Ascension: Jesus returned to heaven
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the theme of Ascension Day, when Jesus returned to heaven.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two readers, plus two other children to be angels (in the Biblical account the angels are described as men, but girls or boys could take these parts).
- You will also need a photo of Prince William (as large as possible), a crown made from gold card and two 1.5-kg bags of flour.
- Make or print a flashcard with the word ‘Messiah' on it.
- Have available the 'Hallelujah Chorus' from Handel's Messiah and the means to play it during the assembly. Play it a few times before the assembly and make a note of the counter setting just before the point where the words 'King of Kings' start in the chorus so you can stop it there to start it again from that point later in the assembly itself.
- Prepare the following passages from the Good News Bible on separate pieces of paper for the children to read from: Acts 1.3–5, Acts 1.6–8 and Acts 1.9-10, remembering to prepare the words the angels speak in verse 11 on two further separate pieces of paper for your readers.
- Also necessary are a flipchart and fat felt-tip pens. During the Bible readings, draw simple symbols and notes to illustrate key points, such as the number 40, a hill, the word ‘Jerusalem’, 11 simple outline human shapes to represent the disciples drawn from the back, another to represent Jesus, an outline of a cloud and two outlines of the 'men in white'.
- 1. Leader Play the 'Hallelujah Chorus' as the children enter. Stop it playing at the counter setting you noted in preparation for the assembly, where the words 'King of Kings' start in the chorus.
Show the picture of Prince William.
Ask the children if anyone knows who this is.
- Leader Say that when Prince William's granny became Queen of our country a long time ago, she was a young mum with two small children. She became Queen because her father, who had been the King, died.
She had a coronation ceremony, which is when she was crowned Queen. She wore a purple velvet cloak edged with white fur and rode in a golden coach pulled by white horses. It was held in June because June is usually hot and lots of people would want to be outside to see the Queen ride past, but, guess what? It rained – all day!
The Queen was driven in the coach to an enormous church called Westminster Abbey and sat on an ancient throne. She had the crown put on her head.
Crown a volunteer with the gold card crown.
It was a heavy crown. It weighed as much as two bags of flour!
Let a volunteer come and feel the weight of the two bags of flour.
The new Queen had to spend about four hours wearing that crown. She had to make lots of promises, too. Because she was Queen, people bowed and curtsied to her – even her husband and her sister!
On the way to her palace afterwards, the crowds cheered, there were parties and all the children had a day off school!
'Granny, please tell me the story again', Prince William must have said when he was little. He knows that one day when he is much older, he, too, will wear the same crown when he becomes King.
- Leader Now, let's listen to the music again. Listen carefully to the words.
Start the music from the point where you stopped it, at the beginning of the 'King of Kings' part of the chorus.
The words are 'King of kings . . .' and 'he shall reign for ever and ever'. That sounds even greater than any king or queen we know. Who do you think is meant?
- Leader Hold up the flashcard with the word ‘Messiah’ on it.
Link the word 'Messiah' to Jesus. Explain that Jesus became a king when he went back to his kingdom in heaven, but his coronation was very different from the Queen's. There were no cheering crowds, no royal robes, no heavy crown, no big church, no throne.
Ask the readers to now tell everyone what happened.
Position the flipchart near you, ready to draw on as the children read.
Reader 1 Reads Acts 1.3–5.
Reader 2 Reads Acts 1.6–8.
Reader 1 Reads Acts 1.9–10, with the two children reading the angels’ words together at the point they appear in verse 11.
- Leader Jesus went home to heaven to be with God, his Father. His disciples would see him no more. He told them not to be sad. He promised to send them a ‘comforter’. What was this comforter's name?
The Holy Spirit.
He promised that they'd feel a new power inside to be brave. The two angels promised something, too. What was it?
That Jesus would one day come again.
- Leader Because Jesus seemed to go up into the sky, we say that he ‘ascended’. So, the day we celebrate this special event is called Ascension Day. The Church always keeps a Thursday as a celebration day for remembering this story. The day is always 40 days after Easter Sunday.
So, Jesus went home. The Bible says he is now seated on a throne in heaven and, just as the music told us, millions of angels once again sang God's praises because Jesus' work had been completed.
Time for reflection
The Bible tells us that these are the words the angels in heaven sing about Jesus (Revelation 19.1, 4, 6 and 16 (NRSV):
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God . . .
Amen. Hallelujah! . . .
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. . . .
King of kings and Lord of lords. . . .
Play the music again, if possible at the part 'and He shall reign for ever and ever'.
Thank you Jesus that
you finished the work God sent you to do,
you are in heaven to be with him forever,
you kept your promise to send the Holy Spirit,
you promised to come again one day.