Sunday, March 01, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for March 8, 2015 (Lent 3 - B)

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

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

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

Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silence is kept

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for March 1, 2015 (Lent 2-B)

Texts: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark8:31-38

Call to Worship
Lent calls us to journey, this and every day,
following Jesus wherever he leads us.
Lent calls us to journey:
to the place where God covenants with us,
to receive the new names we are given.

Lent calls us to worship together,
to tell future generations the good news.
Lent calls us to practice justice,
to bring God's hope to all people.

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

Lent calls us to journey with God.
Let us worship God, who walks with us,
this and every day.

Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silence is kept

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shumanno one else ever did.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for February 22, 2015 (Lent 1 - B)

Texts: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10;1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

 Call to Worship
We come, so God might open our eyes,
that we may discover the wonders surrounding us;
that we may embrace the joy deep within us.
We gather, so Christ might widen our hearts,
that we may hear the sounds of brokenness around us;
that we may sing the melodies of hope.
We are here, so the Spirit might teach us the ways of humility,
that we may walk that street named Enduring Love;
that we may wait at the corner called Faithfulness.
Prayer of the Day
How you love us, God of rainbow promises!
Like a mother who teaches her son
the steps for his first dance,
like the father who goes out
with his daughter after work
so she can learn how to drive,
you love us that much and more.
How you offer yourself to us, Brother of the beloved!
You gather us up in your arms,
simply to hear our deepest hopes;
you reach out your scarred hands
to gently wipe our fears away;
you stain a cross with your blood,
so we might washed clean in the tears
pouring down God's face.

How you share yourself with us, journey's Spirit!
You bathe our wearied souls
in the cooling waters of baptism;
you wipe the dust of the wilderness
out of our eyes so we can see the kingdom;
you teach us those ancient ways
which offer new life for each of us.
God in Community, Holy in One,
be with us in this Lenten season,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God takes our broken promises and turns them into vows of faithfulness.  God takes our biggest failings and shapes lives of service. God listens to our prayers of confession and changes them into songs of mercy. Let us come to the One who pours forgiveness into our lives, praying,
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We admit we are hesitant to walk to Jerusalem and beyond with you, God of Glory. In a world where we worry about tomorrow before enjoying today, we race by your moments of silence, of learning. In that flood of worries, which can overwhelm us, we may miss that assurance that you have not cut us off from your grace.  In the deserts of our desires, we may ignore that feast of hope, of joy, of life you offer to us.
     Forgive us and have mercy on us, Gentle Guardian of our souls. In humility, may we offer our lives to others.  In love, may we share your grace with everyone we meet. In hope, may we wait for you all our days, as you come to us in the life and joy of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In this place we find God's word, God's way, God's love, God's forgiveness. What more do we need to sustain us as we continue as pilgrims along the Way?
In every wilderness, on every road;
in every moment, in every life;
in every journey, in every heart,
we receive the daily bread we need - God's hope, God's mercy, God's joy. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/offering
Not tomorrow, but today we are offered the chance to become a part of your healing work, of bringing peace to a broken world, of feeding the hungry, and welcoming the excluded.  Today, not tomorrow, we offer our gifts as well as our lives to this ministry of blessing and hope.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Lent be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open them to the One who calls us 'Beloved.'
Beloved of God, give thanks and praise to the One who loves you forever.
We sing our hymns of joy to the One who leads us into the kingdom.

Hearts overflow with you, Covenant Keeper,
as we lift our hearts to you.
When there was no time as we know it,
you crafted day and night,
so we could wait for you in every moment,
tasting the savory goodness of grace.
You imagined those moments
of gathering us to your side
to teach us all the wonder of your ways,
but we turned our ears towards
the whispered invitations of the Evil One,
running off to play in the wilderness
with rebellion and death our guides.
You recalled the promises you had made
to Noah, to Sarah, to Joseph, and to Hannah,
and so sent the prophets to remind us
of the good gift of your covenant
and to point out the ways to your heart.
When we continued to ignore their words,
you sent Jesus to be with us,
to set us free from the imprisonment
we had created for ourselves.

So, we lift our voices with those who waited patiently,
and with those who trust your covenantal promises,
joining the choirs of heaven and earth,
who forever sing of your hope and love:
Holy, holy, holy are you, Everlasting God of grace.
Every living creature in heaven and earth sing your praises.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who sits as your right hand of mercy.
Hosanna in the highest.

Faithful and holy are you, Creator of all,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Steadfast Love and Hope.
When he could have stayed at your side
during the days of our rebellion and pride,
he came to be our friend and guide.
When he could have feasted on your power,
in those days of glory with you,
he came to prepare a Table for us
where our hardened hearts might be softened,
and our broken lives might be made whole.
When he could have the angels waiting on him,
he came to serve us your forgiveness and grace,
enduring death on the cross
so we could have life forever.
As we begin once more our Lenten journey,
as we seek to follow faithfully, remembering
the life, the death, the resurrection of Jesus,
we tell the story of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died to set us free from sin;
Christ was raised to break the power of death;
Christ will come again, to bring the kingdom
    as close to us as God's heart.
Pour out your Spirit of imagination
upon this bread, and this cup,
gifts of your good and wonderful creation.
As we are embraced at the Table
by the One who has prepared it for us,
may we open our hearts to welcome
our sisters and brothers.
As we have been set free by your love,
may we proclaim freedom to the prisoners
confined by fear and oppression;
as we are filled with the Bread of life,
may we never cease feeding
the hungry of our world;
as we are nurtured by compassion's cup,
may we go out into the wilderness around us,
to take the lost, the last, the least, the little
by the hand to walk together
into that kingdom prepared for all your children.

And when we are gathered around the Table
with your beloved children of every time and place,
our songs will join together as our tears of joy mingle,
singing your praises forever and ever to you:
God of David and Rebecca, of Mary and Noah;
Jesus of the outcast and lonely;
Spirit of those who seek peace and reconciliation:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen and Amen.
Let us go now, as God's people.
May God open our eyes to the wonders of creation
and the joy we can offer to those we meet.
Let us go now, as followers of Jesus.
May he open our ears to the cries of the broken,
to the words of hope which others offer to us.
Let us go now, as those filled with the Spirit.
May we follow the Spirit down Enduring Love Street;
may we embrace our sisters and brothers at Faithfulness Corner.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for February 15, 2015 (Transfiguration - B)

Texts:  2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9

Call to Worship
Here, we gather as the faithful of God,
seeking to listen to what God has to say to us.
Here, we gather as faithful followers of Jesus,
hoping that not only our faces,
but our very lives, might reflect him to others.
Here, we gather as the Spirit's faithful children,
seeking to praise God's name in every moment.

Prayer of the Day
Majestic Glory,
Heart of God:
on mountaintops crowned with mist
and in museums filled with wonder;
in tents pitched by singing brooks
and in theaters filled with laughing children;
in this sacred space
as well as all our ordinary neighborhoods
where we live,
you are with us,
hearing us,
answering us,
and we do not lose heart.

Holy Beloved,
Face of God:
we glance at you
out of the corners of our souls,
and see grace surrounding us;
we look at you conversing with
the poor and the rejected,
and see our family;
we watch you
as you come to us,
to touch us, to heal us,
and to give us back to God.
And we will not lose heart.

Holy Spirit,
Ear of God:
when our lips
cannot shape words,
you speak them for us;
when we can only sigh
our deepest needs,
you gather them up
and offer them to God;
when our hopes
are scattered on the ground,
you pick them up
and give them back to us.
And we dare not lose heart.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our voices, as well as our hearts,
as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We long to be on the mountaintops of glory, but our lives are found in the valleys of hurtful words spoken aloud, of taking the dreams of others and dashing them to the ground.  Let us confess our sins to the One who always listens, and transfigures us into forgiven people.  Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   For one it is fear, for another it might be greed; for one it might be lust, for others it may be success - but we all have those 'gods' of this world which draw us away from you, God of our lives.  The seductions around us cry out so loudly, we are not able to hear you calling to us.  The longing we have to impress you blinds us to your mercy already wrapping us in its embrace.
   Your forgiveness is a mystery wrapped in your love and revealed to us in this and every moment, Cloud of Grace.  Open our hearts so we may listen to you whispering our name, even as we would follow Jesus Christ, your Beloved, into our world.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Into the shadows of our lives, Jesus shines the grace of God, so we might see the glory of forgiveness.
Forgiven - by God's mercy;
made whole - by God's love;
sent to serve others - by God's hope. 
Thanks be to God!  We are transformed people.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Take the gifts we offer to you, Revealing God, roll them up and strike the poverty, the hunger, the despair of others so they might walk in your joy and wonder, in your hope and peace.  This we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of rivers be with you.
May the God of mountaintops be with you.
People of God, open your hearts to the One who calls you.
We offer them to God, who names us as the company of the Beloved.
Rejoice in the One who sends us into the valleys of service.
We sing glad songs to God, who blesses us on mountaintops.

You called for the sun
on that first morning, Mighty One,
and before it set,
   rivers began to carve mountains,
   clouds carried rain to meadows,
   creatures explored their new homes.
You called to those created in your image
to listen to the songs of your heart,
   but we tore your hopes into pieces,
   scattering them to the wind
   as sin blinded us to your love.
You sent the company of prophets
throughout the centuries, all of them
not keeping silent, but pointing to you,
   but we kept our distance from them,
   as we drew ever closer to death.
You refused to give up on us,
and so became one of us,
so your Glory might overshadow our fears.

With the company of believers,
with those who stand at some distance,
we cry out our praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Abba our God.
The heavens above and the earth below
   calls out to you in praise.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One whose light illumines our lives.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, God our Lord,
and Jesus Christ, our Savior, is your Beloved.
He set aside his glory,
   putting on the garb of humanity,
   descending into our barren valleys
   to share the good news of hope.
He could have had all the power
required to defeat sin's reign,
with a devouring fire or mighty tempest,
   but did so by dying on the cross.
You took grace, rolled it up
and struck the grave, so Jesus
could come out of death
as it parted before him.

As we remember that he is your Beloved,
as we seek to listen to him in every moment,
we point to that faith which is a mystery:

Christ died, his face wracked with pain;
Christ was raised, his face transfigured by hope;
Christ comes to us, his face filled with delight as he approaches.

The faithful are gathered in this place,
as well as the company of wonderers,
as pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the Table spread before us.
As we are fed by the Bread,
may we find the courage
to go from this sacred space
into all the broken places of our world,
saying to our sisters and brothers,
   'tell us what we can do for you!'
As the cup of Grace fills us,
may we inherit your Spirit of hope,
as we can give twice as much away.

And when you gather us on the holy mountain,
transfigured along with our sisters and brothers
by the radiant glory of your grace,
we will know what to say,
as we sing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now to where the God of sunrises awaits.
We will take the light of hope with us.
Go now to the valleys where Jesus awaits.
We will seek to respond to all the calls to serve.
Go now to where the Spirit's glory awaits.
We will set aside our lives for others around us.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for February 8, 2015 (Epiphany/Ordinary Time 5 - B)

Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

Call to Worship
We gather to worship God,
whose creative imagination never fails:
For the sake of God, we will search for the outcasts.
We gather to praise our God,
whose steadfast love never weakens:
For the sake of Jesus, we will lift up all who have fallen.
We gather to offer our best to God,
who walks with us through eternity:
For the sake of the Holy Spirit, we will walk with the weary.

Prayer of the Day
You lift up those
we step over
in our race to success;
you soak our aching feet
in the waters of life;
you massage hearts
bruised by others.
We praise you,
Rebuilder of crumbling souls

You pick those not chosen
on the playgrounds of life;
you cover open sores
with your grace;
you wander our streets,
inviting those
who huddle in doorways
to feast at your Table.
We follow you,
Bread of Heaven.

You gather those
who are cast aside
by a throwaway society,
and call them by name;
you melt hearts hardened by cynicism
with the warmth of your hope;
you energize us
so we can sprint into the kingdom.
We welcome you,
Delightful Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we come to you as your people,
praying as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We walk through life, confident, strong, boasting of all our achievements.  But God sees the hurts we have inflicted on others, the weariness in our bones from chasing after bad choices, and all the foolishness we trip over in the busyness of life.  Let us come to God, for the One who listens to our faltering words is the One who gives us the Word filled with grace and mercy.  Join me as we pray together, saying, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We cannot hide from you, Everlasting God, even if we were to go from one edge of creation to the next.  you speak to us of compassion, but the ways in which we treat others show we have not been listening.  You explain your hopes to us, and we act as if we don't have a clue as to what is going on.  We run as fast, and as far, from you as we can, and wonder why we have no energy to follow Jesus.
     Yet you search for us in all the deserted places we flee to, Never-wearied God, so you can take us by the hand to show us the way to life with you.  You heal our broken hearts so we can offer them to others.  You fill us with your strength so we can bind ourselves to Jesus, our Savior, following him to serve all of your children.

Silence is kept 
Assurance of Pardon
Have you not been listening.  God never tires out, nor is there is an expiration date on God's forgiveness.  God is ever with us, healing us with mercy, and strengthening us for service.
If God numbers the stars, surely our names are known by the One who loves us and offers us grace.  This is indeed good news for all!  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
You lift us to our feet so we can walk with you, Loving God, and you fill us with your gifts so we may pour them out for those around us.  Take what we offer and use them in that kingdom work which strengthens the weary, feeds the hungry, and gives hope to the despairing.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God be also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open our hearts to God and to each other.
Let us give thanks to the Living God.
With joy and praise, we offer our thanks to the One who offers abundant life.

In the morning, Awakening God,
you took creation and flung it
to the far corners of chaos,
   naming the stars twinkling in the night,
   shaping deserted places for prayers,
   feeding all the creatures in the fields.
You longed to walk with those
created in your image, so we would not weary,
   but we listened to the boasting of death,
   as it proclaimed sin's opportunities.
You sent the prophets, who cried out,
'haven't you been listening; don't you
realize what God is trying to do for you?'
   but we continued to delight
   in all which opposed you.
So, having created all things,
you became the one thing we needed,
our Savior.

With those so weary that cannot take another step,
with those revived by your grace and hope,
we lift our praises to you now and forever:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all knowledge.
All creation sings glad praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

Holy are you, Star Namer,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son.
He became weak,
   so the power of the world
   would be shattered;
he became poor,
   so we might be filled
   with the riches of your grace;
he went to that deserted place
we call the grave,
   so death might be
   knocked off its pedestal,
as you breathed new life
into his knackered spirit.

As we search for him in our time,
as we would proclaim the gospel,
may we find that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, not boasting in himself;
Christ was raised, the gospel lived out in him;
Christ will come to take us by the hand, giving us strength.

Here is that Bread, which though broken,
   can strengthen the powerless;
here is that Cup, which though emptied,
   can fill the weary with hope.
Pour out your Spirit not only on these gifts,
but upon your children gathered around the Table.
We come, bone-tired,
   so make us bone of your bone,
   and flesh of your flesh.
We can barely take another step,
   so empower us to walk
   beside the lonely and the homeless.
We are so fatigued by our despair,
feed us with your hope and joy,
   so we may proclaim your kingdom
   to everyone we meet.

And when the day comes
to gather with all your children
around the Feast of the Lamb,
we will join hands
and dance around the Table,
singing your praise forever and ever:
God our Creator,
Christ our Servant,
Spirit of Newness,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us forth into the world,
so we will go to walk miles in the shoes of others.
Jesus calls us to serve everyone we meet,
so we will become all things to all people.
The Holy Spirit encourages us to let go of our gospel-given rights,
so we may breathe new life into the faint.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for February 1, 2015 (Epiphany/Ordinary Time 4 - B)

Texts: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

Call to Worship
Thinking we know all the answers,
yet wondering if we haven't missed something:
we enter this sanctuary of Truth.
In the company of sinners,
in cahoots with saints:
we gather as God's people.
Standing by folks of deep, abiding faith;
seated with those who stumble through the Kingdom:
we lift our praise to God.
Prayer of the Day
We hunger for power,
     and you feed us
     the bread of humility;
we long for freedom,
     and you invite us to drink
     the cup of self-denial.
Faithful and Just God:
our songs of gratitude
will echo down
the hallways of creation.

You speak
     and all the props
     are knocked out
     from under our pride.
Then, you astound us
by reaching out your hand
     to lift us to our feet
     so we may follow you.
Holy Gift of God:
our songs of praise
will echo down
the hallway of our hearts.

Without your wisdom,
     we would be speechless;
without your peace,
     we would be heartless;
without your presence,
     we would be graceless.
Bearer of Truth:
our songs of joy
will echo down
the hallways of eternity.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may our songs echo in your heart
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It's very simple:  all God asks is that we recognize our sin and acknowledge it. And why?  When we offer our prayers of confession, God takes them from us and fills our hearts with such an abundance of mercy, we cannot hold it all.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     God our God: we fill our souls with the empty sounds of our culture, and wonder why we are so empty when we need words of hope, of grace, of comfort.  We are careful to follow the   prescriptions our doctors give us, yet pay little heed to your hopes for us.  We puff out our chests over what good people we are, yet do not notice how our pride trips those who seek to follow Jesus.

Forgive us, Holy One, and be gracious to us:
   astound us with your words,
        so we may learn your ways;
   nourish us with your mercy,
        so we may be filled with life;
   enter our empty souls,
        till they overflow with praise for your
        Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Of all the astounding works of God, this may be the most wonderful:  God is gracious and merciful  -  to us!
What has this to do with us?  Everything!
What is this?  Good news, of the very best kind!
We are forgiven.  We give thanks to our God with all our hearts.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Now, we know how easily we could treat our abundant resources as idols, Holy God, so we will treat them as they truly are, marvelous gifts meant to be shared so others might know of your marvelous presence in their lives.  Bless what we offer to you, and use it in service to others, we pray.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of wondrous deeds be with you!
And also with you!
Let us give thanks to our God.
We lift our whole hearts to God, holding nothing back.
Join in praising God, who is merciful and gracious.
In the company of our friends and fellow followers,
     we rejoice in the one who is our God.
'What have you to do
with us,' chaos cried out,
and you rebuked it, Holy One,
whispering, 'be silent,' and with a Word
all that is good and true came forth,
   oceans teeming with life,
   meadow grass rippling in the breeze,
   snow-capped peaks touching the sky.
You raised us up in your image,
but we worshiped the idols, sin and death,
becoming so accustomed to them
we would follow them anywhere.
You put words into the prophets' mouths,
so they could speak your words of hope,
but we refused to listen.
So you sent Jesus,
from whom all things are,
so we might live with you.

Thus, with prophets and those who never listen,
with the foolish, as well as the faithful, of every age,
we sing our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of great wonders.
All creation is astounded by your works.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who restores us with love.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, Awesome Creator,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Redeemer of all.
He teaches, as one with authority,
those who rebel against you.
He heals, as one with compassion,
those who struggle with pain and illness.
He calls, as one with the words of life,
those who have lost their way.
He dies, as one with complete trust,
for those who have no hope.
He rises, as one known by God,
so we may live for you.
As we remember what Jesus has done for us,
as we celebrate his life, death, and resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we know as faith:
Christ died, as we fell silent in grief;
Christ is raised, silencing the power of sin and death;
Christ fills the silence of our fears with songs of
        your wondrous love and life.

You long to have everything
to do with us, God of wonders,
and so you call us to this table
of peace, hope, reconciliation.
Here, in the bread and the cup
transformed by your Spirit,
we are reminded that
there is no God but you.
For, in the life of the bread,
we feast on that grace
which can heal a broken world.
For in the sweet taste of the cup's hope,
we taste those promises
which we can share with all people:
   peace where there is only war,
   love where there is only evil,
   wonder where there is only despair,
for from you come all things;
to you, we all would turn to follow.
And when all human time and history is done,
when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
in that time with you we call eternity,
we will praise you forever, singing glory to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us into the world,
so we may see Jesus at work in all the desolate places.
As one with compassion, Jesus calls,
so we may follow him to those who live on the fringe of life.
The Spirit opens our ears and our hearts,
so we may hear the cries looking for hope.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman