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May 21, 2023
Seventh Sunday of Easter



Make us one, O God, as you are one. Show us the gift of eternal life: to know you as you know us. Help us to finish the work that you have called us to do, that we may glorify you always; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

PRELUDE​​Diademata​​ Ann Slowins​​


Sing to God.
Sing praises to God’s name.
Sing to God O kingdoms of the earth.
Sing praises to the Lord.
Let us worship God.

*HYMN No.  268​​Crown Him With Many Crowns”

1 Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne;
hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

2 Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified:
no angel in the sky 
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends his burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

3 Crown him the Lord of peace,
whose power a scepter sways
from pole to pole, that wars may cease,
absorbed in prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end;
and round his pierced feet
fair flowers of paradise extend
their fragrance ever sweet.

4 Crown him the Lord of years,
the potentate of time;
creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
For thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.


Confession is a mirror by which we see ourselves more clearly. Let us offer our prayers to God.


We confess, O God, that too often we have our head in the clouds. We are more comfortable with dreaming of the world as we wish it would be instead of working with you to bring that wish to reality. At times, we find it difficult to claim the power you have given us. Surely you have others more capable to be your witnesses? And so, we continue to gaze heavenwards. Jolt us out of our complacency, O God. Remind us to get a move on. Remind us we have work to do with you. Give us your energy, courage, and vision to be your witnesses to the end of the earth. Amen.



We are God’s people
created, loved and forgiven.
The God of all grace has called us by name.
God will restore, support, strengthen and establish us.
It is good news to celebrate.
We are forgiven!

*RESPONSE No. 260​​“Alleluia! Sing to Jesus”

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus;
his the scepter, his the throne;
Alleluia! his the triumph,
his the victory alone!
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion
thunder like a mighty flood:
“Jesus out of every nation
has redeemed us by his blood.”


Our peace comes from knowing how much God loves us in Jesus Christ. With God’s help, we try to love and forgive one another as Christ loves and forgives us.
“The peace of Christ be with you,”
“And also with you.”

ANTHEM​​Live Is Come Again​​Alan Smith



Open our eyes; open our hearts. May we hear your Word read and proclaimed so that our lives and our witness will be strengthened. Amen.

SCRIPTUREActs 1:6-14

6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But 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 ends of the earth.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

SERMON​​“Chronos or Kairos”​​

            This little story at the beginning of Acts wants to help us with a very important question – “where is Jesus?”

            Most of us think in spatial and graphic terms.  Most of us think in terms of chronological time: CHRONOS, but not in terms of KAIROS – an opportune moment. And in these verses, we have a vivid image to make a lasting and significant point – an opportune moment. Jesus, who was born of a woman, who appeared in the flesh, who walked the earth, talked to friends and strangers, lived, and loved, was a real person. Jesus helped and healed people in and around the region of Galilee. He was a teacher and a spirit person. He was remembered for his kind ways and miracles. He was also crucified and died on a cross in Jerusalem. 

            But this Jesus was not just a kind human being, a good teacher, a man of his time. He was a person of all time, every time. Both Chronos and Kairos time! While Jesus was a great person, a healer and teacher, Jesus was – somehow in some unique way – also of God, even fully God. The Nicene Creed, you may recall, says it like this: Jesus was “the only Son of God, . . . God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father.” Or, as John’s gospel puts it, He was the “Word made flesh.”

            So, we have Jesus as the Galilean Jew, . . . and Jesus as the face and essence of God. We have Jesus – the One who said certain things and did certain things, who lived and loved, helped, and healed in the first century. And we have Jesus – Light of Light, Hope of all the world – who lives and reigns forever and ever. We have the person who walked the roads of Nazareth, Capernaum, Cana, and Jerusalem. And we have the Lord of life, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, and the living One; because he lives, we also shall live.

            This little story of the ascension – in Acts 1 – helps us grasp how the earthly Jesus becomes the Lord of life. The ascension – with this depiction of Jesus lifted into the heavens as the disciples watched (and who knows how it really happened) – intends to be the linchpin, the hinge between the earthly life of Jesus and the forever rule and reign of Jesus. 

            Here is what the new Presbyterian catechism says about the ascension of Jesus: “The ascension of Jesus means that Jesus Christ is risen to rule the world as its loving Lord.” The ascension means that Jesus “is present with us at all times and places in his loving power.”

            The ascension, then, affirms for us that the earthly life of Jesus is over, but his presence with us is forever. The ascension reminds us that Jesus – the person – cannot be with us physically, literally, but Jesus – who lives and reigns as Lord of life and light – can and will be in our midst, with his presence, promises, and purposes, always and forever, and everywhere. 

            I love the way St. Augustine puts it: “You ascended from before our eyes, and we turned back grieving, . . . only to find you in our hearts.”

            So where is Jesus?

This story in Acts shows us that Jesus is gone in physical presence, but reigning forever in God’s almighty plan and purposes. The book of Acts, all the chapters that follow from this first one, show the disciples fully inspired, empowered, enthused by Jesus and his Spirit to carry on the important work of God that they saw and experienced in Jesus. 

            Where is Jesus?

No longer just the teacher with good stories and parables that help us see God, but present everywhere – in the faces of everyone we meet. 

            Where is Jesus?

Not just in first century Palestine, not just an interesting historical figure, but a present and powerful reality. Jesus – Light of Light, Lord of all – is there in every moment where love and light are shared, and certainly in the midst of the hard moments that come our way, when our hearts ache, and crises overwhelm.

            Every Monday around noon, Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia led by Rev. Alex Evans, ring the bells in the church tower. They ring the bells a certain number of times – one bell for every person killed this year in the city by gun violence. Different church members of that congregation come downtown to ring these bells. This past Monday, the bells rung 6 times – and that is just the number of “official deaths” from gun violence according to the police. There are always more unconfirmed deaths from gun violence, so the official number lags the real count. This church family rings these bells to affirm that while deaths by gun violence are atrocious and unacceptable, we also know that Jesus is Lord of life, and Jesus has the last word, even over gun violence. Jesus – the One who rules and reigns – is with the families of gun violence victims. And Jesus – Lord of life – keeps calling us to work for a better world – a world of peace and wholeness for everyone, where gun violence is no longer such a threat to precious life. 

            In these days, we grieve again the warfare, the rockets, the tensions, and fear that plague Israel/Palestine, that plague Ukraine, that plague our country, too. Where is Jesus? Jesus is certainly grieving the devastation and death in all regions of the world. And Jesus keeps calling all of us – from every race, religion, and clan – to work for peace, to see Christ in the face of the other, to build a world of God’s shalom. 

            In these days, as we are coming out of the last three years of pandemic: a new word has gained traction: “languishing.” According to an article in the NY Times, “languishing is a mental health state that isn’t burnout–there’s more energy than that. And it’s not depression–one still has hope. Life, through the pandemic, just feels somewhat “joyless and aimless.”  As the author writes, “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.” (4/19/2021)

            Lanquishing – a good term for the past several years – surely makes us wonder – where is Jesus?

            The story of the ascension re-affirms for us the truth – Jesus may not be with us – in person, in space and time. But Jesus is always present – in our hearts – active in the world – bringing about God’s purposes in and around us, with us and through us, even in spite of us, always and forever. Jesus is Lord of life, Light of all, Hope of the world – and that changes everything.

            This powerful, life-changing presence of God that surrounds us, goes with us, changes everything about us – is not really new. Think back with me to the early books of the Bible, especially the Book of Exodus. The Book of Exodus begins with a story about slaves. God’s beloved people were struggling – their enslavement began towards the end of Genesis. They were slaves in Egypt. Out of slavery, their cry rose up to God. And God responded. It says God heard their groaning; God remembered the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God called Moses to confront Pharoah and lead the people out of slavery. There is that wonderful scene of God appearing to Moses in a burning bush, calling Moses to this important work of setting God’s people free. Moses retorts, “who am I” that I should do this job? God says, “I will be with you.” Moses says, “what is the divine name?” God says, “I am.” Or God’s response, because the Hebrew is very enigmatic, is sometimes rendered, “I AM WHO I AM.”

            The important message to Moses, facing the daunting task of confronting Pharoah and leading the people out of Egypt, and the important message to the disciples in Acts, thinking about life without the physical presence of Jesus, is very similar.

God goes with us. God will outlast every threat and challenge. God is stronger than Pharoah, stronger that evil, violence, and death. God is present and always at work. Our lives belong to God. Our lives are intended to be aligned with God’s purposes of healing and hope, goodness, and love in the world. 

“Where is Jesus?” That is the question for this day. 

        Where . . . . is . . . Jesus?

            A certain Sunday School teacher asked this question to the boys and girls in her class: where is Jesus? Several of the children immediately raised hands.

            When the teacher called on the first one, “yes, where is Jesus?” the little boy said, “Jesus is in heaven, with God.” And the teacher said, “that’s a good answer.”

            Then another child with her hand up responded: “Jesus is in my heart.” The teacher commended this answer too.

            One other girl had her hand up, so the teacher called on her, “okay, where is Jesus?” The girl responded, “Jesus is in the bathroom.” 

            A puzzled look came across everyone in the room, including the teacher. The teacher asked: “what do you mean, ‘Jesus is in the bathroom?’” And the little girl said, “well, every morning, my dad yells: “Jesus – when are you coming out of the bathroom?”


            So where is Jesus? Always and everywhere present, especially when we can trust our lives to God’s good care, especially when goodness overcomes evil, when hope overcomes despair, when light chases away darkness, and when love grows and flows to bring God’s grand purposes of peace and healing. And because Jesus is always and everywhere present, our lives seek to be about following Jesus, loving, and serving like Jesus, and working for healing and shalom with Jesus. May it be so. AMEN

Prayer of Commitment – Fill us with your Spirit, O God, so we can carry on in faith, hope, and love, serving your purposes, following Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Commentary and Liturgy from the Book of Common Worship, Sharon Core, Alex Evans, Randall T. Clayton, John Buchanan


I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.


*HYMN No. 273​​He is King Of Kings

He is King of kings;
he is Lord of lords,
Jesus Christ, the first and last,
no one works like him.
O he is . . .

1 He built his throne up in the air;
no one works like him;
and called his saints from everywhere;
no one works like him.
O he is King of kings;
he is Lord of lords,
Jesus Christ, the first and last,
no one works like him.

2 He pitched his tents on Canaan ground;
no one works like him;
and broke oppressive kingdoms down;
no one works like him.
O he is King of kings;
he is Lord of lords,
Jesus Christ, the first and last,
no one works like him.

3 I know that my Redeemer lives;
no one works like him;
and by his love sweet blessing gives;
no one works like him.
O he is King of kings;
he is Lord of lords,
Jesus Christ, the first and last,
no one works like him.



O God, we gather with the disciples’ question on our hearts — is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel? Is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Sudan, to Ukraine, to Ethiopia, to Uvalde, to all the places where grief and fear blanket the lives of your people?

We remember the answer given: It is not for us to know the times
(Acts 1:7) … and yet we want to know. We desperately want to know. We want to know when there will be an end to violence and hate and oppression. We desperately want to know when people created in your image will exhibit love and care for one another as a first action. We desperately want to know when nations will turn swords into plowshares and leaders will lead with the wellbeing of the people uppermost in their hearts.

And then we remember the rest of what Jesus said to his disciples about receiving power from the Holy Spirit, about being his witnesses (Acts 1:8). And we wonder, just like your disciples 2000 years ago, here on the cusp of Pentecost: what power do you have in store for us? What are the ways you call us to witness? What would you have say and do as we continue to live a life of faith?

And so we return to our question: Is this the time, O God? Is it the time for us to claim the power you have given us? Is it the time for us to claim our role as witness? We pray for a sense of your clarity, your vision. Lead us, O God, in the ways and witness that will reveal your desire and intentions for your world.

As we immerse ourselves in your Word, we are reminded that you are the parent to orphans and protector of widows (Psalm 68:5). You give the desolate a place to live.

Scripture shows us again and again how you care and love for the oppressed, discounted and ignored. Is this the witness you call us to? Would you invite us, O God to join you in this work — the work of care and love for the ones disregarded and casted aside?

Following Jesus’ example of praying for his disciples, we are bold to pray for your world, your children and for ourselves. May our prayers give voice to the hurts of our hearts and the commitments of our souls. May we with honesty acknowledge the world as it is and pray for your guidance as we your disciples work for the world you desire.

Finally, hear us now, as we pray the prayer Christ taught us to pray by saying together, “Our Father….”

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, butdeliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.





To God we give in thankful response for all the gifts God has given us. The money we give is but one way we say, “thank you.” The morning offering will be received.



*RESPONSE N0. 609​​“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”

Praise God, from whom all blessing flow, Praise God, all creatures here below.  Alleluia, Alleluia Praise God in Jesus fully known; Creator, Word, and Spirit one. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.



Good and gracious God, the money we place in plates or give online we pray will be used to bring your kingdom to earth. May our gifts strengthen this congregation to be more faithful, more present and more daring in our community and to the ends of the earth. Amen.

*HYMN No. 269​​Lead On, O King Eternal!”

1 Lead on, O King eternal!
The day of march has come;
henceforth in fields of conquest
your tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation
your grace has made us strong,
and now, O King eternal,
we lift our battle song.

2 Lead on, O King eternal,
till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper
the sweet amen of peace;
for not with swords’ loud clashing,
nor roll of stirring drums;
with deeds of love and mercy
the heavenly kingdom comes.

3 Lead on, O King eternal:
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where’er your face appears;
your cross is lifted o’er us;
we journey in its light.
The crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might!



May your eyes cast heavenward give you the courage and energy to be about the work God has laid at your feet.

And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest, remain and abide with you today and all days. And all of God’s people say: Amen.