Friday, March 23, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for April 1, 2018 (The Resurrection of our Lord - B)

Texts: Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Call to Worship
This is the day:
when tears are wiped away;
shattered hearts are mended;
fears are replaced with joy.
This is the day the Lord:
rolls away the stone of fear;
throws off death's clothes;
goes ahead of us into God's future.
This is the day the Lord has made:
death has no fear for us;
sin has lost its power over us;
God opens the tombs of our hearts
to fill us with life.
This is the day - Easter Day!
Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!
Prayer of the Day
Very early on that first day
you caught chaos unawares,
Astounding God:
planting grace in a garden,
setting love loose on creation,
flinging joy into the air.
Very early on that first day
Jesus, Son of Justice:
you staggered sin,
throwing its weight off the world;
you confounded death,
leaving it alone in the grave;
you opened the gates of the kingdom,
so all could follow you into life.
Very early on this first day of the week,
while we were washing sleep from our eyes
and trying to make sense of our lives,
you sang glad songs to us,
Scarred Spirit:
rolling away fears from our hearts
so we can see the Risen Lord.
God in Community, Holy in One,
very early on this first day of the week,
as we do on every day of our lives,
we lift our prayers as Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Very early in the morning, God created all that is good and beautiful. Very early in the morning, a mother placed her newborn in a manger. Very early in the morning, the good news was shared with frightened friends, that Jesus was risen and alive in our midst. Let us confess the fears and the amazement we bring this morning.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     On this morning of hallelujahs, we must confess how  human
we are, Emptier of tombs. We haven't done any great evil, but we have failed to do good when we had the chance. We have not intentionally hurt anyone, nor have we offered healing to the broken.  We easily accept the witness of the angel in the tomb, but find it difficult to share this good news with our friends and neighbors.
   Bring us new life, Dazzling God.  Where we are tired and stressed, give us the energy to serve your creation; transform our hardened hearts into fountains of grace; forgive us of all the damage we have done, and fill us with the joy of your Spirit.  In the name of Jesus Christ, who gives us new life, we pray.    
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon:
God, our Creator, gives us new life;
Christ, our Redeemer, prepares a Table for us;
Holy Spirit, our Joy, calls us to service.
This is the good news: the tomb is empty, sin is powerless, death is defeated forever.
On this very first day, and every day, we walk as God's people, forgiven and made whole.  Thanks be to God. Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Very early in our lives, you crept in to anoint us with your overflowing abundance.  We offer our gifts in thanksgiving so they may be used to serve all whose mornings bring heartache, whose days are filled with hopelessness, whose nights wrap around their souls with fears and worries.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen. 

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The God of every morning be with you.
And also with you.
People of Easter morning, lift up your hearts!
We lift them to the One who has raised Jesus from the grave.
People of Easter's joy, give thanks to the One who raises us to new life.
We sing our hallelujahs to the God of everlasting love.
On this day of joy and hope,
Redeemer of the lost,
we sing our praise to you.
Very early in the morning,
your Word shattered the silence of chaos,
and grace flowed forth like a river.
You reached down
and gathered up the dust of creation,
forming us into your image,
and breathing life into us.
Yet the day came
when we chose to turn from you
believing our wisdom was superior
to your will for us.
You sent us the prophets,
to speak of your gracious hope,
but we refused to listen.
When you could have let us remain
in the clutches of sin and death,
you sent Jesus to be one of us,
so we could come home to you.
Therefore, we join our voices this morning
with those who stood at the empty tomb,
as well as those of every time and place,
singing our Easter joy to you:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of the empty grave.
Glad songs of resurrection joy are offered to you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes bearing your steadfast love.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, God of every day,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
Bright Morning Star.
Creator of all that is good,
he entered the shadows of hell
to lead us into hope's light;
Beloved of your Heart,
he embraced our sin
so we could be forgiven;
Glory beyond imagination,
he welcomed death
so we could enter life eternal.
Even as we believe
what we may not understand,
we trust that mystery we call faith:
On the first day, Christ shaped all that is good and beautiful;
on the first day of the week, Christ swallowed up death forever;
on the last day, Christ will call us to the Table of the Lamb.
It is here at this Table,
Resurrecting God,
that we are fed by your love.
As you pour out your Spirit
upon the Bread and the Cup,
fill us with the spirit of Jesus,
so we may go forth to be your people.
Feed us with the Bread of Heaven,
so we can fill the hunger of the world.
Touch our lips with salvation's cup,
so we can proclaim the good news
of this day to everyone we meet.
And when the morning comes
when we are united with all the saints
gathered around heaven's Table,
we will lift our voices to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
forever and ever. Amen.

On this morning, we welcome God's good news for our lives,
and go out to share it with everyone we meet.
Tomorrow morning, we will go with Jesus to serve the world,
to bring healing to the broken, hope for the despairing.
On every morning to come, we will join the Spirit in living the gospel,
to welcome all who have been abandoned by others,
to speak out for all whose voices are silenced by fears.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, March 16, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for March 25, 2018 (Palm/Passion Sunday - B)

Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11;  Mark 11:1-11

Call to Worship
Here, we prepare ourselves for the week that is holy,
yet filled with unholy acts, words, thoughts.
In this week of journey, people lose their way;
in this week of betrayal, others find hope hidden in their hearts.
We will try to follow Jesus in the days to come,
sustained by the Word of grace and life.
Joining the children, we wave palm branches with joy,
while keeping nails ready if we need them.
The One who set aside glory, comes in humility;
the One who offers life, will challenge death itself.
Hosanna! Hosanna!
Blessed is the One who opens the heart of God to us.

    Prayer of the Day
Creator God:

you give us days
filled with parades, bands, and balloons;
you walk with us
through days when we are overwhelmed
with pain, with doubt, with heartache.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

Rider of Humility:
trusting God,
you offer your life
so we may no longer fear death;
loving God,
you challenge the powers
of the world;
following God,
you reveal faithfulness to us.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

Wisdom's Tongue:
you come to us
with arms full of joy,
spreading it in our path;
you take us by the hand,
to walk with us through this week.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

 God in Community, Holy in One,
we open our hearts to you,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Where do we hide our palm branches when the parade is over?  When do our hosannas become cries for punishment?  How do we, like those before us, turn our backs on the One who comes to us in the name of the Lord?  As we begin Holy Week, let us admit what is true about us, as we pray together, saying,

 Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Steadfast Lover:  when things go well for us,  we can easily song loud hosannas, but the words turn to ashes in mouths full of anger and bitterness.  We hide behind our palm branches, hoping you will not see the doubts we have about what you call us to do.  We eagerly feast on your blessings, but are reluctant to offer even crumbs to those around us.
   Forgive us, Approaching God.  Now, more than ever, forgive us.  May we be as eager to lay down our fears and doubts, our sins and pride, as we are to lay don our coats for you.  May we praise your for your victory over death, as well as for the promise of resurrection to new life, the promise given to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. 

    Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
At his birth, Jesus comes bringing us hope.
Entering Jerusalem, he brings us assurance.
Walking to Calvary, he leads us to new life.
All this was for us - so we could bend our
knees before God in humility and praise.
God's steadfast love endures forever.
Hosanna!  Hosanna!
Blessed is the One who brings us the kingdom of God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could offer nails made out of rejection to others, help us share in their lives.  We could wave the hurting and homeless away, help us to welcome them with love and hope.  We could keep our gifts stuffed deep in our pockets, help us to give away more than we ever dare.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of this week be with you.
May God journey with you as well.
People of God, offer your hearts in these moments.
We open the closed gates of our fears to the God who comes to us.
Children of God, sing loud praises to the One who approaches.
We praise our God whose steadfast love is forever.

This is your doing, Imaginative God,
transforming the emptiness of chaos
into the creation of beauty and hope where
   palms waved in summer breezes,
   colts frolicked in green meadows,
   children down streets in joy and wonder.
You created all this goodness, all this grace,
for those shaped in your image,
   but we took the nails and wood offered by sin
   to crucify your dreams for us.
You continued to invite us through
the gates of your love,
sending women and men to call us home,
   but we rejected the prophets,
   even as we continued to rebel against you.
So, you chose to become one of us,
not in glory or power or wealth,
but in humility, so we might be saved.

So with those who wave palm branches,
with those who stand at the back of the crowd,
we offer our thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of gracious love.
Morning by morning, creation sings its praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who has a Teacher's tongue.
Hosanna in the highest!

This is your doing, God of our lives.
Though sharing in your holiness,
your Child chose to become human.
Setting aside glory,
   Jesus came to fill us with grace.
Taking off eternity's robes,
   Jesus knew our days of loneliness and fear.
Leaving behind all majesty,
   Jesus became as humble as a little child
   who gazes at everything with awe and wonder.
Deciding to set down power,
   Jesus went to the cross,
   letting death think it had defeated him
      as it gathered him in its cold embrace,
until you breathed new life into him,
the resurrecting Spirit of love being revealed for all.

