Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Evening Prayer for May 12, Ascension Eve


May 12 2021

Evening Prayer (Vespers)

You may wish to light a candle and place it before you as you begin.



Mystery of God, draw us near.
Fill our minds with awe!
Wisdom of God, surprise us.
Encourage us with hope!
Glory of God, shine through our lives.
Reveal your power and your glory!
In the mystery, the wisdom, the glory of God,
Let us worship!

HYMN: Beautiful Savior

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FIRST READING: Acts 1:1-11

A reading from Acts

Theophilus, the first scroll I wrote concerned everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning, right up to the day when he was taken up into heaven. Before he was taken up, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus instructed the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed them that he was alive with many convincing proofs. He appeared to them over a period of forty days, speaking to them about God’s kingdom. While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. He said, “This is what you heard from me: John baptized with water, but in only a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 As a result, those who had gathered together asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?”

Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, 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 end of the earth.”

After Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you saw him go into heaven.”

Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.

SECOND READING:  Ephesians 1:15-23

A reading from: Ephesians

Since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, this is the reason that I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers.


This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way.

Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.


For 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus stayed on earth, though it seems he had the power to appear and disappear at will. He showed up here, then there among the disciples. Scripture doesn’t record what happened in those days. My guess is that he focused on teaching the disciples how to tell the good news to others.

Now, it is time for Jesus to leave the earth and let the disciples do the work he trained them to do. He gathers them together, and rises out of their midst into the heavens.

He must ascend, so he can sit at God’s right hand – in other words, resume his place in the Trinity. And from the source of all power and goodness, Jesus can send the Holy Spirit into the world.

After Jesus disappears from sight, the disciples continue looking up for him, hoping, praying he will return. But it won’t happen. God’s Plan A requires that Jesus is on earth for a time, then returns to the Godhead.

Suddenly, two men appear and ask why they are looking for Jesus up there? They won’t find him that way. They need to understand that he will now appear to them in a different way, but he will still be in their midst.

The author of Ephesians helps the disciples and us understand that Jesus has God’s power, that Jesus’ presence is found in the ever-growing Church, the family of believers who form Jesus ever-present body.

As such, we are Jesus’ body, called and gathered, and then sent, to be Jesus hands, and feet, and voice in a world that hurts as much today as it did thousands of years ago. We are the witnesses who will make Jesus known to the world, just as the first Twelve, and then the hundreds and thousands did.

We are filled with God’s Spirit power to make amazing things happen, because we believe. Let’s go and be Jesus! Amen



Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,

but in these last days, God has spoken to us by the Son.



In peace let us pray to the Lord, saying, “We pray to you, Lord.”

That this evening may be holy, good, and peaceful, We pray to you, Lord.

That the work we have done this day and the people we have met may bring us closer to you, We pray to you, Lord.

That we may be forgiven our sins and offences, We pray to you, Lord.

That we may hear and respond to your call to peace and justice, We pray to you, Lord.

That you will sustain the faith and hope of the weary, the lonely, and the oppressed, We pray to you, Lord.

That you will strengthen us in your service, and fill our hearts with longing for your kingdom, We pray to you, Lord.


Other prayer petitions may be offered here.

For all this and more, We pray to you, Lord. Amen.



Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.


HYMN:  How Great Thou Art

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The disciples looked up to heaven,
and then looked around at each other.
Slowly, understanding dawned upon them
as they began to recognize the presence
of their beloved Jesus in their midst.
With their minds enlightened, and their hearts set free,
they went forth rejoicing, singing and praying,
and waiting for the Spirit’s coming.

Let us, too, go forth confident in God.
Let us rejoice in one another, +
as we wait in prayer for the surprise of the Spirit.

Scripture from Common English Bible © 2012

Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504

Abingdon Worship Annual 2021


Monday, May 10, 2021

Jesus' sacrificial love and friendship


Here is Intern Lori's sermon 

Grace to you this morning brothers and sisters in Christ,

The message from Jesus that we received today, called us to embody. How can we give up our lives for others? What can we do to show that depth of love for others within and outside the church?

Well, we do not have to look far. Jesus’ use of himself as the model of love, and for the commandment keeping is anchored in daily life.  We can imagine Jesus’ encouragement to us: “You can do this! You can do this why? I have done it, and I am here to show you how to do it.”

With this in mind, in John 15:9-10 Jesus models for the community the kind of loving relationship they must have. How? By being obedience to God’s commandments and on self-giving. In the same way that Jesus kept God’s command and abide in God’s love so also the disciples, if they keep Jesus’ commands, will abide in his love, that is, that they will remain attached to Jesus and through Jesus to God.  And this love is best expressed how? Self-giving, sacrificial love, laying down one’s life for your friends.

Jesus calls his disciples “friends” and shows difference with this of master-slave relationship which was a one-way relationship. Instead, it is a relationship of reciprocal love, creating a community of friends, willing to sacrifice for each other. They key word is friend. I want to take a moment to show you the sign “Friends” in American Sign Language.

The love God showed toward Jesus he shows toward his disciples so they could show it to each other. When they love this way, their love becomes soaked with divine qualities. It is not just emotional cozy feeling but also a conscious decision to put yourself on the line and risk everything for the other. This kind of love will make sure that justice is done in the world. You will venture yourself from the safety of your community into the broader society to see that is transformed by this sacrificial love that Jesus modeled for us.

 More specifically what would that look like today?

 I want to emphasize that Jesus did not wait for people to come to him. Jesus went to people.

 Here are two stories that Churches have done to reach out in the community.

Zion Originated Outreach Ministry also known as Zoom. The vision f or ZOOM house began more than 20 years ago, as a solution within a community plagued by drug use, violence an overall negativity. One afternoon, Drug Enforcement Agency raid bought the police, local property management, an d members of Zion Lutheran Church together in attempt to reduce drug-related violence in the neighborhood and offer safe, affordable housing to area families transitioning from homelessness. They eventually purchased an apartment building that is now ZOOM House and began housing ministry inclusive of opportunities for educational advancement, job training, spiritual growth and neighborhood involvement for its residents in Minnesota.


Another story I want to share is a personal story of Pastor Beth Lockard, who is one of the two Deaf ELCA Pastor in the World. She is also one of my two internship supervisors. She works at Christ The King Church in West Chester, PA. What she noticed about ten years ago where Deaf people from war zone countries were moving to America and had no support. So, she started a nonprofit agency in collaboration with her church called “Deaf CAN” and reached out to Deaf refugees. Now, it’s growing and there’s even a World Refugee Day where people who are Deaf Refugees leading this event on June 10-13 2021.

Check this video out:

 Pastor Beth shared with me recently that along the way they became friends!

 As St. Matthew’s look to call a New Pastor. What are some possibilities that God is leading us to do for our community here in Ocala? How can the St Matthew’s and Ocala community be transformed by this sacrificial love that Jesus modeled for us to become friends not only inside this church but outside?

With God all things are possible, friends.