A Column Turned Prayer for Ascension Sunday

Ascension Sunday 2017

God of grace and God of glory,
On your people, pour thy power,
crown thine ancient Church’s story,
bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour . . .

Harry Emerson Fosdick, “God of Grace and God of Glory” (1930)

God of the true church, we acknowledge that we know these songs we sing too well, some of them even by heart. We have committed these words to memory, and yet when it comes time to put the songs and sermons and Scripture into action, we fall strangely short in the light of your glorious plan for us.

Free us for joyful obedience so that the church might be a place where Christ is celebrated as Lord, where the poor in spirit and wealth are uplifted, where conservative and liberal and independent may worship together as an envisioning of your beloved kingdom. Where the lines we have drawn fade into the light of your glory and grace. Where the church is the at the corner of social justice and personal holiness.

On this Ascension Sunday, may we be mindful that your presence will never leave us or forsake us, even if we do not have you in our physical sight. We give you thanks that you have opened the Scriptures to us this Easter season—that the Messiah must suffer, die, and rise from the dead. We give you thanks for the great fifty days of Easter and for the beauty of the queen of feasts, your glorious resurrection.

However, this day we are mindful that our world is not what it should be. Make the church be for the world the broken body and blood of your Son, so that our confidence will not be in the ballot box or politics here in Raleigh or Washington DC, but our confidence instead may be in our baptisms, in the church, and in the Spirit who gave life to the first church years ago.

Ascending Christ, you promised to send your Holy Spirit to your holy church. As you have ascended, may your Spirit descend fresh upon us. May we be bold enough to go into the world, in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others. In the name of Jesus Christ, who with you O God and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God now and forever. Amen.

This post originally appeared in the Statesville Record, and was published in The Pulpit & the Paper: A Pastor’s Coming of Age in Newsprint by Robert W. Lee.

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