Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ascension worship: the footprints of Jesus

I enjoyed how Ascension day chapel worship shaped up today. I always find it hard to put worship experiences into words, but for what it’s worth here are some of the pieces. The Biblical spark was the Ascension and in reflecting on the text I was struck by the idea of Ascension as the departing feet of Jesus. Real feet, now leaving.

That provided a working tactile image, footprints. And then the madly, obvious idea, to have footprints, and to invite people to stand in these footprints of Jesus. This was achieved prior by painting some barefeet, and then walking over 3 metre long strips of frostcloth. (The kids absolutely loved giving me a hand with this part!) When it dried, they looked great. Very simple. Very effective. One set of footprints were in colour.

The other set were in black.

This allowed multiple stations:

  • the black footprints; the Ascension as the absence of Jesus and so the invitation to stand on the (dried) footprints and pray for ourselves and for others we know who experience God as absent.
  • the colour footprints, reflecting on the impact of the footprints of Jesus, who had walked with and among the disciples. I laid, face down, beside each colour footprints, various cards from the Jesus deck (I got my deck here some years ago and it was great to get a chance to use them). So, if people chose to participate, there was a real sense of mystery about which card they would choose and thus which story of Jesus they might engage with.

The colour had another layer. I had started by offering cut up paint chips from paint charts, and the invitation for people, as they arrived, to choose a colour that symbolised their week. As part of our call to worship we shared our chips with each other. Fun, interactive, but an essential part of gathering ourselves as real people, with real stories – and of course the living “colourful” stories of Jesus continuing today.

Around this was woven the usual frame – praise, confession, Bible readings both Old Testament and New Testament, passing the peace, affirmation of faith, sermon, communion, benediction.  For those interested, I’ll place the order of service below.

For me, I had quite profound encounters at both stations. The Jesus deck card I turned up was just bang on the nail in terms of my struggle to follow Jesus at the moment. So bang on the nail it was almost spooky.

Gathering: Choose a colour that describes your week.
Share it with person beside you. And another

And so in this place, with these people,
our unique colours, our unique weeks,
in this unique community, all with our unique sense of call and unique experiences of God,
we gather

Singing: Gather us in

Reading: Psalm 93 – together

Confession: In the Psalm, we’re hearing your colours; colours in words like beauty; colours in words like Holy. And so we place our colours alongside your colours, our weeks alongside your dreams for us.

Which means praise, for your colours in our weeks, in our community. And confesssion, for the absence of your colours in our weeks, in our community. And so we say together, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. And we hear your words of forgiveness.

Peace: passed among us

Reading: Acts 1:1-11.

Affirmation in response to reading (Words from hymn):
Right: O Jesus I have promised
to serve you to the end
Left: Lord, be for ever near me
my master and my friend
Right: I shall not fear the battle
if you are by my side
Left: nor wander from the pathway
if you will be my guide

Right: Lord let me see your footmarks
and in them plant my own
that I may follow boldly and in your strength alone
ALL: O guide me, call me, draw me
Left: uphold me to the end
and then in heaven receive me
ALL: my Saviour and my friend

Sermon: Reflection on ascension using a story from everyday life, mixed with an art piece of Ascension, concluding with Paul Kelly’s “Meet me in the middle of the air.”

Response: Consider the coloured feet, the impact of Jesus, by taking a story of impact, considering your response to that story.

And, or praying in the absence, to stand on the black feet, pray for those, who walk with absence of God.

Communion: including The Waifs’ “Here If You Want”

Benediction: using Church of Apostles, Face to face

Posted by steve at 06:54 PM


  1. Thanks Steve, I’m so sorry I missed it. The feet are fantastic and the idea of choosing a colour to symbolise their week… love it.

    Comment by Linda — May 12, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

  2. great collage of experiences. i think the first time i’ve heard you ‘preach’ – the other time was the godly play thing you did. it all worked at a bunch of levels.

    we should work together more often.

    Comment by craig — May 15, 2010 @ 12:08 am

  3. thanks Craig.

    Comment by steve — May 28, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

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