Monday, September 13, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for September 19, 2021 (Pentecost 17/Trinity 16/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - B)

 Texts: Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13 - 4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37

Call to Worship
Our world offers many wide avenues
and beautiful boulevards to walk;
Our God invites us to walk the road
of service and sacrifice.
Our society suggests we put down our roots
in the shallow soil of pleasure and greed.
Our God seeks to plant us on the banks of hope,
watered by the rivers of joy and grace.
Our culture promotes achievement, success,
climbing to the top, ringing the bell.
Our God tells us if we want to be first
we need to go to the end of the line.

Prayer of the Day
You are in the kitchen all night,
slicing, preparing, cooking, baking
food for all of your children
so we can feast at your table.
You do not clench your fist
tight around your grace,
but let it pour from your open hands
upon those who need it most.
We are blessed by such a God as you!

You sit into the wee hours,
telling us your stories,
until our weary souls
fall fast asleep.
You wrap us in
the swaddling clothes of faithfulness,
sending us forth to serve
the broken of our world.
We are called by such a Servant as you!

Tenacity and grace
are the work clothes
you put on each morning,
so you might mentor your children.
Sagacity is sprinkled
throughout your words,
sympathy trips off your tongue.
We are taught by such a Spirit as you!

In you, God in Community, Holy in One,
we have found all we need and long for,
and we offer the prayer we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
While we try to live in God's way, we know how often we follow the wrong advice, or walk down sin's shadowed streets. Yet, God watches over us and calls us to confess, so we might be welcomed into the embracing arms of mercy and healing. Let us pray as we say,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We confess how much we are like those first disciples of Jesus, Wisdom from on high. Our cravings for more and more toss us about like leaves in the fall winds. We boast of our great wisdom, yet do not understand your ways of peace and gentleness. We do not plant ourselves in your hope and grace, and so reap harvests of disorder and conflict.
     Draw near to us, Gracious God, and forgive us. Draw us into your tender arms, and teach us peace, gentleness, the willingness to put the other first, the wisdom to serve instead of seize, so we might bring forth a harvest of righteousness, justice, and peace in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the wisdom from above: God plants in us the forgiveness and healing we need, so we might share the good harvest of joy and mercy with everyone we meet.
Bathed in the living waters, fed by the Bread of life, we are given new life and hope. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Rather than boast of all that we have and are, may we humble ourselves, as we offer our lives, our hearts, and our gifts, in putting others first, that they might discover the wonders of the kingdom of grace and hope.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who plants us by streams of living water be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to the One who does good for us all the days of our lives.
We offer them to our God who feeds us with joy and hope.
Children of God, let your thanksgiving be on your lips in every moment.
Our hearts overflow with gratitude to the One who offers us the cup of grace.

You considered chaos, God of fruitfulness,
and planted creation deep in its barrenness.
Your Spirit whispered over the waters,
stirring into life that rich variety from your imagination;
the Word tagged close behind,
calling the sun, moon, and stars to shine,
shouting to the fields to blossom.
You shaped us in your image,
seeing us as most precious of all created,
willing to put our hands to work
in the peace and beauty of your garden.
But paying our money to the purveyors
of bad advice, we chose to wander
down the streets of sin and death.
Longing to feed us with your love,
you sent the prophets,
their words a feast of hope,
but we continued to chew
on the moldy bread of unfaithfulness.
Then, taking Jesus in your arms,
you placed him tenderly among us,
reminding us that if we would welcome him,
we could embrace your salvation.

So, with those who have sought to do good
all the days of their lives,
we lift our voices in praise:

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All creation sings of your steadfast love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is your Child who comes among us.
Hosanna in the highest!

We glorify you, God of holiness,
that by your love and mercy
you sent Jesus to live among us,
walking the paths of the world with us.
In the midst of conflicts and divisions,
he seeks to attract us with his gentle peace;
in facing the walls of rejection we build,
he would tear them down with his
gracious acceptance of all people;
in taking up his cross,
he became the servant of all,
and when death thought he was
in its selfish grasp at last,
he was raised to new life by you,
the promise of the resurrection for all.

Though we may not always understand,
we remember his willingness to be last,
we celebrate his triumph over death,
and we proclaim that he is the bread of life:

Christ has died;
Christ has been raised;
Christ will come again.

Pour out your Spirit
upon those who gather
in this place, in these moments,
and upon the gifts of your feast.
As we bring our famished souls to your Table,
strengthen us with the bread of life,
so we might go forth to offer
hope and grace to the needy around us;
as we open our parched hearts to you,
fill us with the servant spirit of the cup,
so that, setting aside our thirst for greatness,
we might offer our lives in service,
taking peace and reconciliation
to the brokenness of our world.

And when we come to the end of our journey,
gathering by the eternal streams of living water
with all those who have gone before and come after,
we will delight in your glory and grace through all eternity,
our glad songs of thanksgiving offered to you always,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go to walk the road of service.
We will feed others with God's hope.
Let us go to break down the walls of resentment.
We will join the Servant of the world in embracing the refugees of despair and fear.
Let us go to teach kindness in our world.
We will gather up our sisters and brothers, and rest in the Spirit's peaceful lap.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, September 06, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for September 12, 2021 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 19/Ordinary 24 - B)

Texts: Proverbs 1:20-33; Psalm 19;James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-38

 Call to Worship
We are not our own:
so, neither our will nor our wisdom
should get in the way of God's hopes for us.
We are not on our own:
so, we should not choose what is easiest
or the most gratifying way to live.
We are not our own, we are God's:
so, let us choose to live for God,
and serve all of God's children.
We are not on our own,
as we walk the streets of God's kingdom:
so, as far as is possible, we will forget ourselves
and follow Jesus Christ.

Prayer of the Day
All around us, O God,
creation preaches a silent sermon
about your glory.
The full, orange moon
declares your constant watchfulness;
the early morning mist over a schoolyard
speaks of your steadfast love;
the cool breeze through slowly changing leaves
whispers of your grace.

Holy Jesus,
you ask questions
which turn us speechless;
you tell us things about yourself
we imagine we need to correct;
you offer us a way of life
we dare not refuse.

Spirit of Wisdom,
you stand in the midst
of rush hour traffic
crying out to us
about our fascination with foolishness
and stretch out your hand
to point to the One
who walks towards us
offering a cross.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in this time together,
may we hear you in the silence and the songs,
and discover you in the people around us,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We all make mistakes, many of them. We hurt ourselves, we hurt others, we hurt God with our words and deeds, with our silence and inaction. Let us confess to God our sins, trusting in the One who blesses us with mercy.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Spring of Wisdom, we confess that we have not denied ourselves and followed. We turn our backs on your outstretched hands of grace, and stumble into the arms of the world. We speak poisonous gossip about others, rather than tell of their glory as your child. We fire off words that find no rest until they pierce another's heart.
     Forgive us, Rock and Redeemer. Give us speech which flows like cool water through another's parched spirit; give us silence with which to witness your wonders; give us words to proclaim Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and our Savior, the One who leads us to life.

 Silence is kept

 Assurance of Pardon
With gentleness, God speaks to us;
with graciousness, God forgives us;
with joy, God embraces us.
With our lips, we praise God;
with our words, we thank God;
with our silence, we find God
in our hearts. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
All around us, we are reminded that we are not on our own, but our lives intersect with the poor, the hungry, the hopeless, our sisters and brothers.  As we seek to follow you, may we share from the abundance you have poured out upon us, so all might experience your grace and life.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of glory be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who whispers hope and grace to you.
Our hearts rejoice in the wonder of God.
Sing glad songs of praise to God.
We join all creation in proclaiming God's giftedness.

The heavens tell the story,
God of glory and wonder,
of how your Wisdom moved
and the waters churned with life;
of how your Word danced
through the fields of creation,
the valleys and mountains
singing their praise to the end of the world.
You stood at the corner of grace and hope,
calling us to play with you in Eden,
but we refused, turning our backs
as we raced down the dim alleys
of temptation and seduction.
Your prophets came among us,
with words of sound advice,
but we ignored them, our ears
stuffed with the siren songs of sin.
So you sent Jesus to us,
to teach us the cost of redemption,
the suffering he would endure
that we might have life with you.

Now, with the wayward and the foolish,
with the wise and the faithful of every time,
we lift our voices to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Rock and Redeemer.
All creation proclaims your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who cries aloud in the streets 
      of your redeeming love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, True God of all life,
and blessed is Jesus, your Anointed Child.
He came to us,
standing in village squares
to declare your good news for all,
walking the streets of the city,
to call us to follow him.
Though we smack his hands away,
he continues to stretch them out to us,
the Friend and Companion
our hearts yearn for in every moment.
Despised by those who didn't understand,
rejected by those closest to him,
he took up his cross
and followed you into death,
where you raised him to new life,
that we might know him for who he truly is.

As we give thanks for his life and death,
as we celebrate his ministry and resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, losing his life for our sake;
Christ was raised, taming death's poison;
Christ will come, that we may proclaim his name.

Here, in these moments, and in this place,
pour out your Spirit of life and hope
upon the wayward and the foolish,
on the wise and the faithful,
who are gathered around your Table,
and upon the gifts of the bread and cup.
As the healing touch of the bread of life
rests upon our tongues and hearts,
may we use them as a blessing,
speaking words of hope and grace,
becoming the voice of those ignored
by the powerful of our world.
As the taste of the cup of salvation
tingles deep within our souls,
may we go to take up our crosses,
following Jesus into service and sacrifice
to all made in your beloved likeness.

And when the Son of Man comes in your glory,
when we are gathered around the banquet in the kingdom,
we will join our voices with our sisters and brothers,
singing of your grace, your peace, your love forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go now with God:
who covers us with tender mercies;
Go now with Christ our Lord:
who is our good companion;
Go now with the Spirit:
who gives us good food at the Table
and living water to nourish us.
Go knowing that God will direct your path:
bringing us joy and delight
as we continue on our journey of faith.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for September 12, 2021 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 19/Ordinary 24 - B)

Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 16:1-9; James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-38

Call to Worship
On this morning, as every morning,
we are surrounded by God’s grace.
In these moments, as every moment,
we are to costly discipleship by Jesus.
Throughout this day, as every day,
we are taught peace and hope by the Spirit. 

Prayer of the Day
Open our ears,
Teacher of souls,
so that we might hear 
the cries of the hungry
   and feed them,
the loneliness of the unloved
   and embrace them,
the songs of little children
   and learn them.

Give us the words we need,
Teacher of justice,
so that we might challenge
   the powerful and callous,
so that we work to bring together 
   families separated by fear,
so that we might speak out
   when everyone else is silent.

Strengthen our hearts,
Teacher of hope,
so that we might sustain
   the weary, not just with words,
   but with our friendship;
so that we might not hide
   but face down cruelty
   with kindness and mercy.

Morning by morning, day by day,
continue to teach us your ways,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
What are folks saying about us?  Do they mention our kindness, or how hard we are on others; do they speak of our love, or about our selfishness?  God invites us to follow Jesus and reflect him in our lives.  Join me, as we confess how we have not done son, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   All we need to do is open our mouths, Teacher of hearts, to show that we give our tongues free rein.  We claim we love others, but speak bitter words to them.  We think we are good and gracious people, but hurl epithets at those we do not like, or those we fear.  We are quicker to speak of judgment for others, rather than being voices for justice.
   But with your gracious mercy, Tender-hearted God, you can put out the wildfires of bitterness sparked by our words.  You can stop the words on the tips of our tongues and transform them into whispers of peace and love.  You can open our ears so that we can hear all that your Teacher of grace and hope, Jesus the Messiah, has to share with us, in these moments and all those to come.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Can we handle it – the good news; the fact that God’s grace can transform us; that God can teach us new songs; that God can fill us with hope and joy?
It is hard to believe, which may be why it is hard to accept it.  But God loves us, God has mercy on us, God is with us.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Open our ears to the struggles around us;
open our voices to speak out for justice;
open our hearts to welcome the forgotten;
open our treasures so they may be used to care for all your children.
This we pray in the name of Jesus the Messiah.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God of the mornings be with you;
and with you as well.
Children of God, lift up your hearts to God.
We lift them to the One who surrounds them with hope 
and fills them with wonder.
Let us lift our voices in song to our God.
We lift our voices teaches us glad praises of joy and hope

Morning by morning, you were at work,
God of wonders,
transforming chaos into creation:
   teaching birds to fly and fish to swim;
   carving channels for rivers through mountains;
   giving humps to camels and long necks to giraffes.
We were formed in your image, 
placed in that garden of wonders
hedged by hope, peace, grace, and love,
   but we snuck through them 
   so that we could play in death’s puddles
   with our playmates temptation and rebellion.
You refused to give up on us,
continually sending prophets to call us
back to your healing heart,
   yet we continued to listen to the whispers
   of other gods who promised wealth and success.
So, no matter what we said about you,
you chose to send your Child to us,
to teach us of your love and hopes.

With those who know who you are,
and with those who don’t know what to say,
we lift our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who is our shelter.
All creation teaches us of your grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who sustains the weary.
Hosanna in the highest.

Jesus was born, God of holiness, 
so that day by day, we might learn
of your gracious love and compassion.
He could have been a mighty warrior,
   but had a heart filled with peace;
he could have been an eloquent prophet,
   but was given the tongue of a storyteller;
he could have been played it safe,
   but was willing to risk all for us;
he could have left his cross on the ground,
   but picked it up, carrying it to fear’s hilltop,
   where he defeated once and for all
   the powers of sin and death.

As we celebrate his life and ministry to all,
as we struggle with the crosses offered to us,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Jesus died, losing his life so ours might be gained.
Jesus was raised, a spring of grace washing off death’s dust.
Jesus will come, so we might bless you.

Holy meal by holy meal, you bless us,
pouring the Spirit out on the gifts
of the bread and the cup
as well as on those who gather.
With the broken bread, you feed us
so that we can sustain the weary
   with hope and grace;
so that we can open our ears
   to the needs around us.
With the cup of salvation, you fill us
so that we can empty ourselves
   into those who hunger for peace;
so that we can be a blessing
   to all the world curses.

And when we are gathered
with our sisters and brothers
after all time has ended,
we will join in singing your praises
morning by morning,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us into the world with words of hope.
Morning by morning, we will speak these words
and live them out for others.
Jesus calls us into the world with words of justice.
Moment by moment, we will listen to the oppressed
and challenge the unjust powers around us.
The Spirit fills us with words of grace and peace.
Day by day, we will sing these words,
so all may hear of God’s presence in their lives.  

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, August 30, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for September 5, 2021 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - B)

 Texts: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship
What good is it if we say we love all people,
but give special treatment to a few?
God calls us to love others as deeply
as we love ourselves, with no strings attached.

What good is it if we say we want
God to show mercy towards us,
but are quick to judge others?
God calls us to forgive our sisters and brothers,
to let mercy triumph over judgment.
What good is it if we say we trust God in every moment,
but live guided by our fears?
We will speak and act as those who trust God to come
and live in our fearful hearts.

Prayer of the Day

God surrounded by glory:
you notice the people we walk past,
      and journey with them,
     wherever they are going.
You speak out for the voiceless,
      and open our ears to their cries.

Jesus, Healer of the hopeless,
Converser with the outsider:
in you,
      faith and works skip hand in hand
      down the streets of the kingdom.
In you,
      the have-a-lots and the have-nothings
      find themselves sitting side by side
      at your Table,
           passing grace to one another.
In you,
      those with good names,
      and those with no names,
           are called by one name:

Compassion's Spirit:
sow justice in our hearts,
      so the poor might find in us a friend;
sow peace in our spirits,
     so the angry might find in us
           a sea of gentleness;
sow generosity in our hands,
      so the hungry might find in us
           their daily bread.

God in Community, Holy in One,
surround us in these moments
and in all the ones to come,
with your grace and love,
as we pray together the disciples' prayer,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We find it a lot easier to play favorites, rather than treating everyone equally. We find it simpler to classify others as 'them,' instead of discovering what makes them beloved in God's eyes. We cling to fear, when we could grasp hold of God's enduring love. Let us confess together all we have done, and not done, which brings hurt to others, and harm to ourselves. Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
      How glibly we say we trust you, Holy One, and how quickly our fears silence our words.  We find you at the side of the poor, while we cozy up to the rich and famous. You stand behind the counter serving the hungry at the soup kitchen, while we are stocking our freezers and pantries till they overflow. We look down at those whose hands are dirty, but your hand of mercy pulls them into your embracing love.
      Forgive us, O Lord, and do good to us when we have trouble doing good for others.  Surround us with your love; surround us with your grace; surround us with your peace; surround us with the Spirit of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be strong, do not fear! God comes, to fill your parched souls with living water, to open your eyes to the grace which is yours.
God comes, for no other reason than to save us. This is indeed good news.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we who are rich with your blessings, share them in common with those who have so little.  May our gifts be used to sow justice, to feed the hungry, and to bring relief to those afflicted in so many ways.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
My beloved sisters and brothers, may the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
My beloved brothers and sisters, lift up your hearts.
Our hearts are offered to our God.
My beloved sisters and brothers, let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Thanksgiving is in our hearts, and praise is on our lips.

Our hearts do handsprings,
and our joy echoes off the mountains,
Creator of all:
      rich and poor, man and woman,
      child and grandparent, gnat and galaxy.
Created in your image,
      we ridicule others who look different from us;
our lungs filled with the Spirit's breath,
      we laugh at those who are not as good
           as we imagine we are.
But even when we turn our backs on you,
your love is steadfast and your grace is abundant.

And so, with all your people,
those on earth and those around your throne,
those beside us in this moment
and those with you throughout eternity,
we join in everlasting song:

Holy, holy, holy, God who surrounds creation with your grace!
Heaven and earth sing to the One who made them all.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who shares bread with the poor.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, and blessed is Jesus,
your Son, our Brother, our Savior.
Jesus has done everything well:
eating and drinking with sinners,
      he taught us that there is a place
           at the Table for each and every one of us;
responding to the cries of the poor,
      he shows us we are all equal in God's heart;
clearing the eyes of the blind
and opening the ears of the deaf,
inviting children to sit on his lap
and conversing with the outsiders of his day,
      he models the radical inclusiveness
          of your kingdom.

As we remember all you did in and through him -
his words, his touch, his laughter, his silence,
his pain, his loneliness, his death, his resurrection -
we offer ourselves in trust and hope,
in service and sacrifice,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, to sow life;
Christ has risen, to sow grace;
Christ will return, to sow justice for all.

May the Spirit of the Risen Lord
be poured out on us in this place,
and on the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we take the broken loaf, we feast,
not on the crumbs which fall from the Table,
but on the grace which makes us whole;
on the hope which makes us one;
on the love which calls us to serve:
      to welcome the immigrants to our neighborhood,
      to teach the little child to read,
      to affirm the awkward adolescent,
      to share our bread and all we have
           with those in need,
until that day when Christ returns
and all shall feast at his banquet in heaven.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,
all honor and glory are yours,
Great God, our hope, our trust, our redemption,
now and forever. Amen.

God sends us forth to love all people, no strings attached.
We will share grace and hope with everyone.
Jesus sends us forth to forgive our sisters and brothers.
We will offer mercy, not judgment, to those around us.
The Spirit sends us forth to trust God in every moment.
We will live in faith, not in fear, sharing our hearts with all we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy for September 5, 2021 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - B)

 Texts:  Isaiah 35:4-9a; Psalm 146; James 2:7-10 (10-13) 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship
Here, in this place, we will not be afraid to sing the good news.
We will praise our God, now and always.
Here, with this people, we will not fear in living the good news.
We will walk with Jesus, as he comes with justice in his hands.
Here, in these moments, we will not be scared to tell the good news.
We will be open to all the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst.

Prayer of the Day
On your holy road,
Heart of faithfulness,
those blinded by fear
   will see hope;
those deafened by doubt’s cries
   will hear grace;
those who have only crumbs
   will be filled with love.

On your holy road,
Heart of justice,
bullies will become mentors
   for those they tormented;
those who can’t find the right words
   will compose songs of wonder;
those who trip over their worries
   will dance in the streets.

On your holy road,
Heart of grace,
those convinced of their ways
   will learn to change their minds;
those whose hearts are barren deserts
   will bloom with bouquets of laughter;
those who have buried faith under a mound of words
   will see it resurrected in compassion for others.

We long to journey on your holy road,
God in Community, Hearts united,
as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
So many choices, and we make the wrong ones; so many paths to take, and we go down the wrong ones; so much good we could do, and all we do is offer empty words.  Let us bring our lives and hearts to our God, who is our help and hope, in this and every moment.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We say that we are good listeners, God of holy ways, but we turn stopped up ears to the vulnerable around us.  We say that we live as your people, but too often, put ourselves ahead of the people we love.  We say that we are people of faith, but then try to overwhelm people with words, rather than acts of service.
   We say so much, God of compassion, that we cannot hear you calling us to faithful living.  Have mercy on us and send us out to offer kindness to the lonely.  Have mercy on us and send us to be generous with the love you offer.  Have mercy on us, so we might be open to all the chances we will have to follow, and to serve alongside our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Whisper it.  Say it.  Shout it.  Sing it!  Our God comes with justice, not judgment; with hope, not a heavy hand; with grace, not grudges.  This is the good news for us.
We will not be scared to tell anyone, and everyone, of our God who overflows with mercy, who sets us free, who watches over us.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May our gifts not be the crumbs of our lives, but justice for those overlooked by the world; be healing for those broken by pain and grief; be grace for those who long to be listened to and welcomed.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of holy ways be with you.
May God be with you as well.
Here we may come, to be fed by grace and hope.
Here we offer our hollow hearts to our God.
We will rejoice and praise God every chance we get.
We will sing to our God in every moment of our lives.

You came, God of Imagination,
into the emptiness of chaos,
your arms laden with the gifts of creation:
   sweet, juicy tomatoes on vines;
   honey dripping from combs in trees;
   cool, clear water rushing over rocks.
These wonders, and so much more,
were given to those you loved enough
to form in your own image, so we might
feast upon your goodness and bounty,
   but we scrambled around under death’s tables,
   seeking to scoop up the crumbs of temptation.
Prophets came over and over and over,
their words, their lives, their hearts
open calls for us to return to your side,
   but we turned hard hearts 
   and fear-plugged ears to them.
Then, because you are our help,
you sent your precious Hope to us,
the One who would speak as you.

With those who speak plainly,
with those who have trouble changing their minds,
we life our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, our God, now and always.
All creation praises you every day, in every moment.  
Hosanna in the highest!  

Blessed is the One opens us to your grace. 
Hosanna in the highest!

In the baby born into poverty,
you came, God of the vulnerable,
   to challenge the powerful and profane.
In the young boy playing in the fields,
you came, God of the faithful,
   to know our loneliness, as well as our joy.
In the teacher who wove stories of wonder,
you came, God of justice,
   to remind us that mercy triumphs over judgment,
   that inclusiveness welcomes every outsider.
In the One broken on the cross,
you came, God of life,
   to break the power of sin once and for all,
   to set us free from our fear of death.

As we remember the One who was willing to listen,
as prepare to be fed by the One who was willing to learn,
may we not be afraid to speak of that mystery we call faith:

Jesus died, so we might find our hope in you;
Jesus was raised, so we might find our help in you;
Jesus will come, so we might find our life with you.

In these moments, and in this place,
you come, God of the feast,
pouring out your Spirit on the bread and the cup 
and your family gathered around the Table.  
Though we would sweep out the crumbs of the broken bread, 
you gather them up 
   to feed the most vulnerable with life, 
   to bring healing to the broken, 
  to offer community to the lonely.  
Though we would toss out the dregs of the cup, 
you would pass this grace
   to the refugee so they might find a welcome, 
   to the transgendered so they would know they are loved, 
   to the aged so they are not forgotten.

And when you have set us free from time’s prison,
you gather us around the feast of heaven where,
with our sisters and brothers, we will sing
your praises, now and always,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, let us go with grace in our hearts.
We will not be afraid to proclaim the good news.
Now, let us go with justice in our hearts, in our hands.
We will not shrink from speaking to those in power
to set the most vulnerable free from all that limits them.
Now, let us go with hope in our hearts, in our hands, on our lips.
We will join the Spirit in singing the good news to our world.

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman