Call to Worship:
Here we are, gathered in many spaces but in One Body.
Here we are, ready to worship God, ready to be transformed.
Today we remember Jesus’s ascension,
a rising up of human flesh to mingle with the Divine.
We praise the one who died and rose,
who lifts us all – body and spirit – in his outstretched, wounded arms.
As we join in prayer and song and praise,
may the Holy Spirit fill us to bursting
both with anticipation of Christ’s return
and an irresistible urge to seek God’s kin(g)dom here and now.
You who crafted the cosmos and cradle it to your heart,
you who will the flourishing of all your creatures
and weave a tapestry of redemption for humanity –
these embodied spirits whom you fashioned in your image –
Teach us to be your hands, working for the liberation and restoration
of the outcast and those who fear what they do not know,
of the oppressor and the oppressed.
In the name of your Child Jesus,
who rose in body to you
and who sent us the Holy Spirit to be the very heartbeat of the world,
too often we live as though you abandoned us
when you ascended into heaven –
as though you are not alive and active in the world,
as though we could make up our own morality,
as though we should wait, dormant, for your return, watching the sky instead of being active vessels for your love and restoration.
When we fail to balance our hope in your return
with living out your already-present Spirit: forgive us.
When anxiety holds us back: encourage us.
When apathy or resignation leaves us feeling powerless: empower us.
We are the Body of Christ.
Just like Jesus our God,
we are embodied spirits and inspirited bodies –
bodies of many colors, many (dis)abilities and shapes,
many desires and dreams.
When the world tells us our bodies are wrong,
that we are not the right color or size, that we are useless or broken,
that we love the wrong way,
may the vision of our embodied God –
Jesus of the wounded hands and feet,
Jesus of the brown and callused skin,
Jesus of the poor person’s belly
and kind person’s love of food and fellowship –
appear to us.
When we feel swayed to judge
the body of another and what they do with it
may the vision of Jesus’s table, set for
women and eunuchs, tax collectors and poor persons,
practitioners of many faiths, the Roman centurion and his lover,
deaf and blind persons, lepers and those with mental illness,
and ever other stranger and outcast
inspire us to expand our own table.
When we feel anxious as the first disciples did
that Jesus arose in body, seeming to leave us on earth behind,
may his Spirit enfold us, a reminder that we were not abandoned
but empowered and transformed.
In the body and divinity of Jesus,
heaven meets earth –
thanks be to God!
The Risen One is here among us, here and now.
Jesus calls to us, not to look toward the sky,
but into the faces of those who surround us –
to listen to them; to commune with them;
to live peaceably with them whenever possible
and to disrupt injustice wherever necessary.
May we hear that voice and invitation as we go out into the world,
here and now, together,
to celebrate and cultivate the gifts of the Holy Spirit
whom we find wherever there is life.