Saturday, September 16, 2017

Alternate texts liturgy with communion for September 24, 2017 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - A)

Texts:  Jonah 3:10 - 4:11; Psalm 145:1-8; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship
We come to praise our God,
whose steadfast love is always with us.
God does not stand by idly,
but fills us with grace to share.
We are here to praise Jesus,
who chooses to be gracious with all.
Jesus does not stand by idly,
but brings justice to all treated unfairly.
We will praise the Spirit in these moments,
who is always at our side.
The Spirit is with us now and always,
so we may live as faithful people.

Prayer of the Day
All generations praise you,
Mind Changer, for every day
   your unbounded love surrounds us,
   your grace is shared abundantly,
   your unsearchable nature is revealed
      through all of creation.

All generations praise you,
Justice Singer, for in every place,
you show us the kingdom
   standing by the side of the oppressed,
   showing your concern for the last,
   always with us wherever we are.

All generations praise you,
Peace Giver, for in every time,
you do not stand idle, but
   share our struggles to be faithful,
   heal all who have been wronged,
   declare God's hopes for us.

All generations praise you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We think we know how God will react if we confess our lives - a rap on the knuckles, sending us to our rooms without dessert, or even an eternal time-out.  But instead, we receive forgiveness, constant love, gracious justice.  Let us lift our prayers to the One who always surprises us, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   It is true that we grumble too much, Patient God.  We are easily stampeded by the promises of those around us, only to wonder how we end up where we find ourselves.  We see so much of everything on our devices, and become convinced we deserve more.  Though we know others have the same struggles, we have trouble standing by their side.
   Forgive us, Unpredictable God, as you continue to shower us with your steadfast love.  You as so slow to get mad, yet rush to share your grace with us.  May we continue to seek to live in the way of justice, hope, and peace shown to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Unlike us, God chooses not anger, but mercy; not punishment, but peace; not just what we earn, but more grace than we can begin to imagine.
Now we know what the kingdom of heaven is like - steadfast love, joy and laughter, the life for which we have yearned.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we offer our gifts, not with grumbling under our breath about what you might do with them, but with thanks that you will use them to bring healing, hope, grace, and peace to all whose lives are empty of such needs.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the unpredictable God be with you.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to God.
We will welcome the constant love of our God.
Let us not stand idly by, but rejoice in the grace of God.
We will sing glad songs of praise forever.

When you saw chaos standing idle,
you chose to give us creation,
Imaginative God:
   squirrels chittering in trees,
   luminous rings around planets,
   glaciers carving out lochs and fjords,
   towering trees shading toadstools.
You did all this to show those created in your image
what the kingdom of heaven is like,
   but we thought we should receive more,
   so went to work in temptation's junkyards.
Prophets, both reluctant and willing,
came so we might know how gracious you are,
   yet we chose to stand side by side
   with death, grumbling every moment.
Given the chance to respond in anger,
you did not do it, but sent
your steadfast love to us in Jesus.

So with those eager to serve you,
and those pouting because of your generosity,
we bless you forever and ever:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who cannot be predicted.
All creation sings of your justice and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who continues to be with us.
Hosanna in the highest!

When you saw us standing idly by the world's side,
in your holiness, you chose to give us your heart,
Jesus, who shows us what the kingdom  of heaven is like.
When we would hoard all we have,
   he shows us how to share abundantly.
When we would mumble about life,
   he calls us to serve all
   oppressed by fear and hate.
When we would whisper behind the backs of others,
   he turns us to face them
   so we can see you staring back at us.
When we would mutter
of how little you have done for us,
   he went into death's foul depths,
   so we might receive resurrection
   from our unpredictable God.

As we reflect on Jesus' works and words,
as we would live according to his way,
we proclaim that mystery revealed in faith:

Living, Christ showed us how to live;
dying, Christ showed us how to trust;
raised, Christ revealed resurrection hope for all;
now and always, Christ is with us.

We would not be idle by-standers
but come eagerly to the Table
which you have prepared for us.
Here, the Spirit is poured out
on the bread and the cup
and those gathered for this feast.
Here, the bread which is broken
strengthens us so
   we may proclaim your grace
   to those forgotten by others.
Here, the cup which overflows with grace
enables us
   to give honor and hope to all
   pushed to the back of the line.

And when the evening of all time comes,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers
at your Table of eternal joy,
each receiving the same as everyone else -
the grace, the love, the peace of
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go to be with those forgotten by the world.
We will share God's constant love with everyone.
Now go to be generous with those around you
as well as those far away.
We will share Jesus' justice and hope
with all who need it.
Now go to live as faithful people.
We will join the Spirit in standing side by side
with those who are lonely and afraid.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, September 15, 2017

Liturgy with communion for September 24, 2017 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - A)

Texts:  Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1: 21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship
In the prayers and the praise,
in the words and the wonder:
we are given enough joy to live each day.
In the justice for the oppressed,
in the unexpected generosity for the lost:
we are given enough compassion
to use in service each day.

In the promises made to all,
in the mercy offered to each:

we are given enough grace to share each day.

Prayer of the Day
Fresh as each morning
you come to us,
Crafter of manna.
     Your grace rests
     gently upon us,
          waiting to be gathered,
          to become the bread of life
we share throughout the day.

Fresh as compassion's justice,
you come to us,
Servant of the poor.
Choosing to give
as you desire,
you show us the last,
     so we can make them first
     in our hearts and hopes.
Doing no wrong,
     you make us right
     with God for all time.

Fresh as the water
which turns a desert
into a meadowland of flowers,
Spirit of uninterrupted grace,
you come to us.
When we would grumble,
     you give us the gospel to live out;
when we would protest,
     you teach us songs of praise;
when we would utter laments,
     you fill us with God's laughter.

God in Community, Holy in One,
refresh us with your presence

as we pray as Jesus taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We continue to believe that we must earn our way into God's heart. But God's grace is given to each of us, for all of us, freely, unconditionally, always. Let us open our lives to this mercy as we pray saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     It seems we cannot decide, Cloud of Glory.  We say we will live to serve others, but end up meeting only our needs. We claim to live in a way that honors Christ, but we do not take him to work, school, home.  We believe that the gospel can transform lives, (at least, for those who need it – but surely, not us).

Forgive us, Presence of Peace.
Instead of grumblers,
     may we be ambassadors of grace.
Instead of continual complaining,
     may we carry compassion to the hurting.
Instead of whiners,
     may we be workers with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,

to reach out and bring the kingdom of God to everyone we meet.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: there is no ranking in God's kingdom. God graces everyone with the same gifts: mercy, restoration, new life.
God has kept the covenant. We have been forgiven, we have been made new people.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
With hope in our hearts, we offer our gifts to you, O God, trusting you will use them in the work of your kingdom which welcomes all, loves all, needs all, and serves all.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all mornings be with you!
And also with you!
Children of God, welcome the One who shares
grace with childlike abandon.
We open our hearts so we might savor the
sweet taste of joy and wonder.
People of God, bring your emptiness to
this Table of hope and peace.

We sing praises to One who fills us with
Christ's presence for service to others.

On that first morning,
when chaos saw your glory,
you brought out creation,
     with stars and planets
          swimming in the skies,
     gazelles and giraffes dancing
           through the fields of goodness.
You shaped humankind in your mercy,
and fed us with grace, enough for each day.
Jealous that you were so gracious to all of creation,
     we grumbled that it wasn't enough,
     and went searching for sin and death.
Prophets came, telling the stories
of your wonder and presence,
     but for us, these were foolish words.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to come looking for us,
to show us your kingdom.

So, we join our voices with
wilderness wanderers and urban dwellers,
those who, in every time and place,
sing of your glory:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Glory to God's holy name!
Our hearts will seek God,
rejoicing in God's gentleness and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

You are holy, Cloud of Compassion,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Joy, our Hope.
Child of glory and grace,
he chose to come to us,
     working in the fields of despair.
Hearing our complaints,
he came to speak
     of your dreams for us.
Firstborn of all creation,
he came to defeat
     that last enemy, death.

As we remember his life and death,
as we come to the Table he has prepared,
we sing of that mystery called faith:

This is the bread God gives us to eat.
This is the life Christ calls us to offer to others.
This is the journey the Spirit takes with us.

Pour out your Spirit
upon your children gathered,
and upon the bread and the cup
you have provided for us.
As you feed us with the bread,
so flood us with compassion,
     that we may go to serve
     all who are lost and broken.
As you open your heart
so that the cup of grace
might be filled with your hopes,
     send us out to bring the last
     home to your kingdom,
where they will be first in your joy.

And when all time has ended
and the whole family of God
is gathered around your Table,
we will join our voices together,
praising you forever:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go now to share the love of God.
We will share it with childish abandon.
Go now to share the grace of Jesus.
We will offer this gift, fresh every morning, to all we meet.
Go now to share the generosity of the Holy Spirit.
We will hold nothing back as we embrace each person this week.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Alternate texts liturgy with communion for September 17, 2017 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 19/Ordinary 24 - A)

Texts: Genesis 50:15-21; Psalm 103:1-13; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

Call to Worship
Disciples and doubters,
faithful and feckless,
we are God's,
who welcomes us all.
Followers and those who lag behind,
open-hearted and close-minded,
we are the Lord's,
who is always patient with us.
Reconcilers and rabble-rousers,
foolish and fearless,
we are the Spirit's,
who encourages us in every moment.

Prayer of the Day
You are our forgiveness,
Gracious God,
not because you should,
but because it is what you desire:
   to offer us that compassion
   which welcomes all
   who have been tossed aside.

You are our justice,
Brother of the forgotten,
welcoming all those
   weakened by oppression,
   hungering for hope,
   who have been judged but never heard.

You are our healing,
Spirit of comfort,
bringing peace where
   we would do violence;
offering hope to all
   we choose to despise;
remembering everyone
   we have forgotten.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our Forgiveness, our Justice, our Healing,
hear us as we lift our prayer
as we have been taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We do not have to beg God to forgive us, but simply confess our foolish words, our mistaken acts, our grudging hearts.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We could have mercy, Compassion's heart, but we judge others by those standards we cannot even meet.  We could welcome all around us as sisters and brothers, but hold them at contempt's length away from us.  We could have patience with family and friends, but tap our feet and drum our fingers until they do what we want.
   In your forgiveness, Tender God, you wipe the board clean of all our poor accounting.  You don't deal off the bottom of the deck to us, but turn up the ace of grace for us.  You gather up all our foolishness and hurl it beyond the edge of the universe, so the healing you intend for us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, will take place.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Here is the good news.  God does not hold a grudge against us.  God lets go of anger to welcome us as sisters and brothers of Jesus.
We will not be afraid, but will open our hearts and lives to God's compassionate grace.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these simple gifts offer a welcome to the friendless, a meal for the hungry, shelter for those in disasters, and hope for all who are despised in our times.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of compassion be with you.
And also with you.
Children of grace, lift your hearts to God.
We bring them to the One who has mercy on us.
Join in glad songs of thanksgiving, God's people.
We lift our voices in praise and hope.

We bless you, O God,
for you would not welcome chaos,
but brought forth all creation:
   summer breezes over beaches,
   leaves changing colors in autumn,
   brittle stars for crisp winter nights,
   butterflies over spring's flowers.
You crowned all this goodness
with those created in your image,
so we could be with you forever,
   but we had no patience for your hopes,
   choosing the gifts offered by temptation.
You sent the prophets to us,
hoping their words would help us
to realize the harm our lives caused,
   but we continued to despise
   your steadfast love and mercy.
So you came to us in Jesus,
that we might not live for ourselves,
but live for your and others.

Realizing your intentions for us
are compassion and grace,
we lift glad songs of praise:

Living, we seek to follow you;
following, we share our lives with others;
sharing, we receive unexpected gifts.

Blessed is the One who is patient with us.
Hosanna in the highest!

We bless you, O God, for your
compassion flows from your holiness
and is shared with us
through Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
   he showed us how to serve others;
   he poured your words of hope
   into those despised by others;
   he gave us the model
   for all who would be faithful;
   he revealed your compassion
   for all of you children
   as he was brought out of
   the desperate grasp of death.

As we gather at your Table of mercy
to feast on your steadfast love,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, trusting in your love;
Christ was raised, your resurrection grace
   entrusted with him;
Christ will come, so where we live or die,
   we are yours forever.

We bless you, O God, for you
pour out your Spirit on
the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children in this place.
Here, may the broken bread
heal us so we may
   forgive those who hurt us,
   even as we are forgiven by you.
Here, may the cup of compassion
humble us so we may
   serve everyone we meet
   with grace and hope.

And when all time has ended
and you gather us at the Lamb's Table
with our sisters and brothers,
we will sing of your love and mercy forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Whether we believe or whether we struggle,
we are God's.
Let us go out to welcome
the doubters and disciples around us.
Whether we live or whether we die,
we are the Lord's.
Let us go to embrace all
who have been abandoned by the world.
Whether we are brave or quake at the knees,
we are the Spirit's.
Let us go to encourage
our sisters and brothers who struggle.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Liturgy with communion for September 17, 2017 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper19/Ordinary 24 - A

Texts: Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
Call to Worship
In sacred times of word, wonder, and awe,
in ordinary days of work and play:

in every moment, God is with us.
Whether we are stuck in doubt's mud,
or standing on faith's shoreline:

in every place, God is with us.
In those who teach us
     and those who trouble us;

 in those who surprise us,
     and those who forgive us:

in every person, God is with us.

Prayer of the Day

When we look over our shoulders
at fear shadowing us today,
you go before us into tomorrow,
     making a path through
     the sea of yesterday's doubts.
When our legs tremble
from the effort of standing up
for what you hope for all creation,
you are at our side,
     offering your heart's strength.
Cloud of Grace,
we offer our love to you.

When we turn our hearts
into deserts of stony bitterness,
you transform them
     into oases of joy.
When we come up
with all sorts of rules
for those who come to us
seeking to find you,
you tear up the list,
     stretching wide your arms
     in welcoming grace.
Servant of all,
we offer our lives to you.

When we would clasp
old worries to our hearts,
you open our eyes to that hope
     which paves the path ahead of us.
When we spend each day
consumed with doubts and fears,
you remind us that this day
     is the time to honor God,
     by serving God's children.
Mist of Mercy,
we offer our hearts to you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
as you are all to us,
so we would offer all we are to you,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us,
(the Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

As we stand before God, we think of all the ways we bicker with others, all those times we have not shown mercy and grace to those around us. Let us bow our hearts and confess our sin to God, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
It is never easy for us to confess
but deep down inside, we know that
          we have trouble
          being grace-full to others;
          we are eager to judge
          and punish all who hurt us;
          we find ways to put restrictions
          on people we fear.

Forgive us, Servant God. You show mercy more often than we deserve; you pardon us more times than we can count.  And why? Because we are the Lord's - sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ, who died and lived again, so we might live beyond death
with you.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

God's hand of mercy is stretched out to us, making a way through all that threatens us, to touch us with grace and hope.
We stand before our God, singing praise to the One who turns our despair into joy, our fears into faith. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We have a variety of intentions for offering these gifts to you, Loving God, but whatever the reason, whatever might be our purpose, we trust you will use them to bring healing to brokenness, hope to despair, and welcome to the forgotten.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of hope be with you!
And also with you!
God, our God, leads us through the flood of fears
into the future of wonder and hope.

We open our hearts to the One who journeys
with us, in the past, in the present, into tomorrow.

God goes before us, preparing the Table piled high
with grace and peace.

We sing songs of glad thanksgiving to the One
who fills us with goodness and mercy.

You stretched out your hand,
Cloud of Glory,
parting a way through chaos,
so your goodness might come forth.
You looked, and laughed out loud,
     as seas ran forth in joy,
     mountains played leapfrog,
     and hills hopscotched with valleys.
Creation became a sanctuary
for those created in your image.
But we decided to live for ourselves,
     every day becoming one in which
          we could turn your dreams to ashes,
     your overflowing love into
          dust bowls of despair.
Out of pity, you sent the prophets,
those pillars of faithfulness,
     but we wrangled with their gentle words.
So, you sent Jesus,
to lead us through evil's deeps,
to that freedom found only
in your kingdom of life.

Therefore, on this day,
when we stand in your grace
around your Table of life,
we join our voices with all
who offer praise to the One who saves:

Living, we serve others in God's name;
serving, we die unto ourselves;
dying, we are given life eternal with God.

Blessed is the One who comes forgiving us 
more times than we can count.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Cloud of Joy,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Servant.
When we were weak in faith,
     he came to strengthen us
     with your everlasting hope;
when we were slaves to sin,
     he came to lead us into
     the promised land of mercy;
when our hearts became like flint,
     he softened them with compassion;
when we could only focus on ourselves,
     he came to die for us.

As we gather at your Table,
we remember his love for us,
his patience with our failings,
his hope in our willingness to follow,
his trust in that mystery we call faith:

Baptized in Christ, we would live for him;
forgiven through Christ, we would emulate him;
putting on Christ, we wait for his return.
Alleluia! Amen!

Creator God,
send your Spirit in peace
upon us and these simple gifts
of the bread and of the cup.
As we share the bread,
we share the presence of Christ,
     strengthened to go out
     with forgiveness in our hearts.
As we pass the cup,
we share Christ's Spirit
with our neighbors,
     and are called to welcome all
     as our sisters and brothers,
          especially those held captive
          by the bitterness of the world.

As you gathered your children
to lead them to that promised land,
so you will bring all your children
from the very ends of time itself,
to seat us around your heart,
where we will feast on your grace,
lifting our hearts to praise you forever:
God our Maker,
Christ our Brother,
Spirit our Compassion,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

In every person, God is with us.
We will welcome God in the family we know all too well,
and in the strangers we will meet in the coming days.
In every choice, Jesus is with us.
We will welcome the Christ who serves us unexpectedly,
and in those who will offer us forgiveness.
In every moment, the Spirit is with us.
We will welcome the Spirit who calls us to live
as well as calling us to give of ourselves without question.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Liturgy with communion for September 10, 2017 (Pentecost 14/Trinity 13/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - A)

Texts:  Ezekiel 33:7-11; Psalm 119:33-40; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

Call to Worship
We gather here, where God would teach us:
so we may learn to be more compassionate,
so we may be taught how to be more loving.
We gather here, where Jesus would teach us
the wisdom to choose forgiveness over holding a grudge,
the language of hope so we may speak to all.
We gather here, where the Spirit imparts wisdom,
so we might know how to share grace,
so we would learn to welcome all to this Table.

Prayer of the Day
Liberating God:
you set us free from our loneliness
by the touch of another's hand;
you deliver us from our selfishness,
so we may be of service to others;
you break the chains of our pride,
so we might walk with you in humility.

Christ of love,
when we would cling to our anger,
you send forgiveness to take us by the hand;
when we would snack on our bitterness,
you share the Bread of heaven;
when we would drink from sin's fountain,
you pour out the Cup of salvation.

Spirit of new life:
you gather us together in God's school
to teach us how
     to live together,
     to love together,
     to serve together,
so that those around us might know
that you are in their midst.

God in Community, Holy in One,
fill us with your wisdom as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
In worship and at work, in life and in loss, now and in every moment, Christ is among us: loving us, teaching us, and hoping to lead us.  But we focus on those needs, on those desires that keep us from recognizing him.  Let us confess all that we have done against God and others, as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     All you ask of us is to love one another, God of our lives, and you are more than willing to teach us how.  Yet we find this simple request so hard to carry out, this easy lesson so difficult to learn.  Someone cuts us off in traffic, and we curse them.  Another buys something we want but cannot afford, and we overflow with jealousy.  A friend gets the acclaim we wanted, and we whisper about them behind their backs.
     Forgive us, Merciful God, and unclasp our hands from our grudges.  With Christ in our midst, we can become the people your dream about: loving, merciful, gentle, and compassionate children of God.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
2, 3, 30, 300  - we have gathered as God's people:
   broken, we are made whole;
   alone, we are welcomed into a family;
   forgiven, we are sent to serve.
Fed, forgiven, restored, loved.  This Table is our constant reminder of God's presence in our lives, of God's grace which makes us new in every moment.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May our gifts go forth into our world, so that where people hunger, they may be fed; where there is war, peace might be welcomed; where families are broken, they may be made whole.  Then others will be as blessed as we have been by your love, grace, and compassion.  In Jesus' name, we offer our gifts and this prayer of gratitude.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God our Teacher be with you.
And also with you.
Now is the moment to offer your hearts to God.
Now, we turn our hearts to your grace.
Join in songs of thanks and praise to our God.
We join with all who are here and throughout the world in praise.

We praise you, Holy God:
Shaper of the Bread of life,
Pourer of the Cup of salvation.
Face-to-face with chaos,
you spoke that Word that taught
     elephants to blow water out their trunks,
     monkeys to swing from trees,
     leaves to swirl gently to the ground,
     gases to form into planets.
All that was light and wonder and hope
was offered to those crafted in your image,
     but we wandered through the shadows of sin,
     following the teachings of death.
You sought to bring us back to you
by sending prophets with your gracious words,
     but we could not hear you
     above sin's siren songs.
Taking on human form yourself,
you came to live among us,
so we might see your face-to-face
and know your forgiveness firsthand.

With our sisters and brothers at our side,
with those before us and those behind us,
we sing the songs of the gathered faithful:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Teacher of your children.
All creation sings the praises learned from you:
     creatures roaming the earth,
     dolphins splashing in the sea,
     eagles soaring through the sky.
Glory to you forever and ever,
Hosanna in the highest!

God, our righteousness,
you take pleasure in your people and so
     in love, you became human;
     in hope, you came to us;
     in joy, you gave yourself to us
through your Child, Jesus our Brother.
Clothed in light,
     he came to lead us out of the shadows.
Filled with your wisdom,
     he came to teach us your ways.
One with you forever,
     he came to gather us into your family.
Humble enough to take on our death,
     he carries us into your kingdom.

As we come to this Table
which you have prepared for us,
we remember the faith which was his:

Christ died, facing death one-on-one.
Christ was raised, bringing new life for all.
Christ will come, when the time is right.

Move over these gifts of the Table,
Breath of God,
and on those gathered for this meal.
As the bread of hope heals our brokenness,
may we go forth to be reconciled
to those we have harmed.
As the cup of grace quenches our thirst for hope,
may we reach out to those
whom the world has forgotten.
As your peace fills our empty souls,
may we bring that peace to our world.

And when that day comes when
all brokenness is made whole,
all barriers are torn down,
all people live at peace with one another,
we will gather at your holy feast,
singing our praises forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now to the people who are overwhelmed by despair.
We will take the hope which has been given to us and share it with all.
Go now to those who are at odds with neighbors.
We will offer the peace and reconciliation which God has poured into our lives.
Go now to those who are the most vulnerable in our world.
We will bring the healing, the grace, the love of our God.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Liturgy with communion for September 3, 2017 (Pentecost 13/Trinity 12/Proper 17/Ordinary 22 - A)

Texts:  Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26:1-8; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

Call to Worship
Even when we encounter folks who
are mean, dishonest, hateful,
we are called to respond with
that love which is true and sincere.

God calls us to love all people as if
they were our sisters and brothers,
for God seeks to weave us into one family,
tearing down all the barriers between us.

No matter how weary we become
from our loneliness, our struggles, our service,
God challenges us to be patient,
to rejoice, and to never stop praying.

Why should we do all things?
Because we are God's people,
called to lives which are different,
and which make a difference!

Prayer of the Day

God our Creator,
you are alive:
     in the singing of geese flying south,
     in the leaves gently stirring in the breeze,
     in the stars that dance at night.

Jesus, Brother to the poor,
you are in our midst:
     in the lap of a grandmother,
     in the cries of a newborn,
     in the stillness of dawn.

Spirit of God,
you make all our places holy:
     the classrooms where we fidget,
     the sidewalks where we meet neighbors,
     the grass in our backyards.

God in Community, Holy in One,
make us aware of your presence in every moment,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If God is in every person we meet, what does that say about the harmful words we speak, the hurt we cause to others in our lives?  We are invited to bring our faults and foolishness, our brokenness and bitterness to our God, confessing such lives, so we might be made new.  Join me, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     You know us, Watching God.  You know who we are, people who find it easier to hold on to all we do that is wrong, rather that clinging to goodness.  You know what we do, when we ignore the poor, or refuse to live at peace with others.  You know why we do all these things, for we continue to set our minds on all those temptations which insinuate themselves into our lives.
     You do indeed know us all too well, Steadfast Love.  Yet, you continue to be patient with us and forgiving towards us. Yet, you would embrace as we turn towards you in repentance, rather than washing your hands of us.  Yet, you would continue to call us to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, so we might find our life with you.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news for us, my friends.  God remembers us and forgives us, so we might live as people of love and hope.
We will sing our praises to the One who has made us whole.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer, Loving God, feed those who are hungry, as you have fed us with your Word.  May these gifts give those who thirst for hope a cup which is overflowing.  May our gifts be used to welcome all those who are your children, our sisters and brothers in this life.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May our God of goodness be with you.
And also with you.
Offer your hearts to God and rejoice in hope.
We bring them to the One who blesses us with love.
Join in singing thanksgivings to the One who calls us to this feast.
We praise our God who feeds us with peace.

Reaching into your imagination, God of wonder,
you wove that community we call creation:
     your steadfast love swimming in the waters,
     your joy teaching songs to the birds,
     your peace placing stars in the skies.
You made ready your guest room
for those shaped in your likeness,
     but we set our minds on sin's things,
     wanting to walk down the road to death.
You sent prophets to offer us your words
so that they might delight our hearts,
     but we would not even try a taste,
     preferring to party with hypocritical temptation.
You would not wash your sins of us,
but sent your Child into our world,
to be with us, to save us.

With all those who cling to goodness,
with those who long to live in harmony,
we sing aloud our thanksgivings:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who knows us.
All creation rejoices in your hope.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who walks in integrity.
Hosanna in the highest!

In Jesus, you walked faithfully
toward us, God of holiness,
     so we might see your love
     wherever and whenever we looked.
In Jesus, you sat down with those
considered worthless in the world's eyes,
     so we might feast on your words
     of mercy and hope.
In Jesus, your reached out
     to pry us out of Wicked's hands,
     to break Ruthless's grip on us.
In Jesus, you showed us the cost
of delivering us, as he lost his life
so we might be saved by grace.

Because we want to follow Jesus,
because we want to be your people,
we would proclaim our faith:

Taking up his cross, Christ died for us;
overcoming death with life, you raised Christ from the grave;
Christ will come with the angels, to reveal your glory.

Pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the Table,
and on the people being woven
into your community in this place.
As we eat of the bread,
may we find that life of serving
     the poor, the hungry,
     the lost, the hopeless.
As we drink from the cup,
may we find the strength
to lose our selves
     in sharing your peace,
     in giving water to the thirsty,
     in becoming friends with the oppressed.

When this journey through life has ended,
and we gather in your house around your table
with those of every place, and of every time,
we will sing your praises forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Take the love of God into the world.
We will be genuine in sharing this with everyone we meet.
Take the grace of Jesus into your communities.
We will share the joy of those who rejoice, we will mingle our tears with those who weep.
Share the Spirit's community with all this week.
We will welcome everyone, especially those who feel alone and afraid.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Liturgy with communion for August 27, 2017 (Pentecost 12/Trinity 11/Proper 16/Ordinary 21 - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 51:1-6; Psalm 138; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:23-30

Call to Worship
Give thanks to God with all your hearts.
We will hold nothing back from our God.
Sing full-throated praises to our God.
We will join in the chorus of thanksgiving for God's abiding love.
Glorify God and that Word we know as Jesus Christ.
We will worship our God with wonder and joy. 

Prayer of the Day

There are days
when we proclaim you
   a pest,
constantly prodding us
to reach out to others.

There are days
when we say you are
   a fool,
to imagine we
might take up crosses
to follow you.

There are days
when we lament you
   as BrokenHeart,
as your world
grows more violent,
more hurtful,
more hateful.

So, this day,
let us start over
and simply say you are
   our Hope,
   our Peace,
   our Comfort,
   our Guide,
   our Joy,
our God in Community, Holy in One,
to whom we pray as we have been taught
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are so much like Peter.  Jesus tells us what it will take to follow him, and we want to argue.  Jesus shows us the way to the Kingdom and we look for another path.  Let us put down all that keeps us from following Jesus, as we confess our lives to God, praying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We confess our struggle to be transformed into disciples, God of mystery.  The desires of the world would shape us into people you would not recognize.  The demands of our society pull us away from your heart.  Our culture values the rich, the powerful, the successful, but you are on the side of the weak, the poor, the outcast, and the oppressed.
   Forgive us, Merciful God, for looking for you in all the wrong places. Reawaken us with your voice that calls us to service; revive our weary hearts with your vision of creation; refresh our fatigued spirits that we might boldly proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and go forth to serve your people, in Christ's name. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It is so easy to think like the world, that money will give us happiness, that power will earn us grace.  But Paul reminds us that if we think like Christ, and live for others, we will find true freedom.
Not only our minds, but may God transform our hearts and spirits into the likeness of Christ, so we may be faithful disciples.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering

We will not proclaim our faith with our words only, but with our lives and these gifts we offer to you, O God, we pray that others might be transformed by your grace, your hope, and your peace.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Rock of our lives be with you.
And also with you.
I appeal to you to offer your hearts to God.
We lift them to the One who heals their brokenness.
Sing your songs of praise to our God.
We join in choruses of joy and wonder.

You came into the district of chaos,
Innovative God, calling forth
to creation and in the listening
     rivers flowed from the mouths of cisterns,
     coastlands watched for sunrises,
     wild animals looked up into night skies
       as stardust drifted down upon them.
You invited those made in your image
to participate in all this goodness and beauty,
     but we listened to the lies filling sin's mouth
     and chose to conform to those desires.
You sent prophets to teach your ways
     but we chose death's gifts:
     greed, cruelty, fear, and gossip.
You sent Jesus to us
to walk through our troubles
in order to bring us back to you.

With our hearts as well as our voices,
with our hopes as well as our worries,
we will sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of endless love.
All creation joins in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to comfort us.
Hosanna in the highest! 

You are holy, Mighty God,
yet because you worry about the lowly,
your beloved Child came into our midst.
Into those places where lives are wasted,
     he came, to bring hope;
into those barren place that bleach our souls,
   he came, pouring the waters of life
   over us;
into the cold emptiness of death,
     he went, coming forth bearing
     the warmth and life of your
     resurrection promises.

As we would seek to know your will,
as we would consider his life as the model for ours,
we would tell everyone of that mystery called faith:

Christ died, a living sacrifice for all;
 Christ was raised, as you fulfilled your purpose for him;
 Christ will come, even as we wait. 

You reach out your hands to us,
Steadfast Love, offering us the
bread and the cup blessed with
your Spirit of life.
As we eat of the bread,
may we seek to bring healing
to all the broken places of our world:
     Sierra Leone,
     and (local places may be named).
As we drink from the cup,
may we go to all the barren places,
     bringing water to the thirsty,
              food to the hungry,
              community for the lonely.

Then, when all that is finally wears out
and all our fears vanish like smoke,
your redemption will be as fresh
as it was on that first morning,
and we will gather around your Table,
God in Community, Holy in One,
praising you forever and ever.  Amen.

Go out as God's people,
willing to do God's work in the world.
Go out as Christ's disciples,
ready to serve wherever we have the chance.
Go out as the Spirit's hopes,
eager to proclaim peace to all. 

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman