Friday, November 21, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for November 30, 2014 (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 season of waiting,
may we welcome the God who comes to restore our lives.
Now, in this season of watching,
may we see Jesus at work in the world, and rush to help him.
Now, in this season of hoping,
may we share the Spirit of wonder and joy with everyone we meet.

Prayer of the Day
We wait with hope,
and in the waiting,
Approaching God,
you hand us the bread of heaven
instead of feeding us on bitterness,
you touch the cup of grace to our lips,
when we expect a glass
filled with your tears.

We watch with hope,
Bethlehem's Babe,
and in the watching,
we see stars falling down
to light your way to us;
we see the world's powers
tremble at your humble approach;
we see our hardened hearts
being torn open so you
can come and live with us forever.

We listen with hope,
and in the listening,
Spirit of Advent,
we hear the songs of children
standing in the shadows of dawn;
we hear the sobs of the mother
who has no medicine for her baby;
we hear the quiet footsteps
of the One tiptoeing towards us.

May we live your hope,
God in Community, Holy in One,
during this season of waiting, watching, and listening,
as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Advent is the season
   of waiting and watching,
      of preparing and praying,
         of hoping and hearing.
Let us come to God, speaking of how easily we become distracted from these simple acts of Advent discipleship, as we pray together, saying,

Responsive Prayer for Forgiveness
God is drawing hear to us:
we live in a world of violence,
which we tolerate by our silence:
   Come to us, with your peace.
We are filled with the best of intentions,
but seem 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
Now, in this season of waiting, hear the good news: 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, and who will come again in glory!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We will no longer wait, but will offer our lives, as well as these tangible gifts, in the work of the kingdom, so all people might know that God's love, hope, peace, and healing are for all.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the approaching God be with you!
And also with you!
Open your hearts to our God, dear friends.
We long to be filled with grace and hope.
Sing songs to the Potter of our lives.
We rejoice in the One who shapes us with new life.

You could no longer wait, Patient God,
and so tore open chaos,
laughing in pure delight
as creation poured forth:
   dolphins chirping in the seas,
   kittens leaping at their shadows,
   horses stamping in the snow.
These awesome gifts were for all
those shaped in your image,
   but our promises to be faithful
   to you shriveled like leaves,
   and death carried us away on sin's breeze.
You longed to restore us to you,
sending the prophets to us time and again,
   but we turned our backs to them.
So you sent your Child to us,
your grace made human in Jesus.

With those who are awake and alert,
with those who nod off while waiting,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who approaches.
All creation tingles with anticipation.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

In this season of holiness you came,
God of Advent, for you could
no longer wait to bring hope to us.
Your Child might have held on
to glory for a while longer,
   but humbled himself
   to be born in poverty.
Your Child could have stayed
on the sidelines watching,
   but became a player
   in this game called life.
Your Child could have bided
his time until all things passed away,
   but entered the very gates of death,
   suddenly coming out of the grave,
   the grace of resurrection for us.

As we remember the coming of Christ,
as we seek to keep alert in these times,
we speak of that mystery called faith:

In those days, after suffering, Jesus died;
on that Day, your raised Christ to new life;
in these days, we wait, not knowing but trusting in your future.

Wait no longer, God-who-comes-to-us,
but pour out your Holy Spirit
upon the gifts of this sacred meal,
that your children might be restored.
We may not know how,
but the broken bread strengthens us
   to go to feed the hungry,
   to bring healing to the hurting;
   to carry the burdens of others.
May the cup of grace open
our eyes so we may see
   the injustices around us
      so we may challenge them;
   the oppression of others
      so we may break it;
   the fears of those around us
      so we may relieve them.

Then, when you can wait no longer,
gather your children from every time and place,
seating us around your feast which awaits us,
as we praise you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Now, go into the waiting,
we will go with God to restore our world.
Now, go into the watching,
we will follow Jesus to see all those places where we can serve.
Now, go into the hoping,
filled with the Spirit, we can be the peace for which others long.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 17, 2014

Liturgy with communion for Thanksgiving - Year A

Texts: Deuteronomy 8:7-18; Psalm 65; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Luke 17:11-19

Call to Worship
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
We glorify our God with songs of thanksgiving and joy.
God has done great things for us, filling us with grace.
God fed our ancestors in the wilderness, God clothes us with hope.
We will offer our hearts to God, always saying,
'Thank you!' to the One who loves us.
We will sing our praises, shouting of God's presence in our lives.

Prayer of the Day
Hot showers in the morning
     and cool breezes in the evening;
work that provides for our families,
     and abundance that makes us generous;
silly jokes told by third graders,
     and the silent tears of a grandmother
     lost in her childhood forever.
What blessings are ours, Creation's Joy!

Teachers who patiently help us with our math,
     and mentors who keep us on the right paths;
friends who shovel snow off sidewalks before we waken,
     and employers whose hearts are greater than their profits;
piano teachers who smile at our repeated mistakes,
     coaches who teach us (one more time)
     how to curl the ball into the goal.
What blessings are ours, Servant of Joy!
 
Dogs who bounce us awake early in the day
     and cats who lullaby us to sleep at night;
grandfathers who teach us how to whittle
     and sisters who give up a date to baby sit;
little boys who always forget to wipe their mouths
     and folks who always remember to say 'thank you.'
What blessings are ours, Joyous Spirit!
 
God in Community, Holy in One,
thanksgiving is in every word we speak,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
 (The Lord's Prayer)
 
Call to Reconciliation
We wonder what's for lunch, we worry about work tomorrow, we fret about the test that is coming up. So much worry, so much time wasted over things we cannot control. The One who showers earth with rain, who places the stars in the autumn sky, is the same One who wraps mercy tight around you, who feeds us on healing and hope. Let us confess how our worries keep us from trusting the God who hears us and restores us to new life. Please join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Because we live in this modern, tech-driven, twittering age, we often forget what you have done for us, God of every blessing. We pat ourselves on the back for our ability to learn new computer skills, but have forgotten that life is more than a machine. We have more than we could ever use yet, like squirrels, store up more and more. Our faith is often pushed to the back of the closet, to make room for all the fears we wear so easily.
     Forgive us, Restorer of life. As you clothe us with your grace and mercy, may we share with those who have so little. As our hearts overflow with your love and wonder, may we offer them as gifts to everyone we meet. As you feed us with your joy and hope, may we welcome to the Table all those whose lives are filled with tears and pain. As we gather with family and friends during this season, may we continue to give thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: as God dresses creation in wonder, so you will be clothed in grace; as God pours out abundance upon the earth, so you will be blessed with peace and joy.
We don't say it often enough, but thanks be to God for healing, for life, for wonder, for mercy. We are blessed, for we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We cannot begin to express our gratitude to you, Giver of all, for your gifts poured into our lives.  But let these offerings be used to bring hope, healing, and peace to all your children, so we may all give thanks to you forever.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord of blessings be with you.
The Lord be with you, also.
Be glad and rejoice, God's people, lifting your hearts to the Restorer of lives.
We offer them to the God who clothes us in grace.
People of God, come to the Table where you shall eat and be satisfied.
With shouts of joy, we gather to praise the name of God!

Your mouth was filled with laughter,
God of our every moment,
     as you sang creation into being.
The heavens rang with shouts of joy,
     as fruit-bearing trees sprang up,
     as green pastures rippled with wonder.
Crafted in your image, you would
satisfy us with the bounty of grace,
     but we chose the destroyer, death,
     hanging out with the life-cutter, sin.
Prophets and psalmists were sent by you,
longing to restore us to your side,
     but we put their words to shame.
So that everyone might be saved,
Jesus came to be with us,
herald of your grace,
bringer of your truth.

With those who lifted thanks by crossed rivers,
with those who offered gratitude for simple gifts,
we join our voice in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy! God of wonder and delight.
All creation is filled with your joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

Holy are you, Restorer of broken lives,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Mediator of salvation.
Seeing the nightmare of our lives,
     he became one of us, so we
     might see the dreams you have for us.
Knowing how our hearts overflowed
with fear, bitterness, and worries,
     he came with peace and comfort.
Teaching that the body is more than sin,
that life is more than death,
     he became our ransom on the cross,
     our salvation by rising from the grave.
 
As we give thanks for his life and death,
as we shout with joy for his resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:
 
Christ died, the righteousness for all.
Christ rose, the resurrection for all.
Christ will return, the fulfillment for all.
 
Pour out your Spirit                                         
doing great things with the bread and the cup.
Empty, we will be filled
with the plenty of your grace,
the broken bread strengthening us
     so we might bring healing to a world
     shattered by violence and despair.
Longing for hope, we shall be satisfied
with the cup of blessing and hope,
our lives overflowing
with your love and compassion,
     pouring ourselves out for the
     poor and marginalized of our time.
 
And when all our worrying hours have ended,
when we are clothed in your mercy forever,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers,
our mouths filled with laughter,
our hearts echoing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
The God of laughter sends you out.
So we can share joy with everyone.
The Brother of the poor sends you out.
So we may bring hope and healing to the broken and despairing.
The Spirit of wonder sends you out.
So we may join all creation in offering thanks.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Liturgy for November 23, 2014 (Reign of Christ/Christ the King - A)

Texts:  Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

Call to Worship
We come, for God gathers us here,
with that community called faith:
where the hungry are served first,
where the thirsty drink life's water.
We come, for God welcomes us here
into that home called grace:
where the naked are clothed in robes of hope;
where the stranger is embraced as the long-lost prodigal.
We come, for God reunites us here,
sisters and brothers in that family called love:
where the imprisoned model justice,
where the sick are cradled in God's peace.
 
Prayer of the Day
Searcher of the scattered:
where the bullies and biased
have gorged themselves
at cruelty's banquet,
     you will serve them justice
     for dessert.
Where the wounded
are turned away by indifference,
     you will bandage them
     in the swaddling clothes of hope.
Where the hungry
press their foreheads
against the windows
at Chez Plenty,
     you will open wide the doors,
     having made reservations
          for us all.

Bringer of justice:
when we would push
the outsiders further away,
     you pull them closer to your heart.
When we would shove
the next-to-nothings aside
to get to the front of the line,
     you pick them up
     to keep them next to you.
When we scatter our gifts,
throwing them away on foolishness,
     you gather them up
     and give them back to us
          saying, 'here, try again.'

Spirit of common sense:
as soon as
we wander into
the shadows of selfishness,
     you open the eyes
     of our hearts
          so we can see
          that place called home.
As soon as
we think we can find you
only in the rich and powerful,
     you humble us
     with the grace of Jesus.
 
God in Community, Holy in One,
gather us into your presence,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
They are the promises stretching back into the dim recesses of time, yet as new as this very moment.  When we lose our way, God searches for us until we are found. When we hurt others, God brings healing to all.  When we sin, God forgives us. Let us hold these promises close to our hearts, as we confess those things we try to hide.

 Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We stock the food pantries, but brush aside those who hunger for friendship.  We give our hand-me-downs away, but overlook those whose hopes have been stripped away.  We glad-hand those just like us, but turn a deaf ear to our neighbors who 'talk funny.'
     Forgive us, Hope of the ages.  You persistently search for us in the side streets of the world, gathering us up and bringing us home, so we may be drenched in the waters of your bottomless pool of  forgiveness, watched over by your Child, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
 
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God searches for the lost,
and finds us;
God invites the hungry to the table,
and feeds us;
God sends Jesus,
and frees us from death's prison;
God forgives all who sin,
and heals us with mercy and grace.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these gifts be used to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, to bring medicine to the sick and provide a hospice bed for the dying, to offer hope to those who thirst for it in their lives and to bring friendship to those who sit in jail cells.  May these gifts bring your kingdom to everyone who longs for its presence in every circumstance, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Searching God be with you!
And also with you!
God gathers us up and brings us to this place.
We lift our hearts to the One who leads us into the kingdom of peace and healing.
God collects us in the power of the Word, whoever and wherever we are.
We will sing glad songs that remind us that we are never, never! lost.

Out of the clouds and
thick darkness of chaos,
you spoke the creative Word,
God of wonder,
and creation burst forth in joy.
     Rivers and streams teemed with life,
     mountains were topped with snow,
     green pastures cradled all your creatures.
You shaped us in your image,
calling us to be your people,
living in your steadfast love.
     But your hopes for us
     were pushed aside by
     the seductions of sin and death,
          and we followed them into
          the uninhabited wastes of the world.
Because we were your priceless treasure,
you continued to search for us,
sending prophets in all the ages.
     When we continued to worship
     all the false powers,
you sent Jesus to gather us up
and lead us back to you.
 
So, with skeptics and scoffers,
with the faithful and the followers,
we join our voices together
singing our praise to you:
 
Holy, holy, holy, Shepherd of all creation.
Heaven and earth sing choruses of praise:
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to gather us back to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Steadfast Love,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Child, our Savior.
Seeing us stripped naked by sin,
     he forages through glory's closets
     to clothe us in your joy and hope.
Setting aside his power,
     he would turn oppression inside-out,
     and injustice upside down
          to create the kingdom
          where the least are the most valued.
Searching for us,
     he left no stone unturned,
     even going through death and hell
     in order to find us
     and bring us back to you.
 
As we remember his service to all,
as we celebrate the promised resurrection,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:
 
Christ has died, bringing us your justice;
Christ is risen, offering us your love.
Christ will gather us up to lead us home.
 
In this sanctuary of your heart,
with sisters and brothers in the faith,
we pray that you pour out your Spirit
upon us and the gifts of the Table.
It is here all our scattered lives
are woven together in that tapestry
called the kingdom,
where we are strengthened
by the Bread of life,
     so we may fortify all those
     who have been exhausted by life;
where we are handed
the Cup of hope,
     to quench the thirst
     of all who wander through
     the deserts of injustice.
 
And when you have gathered
all the nations into your joy,
when the losers and the lurkers,
the weak and the wise ones
are seated around your Table,
we will join our voices
with all of creation,
forever singing anthems of praise,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
We will go now into God's world:
to bring healing to the sick and hope to the despairing.
We will go now to serve Jesus' sisters and brothers:
to offer a hand to those who have fallen,
to put a warm coat around those who shiver in the cold.
We will go now to share the Spirit with everyone we meet:
to be a companion to those in prisons as well as those bound by injustice,
to bring the cup of grace to every parched soul.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for November 16, 2014 (Pentecost 23/Trinity 22/Proper 28/Ordinary 33 - A)

Texts: Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30
 
Call to Worship
This is the Lord's Day, the day of wonder and grace.
This is the day to worship the One who calls us here.
This is the Lord's Day, the day we are given joy and peace.
This is the day promised to us, the day of healing and renewal.
This is the Lord's Day, and it has come just in time!
This is the day we gather with hope, with faith, with love!
 
Prayer of the Day
Now,
in the silence,
when we struggle
to control our lives,
     may we, once again,
     empty ourselves of our pride and fears,
          to be filled with your hope.

Now,
in these moments,
when we cannot let go
of our worries and doubts,
     may we, once again,
     open our hands to hold your faith.
 
Now,
on this day
which is only and always
your gift to us,
     may we, once again,
     live into your kingdom.
 
Now, as we lift our hearts to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we once again pray as we have been taught saying,
 (The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we remember all the mistakes we have made, all the careless words we have spoken, all the contempt we have given to those around us, we have trouble looking God in the eye. But God gazes at us with mercy and love, waiting to forgive us, even as we hesitate to speak of the brokenness of our hearts. Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Again we must confess, Master of the Universe, our struggles to be faithful disciples.  Entrusted 
with all your gifts, we become fearful once again of misusing them, missing the chance to be a blessing to others.  Invited to dance in the light of your love, we stand against the wall once again, keeping company with our old friend, sin.  Called to be emptied for those who struggle in life, we fill ourselves once again, with scorn for the poor choices they make.
     Have mercy, Journeying God, have mercy on us.  Once again, open our eyes to your kingdom in our midst, so we might discover that your day of hope and grace has already come in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: God intends for us to find life, to embrace hope, to receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ, our Servant.
The end of our journey is not rejection and emptiness, but the fullness of grace and hope in our God.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Now, in these moments of gratitude, we would offer you a portion of all which you have given to us, Gracious God.  We do so, trusting that you will take them, multiplying them in your kingdom, so all might be blessed by your love, your peace, and your hope.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of promises be with you!
And also with you!
Rejoice in the One who surprises us, people of God.
We lift our hearts to God who brings us salvation.
Children of God, join in glad song to the Giver of mercy.
Our voices join in praise to the God of love and hope.

When you had
had enough of chaos,
Covenant God,
you cried out in love
     and creation burst forth in joy.
You shaped us into images of you,
that we might be children of light,
     but we were drawn into
     the shadowy life of sin and death.
You sent people like Deborah
to call us back into your light,
     but we were scornful of their words.
Then you sent Jesus,
who came to fill us
with your love and hope.
 
So, with servants and sinners,
with judges and those who endure injustice,
we lift our voices, our hearts, our eyes
singing to the One enthroned on our hopes:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God enthroned in the heavens.
All creation looks to the hand of the Creator.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who walked the dusty paths of earth.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Wonder,
And blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
When the proud hurled
their contempt at him,
     he humbly knelt to serve them.
When friends urged him
to play it safe,
     he crawled out onto faith's limb,
     trusting it would hold him.
When death wrapped him
in its cold shadows,
     he burst forth into the light
     of resurrection joy,
that we might live
in the kingdom with you.
 
As we remember his mercy and hope,
as we celebrate the feast he has prepared,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:
 
Christ died on that day of shadowed hearts;
Christ rose on that day when death was surprised by love;
Christ will come to us on that day of light and love.
 
Your grace showers down
upon the seeds you have planted,
your hope warms the harvest
planted in our hearts.
As the Spirit gathers your gifts
and prepares them for your Table,
make us ready to receive them
with joy and gratitude.
As you send us forth
to serve your people,
     may our faith and love
          be transformed into winter coats,
          we can give to the homeless;
     may our hope become
          the meals we fix for the hungry.
 
And when that long-awaited Day comes,
when all times and seasons have ended,
we will gather at your Feast,
joining our voices with our sisters and brothers,
as we sing to you through all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
Let us go forth to be God's faithful servants.
We will not hide our gifts but share them with everyone we meet.
Let us go forth to be the followers of Jesus.
We will not hold back our compassion, but will offer it to all.
Let us go forth to be the Spirit's hope and peace.
We will be the grace, the joy, the wonder others need in their lives.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman