Monday, January 18, 2021

Liturgy with communion for January 24, 2021 (Third Sunday after the Epiphany - B)

 Texts: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20 


Call to Worship
The Word of the Lord came,
hope for all people cradled in his arms.
the Word of the Lord comes,
calling us out of our comfort zones,
to go where grace is needed most.

The Word of the Lord will come,
gathering all the outsiders and insiders
into one community of the kingdom. 

Prayer of the Day
 
When we try to ward off 
your call to proclaim 
the kingdom's good news 
to those we would never 
welcome into our tight circle, 
you remind us that we can never 
set boundaries on how far 
your mercy, your love, your hope 
will extend, God of persistence. 

Looking at your watch, 
you announce, 'it is time,' 
opening your arms to welcome 
all the outlanders we build fences 
to keep out of our lives, 
opening your heart to draw 
all the odd ones out 
into the safe shelter 
of your heart, Calling Jesus. 

Each morning, 
you break your fast 
with those for whom 
we have no place at our tables; 
each day, 
you set out 
to meet those who stand 
at the edge of our narrow-mindedness, 
to show them the path home; 
each evening, 
you take our foolish fears 
and gently blow them away 
from our hearts, Companion of Grace. 

We wait and trust in you, 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
even as we pray as taught, saying, 
(The Lord's Prayer

Call to Reconciliation 
Now is the appointed time.  Pour out your hearts to God, bringing those harmful words you spoke, the chances to help you turned your backs on, and the foolish choices of your lives.  Offer them to the One who longs to hear us, trusting that God will forgive us. 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
   Our comfortable lives convince us we do not need to follow Jesus, Steadfast God.  Our work provides for our wants, so we have no need for your grace.  Our friends are found through social media, so we do not need your community.  Our fear of the beliefs and cultures of others makes us sure that we do not need to share your grace with them. 
   Forgive us for dragging our feet as Jesus' disciples, Compassionate God.  May we get up from our comfort zones and step out in faith.  May we go to all the uncomfortable places to bring hope.  May we proclaim with our lips, but especially with our lives, that the kingdom of love is near, brought by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 


Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Now, after we confess, we hear the good news proclaimed: God hears our words, God sees our changed hearts, God's steadfast love is poured out upon us!  
We will trust in God, in whom our salvation rests.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
 
May these gifts we offer show we recognize your claim upon us, Holy God.  Use them so your grace, your love, and your hope may be shared with everyone who needs them.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the outsiders be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to God, dear friends.
We pour them out to the One who redeems us.
Sing songs of gladness to our God.
We join in the chorus of all who believe. 

Into the swirling mist 
of chaos and destruction, 
you tossed the seeds of creation, 
Persistent God: 
   whales that power through the seas, 
   puffins that gather on rocky islands, 
   gases which coalesce into stars. 
All your wonders were gifts for your children, 
   but we chose to stew in sin's acid. 
You longed to rescue us from death's belly, 
sending even the most reluctant prophets 
to proclaim the nearness of your compassion, 
   but we refused to change our minds, 
   sure we could bribe our way out of sin's grasp. 
Persistent to a fault, 
you sent Jesus to proclaim your good news. 

With the intimates who prove to be unfaithful, 
with the interlopers who trust and believe, 
we sing songs of joy to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love. 
All creation waits in trust for you. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Blessed is the One who brings the kingdom near. 
Hosanna in the highest! 


Leaving that safe place which 
is your holiness, Gracious God, 
Jesus came at the time appointed by you. 
He set aside all he possessed, 
   so we might have the riches 
   of your merciful heart. 
He refused to let our fears 
prevail against his life of grace, 
   continuing to draw us 
   near to your kingdom. 
He went a little farther 
than we dared imagine, 
   walking for three days 
   in death's cool shadows, 
before coming forth into 
the bright joy of the resurrection. 

As we would faithfully follow Jesus, 
going a little farther with him each day, 
we proclaim that kingdom called faith:

Christ died, claiming the promises of hope;
 You raised Christ, claiming him from death;
 Christ will return, claiming us for you. 
 

Now is our time fulfilled, Blessing God, 
as we gather at this Table, 
the bread and the cup made sacred 
by the presence of your Spirit. 
We eat of the bread, 
praying that its grace might strengthen us 
so we would become as persistent as you 
   in confronting injustices, 
   challenging oppressive actions, 
   reaching out to lift the fallen. 
We drink from the cup, 
trusting that its hope will spill 
out from us upon 
   the lonely and he lost, 
   the hungry and the homeless, 
   and especially on the outsiders. 

Then, when the appointed time comes 
and you gather us with our sisters and brothers 
around the Supper of the Lamb in glory, 
we will sing our praises to you forever, 
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen. 

Sending
Now, take the word of God into the world.
we will place hope in the arms of others.
Now, take the word of Jesus into the world. 
We will follow to serve beside him in all the broken places.
Now, take the word of the Spirit into the world.
We will bring others near to the kingdom where all are welcome. 

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for January 17, 2021 (Second Sunday after Epiphany - B)

 Texts:  1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51


Call to Worship
In the silence of a lonely night,
in the songs children sing in the morning,
God calls to us.
We are here, God who is always with us,
listening for your words of life and love.
When we would decide to go it alone,
when we think no good can be found anywhere,
Jesus calls to us.
We are here, Friend who knows our longings,
ready to come and see where you would lead us.
When we think we have license to do whatever we want,
when we are convinced we need no map,
the Spirit calls to us.
We are here, Peace we are longing for,
so that we might help others find the way to life.

Prayer of the Day
When the good news
is hard to find, Knowing God,
you swaddle us 
in your comforting hope,
   so that we may decide 
   to go wherever
   you call us to serve.
 
When the good news
is seen as fake,
Brother of our journey,
you call us to speak 
of the truth that God
   offers grace to
   a world which has decided
   to believe in lies.
 
When the good news
seems out of fashion,
Spirit of wisdom,
you weave kindness
into a shawl for the lonely,
   you knit comfort 
   for all who grieve.
 
When your good news seems so rare,
may we decide to share it more and more,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)   
 
Call to Reconciliation
We are foolish enough to think you do not know our hearts, hear our words, see the mistakes we make, and the pain we cause.  But because you are not only holy and know, you are gracious and forgive.  Hear us now, as we offer our lives and hearts to you, praying together,
 
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Because we are so focused on ourselves, God of every life, it is hard to see the lives which others endure.  When we are so worried about how the economy will affect us, we do not notice those in need around us.  As we grumble about our aches and pains, and about how difficult it is to get out of the bed each day, we easily ignore the broken.
   Forgive us, God of goodness and grace.  Speak to us of healing, so we might bring help to others.  Speak to us of grace, so hearing, we may share it with everyone we meet.  Speak to us of love and life, so we may offer it as freely as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, brought it to us.

Silence is kept
 
Assurance of Pardon
Come and see!  God grace is poured out on everyone, God’s hope is freely shared in every moment, forgiveness is the gift which mends our foolish lives.
Thanks be to God.  We are surrounded by God’s love and mercy, now and to the very end!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We are hesitant to offer our gifts in this moment, Loving God, because in the back of our minds we wonder if any good will come of helping the poor, feeding the hungry, reaching out to the stranger.  But by your grace, not only goodness, but hope and healing will pour out of what we give in these moments.  Bless our gifts, we pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of our moments be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, let us offer our hearts to the One
   who is with us in this place and time.
We lift them to the One who fills us with grace.
Children of hope, join in singing praises to God.
With hearts and voices, we lift glad thanksgivings.

When chaos refused to listen,
you called creation out of emptiness,
God from beginning to end,
   rabbits burrowed under snowy meadows,
   porpoises gliding through warm oceans,
   eagles soaring in empty skies.
These, and all your gifts, were offered
to those created in your image
so that we could be with you in every moment,
   but we decided to do what pleased
   sin and death more than you.
Prophets came, calling to us, hoping
to help us see you searching,
   but we thought no good 
   could come from their words.
Then, you sent your heart to us,
so that your good news would 
not remain hidden from us.
 
With little children filled with questions,
with those worn by years of wonder and service,
we offer our thanksgivings to you:
 
Holy, holy, holy, are you, God of our every moment.
We join all creation in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who heard you calling
Hosanna in the highest!

We cannot begin to comprehend
your holiness, God who searches,
so you revealed it in the One
who chose to become flesh and blood.
Deciding to go to us
when we were avoiding you,
   Jesus found us to put us
   back on the path to you.
Deciding to go into the silence
which surrounded our stubborn pride,
   Jesus calls us to follow him
   with his voice of welcome. 
Deciding to challenge the power of sin
by dying on a barren hill,
   Jesus helps us to see 
   your resurrection love
   as he was brought out 
   of the grave’s cold grip.
 
As we wonder if any good can come from following him,
as we listen for your word in these moments,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:
 
Trusting you were with him at the end,
   Jesus died;
loving him from the beginning,
   you raised Jesus to new life;
knowing our hopes and fears,
   Jesus will come with resurrection hope.
 
Before we gather, you are at the Table,
pouring out your Spirit on the gifts
prepared for your people.
In the breaking of the bread,
may we hear the
      cries of hungry children,
      the groans of weary workers,
      the whispers of lonely strangers,
   so that we can say, ‘here we are,’
   as we reach out to serve.
Through the grace of the cup,
may we listen to your heart which seeks
      justice for the overlooked,
      peace in violent settings,
      hope in despair’s shadows,
   so that we may not only hear
   but act as your hands and feet,
   your voice and your love.
 
And when all time comes to the end,
we will find you waiting beyond,
seating us with our sisters and brothers
around the wedding feast of the Lamb,
where we will rejoice in you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
 
Sending
God sends us out, 
so that grace will not be rare in our time.
Here we are, ready to go and share
love and mercy with those around us.
Jesus calls us to go out,
so that justice will not be rare in our time.
Here we are, ready to speak truth to power,
walking with those on oppression’s mean streets.
The Spirit fills us with compassion,
so that peace will not be rare in our time.
Here we are, offering hope to those living in fear,
working for reconciliation in brokenness.
 
© Thom M. Shuman   

Monday, January 04, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for January 10, 2021 (Baptism of the Lord)

 Texts:  Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11


Call to Worship
On that first day, when time began:
you gave birth to creation;
light danced through the darkness;
the waters of hope flowed free and clear.
On that first day at the Jordan, when redemption began:
you spoke of life for all your children,
as your Child stepped into the waters of forgiveness,
dancing in hope with his cousin, John.
On this first day of the week, when we begin anew:
you call us to faithfulness,
as we open our hearts to you,
your voice claiming us as your own.
 
Prayer of the Day
Beloved's Parent:
grace is the gift 
     which flows to us
     from your heart;
joy is the seed planted
     deep within our souls,
     that it might blossom 
          into lives of service to all.
And we cry: "Glory!"
 
Servant of sinners:
you emerge from baptism's water,
     to embrace us in your hopes;
you take our fears from us
     and toss them aside
     as you lead us into your kingdom;
you shine the Light
     which brings us out 
     of despair's shadows.
And we cry: "Glory!"
 
Wind upon the water:
you move among us
     sweeping aside our petty pride,
     and offering us the gifts
          of humility and servanthood.
You whisper of your yearning
for peace and reconciliation,
     until it silences our angry voices
     and unclenches our fisted hearts.
And we cry:  "Glory!"
 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
we lift our voices as your Beloved teaches,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
You and I are now the ones who step forth out of the safe waters of baptism, to bring hope, to share a word of grace, to carry healing into the brokenness of the lives around us.  Let us confess how we still struggle
to follow in faith wherever Jesus leads us.  Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Timeless God,
you cast Light into sin's dark places
and call us your Beloved.
Forgive us:
    when we still linger in the shadows;
    when we treat others in hurtful ways;
    when we speak ill of your friends.
     
As he knelt in the waters of Jordan,
you proclaimed Jesus as your Child,
pointing to him as the way to you.
Forgive us:
    when we put ourselves ahead of him;
    when we think he is no longer needed;
    when we fail to see him in the broken of our world.    

Baptized and blessed in your living waters,
you would have us be your servants in our time.
Forgive us:
    when we fail to welcome the stranger;
    when we refuse to forgive as we should;
    when we believe we are too good to kneel down
        and tie the shoes of the lost, the least, the last, the little.
 
Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Touched by the waters of life, fed at the feast of grace and hope, embraced in the warmth of God's love and hopes - this is good news!
Blessed by baptism's tears, called to servanthood by the Beloved, filled with the peace of the Spirit, we are indeed God's people - redeemed, restored, refreshed to serve.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Bathed in the waters of baptism, we are graced people.  Graced people, we recognize the gifts which have been poured out upon us.  Recognizing these gifts, we take them and give them back to you, God of the waters, so that others might be bathed in hope, graced with joy, gifted with your peace and love.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Creator of heaven and earth be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who gave his Heart to heal us.
Let us give thanks to the One who made everything and called it 'good'.
How right it is to give our thanks and praise 
to the One who calls us 'Beloved.'

Into the shadows of silence,
you hummed the first chords of creation,
Heart of Tenderness,
     your Word crafting the sun to welcome each day,
     the moon and stars to guide the night.
The Spirit gathered up the dust of chaos
     and shaped it into vast universes,
     flinging them into space and time.
Floating on the warm waters of Eden,
cradled in your love and joy,
     we could have lived with you forever.
But we made mud pies from death's dirt,
     shaping our own foolish dreams,
     chasing after sin, and always being caught.
Prophets came, sent from your heart
to call us back to you,
     but we could not hear them 
     over the shouts of our desires.
So, when we had no hope,
you sent your Child, Jesus,
the One who was willing to take on
anything, and everything, which kept us from you.
 
With those who ran to the river's side,
and those who immersed themselves in grace,
with our beloved sisters and brothers 
in every time and place, we sing of your love:

Holy, holy, holy!  Creator of Light and life.
Heaven and earth sing forever of your love and joy.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes to be baptized 
       by water and the Holy Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest! 

Blessedness is your nature, Holy Imagination,
and your Bright Morning Star is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When our hearts were hardened towards you,
     he came to soften them with your grace.
Knowing we had lost our way,
he came to walk at our side,
     unfolding the map of the kingdom
     and pointing out the way home.
Standing with us in baptism's waters,
he journeyed alone to the cross,
     taking our place in sin's grasp,
     and leading us into your heart,
leaving death empty and alone.
 
On this day we remember our baptism,
we would proclaim the life which was his,
and the hope which is ours in that mystery we call faith:

Bathed in your tears, Christ died for us;
washed in the resurrection waters, Christ rose for us;
bringing the waters of life to us, Christ will come again.
 
As your Spirit changed chaos into creation,
may these simple gifts
of the bread and the cup
be transformed into 
your life and peace for us.
We come to this table,
your baptized and beloved children,
     hungry for your hope in our lives,
     yearning for your peace to fill us.
And when we have been fed by you,
we would go forth into the world
     to bring the homeless off lonely streets,
     to feed the hungry with more than clich├ęs,
     to welcome the stranger as our sister,
     to embrace the outcast as our brother.
 
And when time has ended its journey, 
and we are gathered as your family
around the Table of grace,
we will join our hands and hearts together,
singing to you through all eternity
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Go into the world as God's beloved children.
We will go to share the gift of grace which flows from God's heart.
Go into the world as baptized sisters and brothers of Jesus.
We will go to bring the light of hope to all in despair.
Go into the world as those filled with the Holy Spirit.
We will go to hear the whispered yearnings for peace and reconciliation.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 28, 2020

A different road - a liturgy for Epiphany in a season of pandemic

Texts: Isaiah 60: 1-6; Psalm 72:1-7:10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

Call to Worship

L: This past year, we found ourselves

on a different road,

P: yet we still look for that Baby

born long ago in Bethlehem.

L: This year, we are worshiping

in different ways,

P: yet we still look for that

Child of Christmas

who gifts the needy with hope,

who sets free the oppressed.

L: This year, we gather

in different places,

P: yet we still long to find

the One who has come for us,

even as we remain apart

from those we love so much.

 

Prayer of the Day

Shaper of stars

we know by name

and those we have numbered,

you call us to travel

different roads than

we expect:

to walk with the forgotten

down that road

which leads to justice,

and to follow them

rather than trying

to show them the way.

 

Bright morning star

of every morning,

you would illuminate

those new roads

you want us to travel:

the neighborhoods potholed

by poverty’s heavy trucks,

the communities where

the cries of the vulnerable

are drowned out by the shouts

of the wealthy at expensive gatherings.

 

Wisdom which can teach us

different ways of living,

of loving, of caring,

you would have us reach out

to those who have known only indifference,

and to open our eyes

to see the isolated and lonely

so we can gather them to our hearts.

 

In these times which seem

when we long to turn around

and go back to the way it used to be,

you call us to continue

to travel down different roads,

God in Community, Holy in One,

even as we pray, saying,

(The Lord’s Prayer)

 

Call to Reconciliation

We find it so easy to walk down the familiar roads of foolishness, turning our backs on those God would have us love, and ignoring the map God gives us.  As we speak of our choices, let us open our hearts to the One who offers us the hope and grace we seek, even if we don’t realize it.

 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness,

   If we turned toward the Light you offer, Creator of stars, we would find the road you want us to travel.  But we are more comfortable on those shadowed streets of seduction we know all too well.  We can drive down the roads of rebellion with our eyes closed.  We continue to play hopscotch with hate and fear on the sidewalks placed along the paths of prejudice.

   Have mercy on us, Shaper of universes as well as our lives.  How foolish we are to continue to take the easy paths, rather than that road of justice, that road of hope, that road of forgiveness that are less traveled in these days.  May we be like those wise ones of so long ago, who found grace, salvation, and you by following that different road of faith which lead them to that Child called Jesus, who would guide them and the rest of us, from that moment on.  Amen. 

 

Silence is kept

 

Assurance of Pardon

L:  Open your eyes!  The Light has come to all of us, to each of us.  The Light of justice, the Light of love, the Light of life.

P:  This Light is not just for us, so we will carry it to everyone we meet, as we travel down the different road of faith in our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen!

 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering

We could take the high road of self-righteousness

 

 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

L:  May God be with you, Advent travelers!

P:  May God be with you, as well!

L:  Now in these moments, lift your hearts,

     all who found their way to Bethlehem.

P:  We bring them to the Child born,

     who has come to fill us with grace.

L:  Wise travelers, little children, everyone,

      join in singing praises to our God.

P:  we have followed the Star to hope,

     and will take a different road home,

     the road of mystery and faith.

 

L: Chaos had laid out a path for you,

God on unparalleled imagination,

but you chose a different road,

   paved with the bricks of beauty,

   lined with majestic oak trees,

   right next to rivers flowing into oceans.

This gift, which we call creation,

was given to provide light

out of the emptiness of temptation,

   but we continued to live

   in those shadows we found

    so appealing and comfortable.

you sent women and men to us,

those ordinary folks who spoke

of your steadfast love and hope,

   but we continued to trail behind

   temptation as it led us further from you.

since you knew we could not find

our way back to you on our own,

you sent Jesus to us,

your servant of salvation.

 

so, with the wise as well as the foolish,

with those who know the way by heart,

and those in need of road assistance,

we sing of your grace and love:

 

P: Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the vulnerable.

    All creation delights in praising you.

    Hosanna in the highest!

 

    Blessed is the One who gathers the isolated.

    Hosanna in the highest!

 

Though he knew the streets

of glory like the back of his hand,

though he had played hopscotch

on the sidewalks of eternity,

when in your holiness, God of grace,

you called him to become one of us,

Jesus was willing

   to become a prisoner of sin

   so we might be set free;

Jesus was willing

   to travel another road,

   going to Calvary, so

   we could run with abandon

   into your arms of grace.

 

So, as we celebrate his birth and love,

as we start down a different road called faith,

may we understand that mystery revealed through him:

 

P:  Christ came, the morning star of love;

     Christ died, the night star of salvation;

     Christ arose, the radiant star of resurrection;

     Christ will come again, the constellation of hope.

 

We have traveled different roads

than we expected this year,

Star Maker and Bread Baker,

yet we have all been led to this Table,

where you send down your Spirit

upon the gifts of life and grace

and all who have gathered wherever they are.

Hope was broken on the cross,

but like this bread, it gives us the strength

to travel different roads

   as we seek justice for those who have none,

   as we challenge power to listen to the voiceless,

   as we stand with those who are cast aside.

Grace was poured out in resurrection love

and through the gift of this gup, it refreshes us

so that we can go down different roads

   to share meals with strangers in our neighborhoods,

   to welcome the lonely as close family,

   to continue to distance ourselves, so that

      one day we can embrace each other.

   

And when our different roads lead us to you,

gathered around your feast of love,

with all we have missed and lost,

all who have been ignored and dismissed,

all our sisters and brothers

from every time and from every place,

we will join in songs of praise to you,

God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

 

Sending

L: Now, let us go into the world with our God,

P: taking the different road of grace

     to bring hope to everyone.

L:  Now, let us go with Jesus to care for others,

P:  taking the different road of justice

     to bring healing and life to the forgotten.

L:  Now, let us go to bring the Spirit’s light

     into the shadowed corners of isolation and fear,

P:  taking the different road of faith and confidence

     to walk with those who feel so alone.

 

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Liturgy with communion for December 27, 2020 (1st Sunday after Christmas - B)

 Texts: Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40

 
Call to Worship
Praise the One who spoke and made everything!
Let the rivers ripple with joy;
let the mountains stomp their feet.
Praise the One who adopts all of us as children!
Let old folks tell familiar stories;
let little children swim with dolphins.
Praise God!
We will sing of God's glory;
we will shout our joy to the heavens.

Prayer of the Day
Creation's Father:
of all that you created and love,
you choose us to be your children;
of all the places
you could love,
you make us holy
by your Spirit's presence;
of all that you could offer to us,
you have given us Jesus.
 
Destiny's Child:
you came to clothe us
in salvation's finery;
you amazed the wisest
with your humility;
you know all the thoughts
we dare not share with anyone.
 
Spirit of Abba:
as we celebrate a Birth,
be born in us each day;
as we sing God's praises,
whisper the good news to our ears;
as we seek to be faithful to our calling,
lead us into the kingdom waiting for us.
 
God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It is easy to become slaves to our passions, it is harder to live as God's children. Let us confess the easy choices we have made, so God can strengthen us to be faithful sisters and brothers of Christ.  

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Abba God: we know that given the chance, we rarely praise others. We are guided more by meanness than by your gentleness. And we are seldom wise enough to listen to your voice, preferring instead the sweet, sweet songs of sin.
     Forgive us, Heart of Heaven. Touch those inner places of hope and joy that they might become the gifts we can offer to those around us, as we seek to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news.  the time is now; the place is here: God has redeemed us from sin; God has claimed us as the children of Hope.
Praise God, all people, for life is given to us anew; eternity is our home.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
By these gifts, Gracious God, may those who have so little be clothed with your abundant grace; may the hungry be fed with food that strengthens them and hope which gives them new life; may all who are searching find that they are your beloved children.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.
 
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Christmas Joy be with you.
And also with you.
Children of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who came to us in Bethlehem.
Children of Hope, give thanks to God.
We sing our songs of joy to the One who became one of us.

How can we keep from praising you,
Glory's Father?
You spoke,
and stars danced in the sky;
you whispered,
and snow fell gently in the night;
you sang,
and the Spirit
breathed life into us.
Yet, we allowed ourselves
to be guided by the Evil One,
being led into the wilderness of sin.
But you could not sleep,
tossing and turning in grief.
You sent the prophets
to adorn us with your grace,
but we ignored them.
Finally, with time almost running out,
you sent your most precious possession,
Jesus Christ, your Beloved Son.

So, with all creation echoing
the songs of angels,
we join in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who alone is exalted.
All creation rejoices in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who would not keep silent.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Mighty God,
and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ.
When we thought we could do no wrong,
he came to make us right;
when the world had forgotten us,
he called us by a new name;
when the time came,
he went to the cross,
that sin's slaves might be set free
and become your children.
 
As we celebrate his Birth,
and remember his death and resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

By Christ, we are redeemed from sin;
by Christ, we are delivered from death;
by Christ, we are adopted as God's children.
 
Guiding Spirit,
as you moved over creation,
come to bless this bread and cup,
and your children gathering around this Table.
As we eat of the Bread of angels,
may we be nourished by your justice,
to bring hope to all people.
As we are filled with the Cup of grace,
may the seeds of righteousness
planted deep within us,
bloom that all creation can be made whole.
Then send us forth
not as slaves to sin,
but as servants of salvation
to those longing for new life.
 
Then, when the time comes,
and we are all gathered in heaven,
we will join hands and dance around your Table,
singing our praises to
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever.  Amen.

Sending
The God of creation goes with you now.
As we go to care for all that has been given to us.
The Child of Bethlehem goes with you now.
As we seek to serve with humility and hope.
The Spirit of Abba goes with you.
As we would show others how to find the kingdom.

(c) Thom M. Shuman