Saturday, December 15, 2018

Liturgy with communion for December 23, 2018 (Advent 4 - C)

Texts:  Micah 5:2-5a; Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55

Call to Worship
We come to glorify God,
to rejoice in the One who saves us.
God comes, so we might believe,
so we might be blessed.
Our hearts leap for joy!
For God is coming to us in a child.
God comes for those who hunger for hope,
for those who thirst for grace.
Holy is the One who comes in God's name,
who fulfills every promise of God.
God comes to walk with those who follow in faith,
to bring peace to a shattered world.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
scattering the proud,
you look with favor
on those the world ignores.
For you,
we wait for the One
who will feed us;
for you,
we wait for the One
who stands with us
in our loneliness and pain.
For you, we wait.

Jesus Christ,
born in a backwater town:
in you,
God fills the hunger
of our hearts;
in you,
God lifts us
from our hopelessness;
in you,
all the promises come true.
For you, we wait.

Holy Spirit,
Hallower of God's people:
from you comes faith,
    so we might believe;
from you comes belief,
    so we might be blessed;
from you come all blessings,
    so we might give them away.
For you, we wait.

God in Community, Holy in One,
for you, we wait, even as we pray:
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Every notion we have about power, success, wealth and achievement, God takes and tosses out the window.  More importantly, God comes to us, to upset our idea that we must save ourselves.  In Jesus, God comes to us, removing our sin, our failures, our expectations, so we might have life.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We confess we are not the people you hope us to be, Advent God.  The very ones you favor?  All too often, we ignore them, or worse fill them with ridicule.  The ones you knock off their pedestals?  We continue to admire them, seeking to emulate their ways.  The drumbeat for more and more?  We give into the rhythm so easily, we risk being sent away empty.
     Forgive us, Mighty God who comes in the weakness of a baby.  Look with grace upon us, so we might see your love shining down.  We could live secure in your hope, we could be the ones of peace for our world, we could learn to do your will, if we but welcome Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into our hearts and into our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God passes the heirloom of mercy down
from generation to generation, always loving,
always forgiving, always calling us to new life.
As we open our hearts to God, we are filled
with the joy that was sung at the Birth, 
with the Hope that walked among us, 
with the Grace which is always with us.  
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
In these moments, God who comes, remind us of those who are yearning to be lifted to their feet, those who hunger for hope, those who look for peace, and may our gifts be used to serve them.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May salvation’s Rock be with you!
May that foundation be with you!
As God approaches, let us lift our hearts in hope.
God comes to strengthen them with grace.
May our songs tell of God’s love which never ends.
We will sing of God’s faithfulness which lasts forever.

With patience, with gentleness,
you entered the emptiness of chaos,
God of wonder and awe,
spreading the rich soil of creation
from which sprang flowers and fields,
vegetables and trees, our ancestors in life.
You looked with favor upon them,
doing wondrous things for them.
But they wandered far from you,
losing themselves in the maze of thoughts
crafted by temptation and death.
You would not give up on them,
time after time sending prophets
with words of welcome and hope,
but they could not do your will.
So you sent Christ into the world,
filled with the Holy Spirit,
exclaiming with a living cry
of our salvation for all time.

With all those who trusted in what was unseen,
and those who believed the best would come,
we join our voices in singing your Advent praise:

Holy, holy, holy, God of holiness and peace.
All creation waits for your purpose to be revealed.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to do your will.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, God of unending glory,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Hope of the world.
He came with haste, leaving your side
to set out on his journey for us.
The joy of your heart,
he come to proclaim your love;
the Word of your hope,
he came to call us home;
the fruit of your grace,
he was born to offer himself
for our salvation and freedom
from the power of sin,
making us your holy people
by his death and resurrection.

As we prepare to celebrate his birth,
as we remember the gift of his resurrection,
we would tell of that mystery we call faith:

P:    Christ was born, that we might see
            hope in the flesh;
        Christ lived, that we might hear
            grace spoken aloud;
         Christ died, that we might feel
            the breaking of God's heart;
        Christ is risen, that we might know
            that the promises are true;
        Christ will come again, that we
            might be blessed as God's children.

