Monday, May 14, 2012

Christ at the Center


Christ at the Center is our worship theme for Ascension Sunday, May 20, 2012. Our focus scriptures are Acts 1:1-11 and Ephesians 1:15-23.

The Acts of the Apostles is the “second chapter” of the book Luke wrote about the mighty work of God’s Spirit, first in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and then in the life of Christ’s Body, the Church. (Luke never imagined the Gospel of John being placed in the middle of his two chapter book!) In any case, Luke begins his story in Acts just where he left off in his Gospel: the story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. In Acts, Luke says that the risen Christ appears to his followers over a forty day period following his resurrection. Then, after a last conversation on the Mount of Olives, Jesus is lifted up into the clouds. His followers stand there gawking until two men dressed in white suddenly appear beside them and gently urge them to get on with their work. So they return to Jerusalem to prepare to be baptized by the Holy Spirit and then to preach the good news of Christ out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

The passage from Ephesians, celebrates the enormous power of God’s Spirit, stamped on Christ’s followers as God’s guarantee that they will enter the kingdom of heaven, causing praise and glory for God. Then there is a prayer that the members of the church at Ephesus may truly comprehend the power of the life that God enables in them through the Spirit. And it concludes with an amazing affirmation of Christ’s place in the universe and the role of Christ’s church. To quote from The Message: All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

Here is a Call to Worship based on the passage from Ephesians. Please feel free to use or adapt anything in this post that is helpful to you.


Call to Worship     from Ephesians 1:15-23
(most wording from The Message by the Rev. Dr. Eugene Peterson)

L: Christ shows us who we are and what our purpose is.
     P: In fact, Christ had his eye on us long before we heard his call.
     L: When we fell in love with him, we found ourselves home free:
signed, sealed and delivered by his Spirit!
     P: For the Spirit is God’s guarantee that God’s kingdom will come.
     L: Now we need only to know Christ personally and to see what he calls us to do.
     P: For he empowers a glorious life: endless energy, boundless strength!
     L: And all this power issues from Christ!
     P: For God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven.
     L: He runs the universe, everything from galaxies to governments,
no name and no power exempt from his rule!
     P: And not just for the time being, but forever.
He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.
     L: At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.
          For the church is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.
     P: The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts,
          by which he fills everything with his presence.
  All: Alleluia! Let us worship God in Christ!

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