Friday, June 22, 2018

Liturgy with communion for July 1, 2018 (Pentecost 6/Trinity 5/Proper 8/Ordinary 13 - B)

Texts: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43

Call to Worship
Come among us, Healing God; we wait for you.
We come, hungry for your Word to bless us.
Come among us, Compassionate Christ; we hope in you.
We come, hungry to be filled with the Bread of Heaven.
Come among us, Restoring Spirit; we wait and hope in you.
We come, eager to rest in your peace.

Prayer of the Day

With you,
God of Wholeness,
those who work the graveyard shift of life
find the dawn of resurrection;
those who look for healing
are led to the living waters.

Christ our Companion:
richer than Gates or Buffet,
you chose to become
as poor as Mother Teresa,
to touch us with hope;
you set aside Glory's robe,
to wear the servant's towel,
so we might touch you
and be made whole.

Spirit of Grace:
you encircle us
with love which never ends;
you touch us with grace
which mends all brokenness;
you pour out mercy,
which heals any wound we cause.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift the prayer Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
There is nothing, nothing, which can divide us – in life and death - from God.  So let us confess our worst faults and eager failings, so we may be touched by the healing power of God.  Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
We want to touch the hem of your garment, O God.
   Forgive us for being afraid to touch
   those who come to us for hope;
we want to love the whole world:
   forgive us for ignoring our neighbor;
we long for peace:
   forgive us for the pain we inflict
   on our families and friends;
we want to share with those we love and like:
   forgive us for walking past
   those who need you most.

Forgive us, Loving God, for we do not excel
in everything you call us to do.
Give us grace:
   to touch those who frighten us;
   to carry the Bread of Life to the hungry;
   to offer the blessings of the kingdom
       to everyone we meet,
even as you have graced us in Christ Jesus,
our Lord and Savior.


Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Listen to the Good News!  Hope in God, for God's love has no ending; God fills us with grace and hope, this day, and forever.
God hears our voice, and listens to our prayers, redeeming us from all our sins.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
From our present abundance, we offer our gifts to you, Generous Heart, so that the hungry might be fed, so that the broken might find healing, and so the grieving might be comforted.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to God.
We open our hearts to the God of healing and joy.
Lift your songs to God.
We offer glad songs to the One who brings us wholeness.

Hear our voices
as we sing our joy to you,
God of the listening Heart.
You reached out
and touched chaos
with your imaginative Spirit,
proclaiming goodness and wholeness
as Creation burst forth.
Shaping us in your image,
you breathed life into us,
so we could be united with you.
But grasping the hem of sin,
we chose to be dragged through
the mud of despair and death.
Your steadfast love
would not forsake us,
singing to us in the prophets' voices.
When you could
no longer wait
for us to turn back to you,
you came to us
in Jesus Christ,
Companion of the broken.

So we lift our voices in praise,
joining with those in heaven and earth,
who forever praise your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who hears our voices.
More than those who watch for morning,
   all creation waits for you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes with healing grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Listener to our deepest longings,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
He emptied himself of Glory's riches,
so we could be filled with grace and hope;
he endured our suffering,
so we could be healed;
he was broken,
so we could be made whole;
he died,
so we would live with you forever.

As we remember his life for us
as we seek to grasp the hem of your grace,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, so we might be made well and live;
Christ was raised, death overcome with amazement by the resurrection;
Christ will return, calling to us, ‘children, get up!’

Come among us, Source of healing,
your Spirit gracing the bread and the cup,
and nourishing your children
gathered at your Table.
Mend our broken hearts,
so we may love all your children;
touch our wounded souls,
so we may embrace all those
cast out by the world;
fill us with your gracious gifts,
so we may overflow in generosity
to those in need.

Then, when that Day of Joy comes,
and we are all made new,
and we see completely,
we will fill your Heart
with joy and praise,
singing to our
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
Go now to where you find friends and neighbors,
as well as family and strangers.
We will share that never-ending love of the Healer of all.
Go now, with that faith which dares to touch the outcast,
with hearts that break for the pain of others.
We will share the compassion of the Friend of the broken.
Go now, carrying word and wonder to a weary world,
waiting in silence for the songs of hope to sing to all creation.
We will follow the Dryer of tears wherever we are led.

