Categories: Worship

by Admin


Categories: Worship


We gather for a Worship Service in-person at the Chapel (2700 W 14th Street) on Sunday, May 12th, 2024 – on this seventh Sunday of Eastertide/Ascension Sunday.

To join us at the Chapel, buzz Zion Church (Bob Bucklew) from the Directory at the front of the 2700 Building on the campus of San Sofia apartments or enter from the accessible ramp from the rear parking lot. When you arrive, call Bob at 216-375-5323 to open the parking lot gate.

The Sunday Bulletin is attached in PDF format. You may use it as a devotional during the week.

This is the seventh of the seven weeks of Eastertide (poetically one more week than the six weeks of Lent), and the fourth of four weeks exploring Jesus’ teachings about living in intimacy with God. This Sunday is often celebrated as “Ascension Sunday,” marking the risen Jesus’ departure after 40 days of dwelling with the community of disciples. Next week is Pentecost, celebrating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church!

We open worship this Sunday with a reading from Luke 24:44-53 – the story of the Ascension of Jesus Christ. Bethany was a village about two miles east of Jerusalem, on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives — and the Mount of Olives was the place God was expected to appear on “the day of God” to reign in love and mercy “over all the earth” (Zech. 14:4-9). It’s the same place from which Jesus begins his Palm Sunday procession into Jerusalem (Luke 19:29-40).

For Luke, who also wrote the book of Acts, the bookends of Jesus’ ministry are baptism and ascension, “the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us,” and Acts is about the birth and early work of the church (Acts 1:22). Thus the Ascension serves as a key turning point in the overall two-volume story, the hinge between Part One and Part Two. Indeed, the Book of Acts could be subtitled, “Jesus Ascends, the Holy Spirit Descends, and the Church is Born.”

In our cultural calendar, this Sunday in the United States is celebrated as Mother’s Day – a day to express our love, thanks, and respect for all mothers and all who provide love and support for individuals and families. It is often celebrated with a Hallmark theme of cards, candy, flowers, and meals.

This Mother’s Day brings with it a range of emotions. While Mother’s Day is often a complicated holiday, this year it seems even more so given … the suffering being experienced by so many around the globe and in our own communities. So often, our observances are out of touch with the lived reality of many who mother, such as those who grieve infertility or who experience strained relations. But this year, the disconnect between the historical legacy of Mother’s Day as an intersectional call to action and anti-war movement and our current Hallmark-driven celebrations seems greater than ever.

The irony of celebrating mothers with cards and candy while we watch news of bombs falling on Ukrainian and Palestinian mothers and children, and Israeli mothers worry and grieve for sons and daughters and other family members held hostage or killed on October 7th is striking. We also grieve as Afghan women and girls are consistently denied jobs and education and any legal or civil rights. All this suffering and persecution highlights how little progress has been made. For the early founders of what we observe today as Mother’s Day, our contemporary celebration would smack of superficiality, materialism, and indeed, patriarchy.

Ann Jarvis, considered the founder of Mother’s Day, called for a “Mothers Work Day” in 1858 to address maternal and child health conditions that were afflicting her West Virginian town. During the Civil War, she organized a “Women’s Friendship Day” to care for soldiers on both sides and ultimately seek an end to the war. Inspired by Jarvis’ legacy, the prominent abolitionist and suffragist Julia Ward Howe called for a day in 1870 in which mothers would work for peace in accordance with a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” that drew new attention to the effort.

Since early in my pastoral ministry, it has been my tradition to celebrate, not just Mother’s Day, but “Festival of the Christian Home,” which is a beautiful way to consider the inclusiveness of this particular day. This is a United Church of Christ and a United Methodist term, and our traditions believe that we can use this as an opportunity to strengthen our homes as a place for living justly, celebrating the fullness of our creation as individuals and families of all compositions.

It has always been true – from Biblical times until today – that families have had a variety of ways in which they are expressed. Many of us have dear and close relationships with our families of origin, but so many of us do not. In light of that, we have found ways to create families of choice, form covenant relationships with spouses and partners, and become loving and caring people to children of all ages.

The Focus Scripture Reading is John 17:6-19

Jesus prays for the disciples in these verses of John 17 – a portion of Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer,” the culmination of his farewell discourse to the disciples. The setting is the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. Jesus has just washed the disciples’ feet, foreseen Judas’ betrayal, predicted Peter’s denial, promised the disciples the Holy Spirit, and offered them urgent words of instruction. Time is running out, and Jesus knows it.

The atmosphere in the room, if we take the liberty of imagining it, is quiet, tender, anxious, pensive. Jesus is troubled, full of pain at the prospect of saying goodbye to his friends, and the fervor of his words and gestures is the passion of a lover. Even as he knows that his life on earth is drawing to a close, Jesus yearns to remain in communion with his beloved. As part of his final discourse with the disciples, Jesus prays for God’s protection to be with them as he is returning to God. Jesus prays that they would be one, as he is one with God. Jesus has sent them out into the world with God’s word, and the world has hated them, but they do not belong to the world, they belong to God. However, Jesus prays that they might be sanctified in truth and protected.

Sermon/Reflection: “A Hope and a Prayer” by the Rev. Scott Rosenstein, based on the reading of John 17.

Next Sunday, May 19, 2024 at Zion Church: Pentecost Sunday.

Please join us this Easter season to give thanks to God and to seek the companionship of Christ at Zion Chapel.

Easter Blessings,
Pastor Scott Rosenstein
216-273-7561 – church
216-577-1514 – mobile

Bulletin Cover Image:
Resurrection Icon
Acrylic on panel, Hacker, Sophie (Contemporary Artist) / Cotgrave Church, Nottinghamshire, UK / Commissioned by All Saints Church Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire /Bridgeman Images