Pour out your Spirit
upon the gifts of this Table
and upon your children
who gather for your feast.
In this place, we are filled
with the strength of hope,
so we may serve those
who hunger for goodness and grace.
Restored by the Cup of life,
we can dare to go out
to empty ourselves for those
who wander the streets of life,
unnoticed by the rest of the world.

And when our journey has ended,
when your Advent has come to gather us home,
we will join with Elizabeth and Mary,
with Joseph and John the Baptist,
with our sisters and brothers from all time,
forever singing our joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

O come, Child of the covenant,
to lead us to the heirs of the promises made long ago.
We will go with you to those who have been forgotten,
to lift all those knocked down by life to their feet.
O Come, salvation’s servant,
to show us the way to the joy of this season.
We will go with you to welcome the outsider,
and to throw our arms around those whose hearts are broken.
O Come, Lover of the lowly,
to fill our hands with the shawls of grace and peace.
We will go to wrap them around those who grieve,
to place them on the shoulders of those damaged by violence.  

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Liturgy with communion for December 16, 2018 (Advent 3 - C)

Texts: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18

Call to Worship
Come, let us rejoice this day in the God 
who is near in everyone around us.
We will sing glad songs of the One
who is rebuilding neighborhoods in our midst.
Come, let us rejoice always in Jesus 
who baptizes us with hope and compassion.
We will join in choruses of praise of the One
who brings justice to the forgotten in our midst.
Come, let us rejoice again and again in the Spirit
who offers us new life in every moment.
We will sing full throttle of the One
who fills us with gifts to share with everyone in our midst.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
when we believe it is enough
that we have sung in choirs,
remind us that it is
the lullabies to little children,
the acceptance sung to teenagers,
the welcoming songs to strangers,
the oldies hummed with older folks
that matter the most.

Jesus, our uncomfortable Brother,
when we believe it is enough
to have been in church every week
remind us that it is
the kindness we share on Monday,
the justice we work for on Tuesday
the tutoring we offer on Wednesday,
the meals we serve on Thursday,
the blood we donate on Friday,
the rides we give on Saturday,
the grace we live every day
that matter the most.

Spirit of wisdom,
when we believe it is enough
to have taught Sunday School
for so many years, remind us that it is
the words of forgiveness we offer,
the books we open for children,
the skills we share without recompense,
the arms we open to others
that matter the most.

When we believe our lives faithfulness are enough,
remind us that there is always more we can do,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Why should we fear? Whatever we have said or done; whoever we have neglected or whatever we refused to do, surely God has washed away with the waters of life, flowing into that crystal sea of forgiveness.  Let us bring our lives to the One who comes to give us hope and life, in this and in every season, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We admit, God of Advent, that it is easier to trust a politician's glib words than yours which were spoken so long ago.  We know how afraid we are of tomorrow, because of what we do today, ignoring what you brought about so long ago.  We, who have been given so much from your heart, find it hard to share even a smidgen from  our abundance.
   Forgive us, God our hope, and have mercy on us.  Lift us to our feet; draw us close into your loving embrace; drench us the buckets of grace drawn from the deep wells of life, so we will have the courage to declare you as our God, as we follow Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with the Holy Spirit.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
As plain as the heart in our chests, the good new is this: God is our hope.  God is our life.  God is our future.
We will sing aloud, our voices at full throttle.  We are forgiven, we are saved!  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We will not be afraid, Loving God, to offer our hopes, our hearts, our treasures to you, but do so willingly, trusting that you will use them to bring life, joy, grace, and peace to all around us.  We pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who saves us be with you.
May the God of redemption be with you.
Let us offer our hearts to our God of grace.
We open them that God may fill them with life and hope.
Come and sing glad praises to the God who is with us.
With great joy and hope, we join in glad choruses of praise.

Out of the dried up well called chaos,
Divining God, you brought forth
creation gushing with living waters,
   that ran through valleys towards oceans,
   that sprinkled flowers on forest floors,
   that gave nourishment to birds, to animals
and to those shaped in your image,
who were offered all the gracious gifts
which flowed from your heart.
We could have lived with you 
in that garden of wonder and delight,
   but we listened to the temptations
   offered to us by death and sin,
   choosing to share our lives with them.
The prophets came, time and again,
their words sung full throttle
in the courtyards of cities and
from the rooftops of villages,
   but we were like those trees
   which look so healthy on the outside,
   but are hollowed out by decay.
In your love, and with your hope,
you chose to become one of us,
Jesus being born into our lives.

With those who rejoice always and again,
with those who long to be brought home,
we lift our voices to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who saves us.
We rejoice with all creation in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to baptize us 
   with new life and with the Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Though you are holy being knowing,
God of this season, you chose hope
to be embodied in Jesus, your Child.
Rejecting power,
   his weakness raises the fallen to their feet;
refusing to be afraid,
   he whispers to us to trust as deeply
   and faithfully as he did;
unable to exclude the forgotten,
   he welcomes his sisters and brothers
   shoved to the side and forgotten by us;
doing all he could for others,
he finally let his executioners 
untie the thongs of his sandals,
so that by his death and resurrection,
we might be shod in resurrection love,
walking home to be with you at last.

Surely his resurrection gives us new hope and life,
surely we bear the fruit of his grace and life,
even as we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Surely, on that day, Jesus gave his life for those he loved;
surely, on that morning, Jesus was raised to new life;
surely, in that time to come, Jesus will gather us to new life.

O holy God of the ages, may your Spirit
descend upon those of us gathered 
and on the gifts which fill the sacred table.
Here, may the broken bread feed us
and reshape our fragmented lives
so we may see those around us,
   giving our extra clothes
      to those who have too few;
   emptying our pantries
      to feed those who are hungry.
Here, may we draw compassion 
from the deep wells of the cup of grace,
so we may go forth to serve others:
   as crossing guards at schools,
   as caregivers for the vulnerable,
   as your peace which brings healing.

And when all time and history has ended
and we are brought home at the last,
we will sing full throttle with our sisters and brothers,
with great joy, hope, wonder, and praise
of your enduring goodness and grace,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Setting aside our fears and worries, let us go.
We will go as God's people on this day,
to remind everyone that God is as close
to them as the beats of their hearts.
Setting aside our prejudices and assumptions, let us go.
We will go as Jesus' followers this day,
to gather up the forgotten and bring them home,
to embrace the lonely as sisters and brothers.
Setting aside our expectations and demands, let us go.
We will go as those graced by the Spirit,
to share with others the waters from grace's deep wells,
to offer that peace which never comes to an end.

(c) 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, November 30, 2018

Liturgy with communion for December 9, 2018 (Advent 2 - C)

Texts: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6 Call to Worship L: In this season of waiting, our God comes. P: Come suddenly, Holy God, into our slow expectations and fill us with your urgent hopes for justice. L: In this holy season of delight and wonder, our Savior comes. P: Come suddenly, Companion of the poor, and challenge us to share in the gospel of welcome for all. L: In these days of remembering what our lives are to be, our Spirit comes. P: 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 oppression; 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 L: God is our witness. We have spoken of our lives and been forgiven of every mistake we have made, every hurt we have caused. P: 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 L: May the God of every mercy be with you. P: May you be filled with the tenderness of our God. L: Lift up your hearts to the One who looks with grace upon us. P: Confident of God’s love, we open our hearts to the One who comes to us. L: Sing glad songs of praise in this moment. P: 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: P: 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: P: 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. Sending L: God is sending you to be messengers of this holy season. P: We will go to share God’s grace in the shadowed places of our world. L: Jesus is sending you to be messengers of his gospel. P: We will go to share the good news of justice in every way we treat each person. L: The Spirit is sending you to be messengers of peace. P: We will go to share the gifts of hope and reconciliation which have been placed in our hearts.
(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Liturgy with communion for December 2, 2018 (First Sunday of Advent - 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. Sending 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.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Liturgy with communion for November 25, 2018 (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) Thom M. Shuman

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