As we step forward in fear and doubts to follow,
as we know how easily we would betray Jesus,
we sing of the mystery we call faith:

In steadfast love, Jesus was born;
with steadfast trust, Jesus died;
through steadfast grace, Jesus was raised from death;
for steadfast hope, Jesus will come to open the gates of eternity for all.

As you pour out your Spirit
on the bread and the cup
and your children gathered on this day,
we know that this is your doing, Holy God.
For through the bread which is broken,
you feed us,
   so we might become one with the excluded,
   so we might bring healing to the hurting.
And through the Cup which is blessed,
your open our ears, our eyes, our hearts, our mouths,
   so we might speak out against oppression,
   so we might see each person as our sister or brother,
      hearing in their words your voice of love.

And when the gates of time and history are closed,
as eternity with you swings wide open,
we will lift our voices with everyone
from every time, and of every place,
forever singing of your steadfast love,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us forth in this week of holiness.
We will go to clothe those who are cold,
we will offer our hearts to those who are lonely.
Jesus walks with us through the pain of the week.
We will listen to those who cry out for help,
we will forgive those who betray us.
The Spirit comforts and strengthens us on this journey.
We will take the hands of all who stumble along the way,
we will lean on strangers when we cannot take another step.

(c) 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for March 18, 2018 (Lent 5 - B)

Texts: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:30-33

Call to Worship:
This is the day God has promised: the day of the new covenant.
We are here, because our hearts are filled with love for our God.
No longer carved on cold stone, this covenant is engraved on our hearts.
Our hearts are open so God's Word can shape us.
We will reach out to our neighbors, our friends and family, even to strangers.

Our hearts are ready to serve God and all of God's people.

Prayer of the Day

You have forgotten more
than we will ever think of;
you have forgiven more
than we will ever do;
you have shattered
the cold stones encasing our hearts,
so your could write
your name on them.
Redeemer of all,
we praise you.

You plant the seed
of grace and hope
deep within us,
watering them with your love;
you call us to follow,
so we may join you
in serving the broken
of our world.
Jesus of the tears,
we praise you.

You journey with us,
leading us closer to the cross;
you center us
on the One we would follow,
so we can see Jesus clearly;
you point to your watch,
so we know the hour
for faithfulness has come.
Generous Spirit,
we praise you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we open our mouths to sing your praise,
even as we pray as we have been taught:
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If we would see Jesus, we must open our eyes to the ways we have not followed him as disciples.  If we want God to create new hearts within us, we must speak of the old ways in which we continue to live.  If we seek God's mercy, we must confess all that keeps us from living as God's children.  Join me, as we come to the One who will forgive us.

Unison Prayer of Confession
   O Heart which seeks our own:  we yearn for your presence in our lives, yet turn away from you time and again.  We want to serve others, but become obsessed with our own desires.  We need your Word to fill our emptiness, yet let it be silenced by the noise of our world.  Our hearts are clogged with the foolishness of our lives, and often struggle to beat in rhythm with your own.

   In this silence, and in the depths of our hidden souls, come to us and make us whole, Steadfast Love.  Write grace upon our hearts, so we might be more forgiving people; write mercy on our hearts, so we might become more welcoming people; write hospitality upon our hearts that we might become more like Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who came for all people, even us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

A new heart, a generous spirit, a fresh start: these are the gifts our God gives to us.

Through Christ, we are cleansed; through Christ, we are healed; through Christ, we become new people.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As you write upon our hearts, soften them with your compassion.  As you soften them, open us to the needs of those close to us, as well as those in every corner of your world.  As you open us to the hurts and heartaches of your children, give us the grace to be as generous with our gifts as you are in blessing us.  Take these gifts and use them to share peace, love, grace, and joy with all of your people.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord of Lent be with you.
May the Lord of Lent be also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift our hearts to the One who writes a new covenant upon them.
Give thanks to the God who makes you new.

We open our lips to sing praises to the One who sustains us with a generous spirit.

Our hearts are filled with joy
as we lift our glad songs to you,
Covenant Maker.
You created us in your image,
planting seeds of your love
deep within us.
But they could not bear fruit,
for we preferred death's darkness
to the light of your grace,
and the barren dust of the world
to the deep richness of your peace.
Despite our sin and arrogance,
you remained steadfast in your love,
calling to us through the prophets
to return to your side.
When we loved our way
more than your heart's desire for us,
you sent Jesus to restore us to your joy.

And so, we open our lips
to join our songs of praise
with the faithful
of every time and place,
singing to the glory of your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Writer of our hearts.

All creation is drawn to your side.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes with mercy for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, Master of the Universe,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
Baptized as your Beloved,
he became one of us,
sharing our life in every way.
When the hour had come
for him to be glorified,
he went to the cross to be broken.
He who called life into being at creation
suffered death for us,
planted like a seed
in the cold, friendless tomb,
so you could save him.
You raised him from the grave,
so we could follow him
into the life everlasting with you.

As we come to this Table,
remembering all that he has done for us,
we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

Christ died, the One lifted up for all people.
Christ was raised, the One called forth from death for all.
Christ will come, the One who is the source of eternal life for all.

You provide the gifts
of the bread and cup for us,
so that we might taste
your grace and hope.
As we come to the feast
you have prepared for us,
plant the seed of your Spirit
deep within our hidden hearts,
so we may serve
without expecting recognition;
so our generous spirit
might ease the poverty of the world;
so the good news we have heard
may be proclaimed to all we meet.

Then, at last, when all people are free,
when all brokenness is made whole,
when all creation is once more new,
we will gather around your Table of joy,
singing your joy forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

God sends us forth as people of the covenant.
Our hearts are filled with compassion which we will share with others.
Jesus call us to share hope with all we meet.
Our hands will bring food for the hungry and build shelters for the homeless.
The Spirit of hospitality is engraved upon our spirits.
We will welcome everyone we meet with the grace which is written large upon our hearts.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for March 11, 2018 (Lent 4 - B)

Texts:  Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

Call to Worship
In this place, the community of faith
is reminded of the promise:
God's love endures forever!
In spite of our impatient grumbling,
despite our attraction to the shadows:
Christ's light shines in us!
When we think our hands our empty,
when we have no music in our souls:
the Spirit fills us with glad songs, 
and creates us for good works!

Prayer of the Day

You reach deep
into your pockets
stuffed with mercy
and fill our empty souls;
refusing to be in
the condemnation business,
your rebuild
our shaky foundations
with your everlasting love;
you hear our cries
of loneliness and lament,
and reach down
to lift us into your presence.
Good and Generous God,
we give you thanks!

You save us by your grace,
so we may joyfully serve
our sisters and brothers;
you slide over
to make room for us
at your Table;
you step into
our shadowed lives
to take us by the hand
and lead us
into the light.
Healing Word:
we give you thanks!

You calm our impatience,
so we may tell of
God's presence in our midst;
you silence our grumbling,
to teach us joy's anthems;
you shower us with kindness,
so we may overflow
with love.
Spirit of Obedience,
we give you thanks.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we give you thanks for your steadfast love,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
By nature, we are impatient, irritated, grumbling, disobedient children, always demanding our way. But God, who is good and kind and gentle, comes to transform us, by grace, into the people we are meant to be.  Let us open ourselves to the One who overflows with love for us, as we confess our sins to God.

Unison  Prayer of Confession
   The Light of the world has come, Ceaseless Creator, but we admit we love the shadows all around us.  For there, we can boast of our achievements, rather than point to your grace; there, we can grumble of our unhappiness with you, instead of singing your praises; there, we can give into our natural anger, and not be touched by your call to be agents of peace and hope.

Forgive us, Eternal Love:
    lead us from the shadows of sin
        into the light of your joy;
    raise us up, as your children,
        so we may knell in service to others;
    shower us with the grace, the hope, the peace
    you have brought to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Let the community of faith say so:
God's love endures forever!
Let those gathered in grace say so:
God's love endures forever!
Let those gathered from all parts of the world say so:
God's love endures forever!
This is the good news for us:
God's love endures forever. 
Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering

As we have been gathered in this place because of the faithfulness of those who have gone before us, so we pray that the gifts we offer in these moments might be used to reach out to those in all corners of the world who need hope, who hunger for food and justice, who yearn for peace, and who long for your graceful presence in their lives.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the Lenten pilgrimage be with you.
And also with you.
Offer all you have and are to your God.
We bring our hearts, our hopes, our minds, our bodies.
Sing praises to the One whose love is constant and true
We sing joy, life, and peace to our God. 

Bypassing the emptiness of chaos,
you set out be way of creation
to bring beauty and goodness
into being, God of every moment.
You offered us the immeasurable riches
of your gracious and joyous heart:
   brooks rippling over stone paths,
   crocuses blooming in snowy fields,
   songbirds melting the winter of our mornings,
but we were impatient,
   speaking against your dreams and hopes
   and in favor of sin and death.
Through the prophets, you sent your word
which could heal us and bring us back to you,
   but we refused to give up
   living among our foolish passions.
So then you sent your Child,
to deliver us from all our distress,
and to gather us home.

With those who are rich in your mercy,
with those who long to draw near to you,
let your redeemed sing your praises:

Holy, Holy, holy are you, Steadfast Love.
From every corner of creation, your praises are sung.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to save everyone and everything.
Hosanna in the highest! 

Though you are holy, you set out
by way of Bethlehem, God of wonder,
to redeem us from all that separates us from you.
Though we spoke in anger and rebellion,
constantly opposing you,
   your Word came speaking of grace.
Though we chose to follow the course
of the world which lead us the wrong way,
   your Light came into the shadows
   to show us the way to the kingdom.
Though we ignored his teachings and life,
and were complicit in his suffering,
   your Life broke the power of death,
   your Weakness broke the strength of sin.

As we remember how Jesus was lifted up on the cross,
as we celebrate how Jesus was lifted up from the grave,
we speak of that mystery that by grace we are saved:

Christ died, calling us back to you;
Christ was raised, so all the world might be saved;
Christ will come, lifting us up to bring us to you. 

Pour out your Spirit upon this Table
and the gifts of the bread and the cup,
that they might bless those you have gathered here.
It is by your grace that the broken bread
is able to strengthen us to serve;
it is by your peace that the cup
nourishes us to pray for others.
As we are made new by these simple gifts,
send us out by way of
   the broken, that we might bring healing;
   the oppressed, that we might offer freedom;
   the hungry, that we might feed them;
   the lonely, that we might offer a family.

And when, by your grace, we are gathered
from north and south, and from east and west,
not by anything we have done, but by your love,
we will join our sisters and brothers,
the saints and sinners, the complainers and the committed,
in singing our songs of thanksgiving to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

As you leave this place,
remember you are God's community in the world:
for God's love endures forever!
As you leave this place,
remember you are alive with Christ:
for Christ's light shines
in the deepest shadows!

As you leave this place,
remember the gifts God offers to you:
for the Spirit fills us with good works to do,
and glad songs to sing to the world!

(c)  Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for March 4, 2018 (Lent 3 - B)

Texts: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22

Call to Worship
The morning stars profess God's glory:
the waking birds harmonize a refrain of grace.
The sun warms us with God's hope,
the night sky whispers peace to our sleepy souls:
creation's voice echoes continually in our hearts,
reminding us of God's steadfast love.

Our wisdom is shattered by God's absurd love;
God's vulnerability strengthens our feeble faith:
God's words place joy in our hearts;
we follow them to peace and hope.

Prayer of the Day

You saw your children
as slaves in Egypt,
and brought them to freedom;
you see creation
held captive by our desire
for more and more,
and weep;
and so you pour out
your foolish love on us
from day to day.

All that we have learned
and think we know
has not brought meaning
to our lives;
the brokenness
of our world
needs your peace;
our pain-shattered hearts
need your healing:
and so you speak to us
through the mouth
of your Servant, Jesus.

All creation weeps
with grief,
and cries to you for comfort;
all the broken of our world
long for your wholeness;
all who hunger for hope
long for the sweetness
of your grace and joy;
and so you fill us with
the Wisdom of your Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we tell of your glory from day to day,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
At the center of the law is God's love  -  that divine nonsense shown in becoming human for our sake; that weakness for us which defeats the strongest powers.  This love, this grace is of more value to us than all the stocks in our pension funds.  Let us open ourselves to such love as we open our hearts to confess our sins to God.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     You give us your commandments, Holy One, so we may have new life, but we continue to make the same old choices.  Your love can anchor us when life threatens to overwhelm us, but we choose to cling to the slippery rocks of anger and bitterness.  Your Word can strengthen us for every moment, but we listen to the foolish promises of the world.
     Forgive us, Redeemer of our lives: may every word be shaped by your Word; may every thought be refined by your grace; may every deed be inspired by your Spirit, so we may tell everyone we meet of your work in us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
When brokenhearted prayers replace piety, when we seek wholeness through the One broken for us, then we remember we are saved by God's powerful love.
We are healed, to bring healing to our world;
we are strengthened in faith,
     to become spent for others;
we are set free from our bondage to sin,
     so we may become servants of Christ.
Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Make us foolish enough in our generosity, O God, that we might become wise enough to know that our gifts will bless others - the hungry, the lonely, the searching, the weak.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of holy words be with you.
May the Meditation of our hearts be with you.
People of God, open yourselves to the One who is your rock.
God fills us with foolishness, so we may be wise.
Children of God, sing songs of thanksgiving with all creation.
Our voices are lifted to the One who makes all things.

