What to do in the days between Ascension and Pentecost

My picture for Ascension is preparing me for Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Not that the Holy Spirit isn’t already with me. But I think there is wisdom in the seasons of the church year helping us to focus on the various aspects of the faith at different times of year. I preached from rough notes on Sunday, so don’t have anything typed up to share. However, I do have the text that I preached from on Thursday for Ascension Day.

Thy Kingdom comeAscension Day sermon 2020

Thy Kingdom Come = Familiar words we all pray – some of us every day. What does it mean for God’s kingdom to  come? 

For people to know God’s love in their lives, to experience justice peace and forgiveness and to be part of the new creation.  Jesus resurrection to new life at Easter brought to a completion his work of redemption (cross & forgiveness).  His Ascension marked the beginning of the next phase of his ministry:

  • His Lordship over all the world with all authority under him.
  • His being head of the church, his body on earth through whom he continues to bring healing, justice and peace. 

How?  By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in and among his followers.

As he said to the first disciples, you will be my witnesses and you will proclaim all I have taught you… but wait… you can’t do it on your own.  The Holy Spirit will empower and enable you.

So they returned to the temple rejoicing and spent the next 10 days in joyful anticipation and prayer.   They weren’t disappointed.  The Holy Spirit did indeed come in a rushing wind and tongues of flame to set them ablaze spiritually.  And the fire has not gone out.  It has passed from one believer to another right down through history to you and me.

If the fire is to continue, then we need to be part of passing it on.  We need to pray, joyfully and in anticipation for the Holy Spirit to come upon us and in us.  For some of you this may be a strange thought.  For others, like me, it is familiar but nevertheless I will still be praying for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit – not just for myself but for all of us who are members of Jesus’ church.

My prayer for us all is that during these 10 days we will pray for more people to come to know Jesus for themselves, to come to a living faith; for faith to move from head to heart. 

As I prepared this sermon I listened to the podcast of Tom Wright speaking about Jesus bringing about the new creation as God promised, through an ancient poet/prophet Isaiah

” they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 ESV

Are you feeling as though you are flagging a bit?  Do you need a boost spiritually?  

Do you feel as though you aren’t somehow good enough, experienced enough or holy enough to be part of spreading the good news of Jesus?

Well, neither did Peter and the others, yet they didn’t look at their own shortcomings and deficiencies.  They looked to God.  They trusted in God and they waited on God.  Then they found that they were able to proclaim the good news and witness to what Jesus meant to them. 

These 10 days of thy kingdom come is a time for praying for 5 friends to come to know Jesus.  Which 5 are you praying for?  Download the app or sign up for emails to help you pray.  Daily reflections and prayers.  

We need to pray

Come Holy Spirit
open our hearts and minds
to receive
power to proclaim
willingness to witness
God’s Grace
generously given
Jesus’ name.

So ended my sermon – and I showed the picture, not quite finished. It only had flames and the blue lines behind the wind. No words, no gold and no swirls representing the wind. I painted them a few days later.

I have been using it daily, meditating on it and through it connecting in prayer with God. I noticed this morning as I used the Daily Prayers how frequent the references to the Holy Spirit are. So I decided to collect some of them together, to go with this picture.

Send your Holy Spirit upon us,
and clothe us with power from on high. Alleluia..

Blessed are you, creator God,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your Spirit moved over the face of the waters
bringing light and life to your creation,
pour out your Spirit on us today
that we may walk as children of light
and by your grace reveal your presence.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
and all that is within me bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
and forget not all his benefits;

Who forgives all your sins 
and heals all your infirmities;

Who redeems your life from the Pit 
and crowns you with faithful love and compassion;

Who satisfies you with good things, 
so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever. Amen.

The Spirit of God fills the whole world. Alleluia.

I will take you from the nations, 
and gather you from all the countries.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, 
and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses.

A new heart I will give you, 
and put a new spirit within you,

And I will remove from your body the heart of stone 
and give you a heart of flesh.

You shall be my people, 
and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36.24-26, 28b

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people
and kindle in us the fire of your love.
All who are led by the Spirit of God
are children of God and fellow-heirs with Christ.
Renew the face of your creation, Lord,
pouring on us the gifts of your Spirit,
For the creation waits with eager longing
for the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people
and kindle in us the fire of your love. cf Romans 8

My prayer table already has my heart picture and that along with this one is a constant reminder in the room day by day to invite the Holy Spirit to fill me afresh for what lies ahead. I also have a stone painted to remind me of one of my churches and the map is of the benefice of 3 parishes (4 churches). A postcard is from bishop Michael who sent greetings at Easter with it. These remind me to pray for the diocese and my parishes. Sometimes it helps to have a visual aid to prayer.

Prayer table during Ascensiontide.

I hope that you are able to find a focus for your prayers – it may just be a small space on a bookshelf or corner of a table. I realise I am fortunate in having a whole room to call my own for doing my art as well as praying in. But I haven’t always had that luxury. When I had small children and lived in a small house I developed the habit of always saying my prayers in my bedroom and lit a candle on the dressing table. I did also pray elsewhere, as I was out and about during the day, but these were my ‘daily quiet time’ prayers when I purposely set out to pray. It may be that you always sit in the same chair. It can help to create a space where you always pray so that on the days when words fail (and we all have them) you can sit and just be and know that you are in God’s company.

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