Sunday, August 19, 2018

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for August 26, 2018 (Pentecost 14/Trinity 13/Proper 16/Ordinary 21 - B)

Texts: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18; Psalm 34:15-22; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

 Call to Worship
To abide in you;
to find strength in you;
to worship you in these moments,
we gather, O God.
To challenge the evil around us;
to bring healing to the hurt;
to offer hope to the vulnerable,
we follow, Jesus our Brother.
To learn how to live;
to put away our old gods;
to stick with God in every moment,
we listen, Holy Spirit.

Prayer of the Day
Knowing the words to familiar hymns
and offering a word of welcome to a stranger;
listening to the silly stories of 5-year-olds
and affirming an awkward adolescent;
dancing to soul-filled tunes
and walking a sick neighbor’s dog:
we continue to love you, O God.

Filling a grocery cart for the food pantry
and dropping off supplies for a free health clinic;
living out God’s hopes for others,
rather than giving into the mongers of fear;
cradling the broken heart of the widower
and mending the toddler’s flat tire:
we choose to stick by your side, Servant to all.

Noticing the faithful teachers arms full of supplies
and paying for them out of our own pockets;
taking a lonely neighbor out for lunch
and reconnecting with an old college mate;
refusing to turn our backs on the forgotten
and holding leaders accountable for injustices,
we offer the bread of life, Holy Spirit.

In all ways, with all people, in all moments,
we give thanks to you,
God in Community, Holy in One, 
even as we lift the prayer we are taught, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we could pay attention to our words and actions, we become distracted by our worries, our desires.  Yet God would seek to clothe us in garments of hope and grace, so we might continue to walk in the ways of love and peace.  Let us bring our lives to the One who offers us mercy, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Yes, Watcher of the faithful, we could put on the comfortable shirt of faith, but prefer fear with its frayed cuffs and stains on the front.  We could slip on the loafers of peace, but squeeze into the size-too-small stiff dress shoes of anger.  We could wrap truth around our lives, yet continue to punch holes in the belt of falsehood so it always fits.
     Hear us, Faithful heart, and rescue us from our worst selves.  When we are lonely, you offer us your heart as a refuge.  When we are broken, you knit us back together.  When we are afraid, you promise to draw us into your embrace.  When we are faithless, you continue to call us to follow Jesus the Christ, the only Word we need in the midst of so many hollow promises.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
As God listens to our voices and hearts, our brokenness is gathered up and we are made whole, as mercy and hope fill our lives.
We are forgiven.  We are transformed into new people.  We are clothed with grace and peace, so we may go and serve as God’s people.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these simple gifts transform into shoes for those who have none, into clothes for kids heading off to school, into faith, hope, peace, and grace for all of your children, Holy God.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the feast be with you;
may God also be with you.
We come to the place where God has called us.
We lift up our hearts to the One who mends them.
Here, we are fed with living hope and grace.
And so, we lift our songs of thanksgiving to God.

You listened to the silence of chaos,
Wonder-filled God, and called forth creation.
Yes, there were feathered birds,
   but also faith planted in the hollows of our hearts;
there were porpoises swimming in clear waters,
   as well as peace to shelter us in trouble;
trees grew tall with shade
   and truth whispered to us in the evenings.
All these good and precious gifts
were offered to those in your image,
   but we were seduced by the wiles
   of the Evil One, feasting on moldy lies.
Prophets came to call us back to you
with words, prayers, and challenges,
   but we wished that you would go away
   and leave us alone to our doubts.
That is when you chose to send
your love, your hope, your grace to us
in the One made human like us.

With those who are bold in their faith,
and those who can barely lift their hearts,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who clothes us.
All creation gathers to praise you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Bread of life offered to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Though you are holy, Eternal God,
you would not forsake us to our foolishness
but became bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh.
In Jesus, we hear the tough teachings
of justice for those we would ignore,
   not the easy platitudes of those
   who claim they do not matter.
In Jesus, we are offered the life
which is grounded in your hope and grace,
   not the daily promises of success
   which are pulled out from under us.
In Jesus, we taste the sweetness
of resurrection life and love,
   not the moldy and stale death
   the Evil One tells us is our finish.

As we come to the Table of living bread,
as we prepare to take the cup of grace,
make us bold with that faith which is hard to understand:  

Though the Word was shattered on the cross,
you did not forsake him, Loving God,
but completed the mystery of the gospel
with your resurrection love, offered to all.         

We come to this holy feast, Loving God,
because this is where you want us to be,
gathered with those who like us,
seek to be faithful and not forsake you.
Here, the Spirit is the yeast in
the bread which, though broken, offers life
to those who eat of it, so we might
   share peace with every step we take,
   speak the gospel with every action of our lives,
   stand firm against the injustices around us.
Here, the Spirit is poured into
the cup which, when emptied, fills us so we can
   wrap our arms around the lonely and grieving,
   gather up broken hearts and mend them,
   reunite children separated from their families.

And when we are no longer ambassadors
in chains of hope, grace, and peace,
but are gathered with our sisters and brothers,
we will join in praising you at all times,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen. 

To whom should we go, Holy God,
now that worship is done?
We will go to nurture others with grace.
Where should we go, Holy One of God,
now that the songs have been sung?
We will go to serve those around us,
for you are the Word of hope all need.
Why should we go from this space,
gracious Spirit, where we find life?
We will go to gather who are lonely,
all who hunger for community.  

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, August 17, 2018

Liturgy with communion for August 26, 2018 (Pentecost 14/Trinity 13/Proper 16/Ordinary 21 - B)

Texts: 1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10-11, 22-30), 41-43; Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

 Call to Worship
Jesus said: 'I am the Bread of Life . . .
whoever eats this Bread will always live.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to swallow.
Jesus said: 'Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God
like a child shall not enter it.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to hear.
Jesus said to all he met: 'Follow me.'
We have accepted Jesus, and seek to be faithful,
no matter how tough it is to follow him.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Home of all who seek you:
may you find in our hearts paths to walk,
wandering with us through dark valleys,
dipping us in pools of living water,
lifting our faces to the grace
falling softly upon us.

Loving Lord,
Speaker of tough words:
we would wish for an easy life
as we follow you to our Home.
Help us to see that when we mop floors,
we find our meaning;
when we hammer nails,
we discover our hope;
when we embrace the sick,
we touch our healing.

Spirit of Strength,
Bearer of our prayers,
we would ask for:
the strength
to say 'yes'
when 'no' is on our lips;
the wisdom
to welcome all
into our hearts;
the longing
to be with you

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray together,
as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If it was easy to follow Jesus, we would not need to ask for forgiveness. But it is tough - tough to say 'yes,' tough to be graceful, tough to be loving. Yet whatever we do, God loves us enough to forgive us and to feed us with the Bread of Life. Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     God, our sun and shield: we may long to be in your house, but our deeds show how tough it is for us to live there. Called to follow, we search for paths to take us back to our old ways; given the words of eternal life, we weakly proclaim the gospel to others; offered the path of salvation to walk upon, we stumble down the rocky roads of our world.
     Forgive us, Guardian of our lives. Strengthen us with your Spirit, so we may serve your people with all that brings them life. Let your Word, Jesus Christ, the One we have come to believe and know is our Lord and Savior, be confirmed in us in every word, every deed, every thought, every moment in the days to come.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Today, receive the Bread of Life;
today, hear the words of eternal hope;
today, trust in the One who hears your prayers,
and showers grace and forgiveness upon you.
Today, we are set free to serve God's people, and to sing God's praises. Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Take our gifts, Gracious God, and use them to put shoes on blistered feet, to put garments of grace around the hopeless, to touch hurting bodies with healing hands, and to share the gospel with everyone we meet.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord, our Host, be with you!
And also with you!
Blessed are those whose hearts know the way to the kingdom.
Our hearts are filled with life itself
as we seek to follow Jesus.
Blessed are those who sing praises to God.
Trusting in the One who calls us here,
we sing our joy and love to God.

Early morning rains created pools
filled with the sweet waters of life
on that day of wonder and goodness
we call creation, God of our joy.
You shaped a garden
here we might always find you,
you offered hope to all who trusted you.
But we found your words too hard,
and the promises of sin too easy,
your road to peace was too long,
and death's path was so short.
Through the ambassadors of your word
you spoke, that we might know your name
and return to your heart.
But we were offended by their speech,
and went from sin to sin.
So, you sent Jesus to us,
the bread come down from heaven
to lead us back to you.

So, with those who have always known your name,
and those who have heard it for the first time,
we join our voices in praise and song:

Holy, holy, holy are you, our God and our Creator.
Heaven and highest heaven cannot contain you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes with words of eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of steadfast love,
and blessed is Jesus, the Holy One of God.
Trusting your heart,
he poured out his love for us
in every miracle, in every conversation.
Trusting your words,
he told us of lost children welcomed
with open arms,
of outsiders who live out your grace.
Trusting you, Keeper of the covenant,
he would not live in the tents of evil,
but lived in your hope and peace.
Trusting your grace,
he journeyed to the cross
to defeat the power of death,
to be raised to new life,
so you might look upon the faces
of your beloved children.

As we gather to remember his life and death,
as we celebrate the wonder of the resurrection,
we make known the mystery of the gospel:

Christ died, so we might have peace;
Christ is risen, so we might live forever;
Christ will come again, so we may live
     in God's house for all eternity.

How lovely is your Table of grace, God of mercy,
the simple gifts of the bread and cup
transformed by your love,
your Spirit of joy and hope filling
your people who come to your feast.
The bread of heaven feeds us with life,
so we might go from person to person,
bringing relief where there is pain,
bringing hope where there is despair.
The cup of grace is filled
with deep pools of your hope,
so we might go to all the places
of worry, anger, and discord,
to share your peace for all people.

And when that day with you
which will never end finally begins,
when we are gathered with our sisters
and brothers from every time and place,
we will sing for joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go now, to share God's strength.
We will do so by embracing the weakness of others.
Let us go now, to be as alert as Jesus.
We will do so by noticing the brokenness all around us.
Let us go now, to share the life of the Spirit.
We will do so by receiving the bread of life from the poor.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Alternate texts liturgy with communion for August 19, 2018 (Pentecost 13/Trinity 12/Proper 15/Ordinary 20 - B)

Texts:  Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34:9-14; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

Call to Worship
With voices and instruments,
with hearts and with hands,
we play music for our God.
At all times, with each person;
in ever place, through every moment,
we give thanks in the name of Jesus.
Turning away from evil, doing good at every chance;
seeking peace, and sharing hope everywhere,
we will walk in the Spirit’s way.

Prayer of the Day
Rainbows replacing thunder and lightning
on stormy, summer days;
snowpeople slowly dripping into puddles
on winter afternoons;
meteor showers crossing night skies
to enthrall sleepy-eyed gazers:
we watch in wonder and joy
at the gifts of your creation, 
Imaginative God.

Stubborn enough to believe 
that children should not be separated
from their parents;
speaking love and grace
to those whose hate-filled words
drip with bile and bitterness;
digging in your heels
until justice becomes the right
of each and every person:
we watch in hope and grace,
even as we seek the courage to join you,
Servant of God’s people. 

Shaper of words which
we can sing to offer comfort
to everyone around us;
the peace which we chase after
until you turn around 
and sweep us up in your arms;
we watch in silent awe
as you lay the path for us to walk,
Wisdom who teaches us all we need.

As we watch you move and work among us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift the prayer you have taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are convinced that God watches us, just waiting to catch us using the wrong words, doing the dumb thing, hanging out with the trouble-makers.  But the truth is, God watches in love, in hope, in grace – just waiting to forgive us whenever we mess up.  Let us bring out messy lives to God, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   It is not easy to admit, Watching God, but we are not very careful with our lives.  We could find a home in your heart, but seem to stay in the Airbnb run by fear.  We could sip the Spirit’s best vintage, yet get drunk on cheap bottles of bitterness.  We could learn your ways of wise choices, but prefer sin’s silly paths.
   Forgive us, God of mercy.  Remind us that we no longer need to live in the old ways, or to yearn for those good ol’ days.  But we are free to listen to your hopes, to learn from your heart, and to walk with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Are you watching what God does, as love embraces us, as grace forgives us, and hope gives us the wisdom to walk in God’s ways?
Our God restores our lives with the peace of the Spirit, so we may feast on the gifts of mercy and grace offered to us by the Bread of heaven.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts to you, O God, may we not stand by thinking we need only watch you go to work.  But may we join you in feeding the hungry, in offering a welcome to outsiders, and building communities of peace and justice.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of life be with you,
and with you in these moments.
Let us lift our hearts to God with joy.
God promises to fill us with all good things.
We will join together in praising our God.
We lift our hearts and voices in songs of glad thanksgiving.

Ducks waddling down to ponds,
children imagining games on summer evenings,
meteor showers which are worth staying awake to watch –
these and so many good and beautiful wonders
sprang from your creative mind, God of surprises.
They were not for your enjoyment alone,
but gifted to those formed in your image,
   yet we wear ourselves out chasing evil,
   and believing the easy promises of sin.
Your words dwelt in the prophets you sent,
and they could not contain them, but
offered them to us time and again,
   yet we could not set aside our childish ways,
   and wandered down paths paved with foolishness.
That is why you came to us in Jesus,
to abide in us, so we would know
your love and hopes for us.

With those who desire what you want,
with those who struggle to follow,
we lift our voices in songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who builds our hearts.
All creation reveres you in every moment.  
Hosanna in the highest!  

Blessed is the Living Bread who feeds us with your grace.  
Hosanna in the highest!  

In these moments of holiness
offered by your generous heart, O God,
may we come to learn words of hope,
   so we will no longer whisper evil;
may we listen to the cries 
of the lonely and forgotten,
   so we may welcome them
   as our sisters and brothers;
may we learn that,
in your unimaginable suffering, 
  sin has lost its grip on us, 
  and death’s power is broken forever,
  by the unexpected gift 
  of resurrecting love of the One
  rejected by a world of anger and fear.

As we continue to live in these ordinary days,
as we reflect on the extraordinary life of Jesus,
may we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Jesus came, so grace might abide in us;
Jesus died, so sin would no longer control us;
Jesus was raised, so resurrection hope would live in our hearts;
Jesus will come, so we might dwell with you forever.

We gather at this Feast of love,
as you pour out your Spirit 
on the bread and the cup which have been prepared
to bring life and hope to all your children.
This is the living Bread which, though broken,
   heals those broken by fear,
   rebuilds hearts crumbled by rejection,
   creates communities from those who were once enemies.
This is the cup of grace which, when imbibed,
   nourishes us to bearers of hope to the despairing,
   opens our hearts to welcome the refugees,
   transforms our bitter hearts into vessels of peace.

And when that time which began at creation
comes to an end and we are gathered
with our sisters and brothers at the Table of the Lamb,
we will give thanks to you in every moment, for everything,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

YOU ARE grace and wonder, God of our lives,
and so, we will go to offer mercy to everyone we meet.
to share your good news in every place.
YOU ARE the Bread of Life, Jesus of our hearts.
and so, we will go to feed those whose stomach ache for food,
and whose souls hunger for hope and justice.
YOU ARE the Wisdom which builds communities, Holy Spirit,
and so, we will go to gather all rejected by our society,
to welcome them into our hearts and lives.

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, August 10, 2018

Liturgy with communion for August 19, 2018 (Pentecost 13/Trinity 12/Proper 15/Ordinary 20 - B)

Texts:  1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

 Call to Worship
For cool mornings and rumbling afternoon storms,
for amazing days and even more ordinary evenings,
for deep friendships and shallow wading pools:
we give thanks to God!
For the laughing God who tickles us with joy,
for the broken-hearted Love who joins in our struggles:
we give thanks to God at all times!
For the Bread of heaven who feeds us hope,
for the Spirit of grace who teaches us to dance:
we give thanks to God at all times and for everything!

Prayer of the Day

We long to worship
in high-vaulted cathedrals,
our songs and prayers
echoing the deep sighs
of the saints cradled in the stone.
Yet you, unpredictable Creator,
you compose a canticle
with the gentle drops of rain
on a tin-roofed shelter.

We long to worship
beside the high and famous,
rubbing shoulders with those
clothed in power, wealth, renown.
But you, quirky Redeemer,
you we find sitting at the gutter,
huddling in the shadowed doorway,
curled up on a sidewalk grate
with your long-lost kin.

We long to worship
with drums pounding
and the amps turned up
so high our hearts tremble.
And you, fanciful Spirit,
you would draw us into
that still, silent, sacred
space called peace.

We long to worship you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We would follow Jesus, but sometimes it seems that we do not know how to go out in faith, or come in out of the shadows of life. The One who has sent the Bread of life to us is the God who is just and true, longing to grace us with mercy. Please join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We try to be so careful, Faithful God, yet we make so many mistakes. We think we are so wise, yet do not understand the simple wonder of a child. We spend so little time in your presence, and ask why we do not know your dreams for us. We long to be good, upright people, but find our hearts tripping over the temptations of the world.
     Have mercy, Covenant Keeper, and be gracious to us. As you continue to teach us of your hopes, your dreams, your love for us, may we practice what we learn, as we follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in faith.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Out of our lives laced with foolish mistakes and unwise choices, God is able to weave a tapestry of grace, forgiveness, and healing.
God has sent redemption for all, God has fed us with the healing bread of life. At all times, and for every grace, we give thanks to God in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
By your grace, Holy God, our gifts become the bread which feeds the hungry, become the water which drought ravaged lands need, become a community for the lonely, become medical missions for those battling disease and worries.  By your grace, Holy God, may we offer more and more as your feed us with the Bread of life.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of joy be with you!
And also with you!
At this Table, God speaks grace to us.
We offer our listening hearts so we hear these words of life.
In this company of faithful followers of Jesus, give thanks.
In this moment, and always, we sing praises to our Steadfast Love.

All praise is due to you, Amazing God,
for your great works we call creation.
Grace flowed out of your heart,
its gentleness woven into
the light, the earth, the air;
peace rested upon all that was shaped
out of your unpredictable imagination,
all that lived and breathed touched by
the wisdom of your Spirit.
You formed humanity in your image,
that we might bear witness to you,
but we could not discern between
good and evil, choosing to follow
death and sin out of your presence.
You asked your servants, the prophets,
to teach us your ways and will,
but we did not have understanding minds.
So, in grace and mercy, you sent Jesus,
the living bread come down from heaven
that we might have eternal life with you.

So, with the wise and the unwise,
the foolish and the faithful of every time,
we join our voices to sing our thanks:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who teaches us to walk in faith.
All hearts in creation sing praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Living Bread which came down from heaven.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Awesome God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Living Bread.
When he could have remained
in the high places of glory with you,
he became fully human,
walking the paths of pain,
drinking the brackish waters of rejection,
eating the stale bread of our broken promises.
When he could have been careful,
he threw his fears to the wind,
taking up his cross to embrace death,
rising from the grave to lead us to eternal life.

As we gather to eat at your Table of remembrance,
as we give thanks for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ,
we point to that mystery of grace called faith:

Christ died, the Bread which will live forever;
Christ was raised, on the first day of new life;
Christ will come for us, so we may abide in God's kingdom forever.

It is not in the high places
but here at this Table graced
with the common loaf and the graced cup
that we find your promises kept,
and your Spirit poured out upon us.
You offer us the Bread of heaven,
broken that we might be made whole,
to us, so that filled with grace,
we might go to find all those
whose hopes have been foreclosed.
You touch the Cup of life,
poured out for our renewal,
to our lips, to our hands, to our hearts,
so that we might be transformed
into servants to all the world.

And when all your works have come to fruition,
when all your children are gathered around you,
we will lift our voices, singing praises to you,
through all time, and for all good things you have done,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Fed with words of grace and hope,
let us go to bring the Bread of life to our world.
Called to be faithful as followers of Jesus,
let us go to share justice and hope with all.
Touched by the Spirit of wonder in these moments,
let us go to bring peace to the broken.

(c) Thom M. Shuman