You spoke those words of creation,
God of faithfulness, and
   set the sun to run its daily course,
   filled the seas with imaginative creatures,
   planted fruits and vegetables in the earth.
All that is good and generous was intended
for your children shaped in your image,
   but we bore false witness against you,
   honoring sin and death more than you.
The prophets came to warn against our foolishness,
but we did not find their words acceptable,
   and continued to covet everything
   which did not belong to us.
So you sent your Child to us,
so we might find strength in his weakness,
we might find glory through his humiliation.

With those who have great faith,
with those who have very little,
we sing our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of mountaintops.
The heavens join all creation to tell of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is foolish for our sake.
Hosanna in the highest!

Day to day, you are holy, our God,
and Jesus Christ declares your wisdom to us.
The Word of your mouth,
   he came, to tell us of your work
   of grace and hope.
The Meditation of your heart,
   he came, to quiet our frantic spirits
   so we might rest in you.
Your foolishness,
   he was wise enough
   to take our sins to the cross.
Your weakness,
   he was strong enough
   to endure death for us,
until you brought him out of the grave.

As we remember his zeal for your heart,
as we remember his passion for us,
we would speak of that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, the rock which broke sin's power;
Christ was raised, death conquered by our redeemer;
Christ will return, desiring us more than anything in all creation.

Here at this Table, God of love,
we set aside our power to feast
on the weakness found in the broken bread;
we let go of our wisdom,
to drink from the cup of your foolish grace.
Your Spirit blesses these gifts, as well as us,
so when we have feasted,
we will look at the world with its
injustices, oppressions, wars, and fears,
saying, 'take these things out of here!
Stop making God's creation a house of horrors!'

And when the sun has finished its course,
when the moon and stars shine no more,
we will be given the words from your mouth
so we can sing from the deeps of our hearts to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God speaks, and sends us forth.
We will go to proclaim God's grace and glory.
Jesus speaks, and lives are changed.
We will go to set free the oppressed,
to be the voice for those never heard.
The Spirit speaks, and the world is turned inside out.
We will become as foolish as a trusting child,
as powerless as those overlooked by everyone around them.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, February 16, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for February 25, 2018 (Lent 2 - B)

Texts: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38

Call to Worship
Lent calls us to journey, this and every day,
following Jesus wherever he leads us.

Lent calls us to journey:
to the place where God covenants with us,
to receive the new names we are given.

Lent calls us to worship together,
to tell future generations the good news.

Lent calls us to practice justice,
to bring God's hope to all people.

Lent calls us to faithful living,
to trust the One who gives us life.

Lent calls each of us to take up our cross,
to trust the One who bears it with us.

Lent calls us to journey with God.

Let us worship God, who walks with us,
this and every day.

Prayer of the Day

Choosing an aged, barren couple
to parent your holy people;
calling us to set aside ourselves
and to shoulder a cross;
showering us with love and mercy,
when we do nothing to deserve these gifts:
You always act in ways
which surprise us,
God of our parents.

In hospital rooms,
where we wait in anxious expectation;
in classrooms,
where we chew on pencils while taking tests;
in this unholy mess
we call life:
you always call us
to faithfulness and trust:
Cross Bearer for us all.

In the warmth of spring's approach,
we hear your voice;
in the moonlight of winter's last night,
we see your face;
in the silence of a child sleeping,
we are breathe in your grace:
you are always with us
in the ordinary moments of life:
Spirit of Holiness.

God in Community, Holy in One,
May we see you, hear you, and know you
as we move through this Lenten season,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Given a test on our faith, would we have a passing grade?  Looking at our lives of discipleship, would we be considered good models for others?  When we fail to trust God, we discover that we do indeed lead barren lives.  Let us be honest as we stand before our God, and bring our confessions for forgiveness and hope.

Unison Prayer of Confession
  God of Sarah and Abraham, in this holy place, we know how weak is our discipleship.  We can spend hours at the computer, but only give you fleeting moments of our time.  We can talk endlessly on our cell phones, but fall silent when it comes to sharing our fears, our worries, our hopes with you.  We seek quick fixes for our problems, rather than seeking your vision and future for our lives.
   God of Peter, Paul, and the psalmist, forgive us:
      for our lack of trust;
      for our faithless living;
      for our closing our ears to the call of Jesus.
Forgive us, so we may lay aside all the keeps us from you, so we may take up the life you offer to us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news:  God does not go back on the promises made so long ago.  God does not reject us, God redeems us.  God does not withhold love, God pours it into our barren lives.
Forgiven of our sins, filled with hope, living in relationship with God and one another - we are a new people.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these gifts represent our willingness to deny ourselves, so others might be blessed by your grace, your peace, as well as your hope, in every moment of their lives.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The God of the Lenten journey be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to God, heirs of the covenant.
We open them to the One who fills them with promise.
Let us lift glad songs to our exceedingly faithful God.
Our praise will resound in this great congregation.

"Walk before me," you whispered
to creation, God of the covenant,
and wonders beyond imagination sprang forth:
  bees flitting from flower to hive,
  planets spun from the gases of space,
  dinosaurs plodding through forests.
All this exceeding fruitfulness was offered
to those you shaped in your image,
that we might live in relationship with you,
  but sin's praises weakened our faith,
  and we stood in awe of death.
Prophets came, calling us to set
our minds on all things divine,
  but we turned a deaf ear
  to their impassioned pleadings.
So you chose to send Jesus
to teach us your heart
by the way he lived and loved.

With those who find self-denial easy,
with those who find their cross too heavy,
we glorify you in these moments:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who calls us by new names.
All creation praises your surpassing wonders.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to us for our sake.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, God of every promise,
and we are blessed by your Son, Jesus Christ.
He did not act as if
he had no use for us,
  but called us his sisters and brothers.
He was not grossed out
by those sins which tormented us,
  but came to heal us.
He did not turn
a deaf ear to us,
  but listened to us in a way
  no one else ever did.
He rebuked death, declaring,
"get behind me,"
  as he walked out
  into resurrection's dawn.

As we remember Jesus' ministry and death,
as we would seek to live for him,
we proclaim that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, taking up his cross and following God;
Christ was raised, the covenant promise fulfilled;
Christ will come, declaring "God has done it!"

Because our faith depends on your grace,
pour out your Spirit upon this feast
and those you welcome to the Table.
As you nourish us with broken bread,
send us forth
  to feed the poor until they are filled,
  to clothe the naked until they are warm.
As you strengthen us
with the cup of grace,
  we will take the hand of searchers
    so, together, we may find you;
  we will welcome those rebuked
    by the world, so our hearts
    might live forever.

And when you gather your great
congregation around the Lamb's Table,
we will join our voices in proclaiming,
"You have done it,
God in Community, Holy in One!" Amen.

Go now with God, on your journey through Lent.
We will discover the new name given to each one we meet.
Go now with Jesus, walking wherever he leads.
We will put all our fears, as well as our longings, behind us.
Go now with the Spirit, who is always full of surprises.
We will share the good news called Jesus with everyone.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for February 18, 2018 (Lent 1 - B)

Texts:  Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15
Call to Worship
Here, at the outer limits of Lent,
we are called to walk:
to the paper-thin edges which cut us
      to the soul;
to the workplaces which weary us;
to the people who confuse us;
to the faith which threatens us.
Here, at the corner of Steadfast Love
and Faithfulness, we are called to wait:
when our clenched stomachs awaken us;
in the moments of unbearable sorrow;
with the angels who would carry us.

Here, where time is fulfilled,
where God's Kingdom is as near to us
as our neighbor, we begin Lent:
with the Beloved, whose tears wash away
     our fears,
with the God who will not let go
     of our hands.

Prayer of the Day
You love us, O God.
Like a mother
who upholds her son through
the temper tantrums,
the ball-broken windows,
the smart-alecky remarks:
you love us, O God.
Like a father
who walks his daughter through
the terrible twos,
the giggling fours,
the confusion and chaos of adolescence:
you love us, O God!

You give to us, Holy Brother.
In the tears crevassing our cheeks,
in the depths of our sighing;
in moments of exquisite joy
and the lingering days of loneliness:
you give to us - yourself.
In the chorales of morning birds,
in the silent prayers of our hearts;
in a night sky splattered with stars,
in a cross stained with blood and tears:
you give to us - yourself.

You dance with us, Gentle Spirit.
In baptismal waters soaking our knees,
when desert dust chokes our hymns:
you dance with us, Gentle Spirit.
in jail cells and courtrooms,
on the journey to death,
and striding forth from the tomb:
you dance with us, Gentle Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in any season, but especially in this Holy Season,
you love us, you give yourself to us, you dance with us;
and so we lift the prayers Jesus has taught to us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God looks at the most broken soul and sees an angel aching to take flight.  God sees our worst faults and washes them away in the waters of life.  God hears our prayers of confession, and whispers sweet grace in our hearts.  Let us pray together as we say,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
    the silly sins of childhood,
    the exuberant sins of adolescence,
    the faded sins of aging;
    the sins we shout in the streets,
    the sins we whisper to ourselves;
    the sins we didn't give a second thought to,
    the sins we plot in the middle of the night;
    the flood of sins which threaten us,
    the wilderness of sin which we offer to others,
    the sin which seeks to imprison us:

Forgive us, Good and Gentle God,
forgive us and have mercy on us,
so we might walk the path of faithfulness
with Jesus, to Jerusalem and beyond,
so we might know your steadfast love in our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
What can sustain us in the days to come, what will nourish us on our Lenten journey?
Look, here is all the food we need: God's Love, God's Word, God's Hope.
Through the wilderness and into the kingdom of life, we are given daily bread for every day of the journey.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As for us, Holy God, we offer our gifts to bring healing to the broken, hope to those in despair, light to those in shadows, and grace for all your people.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord of Lent be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who calls us 'Beloved.'
Beloved of God, give thanks and praise to the One who loves you forever.
We sing our hymns of joy to the One who leads us into the kingdom.

Hearts full of joy are lifted to you,
Crafter of Covenants.
When there was no time as we knew it,
you created Day and Night,
so we could wait for you all day long,
enjoying your grace and goodness.
   But instead of learning your ways,
   we listened to the seductive whispers of the Evil One,
   and wandered into the wilderness of rebellion and sin.
Remembering the promises
made so long ago to our ancestors,
you sent the prophets to teach us
and to show us your paths to hope,
   but we ignored their witness and their words.
Yet, you would not see us left in death's desert,
and so sent the One who could lead us back to you.

Therefore, we lift our voices
with the faithful of every time and place,
and the choirs of the kingdom,
who forever sing of your goodness and love:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Teacher.
All creation trusts in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who leads us in truth.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Faithfulness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Steadfast Love.
In those days,
he could have remained by your side,
   but came to be by ours;
in those days,
he could have feasted on your glory,
   but came to eat and drink with sinners;
in those days,
he could have remained whole and pure,
   but died broken on a sin-stained cross,
   that we might have
   all the days of eternity with you.

As we begin that journey to Jerusalem
which will test our faith
and offer us opportunities to serve,
we remember the life, the death,
the resurrection of the One we follow.

Jesus was baptized, the Spirit resting on  him;

Jesus died, resisting the temptation to reject God;
Jesus was raised, fulfilling the time to defeat death;
Jesus will come, to fulfill God’s time for all of us.

On this day, and in this place,
God of Mystery,
pour out your Holy Spirit up us
and upon the bread we break
and the cup we share.
Through these gifts,
make us one with the Risen Christ,
and send us forth to serve the world.
Set free by the goodness of your love,
   let us proclaim liberty to the prisoners;
filled with the Bread of Life,
   let us feed the hungry of our communities;
our thirst cooled be the Cup of Grace,
   let us reach out to those
   who stumble through the desert of life;
walk with us through the wilderness of the world,
so we can gather our sister and brothers
in your love, your hope, your joy,
and journey together into your kingdom.

Then, seated around the Table you set before us,
with the Beloved of every time and of every place,
we will merge our songs of praise
with those who have shown
your steadfast love and faithfulness
to all generations,
singing our praise to you,
God of Abraham and Noah, of Rebecca and Mary;
Jesus of the poor and oppressed;
Spirit of the lost and the least:
God in Community, Holy in One.
Amen and Amen.
Trusting in God, let us go from this place.
Taught all we need, we will bring hope and peace to others.
Trusting in Jesus, let us go into the world.
Given all we need, we will go to serve those around us.
Trusting in the Spirit, we will not be tempted to stay, so let us go.
Baptized in hope, we will go to welcome others as God’s Beloved.

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman