Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Day liturgy with communion

Texts:  Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:1-20

Call to Worship
In snow-capped churches,
and on sand-strewn beaches,
God’s people gather in joy
to celebrate a birth.
With hopes littering our hearts
like wrapping paper under a tree,
We offer our thanks and praise
for the gift of grace swaddled in love.
With eyes wide open like little children,
with hearts full of wonder and laughter,
We join our lives with Mary and Joseph,
with the shepherds who ran to tell the good news.

Christmas Morning Prayer
Grace dawned this morning,
   streaking our bleary eyes
   with bright shafts
   of beauty and goodness.

Joy sang us awake
with carols of wonder
   written by the shepherds,
   the tunes composed by children
      who could not sleep.
Hope was fixing breakfast
for us while we slept,
   toasting the Bread and
   slathering it with jam,
      pouring us a cuppa
      steaming grace.
We rejoice and give thanks
God in Community, Holy in One,
our Grace, our Joy, our Hope,
even as we pray as your Child taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
On this morning of love and joy, of laughter and families, we must remember and confess how we dampen the spirits of others, speak hurtful words to those we love, turn our backs on those in need.  Join me, as we pray together saying,

 Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Manger-dwelling God,
      we heard the songs of the angels,
         yet we easily tune-out the cries of the needy;
      we feel the breath of our children on our faces,
         yet remain untouched by your Spirit of peace;
      we are surrounded by gifts as precious as those
      brought by the Wise Ones,
         yet have trouble sharing with those
         who are from other countries, other faiths.
   Forgive us, Grace swaddled in mystery.
      We believe in Christmas,
         help us to believe in you even more;
      we hunger for happiness,
         feed us on your peace;
      we long for community and acceptance,
         surround us with our brothers and sisters
         we find in all those, of every age and every place,
         who follow and serve alongside our Lord and Savior,
         Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this day.  Amen.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Born that day was grace – for the broken and bereft;
born that day was hope – for the vulnerable and forgotten;
born that day was love – for all of us!
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  We will go to tell others of all we have seen, heard, experienced, and know.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we share be from the heart, just as yours was that day, God of Bethlehem.  ay they serve those who look for welcome,
those who struggle with loss and grief,
those who need to be blessed by hope
This we pray in the name of your Child, Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Now, may Bethlehem’s Child bless you!
And also bless you!
Now, may the children of God open their hearts.
We offer them to the One who loves us each and every morning.
Now, may we join in the songs of the angels.
We join our voices with those of every time and place.
In the silenced night of chaos,
creation rejoiced with the carols of wonders
you had composed, God of surprises:
   as joy sparkled in the sky,
   as rivers swarmed with fish,
   as turtles plodded through meadows.
The Word gently gathered up earth’s dust
and the Spirit breathed life into those
shaped in your image, so we might
be at peace and be with you in joy.
   But we were tempted by sin’s decorations
   and death’s commercials of life without you. 
Time and again, you sent folks to call us home.
Miriam and Micah, Ruth and Habakkuk
spoke of your hopes for of us,
   yet we found rebellion the better
   road to take in our journey through the years.
Finally, you chose to offer yourself
in that Child born into poverty,
that little One who would strengthen all.
With those who gathered on that first morning,
with all who have celebrated with songs and service,
we sing carols of praise to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all turned away by the world.
Creation joins the angels in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who clears the Way for us to walk.
Hosanna in the highest!
In the silence of the night, God of holiness,
your Child crept in among us,
so small no one would notice,
so poor no one would care.
But those who are forgotten by the world,
   like shepherds and the disabled,
   come to worship, and to tell us the good news.
Those who have no money to their name,
   gift us with their hopes and love,
   even as he did so long ago.
Those children who are overlooked by culture,
   sing to us of the One given to us,
      so we might find our way home;
   of the One who gives himself to death,
   so resurrection love might destroy sin’s power,
      and we might be swaddled in grace.
On this morning when we celebrate his birth,
in the days to come when we follow him to Jerusalem,
we sing carols of that mystery we call faith:
Christ was born, so we might have life;
Christ died, so we might have forgiveness;
Christ was raised, so we might have resurrection;
Christ will be born again, to gather us together with him.
In the silence of these holy moments,
pour out your Spirit upon
those gathered on this morning
and on the gifts of the Feast of Joy.
As we are welcomed here,
   may we remember and include
   all rejected by the world.
As we are fed by the bread,
   may we be strengthened
   to go and bring tangible hope
   to all who are famished by despair.
As we drink from grace’s cup,
   nourish us, so we may go
   to overflow with love and peace
   for everyone we meet in every season.
And when all history and time ends in silence,
and we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
around the feast of the lamb,
we will join the angels in singing carols to your forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.              
Let us go,
to join the angels in singing
of God’s glory and grace.
Let us go to share the good news,
that Jesus, the brother
of the vulnerable and forgotten
is in our midst still.
Let us go to offer
peace and goodwill to everyone,
joining the Spirit in telling
of all we have seen and heard.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Christmas Eve liturgy with communion

Texts: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Call to Worship
With eyes wide open
and our ears on edge,
we look for shepherds
and listen for the songs of angels.
In the light of winter’s moon,
with the Southern Cross lighting the way,
we gather outside the door of a mystery,
wondering if we dare go enter.
With folks and friends we love,
with strangers we have just met,
we gather, becoming the holy family
for this time and in this place.
Christmas Eve Prayer
Now in the silence,
   whisper of joy which comes
   into every life.
Now in the comfort of carols,
   sing of hope which
   takes away the despair
   which envelops us.
Now in familiar words heard anew,
   speak to us of grace
   which is born into barren lives,
      of peace which is birthed
      in war’s shadowed fears.
Now leaning next to those
who have always been a part of us,
and those from whom we have been apart,
   remind us of your heart
   which always accepts us,
   always welcomes us.
Now in the love which is ours forever,
   draw us closer to your heart,
   so we can be surprised by wonder,
                         swaddled in serenity,
                         embraced by tenderness.
Now touch us once again with Christmas,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we join in praying as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
This is the night we are reminded that God loves to be with us.  Yet all too often – by our choices, our words, our silence – we choose not to be with Go.  Join me as we pray on this holy night to the One who was born to gift us with mercy and hope.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   This was going to be the year, God of silent nights, when we were going to give away more than we spent, but we didn’t.  This was going to be the season when we spent more time with others, but we filled our calendars with meetings.  This was going to be the Christmas when we wrote personal letters to friends and family, but spent too much energy filling out our to-do lists.  This was going to be a truly holy season, but it just got to harried and hurried.
   Forgive us, Love Gifter, and draw us closer to the Baby born not into wealth and power, but into poverty and weakness; to the One who loves unconditionally and welcomes all; to the Child who gathers other children to him, to bless them and serve them; to the One who drew near to us, so we might be drawn to your heart – Jesus Christ, our Brother, our Lord.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Into the valleys of our death, Jesus comes with life;
into the shadows of our world, Jesus brings light;
into the brokenness of our lives, Jesus brings forgiveness and peace.
Thanks be to God for the gift of the Baby of Bethlehem, who brings joy and peace to us in these moments of forgiveness and in all the days to come.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Now, on this night of giftedness, remind us of those who struggle to put food on the table, to buy a single gift for their child, to wrap a warm blanket around a grandparent, so we might realize how blessed we are and share from our abundance.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of silent nights be with you!
May the God of herald angels be with you!
Open your hearts to the One born in the little town of Bethlehem.
May Emmanuel come to abide in our hearts.
Join all believers in singing of our joy this night.
May our voices blend with those of the angels and shepherds.
You crept into chaos so long ago,
so creation might be born:
   sheep gathering on hillsides,
   stars glittering in the night skies,
   sea horses frolicking in warm waters.
Silently, you gathered up the dust,
shaping us in your image
as the Spirit breathed life into us.
All the gifts of your heart were for us,
   but we slammed the door of our hearts,
   saying there was no room for you in our lives.
Prophets came time and again,
scattering your clues throughout the Story,
   but we were too busy enjoying
   the sleights of hand done by sin and death.
When you saw we could not
understand the Mystery on our own,
you sent Jesus, to reveal everything to us.
As we gather with children dressed in bathrobes,
as we join with the voices around us,
we sing praises to you this Christmas night:
We will not be afraid,
   for great joy is ours this night;
we will look for the signs of your presence,
   grace swaddled in hope,
   love wrapped around broken hearts.
Glory to you, God in the highest heavens!
May peace fill the lives of all your children!
Leaving your side, God of holiness,
your Child came to walk with us
through the cold streets of our lives.
Born in poverty’s shadows,
   he is the light which illumines
   your heart for us.
Unwrapped from glory’s embrace,
   he gathers us from all the corners
   of our confused choices to make us one with you.
Placed in a rude feeding trough
layered with our fears and doubts,
   he breathes in your hopes
   and lives your will, until
      he is placed in death’s cold embrace,
      waiting in the silence,
   where he breathes in resurrection’s breath,
   and brings forth life for all who follow.
On this night, when we sing of the baby in the manger,
as the shadow of the cross is cast by the stars,
we proclaim that mystery called incarnation:
Christ is our light,
   and we will join the angels in singing the good news;
Christ is our life,
   and we will join the disciples in telling the Story;
Christ is our promise,
   and we wait for the joy of his return.
Here in the silence and the singing,
with children, carols, and candlelight,
we gather around the Table of joy,
as you pour out your Spirit upon
the most precious gifts of bread and cup.
As we feast upon the bread,
we remember a young pregnant girl,
   and would serve those who are expecting,
      those who cannot have a child,
      those who have lost children.
As we drink from the cup,
we think of a worried father,
   and would be with those who assemble toys this night,
       as well as those who will work this night
       to pay for food and medicine for their families.
As we are surrounded by family and friends,
we would care for
   those whose closest companion is loneliness,
   those separated from loved ones,
   those who hear no music, joy, or hope in their lives.
And when all time and history becomes silence,
we will be gathered with our sisters and brothers
from Bethlehem and Belfast, from Cairo and Chicago,
from Cape Town and Istanbul, from Sydney and Shanghai,
from every corner and moment of every universe,
to join the angel choirs in forever singing your praises
as we dance to the Table of wonder and grace,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.      
Let us go to be the gift another needs,
sharing God’s blessings of love and grace,
running to tell the Story we heard from the shepherds.
Let us go to be the comfort which can swaddle others,
sharing Jesus’ compassion with the poor and needy,
welcoming the holiness offered by the most vulnerable we meet.
Let us go to enkindle the lives around us,
sharing the Spirit’s peace with all the broken,
learning the language of hope from the children in our midst.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy w/communion for December 24, 2017 (Advent 4 - B)

