Saturday, November 28, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for December 6, 2015 (Advent 2 - C)

Texts: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6

Call to Worship
In this season of waiting, our God comes.
Come suddenly, Holy God, into our slow expectations
and fill us with your urgent hopes for justice.
In this holy season of delight and wonder, our Savior comes.
Come suddenly, Companion of the poor,
and challenge us to share in the gospel of welcome for all.
In these days of remembering what our lives are to be, our Spirit comes.
Come suddenly, Preparer of the way, to take us by the hand
to walk with our sisters and brothers down the path to service.

Prayer of the Day
See, You come, Clarifier of our hearts,
   playing salvation’s love song
      on a baritone sax;
   preparing the way for grace
      to transform our souls;
   holding us in Your heart
      when we lose our way.

See, You come, Tender Mercy,
   filling in poverty’s potholes
      with grace’s riches;
   tearing down cruelty-capped
   straightening out the winding paths
      we make the needy walk;
   soothing the lonely nights
      of rough sleepers.
See, You come, Eyes of grace,
   so in seeing the suffering around us,
      we might share mercy;
   in observing the struggles of others,
      we might give offerings of justice;
   in noticing the silence of leaders,
      we would cry out for hope.
See, You come, God in Community, Holy in One,
so we might be Your people of grace and justice,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We may appear pure and blameless to others, but we know the mistakes we have made with our words, our thoughts, and our actions.  But God promises not only to save us from our enemies, sin and death, but from ourselves as well.  Join me as we offer our confessing words to the One who will make us new once more.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   You witness the sorts of lives we lead, Approaching God.  Asked to share the gospel of hope, we place it on our to-do list instead.  Given the chance to cry out for justice for others, we fall strangely silent.  Invited to pray with joy in every moment, we prefer to grumble about every insignificant thing in our lives.
   Have mercy on us, God of grace, and prepare our hearts for Your forgiveness to have its way in them.  Fill us with Your hope so we might lighten the shadows of others.  Help us to join the choirs of children in singing of Your joy.  Transform us with that tender mercy who is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God is our witness.  We have spoken of our lives and been forgiven of every mistake we have made, every hurt we have caused.
We are held in God’s heart, not only on this day, but all the days of our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
See, you come in this holy season with the simple gift of life itself.  See, you invite us to share from the abundance of our lives, so others might be filled with life, with hope, with love, and with grace.  Bless these gifts we offer to You, so they may be used to share the gospel of wholeness and welcome for all.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of every mercy be with you.
May you be filled with the tenderness of our God.
Lift up your hearts to the One who looks with grace upon us.
Confident of God’s love, we open our hearts to the One who comes to us.
Sing glad songs of praise in this moment.
We join our sisters and brothers in joyful thanksgiving.
Chaos could not endure the day
of creation’s coming, Ingenuous God,
and so gave way to Your gifts
   of snowflakes gently melting on our eyelashes,
   of golden clouds awakening our mornings,
   of children singing carols in bathtubs.
These joys, and so many more
were given to those shaped in Your image,
   but we heard the voices of temptation
   crying out and foolishly followed.
You called women and men (and even
children) to remind us of Your promised mercy,
   but we refused to see
   sin and death as our foes.
So You sent Your heart’s Delight
to us, Jesus, preparing the way
for your redemption to come to us.
With those who long for hope,
with those who cry out for justice,
we lift our joy to You:
Holy, holy, holy are You, Melter of our frozen hearts.
All creation waits for Your Advent once again.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the Dawn from on high.
Hosanna in the highest!
You alone are holy, God of our hopes,
and Jesus is Your glory made flesh.
He came with tender mercy in his hands,
   to shatter our hardened hearts.
He came to transform fuller’s soap
   into the waters of baptism.
He came to shine a bright light in death’s eyes,
   stunning it into submission
   to resurrection’s love.
As we draw ever closer to Bethlehem,
as we prepare to journey with Jesus from birth to new life,
we declare that mystery we know as faith:
Christ died, preparing the way for salvation;
Christ was raised through the baptism of the resurrection;
Christ will come, Dawn from on high of every time and place.
As Your people gather at Your Table,
pour out Your Spirit on us
and on these gifts of joy and wonder.
Though broken, the Bread makes us strong enough
   to not only cry out for justice,
      but to sacrifice for it;
   to not only notice the poor,
      but to discover what they have to teach us.
Poured out, the hope of the Cup
can flow through us,
   to feed the hungry,
   to be reconciled to those we fear,
   to welcome all cast aside by the world.
You will look on us with grace
at the end of all time,
gathering us with our sisters and brothers
around the Table of life eternal,
where we will forever sing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
God is sending you to be messengers of this holy season.
We will go to share God’s grace in the shadowed places of our world.
Jesus is sending you to be messengers of his gospel.
We will go to share the good news of justice in every way we treat each person.
The Spirit is sending you to be messengers of peace.
We will go to share the gifts of hope and reconciliation
which have been placed in our hearts.

© 2015 Thom M. Shuman


Friday, November 20, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for November 29, 2015 (Advent 1 - C)

Texts:  Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1st Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

Call to Worship
Because of you, Righteous God, we begin our journey to Bethlehem,
trusting that you will lead us down the paths of faithfulness.
For you, Child Jesus, we wait,
on this day of anticipation and hope,
in the days of doubt and worry.
With you, Spirit of Advent, we serve,
those for whom this season is not one of joy;
those whose lives are empty of family and friends.
Prayer of the Day
Because of you,
Fulfiller of promises,
we come to know
the way to Bethlehem,
   where justice is born
      to a shunned family,
   where the riches of your love
      are born into poverty.

Because of you,
Sign of our redemption,
   grace sprouts hope
      in the winter of our despair,
   goodness overcomes evil
      in the streets of our cities,
   love transforms hate
      in the hardest of hearts.
Because of you,
Abnegator of our fears,
   we are taught to pray
      in the shadows of our worries,
   and to trust that your peace
      is preferable to
      those easy prejudices
      sold on every corner.

Because of you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we will be led in this holy season
to the place of our hope and redemption,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If only our hurtful words, our damaging actions, our foolish choices would just go away.  But they don’t, and so we offer them, as well as ourselves, to God for forgiveness and for our healing.  Please join me, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   The chances we have to be more compassionate; the moments to offer hope to a lonely friend; the good fortune we could give to those who have so little.  The signs are all around us, Good and Upright God, of how we fail to live as your people.
   Do not meditate on our bungling ways, God of steadfast love, but remember the mercy of your heart.  That mercy which forgives us; that mercy which makes us whole; and especially, that living mercy who came down one night so long ago, Jesus the Advent of our redemption.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Raise your heads, children of God!  In the bleak mid-winter of our lives, our redemption draws near.  In the springtime of our doubts, the kingdom of God approaches.
Even when we feel most alone, the One who comes to us is the salvation promised so long ago.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Because of you, Abundant God, we have blessings to offer to others.  May you use our gifts to restore hope to the despairing, to feed the hungry, and to fill the empty hearts of the lonely.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the coming God be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts, people of God, your redemption draws near.
We will offer them to the One who leads us down paths of faithfulness.
Join together in singing thanksgiving to God, our righteousness.
We praise the One for whom we wait, this day and every day.
The days of creation came,
God of goodness,
when you spoke on that first morning,
calling forth budding flowers for each spring,
            warm breezes for summer days,
            tumbling leaves in the autumn,
            bright, brittle stars on winter nights.
You did all this, and so much more,
so we might discover your ways,
            but we chose to walk the paths
            paved by sin and death.
Prophets came, speaking of your promises
and calling us back to your truths,
            but we continued to reflect on
            the teachings of temptation.
So you sent Jesus to us,
your Word which will never fade.
With those whose hearts are strong in holiness,
with those who long for justice for all people,
we offer our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our righteousness.
Because of you, all creation awaits your advent.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to us in weakness.
Hosanna in the highest!
You are holy, God of our salvation,
and your Child is the bearer of justice.
He set aside great glory
to come incognito to us.
Knowing our fears, he showed us
            how to trust in you.
Feeling our despairs, he filled us
            with your overflowing hope.
Experiencing our death,
            he went into the grave
            so death might become
            a safe place for us,
and we would receive your redemption.
As we set out on this Advent journey,
as we seek to walk the way to Bethlehem,
we remember that mystery we call faith:
Christ died, the Branch broken on the unjust tree;
Christ was raised, declaring ‘the Lord is my resurrection!’
Christ will return, the advent of God’s glory and grace for all.
Come now to your children
gathered at the Table,
pouring out your Spirit on the gifts
of the Bread and of the Cup.
This is the bread which, though broken,
strengthens us to stand up for justice
and to face the bullies named terror and hate.
This is the cup which overflows with grace,
            so we might transform our communities
            into safe places for all people;
            so we might see our sisters and brothers
            in those the world would have us fear.
And when we raise our heads
to see our redemption draw near
at the end of all time,
we will join our sisters and brothers
in singing your praises forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
Now may our God prepare us to serve our sisters and brothers.
We will devote ourselves to walking with others to Bethlehem.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ steer us into all the places we do not want to go.
We will throw ourselves into the mission of feeding the hungry,
into the privilege of learning from the poor.
Now may the Holy Spirit move us to increase in love for others.
We will take up the cause of justice in every corner of our lives,
we will help to bring the kingdom of hope near to everyone around us.
© 2015 Thom M. Shuman


Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Day - Year B

Texts: Joel 2:21-27; Psalm 126; 1st Timothy 2:1-7; Matthew 6:25-33

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 waster 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 who 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
It would too easy to hoard all the blessings which are hours, God of this holy season.  Yet, you call us to simply give a portion back to you, so that others might be fed by your hope, children might be sheltered in warm homes, and the broken might be made whole.  Receive our gifts, as well as our hearts, we pray in the name of Jesus, our Brother.  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 are you, God of wonder and delight.
All creation is filled with your joy.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to clothes 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 was raised, the resurrection for all.
Christ will return, the fulfillment for all.
Pour out your Spirit
doing great things with the bred 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.

Before we fill ourselves from groaning tables,
let us go forth to feed those whose hunger is all too real.
Before we gather with friends and family in warm, safe homes,
let us go forth to shelter those who have no place to sleep.
Before we rush to the stores to buy more than we really need,
let us go to offer our hearts and lives to all whose lives are empty.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman




Liturgy for November 22, 2015 (Reign of Christ/Christ the King - B)

Texts: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18); Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37

Call to Worship
We have chosen to be here, where God remembers us.
God comes to us, the One who was and is and is to come.
Like leaves skipping over the carpet of grass:
God comes to us, the One who was and is and is to come.
Like the first glimpses of the sun peeking over the horizon:
God comes to us, the One who was and is and is to come.
Like the moon lighting our way on a cloudless, autumn night:
God comes to us, the One who was and is and is to come.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God:
from the beginning of time
to the end of eternity,
you have chosen
to use your power and majesty
     to love us,
     to redeem us,
     to shape us as your people.
King of Kings
and Lord of Lords:
you became weak
     so you could confront
     the strength of sin and death,
confounding their ridicule
with your resurrection.
Spirit of God,
resting upon us:
may your power enflame us
     with your peace;
may your peace touch us
     with your grace;
may your grace fill us
     with your hope;
may your hope lead us
into your Kingdom.
God in Community, Holy in One,
may your word be on our lips,
as we pray together as Jesus
has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
While there are many with power in our world - power to hurt us, power to hire or fire us, power to control us - only God has the power to forgive us and make us new people. Let us confess how we fear the power of the world, and welcome the power of God's grace.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     The choices we make, Mighty God, reveal who we are. Choosing the lies of the world, your Word has not been on our lips. Choosing independent and isolated lives, we do not reflect your Spirit in our actions towards others. Choosing to exalt the powerful of our day, we are unable to follow the One whose weakness gives us life.
     Forgive us, God who became weak for our sake. Do not turn your face from us, but help us to face ourselves honestly. Free us from our captivity, so we may faithfully follow Jesus Christ, our King, our Lord, our Savior.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Shout for joy, children of God! The God who was and is and is to come loves you, forgives you, and renews you.
God's Spirit rests upon us, grace and peace are the gifts of our loving God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/offering
As we offer our gifts in this moment to you, Holy God, we pray that they might be used to bring hope, to bring healing, to bring new life to all your people.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Rock of our lives be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, open your hearts to the One who loves us.
We will not turn away from the God of grace.
Children of God, lift your voices in thanksgiving to the One who has freed us from sin.
Our souls rejoice in the One who is, who was, who is to come.

You entered the headquarters
of chaos, Mighty One,
casting aside the shadows
so that the sun might shine
on that cloudless first day,
the morning rain glistening
off the verdant grass.
Humanity was clothed in righteousness,
to listen to your voice, to be your people.
Yet, we moved into death's dwelling place,
resting our feet on sin's comforting stool.
Having made an everlasting covenant with us,
you sent the prophets, your words
springing from their lips,
but we would not listen to their voices.
Then you sent Jesus to us,
the One who loves us
and frees us from our bondage.

We lift our voices in glad song to you,
joining our voices with those around us,
and all your servants in heaven:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of amazing imagination.
All creation echoes with cries of wonder.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who is, who was, who is to come.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, God of every age,
and blessed is the favorite of your heart, Jesus Christ.
For this, he was born,
that we might be swaddled in mercy;
for this, he came to us,
that we might follow him
into that kingdom which is forever;
for this, he went to the cross
testifying to the truth
that sin has no power over us,
that death cannot defeat your love.
Remembering all the hardships he endured,
praising you for the gift of new life in the resurrection,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:

Dying, Christ was our salvation;
rising, Christ is our new life;
returning, Christ is to come to bring us home.
Turn your face towards us,
and pour out your Spirit
upon this Table of grace,
and your children gathered around it.
As we eat of the bread,
we will open our souls
to listen to your voice,
which sends us to speak out
for the misused and oppressed of our time.
As we drink from the cup,
we will open our hearts,
so we might go into the world,
to speak truth to those
who have only known lies,
to serve all whom the world has forgotten.
And when the time comes and Christ reigns forever,
over sin, over death, over all creation,
we will gather at the feast you have prepared for us,
our hearts overflowing with joy
as we sing your praises forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go forth to serve God's children in weakness,
so others might find the strength to live.
Let us go forth as powerless as Jesus,
to empower others with hope.
Let us go forth with our arms full of the Spirit's peace,
so the world might be healed of all its brokenness.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman