Cruden Parish Church

An Evening Service for Ascension Sunday

24 May 2020

7.00 PM 


Whilst the church building is closed and all our communal activities have ceased due to the lockdown caused by Covid19, Cruden Parish Church has moved online. Wherever you are from, local or far away, you are welcome here!

Please join in the responses printed in bold and italic. During the service would also appreciate if you keep all background noise and conversation to an absolute minimum


At times like this it can be difficult to look forward in hope, to face the future, to trust that God is working for us. But in this space, God is with us. Offering us a glimpse of heaven, a teaser of what is to come. So, however difficult, however challenging, however uncomfortable, put your trust in God and worship him.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
This is the day when he can be found.
God of all, breath of life,
Living water, Saviour, friend.
Come as the hungry, feed on his Word
Come as the thirsty, drink of his Love
Come as the faithful, worship the Lord.


At this present time, we are especially conscious of the need to protect and to be protected. Indeed, our collective awareness of the need to protect life and the lives of those whom we love has perhaps never been so heightened. In response to the threat posed by Covid 19, we seek to protect and shield those whom we care for most deeply.

In the Gospel of John (17: 1-11), Jesus prays for his disciples in anticipation of the time when he will no longer be with them. What is it that he prays for? Jesus asks the Father to ‘protect’ his friends. Whilst he was with them, Jesus protected and shielded the disciples and later in his prayer he prays for each one of us. The ascended Lord Jesus continues to pray for us and assures us that his presence will be renewed through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We pray:

Living God and gracious Father,
Protect and shield us.
Living God, protect and shield
All whom we love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Living God, your Son now sits in your presence
And shares in your glory and honour.
We thank you for the promise
That his presence shall be renewed for us,
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Living God, we thank you that Jesus prayed for us
And that he continues to intercede for us.
We thank you that he continues to pray
For us and for our protection,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Living God, we pray for the life of the world.
We thank you for all those who, in these days,
Strive to protect and shield us.
Renew them in heart and soul, and mind and strength,
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Living God, renew us we pray and renew the life of the world.
For you so loved the world that you gave your Son
That we might share in the life of the world to come.
Hear our prayer, now and always,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What is your happiest memory from last Christmas?


Acts 1:1-11  
Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”


“The conclusion of Christmas & humanity in heaven”

A few moments ago, I asked you to share your favourite memories from last Christmas. I have two favourite memories. First was the Great Cruden Christmas Caper – a 5K fun run on the beach at Cruden Bay. There was a lot of support. The weather was amazing. And we raised £300.00 for Christian Aid. My second memory was Christmas Day dinner. For the first time in years I did not have to eat turkey. Instead my father-in-law Ian cooked us all roast beef. It was wonderful. Our memories of Christmas are important to us. Whether it is sharing quality time with friends and family, receiving that surprise present and or getting indigestion these memories are precious to us. But of course Christmas is about the coming of Jesus the messiah.  There is a story of a Scottish minister who was given the opportunity to speak to some sixth year pupils. He began his talk by drawing a large curve on the blackboard. His chalk line began at the top, then swept down in a gentle curve before turning and climbing back up to the top at the blackboard’s other side. “That curve”, he said, neatly sums up the whole Christian story.’

Staying with that curve for a moment. Imagine if you can the top of curve and it sweeping down representing Jesus coming down to earth from heaven. Here Jesus, the Son of God and the messiah is born on Bethlehem on Christmas day. For approximately 30 years, to the best of our knowledge Jesus worked alongside his father in the family buisness. Then for the final three years of his life he exercised a public ministry of teaching, healing, telling parables and working miracles. Jesus life then ends on Good Friday with his crucifixion and starts anew with his resurrection of Easter Sunday. The we come to today, which is the final Sunday in the Easter Season in which we mark the Ascension of Jesus.

Following his resurrection Jesus appears to his disciples in physical form. For a period lasting 40 days they see him walking and talking and eating. He even cooks them breakfast. Then comes the time to say goodbye. The time has come for Jesus to leave and return to heaven.  If you like this is the curve that moved downwards, now reaching out in an upward direction.  

According to the account recorded in the Book of Acts, it happened very simply and very quickly. Jesus and his followers were gathered on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. When Jesus had delivered his farewell message to the disciples he lifted up his nail-scarred hands in blessing and then left in the clouds. And so the ascension of Jesus brings to a close his physical presence on this earth. He entered human existence with his birth in a manger in Bethlehem. And now it ends on a hill side outside Jerusalem. Such an understated ending to such a remarkable life.

I share this with you this evening because I think it speaks very profoundly to our experience of life.  Like Jesus disciples, we too have all had to said goodbye. Sometimes our goodbyes are temporary – bidding farewell as we set off on summer holiday. Sometimes our goodbyes are for slightly longer – going away to start a new job in a different part of the country, or being separated due to the lockdown. Sometimes our goodbyes are final, or at least final this side of glory.
It’s here we begin to understand the significance of Jesus ascension. We need to be reminded that Jesus didn’t leave his disciples so he could go far way. He left his disciples so he could come even closer. He left his disciples physically so that he could return to them by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. This is the great mystery of our faith.  The inward abiding presence of God. That Jesus is real and alive not just in the courts of heaven, but real and alive in the hearts of his people. How many of us have felt comforted or reassured by God’s presence in our lives? How many of us have encountered God through a personal spiritual experience? I wonder if this is what Jesus was meaning when he said to his disciples. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt 28.20 This is what one person writes: "At the Ascension Jesus left the Here for the Everywhere; He left the Time for the Eternal; He left the First Century to fill All the Centuries."

I would like to move on by delving a wee bit deeper. Going back to Christmas along all the memories which include Roast Beef with Horseradish Sauce, time spend with families and the indigestion, we celebrated not just the birth of the messiah. But God in Jesus Christ taking on human flesh. Not God just looking like a human being – but God actually becoming human. It what we call the incarnation.

The Reformer John Calvin puts it this way.  He emphasises the importance of the Ascension as opening the way into the Kingdom of God. ” At the Ascension, Jesus took all of human life, for which he cared so deeply, and brought it "into the heavenly places," into the very heart of God. As someone so succinctly put it - at the Ascension “All of human life, moves even more emphatically to God's side!  In Christ's Ascension we have a vision of humanity in all of its depth and breadth being caught up into, being pulled toward, the heart of God in Christ.  God loves, values, holds, and will transform our fragile and broken humanity in Christ. 

And one final thought.  Another way of looking at the ascension is Jesus going ahead of us to prepare for us a place in glory. There is a lovely story told about a famous American religious broadcaster called Charles Fuller. Long before the days of questionable televangelists with dodgy theology. Charles Fuller became a national institution with his weekly radio programme called The Old Fashioned Revival Hour that aired from 1937 to 1968. One day Charles Fuller announced that he was going to speak the following Sunday at a church on the subject of heaven. In response to the announcement Charles Fuller received a letter from an old man called Henry Rimmer, who was coming close to the end of his life. This is what the old man wrote:

"I would like so much to be in church Sunday night to hear your sermon on the subject of heaven. But my physical impairment will not allow me to be there. The reason I would like to be there is because I have great interest in that place.
"I own a piece of land with clear deed & title in that wonderful place that you are going to be talking about. I didn’t buy it," he said. "It was given to me without price & without money, although the One who gave it to me purchased it at great cost.
"I don’t have it as an idle investment," he continued. "I have been busy sending materials to the master architect for more than 50 years, and He is building for me a house of my dreams. It will never have to be painted or remodelled because it is being made just for me. Termites will never eat away at its foundation because it is built on the Rock of Ages.
Fire will never destroy it. Winds will never blow it away. There will be no locks on its doors because no evil people will ever live in that blessed land. Between me & my home there is a valley, a dark valley. And I must cross it. I am not afraid," he said, "because One has gone before. And He will lead the way. I am ready to take His hand. My house is almost finished. I would like to hear your sermon on heaven because I have a great interest in that land."

So this is the message for this evening. In these strange times of lockdown due to Covid19, we are reminded that in the ascension of Jesus, as he returns to glory he saying a final physical farewell to his closest friends and disciples. And he returns to glory not as the vulnerable baby born in Bethlehem. Not as the humble carpenter of Nazareth. Not as the gentle teacher of parables or the worker of miracles. Not as the helpless and innocent suffering servant who dies I agony on the cross. Jesus returns to heaven having completed his work as the messiah and is now ascended in power and glory. Or in the words of the apostle’s creed: He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead

Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church


Because Jesus ascended and sits at the right hand of God,
a new world has broken into ours—
a world in which justice does come for the poor,
freedom comes for the prisoners,
and healing for the sick.

Because Jesus ascended and sits at the right hand of God,
a new community has been formed—
a community that loves and cares for all members,
a family that welcomes all who are abandoned and rejected,
a place where all find a place of belonging.

Because Jesus ascended and sits at the right hand of God,
a new creation has begun— 
all that was distorted is being restored,
all that is corrupted is being renewed,
all that was broken is being made whole.

Because Jesus ascended and sits at the right hand of God,
God’s new world has begun. 


You are free, Lord,
your Ascension has set you free:
free from the constraints of human existence,
outside the limitations of time and space;
free to be here with us now,
in our worship and fellowship;
and free to be with us always;
for in your freedom
you have bound yourself to us with a promise:
“Lo! I am with you always
even to the very end of time.”

We pray, Lord, for those
who need to feel you close,
who need the assurance of your love,
the encouragement of your Spirit. [Silence]

We pray for those who are persecuted,
who are discriminated against,
who are mocked because of their faith or race or colour. [Silence]

We pray for those who are imprisoned,
who are tortured,
who are exiled,
because they have fought, struggled and spoken out
for the rights of their people. [Silence]

We pray for those who are destitute,
who are hungry,
who are refugees,
because of the selfishness and apathy of the world. [Silence]

We pray for those who are filled with guilt,
who are broken-hearted,
who are perplexed,
because a relationship has gone wrong. [Silence]

We pray for those who are feeling fed up,
who are in discomfort,
who are afraid, 
because they are ill in body, mind or spirit. [Silence]

We pray for those who are numbed,
who are angry,
who are desolate,
because they have been bereaved. [Silence]

We pray for those caught up in war,
and violence,
and hatred;
especially the innocent victims of these evils. [Silence]

We pray at this time of financial turmoil,
for those who have lost jobs,
those who struggle to pay bills,
and those who have the power to affect positive change. [Silence]

Be with us all, Lord:
in all our daily struggles as we seek to follow you.
Be with us all, Lord:
in our periods of doubt and despair;
and in our times of happiness, health and loving.
Be with us all, Lord:
until that time
when in your in your Kingdom of Love
our joy will know no end:

“Lo! I am with you always
even to the very end of time.”


Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come.
YouR will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
 the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
 now and forever.


Go out into the world.
and in your words and in your lives
bear witness to the Christ who has ascended
to be everywhere present.

And as you come to know him,
may God give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation,
may Christ Jesus lift up his hands and bless you,
and may the Spirit open to you all the riches of Christ’s inheritance.
This day and forever,

Church Notices

Although there are signs that the conditions of the lockdown are being eased, the church building continues to remain closed for services and gatherings. We hope this will soon change. In the meantime, all our activities are currently on-line:
Fellowship Group @ Tuesday evening at 7.00 pm, includes an informal Bible Study looking at Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.
Coffee Morning @ Thursday morning at 11.00 am
Evening Service @ Sunday evening at 7.00 pm.
Please contact Sean for the appropriate link to these meetings – no special apps or software required – at
Pastoral Care- please advise Sean of any pastoral matters. (tel. 07791 755976)