© Thom M. Shuman

Friday, June 15, 2018

Alternate texts liturgy with communion for June 24, 2018 (Pentecost 5/Trinity 4/Proper 7/Ordinary 12 - B)

Texts: Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

Call to Worship
Though others may forget us,
God remembers us in every moment.
Though we may seem worthless to some,
We are precious in God’s eyes.
Though we may feel hollow,
God pours grace into us.
Though we think our pockets are empty,
God gives us more than we ever imagined.
 
Prayer of the Day
You gather us from our neighborhoods
and from our playgrounds, Loving God,
so that we may discover,
in the torrents of fear,
   you would fill us with faith;
when we feel our lives about to sink,
   you would speak serenity and hope.
 
You gather us from our preoccupations
and from our prejudices, Challenging Jesus,
so that in the raging winds of society,
we may find the courage
   to challenge injustice;
we may speak the words
   which will offer healing to the broken.

You gather us from our apathy
as well as from our activities, Gentle Spirit,
so that as we journey with others,
we would put nothing in the way
   which would cause them to trip;
we would find every moment
   the acceptable time to call out the powerful.
 
In this place and in these moments,
as in every time and situation we find ourselves,
you gather us to learn from you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so we pray as we are taught, saying
(The Lord’s Prayer)
 
Call to Reconciliation
Our lives, our words, our foolishness show how hard it is for us to be confident to rest in God’s ways and hopes for us, and not become so scared when the winds begin to blow.  Let us confess our lack of faith to the One who knows this is the right time to receive forgiveness and hope.  Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are at our wits’ end, O God, as we try to live each day.  We could confront the angry voices around us with peace and grace, but our courage melts away.  We could see you at work in those who care for the vulnerable, but we let our fears of those who we don’t understand wash our faith away.  We see your grace drawing close to us and cry out, ‘no further!’
      Because of such lives, it is tempting to blame you, Holy One, and think you are asleep at your post.  But you are the God who tells the storms of temptation to ‘shush!’  You are the God whose love is not just now and then, but offered to us in every moment.  You are the God who, in Jesus Christ, comes to us in order to comfort us, to encourage us, and to cradle us in your peace.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
While we may believe God does not always have the time for us, there is not a moment that God is not listening, not forgiving, and not restoring us to grace-filled lives.
This is indeed the acceptable time, to recognize, to accept, and to live out the reality that we are redeemed by our God.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
From cracked and flattened wallets, as well as purses stuffed with notes, Kleenex, and lozenges; from piggy banks and tips earned in eateries; from fixed incomes and great portfolios, we gather up our gifts and offer them to you, Steadfast Love, that you might use them to calm the fears of others, bringing them peace and hope.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of seas and lakes be with you.
And also with you.
Open wide your hearts to our God.
We open them so God might fill them with grace and hope.
Let us join the morning stars in praising our God.
We join all creation in shouts of joy to the One who created everything.
 
In that first moment of imagination,
Architect God,
you laid the cornerstone of creation
as rivers ran down to fill oceans,
as clouds became the shawls of blue skies,
as you swaddled forests in morning mists.
All this beauty and goodness was offered
to those shaped in your image,
but where were we?
   We were hiding in sin’s shadows,
   after death had shown us our nakedness.
Moment after moment, you sent
women and men to us,
to speak boldly to us,
   but their words were tossed aside,
   as each time was considered unacceptable.
Then you chose to send your Word,
the One who spoke everything into life
so we might be reunited with you.
 
With those who are afraid in every moment,
with those who know that faith is present,
we sing of your steadfast love:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who offers grace.
Morning stars sing your praises,
   as all creation shouts for joy.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who speaks boldly.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
We admit we do not always understand
your holiness, God of all creation,
especially why you would become
one of us yet, in Jesus, you did.
In his trust in you,
   we discover we have no need
   to fear the storms of life;
in his faith in you,
   we learn you have not abandoned us
   but are with us on every journey;
in his life, death, and resurrection,
   we hear you saying to death,
   ‘you can come this far,   
    but no farther,’ as you
    dammed up sin’s waves
    with your redeeming love.

As we would learn not to be afraid
but to believe that you have not fallen asleep,
we seek to live out that mystery we call faith:
 
Christ died, knowing it was the acceptable time;
Christ was raised, as salvation came when we
   least expected it;
Christ will come, to gather us into your steadfast love.
 
Here in this place where you have gathered us
from our fears and foolishness,
pour out your Spirit upon the gifts of the Table
and those you have called as your children.
As we eat of this bread which,
in its brokenness, makes whole our lives,
may we hear you call ‘let us go’
   to the other side of oppression
      to bring justice;
   to the other side of cruelty,
      to swaddle others in compassion.
As we drink from this cup which,
with your touch, overflows with love,
may we hear you call ‘let us go’
   to the far shores of fear,
      to bring hope;
   to sail through the storms of anger,
      to sing songs of grace.
 
And when, with our sisters and brothers,
we are gathered from every time and place,
we will join the morning stars
in singing your praise in every moment,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
 
Sending
Let us go to tell everyone of what we have heard.
Now is the acceptable time to share the love
which our God offers to each and every person.
Let us go to calm the fears of those we will meet this day.
Now is the acceptable time to work beside Jesus
in bringing justice and healing to our world.
Let us go to serve those who have been forgotten.
Now is the acceptable time to join the Spirit
in being the ‘Yes’ when people ask, ‘don’t you care?’
 
© 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy with communion for June 24, 2018 (Pentecost 5/Trinity 4/Proper 7/Ordinary 12 - B)

Texts: 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49; Psalm 9:9-20; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

Call to Worship
We gather in this place to worship our God:
calm Presence in our times of confusion,
Comforter in our nights of struggle.
We gather with fellow pilgrims,
as we seek to follow Jesus:
Brother to those swamped by fears,
Friend to all overwhelmed by loss.
We are brought together by the Spirit
who lives in the depths of our souls:
the Serenity who travels with us
on this up-and-down journey we call life.
 
Prayer of the Day
You lay the foundations of the universe,
building a shelter for our battered souls;
you create wonders which are priceless,
yet you always remember the needy.
We open our hearts to you,
God of Graciousness.
 
When evening comes and fears
prowl the shadows of our days,
you whisper, 'Peace! Be still!'
to our hammering hearts,
so we know that you are always with us.
We open our hearts to you,
dearest Friend of life.

Doubts and despair may
swamp our lives,
but you calm us with a word;
illness and death struggle
to control our futures,
but you comfort us with peace.
We open our hearts to you,
Spirit of hope and grace.
 
We open our hearts to you, now and forever,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We let fears control us, we let doubt become the way of life for us. If we but look, we will see our lives, and our world, cradled in God's loving hands.  Let us confess our lack of faith, even as we trust the One who has promised to listen to our words, as well as our hearts. Join me as we confess together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     They can be such giants in our lives, God of Grace. Each day, our fears, our doubts, our worries wash over us, until we come to believe that you do not care for us. There seems to be so much wrong in the world, we are convinced that there is nothing good we can do. The storms of sin and temptation batter at us, and we cower, unable to find the faith to withstand them.
     Forgive us. God of Hope. Remind us that if we but open our hearts, you will heal us. If we but listen to your words, we will hear peace and joy.  If we but open our lives to you, we can go forth to serve our sisters and brothers, even as we have been served by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
With calming words, with a peaceful Spirit, with overflowing love and hope, our God forgives us and fills us with faith.
Our God affirms us for who we are - those whose brokenness is made whole, whose sin is forgiven, whose lives overflow with faith. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Now is the acceptable time to offer our gifts to you, Holy God.  Now is the time to pray that they may be used to remove any obstacles which keep others from knowing your grace, experiencing your healing, or being filled with your hope.  Now is the time to give thanks for your blessings, praying they will be used to bless others.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.
 
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Calmer of our storms be with you!
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts, all whose fears threaten you.
We open our hearts that God might touch them with peace.
People of faith, join in glad songs to the One who is with you.
Our voices join in praise and thanksgiving to God.

You poured the foundation of grace
over the emptiness of chaos,
Caretaker of the Cosmos,
so that creation would find firm footing
for all the gifts your imagination provided.
You formed the seas and filled them with life,
you created the morning stars to sing your praises.
You created us in your image, calling each of us by name,
but we defied your dreams and hopes for us,
choosing to live in the valleys of despair and sin.
Refusing to forsake us, you sent prophets
who urged us to embrace your grace,
but it was never the right time for us to listen,
and we opened our hearts wider to temptation.
But you would not let us stay
in the pits of suffering and death we had dug,
and sent Jesus, creative Word of life for all,
to remove all the obstacles in your way.
 
So as we prepare to come to the Table of joy,
we join our voices with those who open their hearts to you
in every time, and in every place, forever singing your praise:
 
Holy, holy, holy, God of grace and glory.
All creation declares the wonders of your hands.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes bringing salvation for all.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Holy are you, Bulwark of the oppressed,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, who calms our troubled hearts.
When we were mired in the quicksand of our sin,
he came to pull us to safety.
When we treated him as an imposter,
he came to show us his true nature.
When we sat at death's door,
waiting for it to open and welcome us,
he went inside, in our place,
coming out to take us by the hand
and lead us into life with you.
 
As we sing praises for his life and ministry among us,
as we remember his death, as well as his resurrection,
we declare that mystery we call faith:
 
We declare that Christ has died for us;
we proclaim that Christ has been raised from the dead;
we believe Christ will come again in glory.
 
Here at this Table of life and hope,
you pour out your calming Spirit
upon the gifts of the Bread and the Cup,
and on your children gathered for this feast.
As you feed us with that brokenness
which can restore us to wholeness,
remind us that our lives are not empty,
but filled with every blessing which
can bring hope and joy to the poor.
As our hearts overflow with your grace,
let us hear the cries of the afflicted,
so we might go to stand with them
until all people are transformed
by your justice and righteousness.
 
And when our journeys have ended,
and the storms of life have been calmed forever,
we will gather around the Table in glory,
singing praises to you through all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
Go now into a world beset by storms of worries and fears.
Let us go to the far side of despair,
bringing God's hope to all huddled on that shore.
Go now into all the places where people are afraid.
Let us set out from the shore of our comfortable lives,
bringing the good news of Jesus' grace to all.
Go now to the distant shores torn apart by violence and oppression.
Let us set out with the Spirit as our guide,
crying out to all, "Peace! Be still, wars and terrors!"

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Liturgy w.communion for June 17, 2018 (Pentecost 4/Trinity3/Proper 6/Ordinary 11 -B)

Texts:  1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13; Psalm 20; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13), 14-17; Mark 4:26-34

Call to Worship
All around us, God is looking for folks
who will join is serving others.
It is as if God is planting seeds of compassion in us,
watching for them to bloom in our lives.
In our midst, Jesus is walking among us,
tending our hearts, watering us with grace.
It is as if Jesus is trusting that our souls
will grow big enough to welcome everyone.
From morning to evening, the Spirit is at work,
gently tending this garden called life.
It is as if the Spirit has found the perfect spots
to bring forth crops of justice and peace.
 
Prayer of the Day
You listen to our cries
   of grief, when others
   kill our dreams;
you open your ears

   to the whispered fears
   on sleepless nights;
you hear our hearts
   cracking, just like
   ice on a frozen lake;
and we know,
‘this is the One,’,
our God who knows us
better than we think.

You call to us,
so we can watch
as you place
seeds of welcome
   in the hearts of the rejected;
seeds of wonder
   in the overgrown city lots;
seeds of laughter
   in the dull voices of grief;
and as we watch, we learn,
and as we learn, we say,
‘this is the One,’
the Grace who is our brother.

You are with us
as we sleep and
when we rise, nurturing
the tiny seeds of grace
   into bouquets of love;
the insignificant hopes of peace
   into communities of reconciliation;
the littlest thoughts about others
   into an embrace as big
   and wide as the sea;
and we rejoice,
‘this is the One,’
the Spirit who transforms us.
 
You are indeed the One,
God in Community, drawing us
into your circle of dance,
as we pray together, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
 
Call to Reconciliation
We long to live as God’s people, yet in the very depths of our lives, we know how we have hurt those around us, through words and actions, as well as from indifference.  But God hears us when we call, and answers with the grace we need.  Let us pray together, as we confess our lives to our God.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   How you must grieve over us, God of all.  You give us blessings to share with others, but we hoard everything for ourselves.  You look for us to join you in serving the most vulnerable, but find us worshiping the wealthy and powerful.  You offer us joy and wonder to embrace, but we continue to cling to weapons and things.
   Have mercy on us, Anointing God, as you pour your forgiveness into our foolish lives.  Plant the seeds of grace, hope, love, and peace in us, so we may blossom and share all these gifts with everyone we meet.  We pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God’s love is not logical and understandable.  For God forgives those we never would, and welcomes those we would continue to ignore.
This is the One who has mercy on everyone, pouring grace and joy into everyone, including us!  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication
Let us remember those seeds of love, hope, grace, and peace which we carry in our hearts and souls, as well as our wallets and purses, so that in remembering, we would offer them to our God for use in the work of reconciliation and hope.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Listening God be with you.
May God also be with you.
Let us open our hearts to the One who hears us.
We offer them to our God, who knows we are all the same.
Shout for joy, people of God, and sing glad praises.
We join praising the One who is always with us.
 
Into the emptiness of chaos,
you flung the seeds of creation,
Gardening God.
Volcanoes erupted,
   to become gentle lakes;
eye-delighting eagles
   soared high in the skies;
gentle does and fawns
   strolled through the mists of morning.
All this beauty and goodness
was shaped for those created in your image,
   but we reached out for the weapons of sin,
   and built homes on death’s condemned properties.
Prophets came to call us back home,
   yet we persisted in believing
   that our old ways were the best ways.
Determined to no longer grieve
over us, you sent Jesus
to plant resurrection in our lives.
 
With those who are well known to you,
and with those we have just met,
we sing our joy to you at this mean:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who hears us.
All creation remembers your gifts.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who scatters your seeds.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Night or day, you are holy, God of love,
and blessed is your Child, Jesus Christ.
Walking ancient roads,
   he would lead us into your kingdom;
when we are sleeping,
   he would give us fresh visions of you;
when we arise,
   he takes us by the hand
   to show us your wonders;
accepting everyone as sisters and brothers,
   he gave his life so death
   would lose its power over us,
   your resurrection love poured out for all.
 
As we remember his life, ministry, and death,
as we celebrate the gifts of his table,
we speak of the mystery we call faith:
 
Christ died, so the old creation could begin to pass;
Christ was raised, the new creation growing in our midst;
Christ will come, so everyone will be made new.
 
You would pour out your Spirit
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup,
as well as those gathered for this feast.
The bread which is broken
becomes the seeds
   of hope planted in despair,
   of joy planted in grief,
   of kindness planted in cruelty.
The cup which is poured out
becomes the grace which nurtures
   those who would welcome the forgotten,
   those who would listen to the voiceless,
   those who would become justice
      so all might find a welcome and home.
 
And when you gather us home
from all the far fields we have been planted,
we will join with our sisters and brothers
around your Table of grace and hope,
forever shouting our joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
 
Sending
The God who has reconciled us to one another,
as well as the Holy Community, sends us forth.
We will go to gather the broken
as we bring healing in our hands.  
Jesus, who has shaped us into new people
with his grace-filled hands, sends us forth.
We will go to welcome those we have ignored,
drawing the stranger into a warm embrace. 
The Spirit, who teaches us how to look at others
with the eyes of love and hope, sends us forth.
We will go to become one with those tossed aside,
to be the community of hope for which they have searched.
 
© 2018 Thom M. Shuman

       

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for June 10, 2018 (Pentecost 3/Trinity 2/Proper 5/Ordinary 10 - B)

Texts:  Genesis 3:8-15; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1; Mark 3:20-35

Call to Worship
On an ordinary Sunday, we come to worship God.
We come, trusting God will speak to us;
we come, hoping God will surprise us.
On this day, like every other day,
we seek to follow Jesus:
We follow, believing Jesus will be with us;
we follow, hoping Jesus will work through us.
On this day, we lift our souls to God's Spirit:
We open our hearts, that the Spirit may fill us;
we open our hands, that we might be a gift to others.


Prayer of the Day
The little child struggling with fears;
the grandfather facing failing health;
the parent who lies awake till the early morning hours;
the teenager pressured by peers;
the lonely who are prey to con artists;
all of us with ordinary aches, pains, and worries -
each is cradled as your beloved child,
Tender God.

Those who work through the night;
those who sleep in littered parks;
those who are called exceptional;
those who are differently-gifted;
those who are filled with doubts;
those who spill over with laughter;
the youngest,
the oldest,
the ordinary  -
each is called sister or brother by you,
Lord Jesus.

Joyous praisers of your name;
seekers of hope;
those walled out by prejudice and hate;
babies who cry from hunger;
the poor who share their last coin
with those in greater need;
all the ordinary people around the world
are members of your family,
Spirit of Hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we lift our voices
praying as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)


Call to Reconciliation
We live our lives, tiptoeing around the facts that we often say words we should never have uttered, we do those things we wish we could take back.  Yet, you would reach out to take us by the hand, so we walk together in the garden of grace.  Let us offer our hearts, and our brokenness, to our God, who offers us mercy in these moments.  Join me as we use the words found below, praying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

   From the basements of our lives, we lift our prayers to you, Parent of our hearts.  We are convinced we know who our sisters and brothers are, and so ignored those you long for us to embrace.  Someone told us once that we had faults, and so we try to live up to their expectations.  We are so intent on watching for all the could go wrong, we miss your hope rising just over the horizon.
   If you kept a spreadsheet of our foolishness, Creator of your family, we would be in big trouble.  But you do not let our mistakes distract you from walking with us in every moment.  And so, we hear you calling us by name, and welcoming us into your family of faith, as we seek to follow Jesus Christ, our Brother, into reaching out to all around us.
 
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Hope in God, dear friends.  For the One who listens to our prayers is the God who loves us.  The One who knows our foolish lives better than we do, is the God who forgives us.
This is indeed good news for us.  No longer do we need to wait, but can rush into God’s gracious embrace, knowing that God will walk with us even when we stumble, will continue to affirm us, when everyone else around us tears us down.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.
 
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer be used, Loving God, not to feed strangers we do not know, but our sisters and brothers who hunger for companionship, as well as food; who look for a heart which will welcome them, as much as a place to sleep; who long for those who will accept them for who they are, not see them as those who have no worth.  This we pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who walks with us be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts to the One who waits.
We offer them to God, for whom we wait in every moment.
Children of God, rejoice in the goodness of God.
We give thanks to the One who feeds us with grace and hope.

Early on that first morning,
Creative God,
you crept down quietly down
to the kitchen to begin
crafting creation from simple ingredients.
   You poured water into rivers
      and populated fields with animals;
   you hung the stars in the crystal night
      and shaped the sun to warm kittens.
You baked bread whose aroma
drifted up to tickle our souls awake
so that we could bound down the stairs
to be wrapped in your hugs,
   but we preferred to stay in our rooms,
   sulking with sin and death.
Prophets came to remind us
that we were your children,
   but we continued to walk in the shadows,
   holding tight to temptations’ hands.
You could no longer wait for our souls
to change on their own,
so you sent your Child to call us home.
 
With those we recognize easily as family
and those we are not that certain about,
we sing our praises to you this day:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of early mornings.
All creation joins in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes bringing your hope.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Because you are holy, God of all creation,
you could hold yourself aloof from us,
but in Jesus Christ, you came to walk with us.
On his days of infancy and as a toddler,
   we see tiny ones as those
   we are to nurture and protect.
In his days as an adolescent,
   we learn to listen to questions
   we know we might have trouble answering.
In his friendship with the Marys and Martha,
   we see that all women are our sisters,
   whose strength and compassion can transform us.
In his challenging Peter, James, and John,
   we discover that men are more insecure
   than they would ever dare admit.
In his willingness to embrace the pain
of the cross for all those who knew
as well as those he never met,
   all of your children are gathered as a family,
   for death cannot separate us from each other,
   and resurrection love welcomes all equally.
 
As we remember his refusal to be exclusive in relationships,
as we celebrate the love which is poured out for all,
we speak of that faith which can be a mystery:
 
Christ died for his family, which includes everyone;
Christ was raised, so even the outsiders would be welcome;
Christ will come and bring us home to the One who embraces
   each and every one of us.

On this day, when we gather with folks we know all too well
and those we are meeting for the first time,
we pray that you pour out your Spirit
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup
which are offered to all your family.
Fed by the bread of hope and patience,
we will wait for the opportunities
   to feed those who are hungry,
   to welcome all who are excluded,
   to share all that we have, and
run to give of ourselves to others.
Nourished by the cup of grace and joy,
we will not give up in the face
of injustice, anger, and fear,
   but continue to walk with those who are weary,
   to carry those who have no strength,
   to skip with little kids filled with delight.
 
And when all time has ended, gather us
with our sisters and brothers of every time,
especially those we ignored or hurt,
so that we might celebrate as your family
at the table of healing and grace,
rejoicing together as we give you thanks,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.  
 
Sending
Now, let us go into the world as God’s children.
We will go to walk beside all who are in the shadows,
for there, we will find God journeying with them.
Now, let us go into our communities as the family of Jesus.
We will walk with our sisters who work multiple jobs;
we will walk with our brothers who raise children on their own.
Now, let us go into our neighborhoods as companions of the Spirit.
We will walk in peace with those who are so angry,
we will walk with those who have been damaged by hate.
 
© 2018 Thom M. Shuman