Texts: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Call to Worship
O come, early morning Mist:
slowly moving over our lives
to swaddle us in your peace,
as we seek to walk through these moments.
O come, gently falling Grace:
calming us in this season
that has gotten so out of control
we cannot hear the angels sing,
or see the shepherds pointing the way.
O come, Walker with the winds:
bring cooling peace
to our over-heated fears
of the future;
knock us off our feet
so we can make angels in the snow
with all the kids around us.   
O come, Flinger of galaxies,
so that as we gaze on them
in the silence of holiness,
our path to Bethlehem,
as well as your heart,
might be illuminated for us
O Come, Imagination beyond compare,
as you gather us up
with all of creation
to dance with joy around
the wonder of your love.
O come to us, and live with us,
this day and forever, Immanuel.
O come!

Prayer of the Day
Wherever we have been,
you were with us,
Architect of the Universe;
wherever we are,
you are constantly at our side,
Shelter of our hearts;
wherever we are going,
you are there waiting for us,
Builder of our future.

Above the din of violence and war,
you whisper to us of reconciliation:
Prince of Peace.
Into lives which are barren
and filled with the ashes of disappointment,
you come singing of newness:
Hope of Heaven.
Where the oppressed are captive to our greed
and the poor have nothing to eat,
you come to set all of us free
and to feed everyone at your Table,
Servant of the lost.

When we are afraid of tomorrow,
push us into God's Advent:
when we believe no one loves us,
sing Bethlehem's lullaby to our souls;
when we doubt our ability
to be the children of God,
infuse us with your gifts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
remind us that there is nothing you cannot do,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Advent is the time to prepare;
Advent is the time to watch and wait;
Advent is the time to open our hearts to God,
as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
We watch for packages to arrive
and Christmas cards to be delivered,
    but we do not keep our eyes open
    for your coming, Approaching God.
We expect our Christmas 'wish list' to be filled,
and for the pile under the tree to grow and grow,
    but we hope you do not expect
    to transform our lives.
We notice where to find the best bargains,
and what decorations our neighbors have put on their houses,
    but we do not notice
    the little, the least, the lost, the last
    walking down our streets.

Forgive us, Saving God, for our misplace priorities.
May we watch for your coming,
may we reach out to those in need,
may we wait for hope to come,
even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
arrives to live in our hearts.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The good news is made known to all people:
Christ Jesus was born to save us from our sins.
Glory and praise to the only wise God, who fills us with healing and hope.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these gifts be signs of the yes we would say to you, not only in this season, but in all the days to come.  May they bring hope to those who have always had doors slammed in their faces and NO! pounded in their ears, so they will know your love and grace are gifts for them as well.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May salvation's Rock be with you.
And with you as well.
God comes to fill our hearts in these moments.
We offer them, for they are empty of wonder and grace 
in this season of stress and worry.
Rejoice in that love of God which never ends.
With our lips, as well as our hearts, we praise God.

Into the repeated "no's" of chaos,
you whispered Yes, God of wonder,
creation tumbling forth for all:
   tall pines kissing the sky,
   dolphins leaping from seas,
   swallows nesting in barns.
You offered all these gifts to those
who were shaped in your image,
   but we preferred the negativity of sin,
   longing to be comforted by death.
Prophets, like Nathan and Mary,
came to remind us of your presence
in our lives, your hopes for all of us,
   but we continued to try to build
   our own ways of being, of doing.
So, you sent your Child to us,
to sing of your never-ending love for us
in the bleak moments of our lives.

With all those who have said Yes to you,
with all who struggle to learn the word,
we offer our praises in this moment:

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, God of new birth.
All creation joins in singing your praises.
Glory to God in the highest!

Blessed is the One who came to teach us to say, Yes!
Peace on earth; God's favor on all.

When we thought your holiness kept you distant,
God of shepherds and angels,
you spoke your Yes to us in Jesus,
who came to be our Brother, our Savior.
A worker with wood,
   he came to help us rebuild shattered dreams;
a weaver of stories,
   he came to share your words of grace and hope;
a healer of wounds and worries,
   he came to spread the balm of love over us;
a heart which beat as one with yours,
   he came to have his stilled on the cross,
   his life and spirit brought to the end
      by the brutality of fear and death,
   only to show that the journey called resurrection
   could not be delayed, as he came out of the tomb,
to offer us your life.

As we draw closer to Bethlehem,
as we seek to hear the angels and follow the shepherds,
we would tell of the revelation of your mystery in Jesus:

Jesus was born, to live, to be, to die with us;
Jesus was raised, so we would know that death has no power;
Jesus will come, your final Yes to all our doubts and worries.

As we long to say Yes to your great love,
we gather at the Table, praying your will
pour out your Spirit on us and the feast prepared.
Though broken, the bread can make us
strong enough to say No
   to the builders of unjust systems;
   to the bullies who stalk our world;
   to the braggarts who deceive with false words.
Though just a cup, your grace fills us
with the courage to say Yes
   to the hurting asking for medicine;
   to the lonely longing for a family;
   to the hungry who ask to be fed.

And when your realm of grace is finally complete,
you will lay down your tools of reconciliation and peace,
gathering all from every time and place,
seating us around your table,
where we will sing Gloria to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, with God's love,
the only tool we need to bring hope to the world.
Go now, with the grace of Jesus,
the only tool we need to offer love to others.
Go now, with the peace of the Spirit,
the only tool we need to mend the brokenness around us.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 08, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for December 17, 2017 (Advent 3 - B)

Texts:Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Call to Worship
When God restores our fortune,
our dreams will come true.
We will sing "Glory!" to our God;
we will rejoice in our Savior's birth.
Our mouths shall be filled with laughter;
joy shall chime from our lips.
God has made it clear:
those who serve are God's children.
Then we will proclaim:
'look what the Lord has done':
so others will know beyond any doubt
how the Holy One has blessed us with hope.
We wept  -  now we will cheer "Joy!  Joy!"
We were lost - now we will run home laughing.
For God has picked us up where we fell;
God has kept the promises made so long ago.

Prayer of the Day
Lover of justice:
you flex your righteousness,
   and scatter evil to the wind;
you plant hope in our hearts
   and reap a bumper crop;
you wipe away the tears
from our eyes,
   and anoint us with joy's oil.

Servant of God:
you bandage our souls
   as you take our wounds upon yourself;
you set us free from sin,
   by being bound to the cross;
you console the grieving,
   by carrying death
   to its resting place.

Spirit of Passion:
when sin strips us of life,
   clothe us in salvation's finery;
when we are deafened
by the peddlers of fear,
   whisper the Good News to us;
when we shiver in death's winter,
   wrap us in the shawl of hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
anoint us with your grace,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God's promise to us is eternal.  God wishes to bless us with hope, with joy, with life.  But our desires lead us to reject God and these blessings.  Let us confess how too often we choose the path of tears, rather than the joy which can lead us to God's heart.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
   We try not to do any evil, Anointing God, but it is so hard to let go of those little things we enjoy - gossiping about the pregnant girl in the neighborhood; making light of the accomplishments of a co-worker; daydreaming about someone else's partner.
   Forgive us, Loving God.  You have freely given us salvation, yet we act as if we are the ones who paid for it.  Help us to rejoice always in your grace, and to give thanks in every moment for that life we receive through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept   
Assurance of Pardon
Go, and take God's Good News to others:
   to those held captive by sin;
   to those cradling broken hearts;
   to those grieving lost relationships.
God forgives us all and makes us new.
Even as we rejoice in God's mercy, we will tell everyone we meet, "God has done such wondrous things for us, and wants to do the same for you!"  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer in these moments be light for those in the shadows of society, be food for those who hunger, refreshment for those parched by life, and hope for all who cry out to you, O God.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of peace be with you.
And also with you.
May the Prince of peace fill your hearts.
We open them to the healing and hope offered in these moments.
May the Spirit of peace teach you new songs of joy.
We will learn them, so we can sing without ceasing.

Creation took place in chaos,
Gardener of glory,
as you spoke of life and beauty
and your Spirit anointed with
   food enough to feed the hungry,
   stars scattered over desert skies,
   seeds of hope growing into forests of justice.
You offered all these gifts
to those created in your image,
inviting us to live with you,
   but we only gave answers
   to the foolish questions of sin and death.
Time and again, you sent prophets,
women and men anointed by the Spirit,
   yet we despised their words,
   believing their voices to be hollow.
Then, so your mercy might stretch
from age to every age,
you sent Jesus into our midst,
the sign of your grace which never ends.

As we gather for your feast this day,
as we would be bathed in joy's oil,
praises tumble out from our hearts:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the everlasting covenant.
All creation sings gladness to you.
Glory to God in the highest!

Blessed is the Lover of justice who comes to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your holiness took place in humanity,
God who sees us for who we are,
as your Child was born into poverty.
Your word of love,
   he came to speak hope to the oppressed,
   not tell them to wait patiently.
Your anointing oil of life,
   he came to heal our wounds,
   not to pick at the scabs.
Your incomparable compassion,
   he came to wipe our tears,
   not to make us grieve.
Your repairer of our brokenness,
   he came to knock down
   the walls of death,
rebuilding them into the bridge
we cross to resurrection love.

As we draw closer to the celebration of his birth,
as we long to follow Jesus beyond Bethlehem,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, to scatter the arrogance of death;
Christ was raised, picking up resurrection and
   carrying it into the new dawn;
Christ will return, as your love stretches
   to the end of time.

Life takes place here and now,
as you pour out your Spirit
upon those gathered around the Table,
and on the gifts prepared for the meal.
The bread which is broken,
not only feeds us, but gives us the compassion
to hear the voices of those crying
   in the wilderness of want,
   in the deserts of despair,
   in the forests of fear,
   in the hollowness of hate.
The cup of grace touches us
so we will not douse the Spirit, but be
   voices of justice,
   repairers of poverty's potholes,
   lock-pickers of addiction's cells,
   weavers of garments of kindness.

And when you gather us with our sisters
and brothers at the end of time,
we will be fed by your gifts
as we rejoice without ceasing,
praising you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The God who makes everything whole,
sends us forth to bring healing to the broken-hearted
and to comfort the mourners in our midst.
The Christ who comes to be with us,
sends us forth to stand with the oppressed,
to release those held captive by sin,
to invite the lonely into our lives.
The Spirit who calls you to faithfulness,
sends us forth to proclaim the gospel
that today is God's moment,
the day when all people will be blessed.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman


Friday, December 01, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for December 10, 2017 (Advent 2 - B)

Texts:  Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

Call to Worship
Listen to what the Lord our God says to us:
Peace is God's hope for us;
salvation is God's gift to us.

See what the Lord our God reveals to us:
righteousness is the path to the kingdom;
faithfulness is the highway we build.

Tell what the Lord our God asks us to speak:
prepare God's way;
the Christ is coming to redeem us.

Prayer of the Day
Comfort of the ages,
you come:
so you can fill our empty places
with your hope;
so you can level our pride
with your call to servant the vulnerable;
so you can smooth our toughened hearts
with your tenderness.

Herald of Good News:
when we hunger for exaltation,
you feed us with humility;
when we trip over sin,
you gather us up in love;
when we become satisfied with our faith,
you shake us with your Messenger.

Spirit of Advent:
in this hectic season,
give us the gift of patience;
when we overflow with stress,
soothe us with your serenity;
when we are overwhelmed
with the desire for more and more,
speak to us of the needs of the outsiders.

God in Community, Holy in One,
surround us with your presence,
and fill us with your love,
as we lift the prayer taught to us by Jesus, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God comes!  Let us prepare the way.
God comes to forgive us!  Let us prepare
our hearts as we confess our sins, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We confess that whatever our fine might have been that it has been paid, God
of Comfort, yet we still insist on earning our way into your heart.  We confess that you are beyond patient with us, but wish you would act quickly against those who hurt us.  We confess that while your word will stand forever, it is our words of pain and anger that cause long term harm to others.
   Your Messenger has come, Approaching God, crying out of your forgiveness and hope.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, you speak to us: not of punishment, but of peace; not of judgment, but of justice; not of a sentence, but salvation.  And we offer our hearts in thanksgiving and hope.

Silence is kept       

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the Good News God speaks to you:
   I love you;
        I forgive you;
            I restore you to new life.
We will not ignore the fact that God comes: not to condemn, but to comfort us; not to
scold, but to speak tenderly to us of hope, of love, of joy.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We pray, Holy God, that our gifts might smooth the path of those who walk in grief, might surround the grieving with comfort, might feed the hungry, and bring others into places of peace and safety.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
(preceded by singing verses 1 & 2 of In the Bleak Midwinter)

May God be with you.
and may God be with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open our hearts to the One who comes to us.
People of God, give thanks to the Living God.
We praise the One who offers comfort and peace to us.

Acclamation, thanksgiving, songs of joy
are the gifts we offer to you,
God of all the ages.
You uttered the Word
and mountains burst forth;
your Breath blew upon the waters,
and stirred life into being;
you reached down and shaped us
in your own image,
from the dusty paths you trod.
   In our impatience,
   we refused to wait for your glory,
   and rushed into sin's sweet embrace.
Yet you were willing
to outwit our foolish wisdom,
and outwait our childish tantrums,
sending the prophets to cry out
of your desire for us to return to you.

   But we continued to reject
   their inviting words of comfort.
Finally, when we continued to cling
to death's strong hand,
you clothed your Word with human flesh,
that we might meet you face to face.

So with those who have waited for you
in every time and place,
with those who seek to live faithfully
for you in these days,
we life our songs of hope to you:

(verse 3 of "In the Bleak Midwinter")    

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim Thronged the air;
But his mother only, In her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved With a kiss.

All holiness is yours, Righteous God,
and blessed is your Word for whom we wait,
Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace.
When we had lost our way,
he came to straighten out the path to you.
When we wept at our being lost,
he came to comfort us.
When we had fallen hopelessly
at the feet of death,
he gathered us up in his arms
to carry us home to you.

As we come to this Table,
we remember the mystery of the One
who died that we might live forever:

(verse 4 of "In the Bleak Midwinter")
What can I give Him, Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: Give my heart.

As your Spirit moves upon the gifts
of the bread and the cup,
may she touch us with
unexpected hope and the power of patience.
As we wait for Christ's return,
we would fill the empty dreams of the world
with your vision of peace and wholeness;
we would feed the lost
with the bread of hope;
we would gently lead the exiled
back to your Kingdom.

Then, when the end of time comes,
and our waiting is over,
we will gather around your Table
in the new heaven and new earth,
where righteousness is our friend
and justice lives next door,
and you are our God forever and ever,
Creator of goodness,
Friend of the lost,
Spirit of joy.

As you were present with us through your Word, O God:
May we be present to others who will come to us this week.
As you fed us with peace, Bread of Life:
May we grace others with your peace in the coming days.
As you welcomed us to your Table, Spirit of hope:
May we welcome those you send us who have no hope.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for December 3, 2017 (Advent 1 - B)

Texts:  Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37

Call to Worship
Now, in this holy season of Advent, we wait.
For the faithful God is coming to us.
Now, in this season of waiting, we listen.
For the faithful Word speaks of good news to us.
Now, in the waiting and listening, we watch.
For the faithful Spirit is moving among us.

Prayer of the Day
You could feed us bitterness,
Approaching God,
but you choose to serve us
with the Bread of heaven;
you could hand us hot cup of your tears,

but you touch
the Cup of hope to our lips.

All the stars fall down
to shine the way for you,
Babe of Bethlehem,
as the powers of the world
tremble at your approach.
You tear open
our hardened hearts
so you can come in
and live with us forever.

Advent's Spirit:
you unclog our ears
so we can hear
the songs of the angels;
you wipe the grit
from our eyes
so we can see
the One who is coming to us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
help us to wait patiently, and hopefully,
as we lift the prayer taught to us by Jesus, saying,
(the Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

Advent is the season
    of preparing,
        of waiting,
            of hoping

so let us confess to the One who comes, our impatient, toe-tapping, instant-gratification-filled lives, as we pray, saying

Responsive Prayer for Forgiveness

God who is drawing near to us:
we live in a world of violence,
which we do not condemn enough:
   Come to us, with your peace.

We are filled with the best of intentions,
but are unable to follow through with action:
   Come to us, with your will.

We are sinners, who are afraid
to gaze into your mirror of grace:
   Come to us, with your mercy.

Word of Flesh:
   have mercy;

Friend of the poor:
   have mercy;

Bridegroom of the faithful:
   have mercy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

In this season of waiting, the Good News is this: mercy, new life, hope, and joy are the gifts we receive from our God.
Thanks be to the God of Advent, who came in the Child, who is with us in the Spirit,  who will come again in glory!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
God-who-gifts-us, you do so, not so we might have more, but we might care for those who have so little; not so we might splurge, but we might share.  In the waiting of Advent, may we see the wanting, and use our resources to fill their lives with hope, grace, and joy.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Now, in this holy season of Advent, God comes to be with you.
God comes to be with you as well.
As we begin our journey to Bethlehem, let us open our hearts to God.
For God will fill them with strength and courage for the journey.
Let us join our voices in singing praise to God.
We will lift glad songs of joy to the One who is coming to us.

When you were tired of waiting,
you tore open chaos,
so creation might flow unimpeded:
   puppies quivering in falling snow,
   ice for skating forming on ponds,
   giraffes stretching their necks for snacks.
All these fresh and glorious wonders
were crafted for those in your image,
so we might live in your joy forever,
   but we chose to be doorkeepers

   for sin, waiting for death to appear.
Prophets came, so we might hear you
and see you at work in our midst,
   yet, we turned a deaf ear to them,
   refusing to notice you.
So you came down to us
in Jesus, your Child of life,
simply to save us.

With those who try never to turn away,
and those who call on your name,
we sing your praises this day:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who comes to us.
All creation gives thanks to you, always.
Glory to you in the highest!

Blessed is the One who gathers us to you.
Glory to you in the highest!

In your holiness, you could have stood apart from us,
God of compassion and hope,
but in your love, you came to us
to be one of us in Jesus.
When we struggle in despair's poverty,
  he enriches us with your grace.
When we are weakened by fear,
   he strengthens us with your hope. 
When we think our lives are empty,
   he fills us with everything we need.
When death thought it
had lulled him to sleep,
   he kept alert, waiting
   for your resurrection love
   to gather him up
   and bring him to new life.

With those who are always alert,
and with those who are drowsy from waiting,
we proclaim that mystery which is our faith:

Christ died, giving his life as he called to you;
Christ was raised, resurrection love shining the way;
Christ will come, to gather us from every time and place.

Remembering that we are all your people,
you pour out your Spirit upon us
and the gifts prepared for this Feast.
You came to earth in Jesus
and now we find you in the broken bread
which gives us the strength
   to be your hope to those in sadness,
   to be your light to those in shadows,
   to be your justice to the oppressed.
Your life was poured out for us in Jesus,
and now we find your grace in the cup
which gives us the spirit
   to be your healing to the broken,
   to be your family to the lonely,
   to be your love to those who are ignored.

And when all time is ended,
gather us with our sisters and brothers
from every time and every place
around the table you have prepared for us,
as we sing our joyful praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We do not know when Christ will return,
so we will wait, and in the waiting
we will share hope with everyone around us.
We do not know what the coming days will bring,

but we will be alert,
noticing all those who need the help we can provide.
We do not know the opportunities we will be given,

but we will keep our eyes open,
so we can welcome each person
as if they are the Christ.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman