Renewal Movement Committee

Thy kingdom Come Ascension to Pentecost Novena


The God who reigns

Acts 1:10-11 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.”

Angels get some crazy lines in the Bible. Gabriel appears to the teenager Mary in her simple house in Palestine and says, ‘Fear not!’ The shepherds outside Bethlehem, a group not known for their religious devotion, are told there is good news of great joy for them. The Ascension story is the same. The angels (young men in white) ask the disciples: “Why are you standing here looking into the sky?” Surely one of the Apostles must have thought: “Why do you think we are? Jesus has just gone there and in the last six weeks our world has been turned upside down. We have watched Him die, met Him alive again, had a wonderful time with Him of forgiveness, renewal, and teaching. Now He isn’t here anymore.

My sympathy is entirely with Peter, James, John, and the others.

The angels are quite clear. Jesus has gone and He has told the disciples what to do. They are to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, in His power, go into the whole world, even those parts they didn’t know existed. They are to proclaim the good news of God’s saving love in Jesus Christ. They are to call people to repent and believe in the Saviour.

That was, is, and always will be the task the church has been given to do. That’s it, in all its biblical clarity and simplicity. The Lord who ascended to heaven and reigns in glory has given us one great commission. We are to show and tell the good news of Jesus. In the book of Acts, St Luke shows us that this wonderful, good news is demonstrated in every healing, every sermon, every breaking down of cultural barriers, in the provision of food for the poor in Jerusalem, in Paul taking on the philosophers in Athens, and so much more.

As we journey from Ascension to Pentecost, we follow the example of the first disciples. They prayed as they had never prayed before (Acts 1:14) and they planned for mission. Praying for our five folk who are not yet following Jesus is one way of getting involved in what God, the God who reigns, is doing. Just as those first disciples in Acts, we are to be living out the Kingdom. Everything we say and do becomes part of the proclamation. We are to be God’s adverts, living icons of His love in the world. – The Very Revd Bob Key

Note: The Thy Kingdom Come Novena for 2023 is focused on verses from St John’s First Letter. Thy Kingdom Come is our annual invitation and encouragement to Christians and Churches, across the world, to seek the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we might live out and share the Kingdom of God. This passion is the heartbeat of the life of the Church. This presence is what transforms a human institution into the Body of Christ. At the heart of Thy Kingdom Come is our focus to ‘Pray for five. It is an invitation to bring five people before God-friends, family, neighbours or colleagues who are not yet following the Lord Jesus. It is an encouragement to pray that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts and minds to God’s love, forgiveness, and peace. – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell

Deanie Lambie-Williams