
the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 

and he said to them,
“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer 
and to rise from the dead on the third day, 

and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed 
in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 

You are witnesses of these things. 

And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; 
so stay here in the city 
until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, 
and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 

While he was blessing them, 
he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.

And they worshiped him, 
and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 

and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

At Christmas, baby Jesus was first seen in the world. Thirty something years later, at Ascension, he goes from sight. It is a momentous occasion: today a major Holy Day. Above all, a happy occasion. We celebrate all that God has done in Christ. We celebrate that Jesus has completed his very demanding vocation among us, his suffering now past, and that he takes our humanity, which he first embraced at Christmas, forward to a new stage of life. It has seemed to some that in England, nature usually celebrates Ascension-tide with the attractive flowers of cow parsley!

Jesus’ Ascension was a turning point for the early Church and soon it would be Pentecost. The Church will then be on a path of inspired expansion, reaching down to our own day. Without it we wouldn’t be here, and nor would this building.

Jesus went from sight. The cloud receiving him - a symbol of God’s presence. Heaven not being straight upwards, needing a space rocket! Ascension is essentially about Jesus’ status. A headteacher is ‘over’ a school. That’s about status and importance, not about being airborne. Jesus has gone up - in people’s estimation – gone up, in fact, to the maximum – now he is to be worshiped as at one with God himself. 

Notice, that it is at the very time when people are confident in worshipping Jesus as God, that he goes from sight. That seems very appropriate – you can hardly worship as God someone sitting alongside you. Jesus, similarly, disappears from sight when the disciples recognise him as the risen Lord, at the meal when they’ve walked with him to Emmaus.

Jesus, first seen as God’s incarnate Son at Christmas and last seen at Ascension when his friends finally worship him as God incarnate, and Risen. These are exactly the ideas which separate us from the Jews and Muslims. For them, ‘God incarnate’ is a deeply offensive idea, and worshipping Jesus as God is quite shocking and inappropriate.

We might think today, also, of the whole business of having a God. Who, or what, we worship is perhaps best seen in what we do, and are seen to value, rather than what we say. People might well be attracted to Church life because of friendship, social events, music or whatever. And those things are good, and the Church must be welcoming to all. But at the heart of things must be the love of God and the worship of God, and the humility and sacrifice that goes with that. Parishes, especially when they are struggling, as some are, tend to welcome any leaders who have energy, willingness, money, and ability. All good, but there must also be significant Godliness, or else the energy keeps others from contributing, the less willing are not encouraged to play the part which God wills for them, spending money gets wrongly prioritised, the piper calling the tune, the ability is turned to personal power, which might be very well-meaning or become self-aggrandisement. In the end, the household of God is not a true household, nor a fitting household of God. 

We bear witness to Christ’s Resurrection and his status, and membership of his household, and rejoice in those things, not just on this special day, but constantly. 

Fr Roger

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Third Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Sung Matins

Fourth Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Variations can be found in the Parish Magazine or the Calendar at the bottom of this page.

Useful links

Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:

  1. Chichester Cathedral will be live streaming services. For the Eucharist and order of service Click here before 10:00am Sunday and follow the instructions.
  2. The BBC Daily Service is available here.
  3. Prayer for today.
  4. The C of E youtube channel.
  5. Hearing You is a new phone help line launched by the Diocese of Chichester in partnership with Together in Sussex in response to the impact that Covid 19 has had on Just about the whole community. It aims to provide pastoral support and a listening ear to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  6. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.

Please note that St Mary's are not responsible for the contents of external links

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