A Powerful Celebration of Christ’s Ascension

Here’s a Practical Way to Help Your Church Experience a Powerful Celebration of Christ’s Ascension

HE WENT UP ON HIGH!
Part Seven of a Seven-Part Series on the Ascension of Christ

[Editor’s Note: If you’ve missed any of David Bryant’s previous blog installments centering on Christ’s ascension, you can read each one using the links below.  In this final blog post for this series, David passes along a very practical outline for a worship service for what he calls an “Ascension Celebration.” Maybe you’d like to try it with your church or weekly Bible study group. David asks what might happen if congregations all over America would follow this example—how much such focus and devotion could help foster Christ Awakenings all across our nation.]

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Six Ways the Holy Spirit Pours Out On Us “Extensions of the Ascension” Today
Where You (and All Creation) Are Headed—and Why
How Jesus’ Ascension Wrapped Up His Earthly Ministry to Make It Work for You
What If Jesus Had Never Sat Down on Heaven’s Throne?

In light of all we’ve unpacked the past six weeks about the biblical doctrine of the Ascension, how can we not respond with profuse praise to the King of Glory? In this blog post I want to give you a way to do just that! You’ll find what I share here to be not only thrilling but also life-giving for you and those who join you.

A Look Back at the Final Act

When Jesus ascended—when he went up on high to be crowned Lord of all—it was the final act of a grand redemptive drama. It was the culmination of his incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.

As a result, as this series has demonstrated repeatedly, today Christ’s active supremacy outpaces and outmaneuvers the machinations of every monarch, magistrate, and prime minister among the nations.

World leaders are mortal; they must be replaced in every generation. Christ’s universal kingship remains permanent, undiminished by time.

Temporal presidents and potentates take charge of limited terrains for a season. The King of the ages lays claim to all the earth right now, with no exemptions.

Senators and Wall Street sultans strive to achieve political and financial triumphs. God’s Son determines final outcomes for every arena of human existence, even entering enemy camps to convert rebels into disciples.

How Christians Get In on the Final Act

For sure, it is believers who benefit chiefly from Jesus’ final act. He ascended primarily for us.

All of us as believers are a part of the “Final Act” of his redemptive drama—especially every Sunday we gather for worship.

That’s why universally the Church today needs to relaunch “Ascension Celebrations” of all kinds—at least (at least!) one service a year. Believers need a unique worship experience down here on earth to focus on exalting and exulting in our ascended and reigning Redeemer sitting on the throne in the heavens!

In fact, you might do well to experiment with the dynamic worship format outlined later in this blog post.

Even though in this age the scepter of Christ is not everywhere visible, yet by his Spirit at work among his people Christ’s reign is everywhere accessible. That’s why he deserves an “Ascension Celebration” among his people.

Paul pointed to the glorious reality of our ongoing intimacy with Christ in his supremacy when he admonished the Corinthians:

Christ is not weak in dealing with you. He is powerful among you. It is true that Christ was nailed to the cross because he was weak. But he lives by God’s power . . . Don’t you realize that Christ Jesus is in you? (2 Corinthians 13, emphasis added).

I wonder how many 21st-century believers appreciate that Christ is not only residing among God’s people but also at the same time is presiding among us—the way a king commands the action in his court.

Constantly and consistently, the administration of the Lamb’s domain fully functions in the global Body of Christ just as it will ten thousand years from now.

So why not schedule at least one worship service a year to celebrate that phenomenal truth!

One Church Models an Exciting Possibility

In response to my recent series of blog posts, the pastoral staff of a church in the Northwest created their very own “Ascension Celebration” worship service for their congregation. Afterward they sent me the order of the program. I’m certain any church or Christian group could replicate this approach.

I’ve modified it a bit to incorporate elements I’ve found effective in similar services. The template that follows could be used in any Body of Christ. Just think what might happen if congregations all over America began their own Ascension Celebrations? How much could that help foster Christ Awakenings all across our nation?

Ascension Celebration: A Service of Worship

Introduction (5 minutes)

  • The importance of the ascension of Christ
  • The reason for this special service focused on the Ascension

Scripture Reading:

  • Acts 1:1-11

Responsive Reading of the Nicene Creed (congregation responds with bold text)

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And [I believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all worlds;
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God;
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father,
by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered and was buried.
On the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father.
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father.
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father.
And He shall come again, with glory, to judge the [living] and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the [Holy Spirit], the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy universal and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
And I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen!
(modified slightly)

Hymn of Praise:

  • Crown Him With Many Crowns

Prayers of Celebration (1-minute prayers; 3 pray-ers)

  • For the victory displayed and ratified by Christ’s ascension
  • Over all the glory that is his right now as the Lord of all
  • Over all the dimensions of his reign currently manifested

Prayers of Repentance (1-minute prayers; 3 pray-ers)

  • For all the ways we have failed to give him full supremacy in our lives
  • For all the ways we have resisted the implications of his reign in our lives
  • For all ways we have diminished before unbelievers his sovereign glory and grace

Scripture readings:

  • Psalm 110:1-4
  • Acts 2:32-26

Prayer Huddles * (groups of six; give these prayer prompts; 1 minute between each)

  • Ask the Father to pour the Spirit from Jesus’ throne more fully into our life together
  • Ask the Father to awaken the Church to more of the majesty and activity of his Son
  • Ask for the advance of Christ’s reign and kingdom among the nations by the gospel
  • Ask for the Consummation of the reign of Christ, bringing in a new heaven and earth

Lord’s Prayer (prayed in unison)

Scripture Reading:

  • Revelation 5:6-12

Hymn of Praise:

  • All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Responsive Reading: (congregation responds with bold text)

Jesus, because you have ascended into heaven to reign,
even angels, authorities, and powers are in submission to you!
You have crushed Satan under your heel!
You alone are the ruler of the kings of the earth!
You and no other!
You alone are destined to rule all the nations with a rod of iron
because the kingdoms of the world
have become the kingdom of our God
and of you, his Christ,
and you will reign for ever and ever.
Jesus, in you has come the salvation
and the power and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Christ!
Just as the ancient prophet Isaiah foretold,
God’s government rests upon your shoulders
so that its increase over us will have no end.
You continue to implement your kingdom ways,
establishing them and upholding them among the nations,
with justice and righteousness forevermore!
Jesus, you said in the Great Commission
that all authority in heaven and on earth already has been given to you.
You have fulfilled the vision of Psalm 110 that speaks of the wondrous day
when the Father invited you to sit at his right hand
in order to transform your enemies into your footstool.
From there you rule in the midst of your Church and among all nations,
in this, your appointed season of battle and triumph.

Meditation—on the strategic nature of the Ascension (based on 1 Timothy 3:16; 10 minutes)

Invitation to Surround the Throne ** (10 minutes for remainder of service)

  • Gathering around the chair, sing together: “You Are Lord” / “Come Let Us Adore Him”
  • Pray 3-4 prayers that proclaim the supremacy of Christ and celebrate his reign among us

Season of Silence Before the Throne

Concluding Hymn at the Throne:

  • “We Will Glorify the King of Kings” (suggested)

Benediction:

  • Hebrews 13:20-21

* Have the audience stand and turn—three in one row turn to three in the next row, etc.

** Before the service, set up a large chair somewhere in the room where everyone will be able to gather around it in concentric circles when this point in the service arrives. It provides a reminder of the true throne in heaven and also that Jesus literally rules among his people here and now.

Let the Celebrations Continue!

Jesus is crowned as Lord! At this very moment, his kingdom is hovering over us, ready to break in upon us.

Therefore, we should live as if his reign already were upon us in its fullness— because today, since “Christ is in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1), his everlasting kingdom really is here and now!  Let this be the first of many times you help to organize an “Ascension Celebration”!

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ-proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI) and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely-read book at www.ChristIsAllBook.com.

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