Sunday, December 04, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for December 11, 2016 (Advent 3 - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:46b-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

Call to Worship
Be patient!
The time is coming when
we will celebrate the birth of Jesus,
when we will sing and rejoice,
dancing with everlasting joy.
But for now, be patient,
as we wait in this time called Advent,
when God speaks through dreams and visions,
and we are invited to dance
down the holy way into the kingdom.
For this is Advent, as we prepare to join the world
in celebrating the Creator of goodness and hope,
when those who limp will teach new dance steps,
when the voiceless sing, ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.’

Prayer of the Day
God who approaches:
you gather the ignored,
   so you can accomplish the unexpected
   for a world which no longer cares;
with bread broken into pieces,
   you restore your shattered creation;
as you let go of your Child,
   our emptiness is filled
   with immeasurable grace.
Ever-new, always-scarred
Jesus of the forgotten:
through you,
   those whose voices are silenced
   hear the whispers of angels
   on hillsides and in shelters;
by you,
   those who are knocked over
   lead the way into your kingdom;
with you,
   those who wander in shadows
   are clasped tight in your love.
Breath of Advent:
you pour the promises of the Word
   into the shy and silent
   so they can carol of grace;
you stretch out your hand
to all in despair’s exile,
   to place them on the
   holy way of hope;
you gather up the scraps
of our scattered fears,
   to build a new crib
   for a refugee family.
Come, God in Community, Holy in One,
come to us, as we pray together saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
There is no need to wait in long lines.  God is always willing to listen – to our hearts as well as our voices, as we admit how we have not cared as we could, have not shared as we should.  Let us join, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   This season is supposed to be so holy, God of Christmas, yet the din of sales pitches turns us into cynical grumps.  As we drive down the streets, the decorations on all the houses keep us from seeing the loneliness of the widower, the strained faces of those who fear the future.  We are so determined to find just the right gift or card which speaks of joy, we forget that you came so long ago to offer justice to those who have none.
   Be patient with us, God of our hearts, as we struggle to speak for the voiceless, to walk with those who have lost their way, to let go of our certainty of what really happened to long ago, and listen to the songs of children which speak of that peace which really can bring reconciliation, of that grace which really can offer hope, of that love which really can to us that night in Bethlehem, in the birth of Jesus, our Brother, our Savior. 

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Do not be afraid, but believe.  Our God is here, opening our eyes to see that salvation which is ours approaching us in this season of Advent.
We join our voices in rejoicing in God who is our Savior.  The One who calls us blessed, is the God who forgives us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We pray that with our gifts, as well as our lives, we will tell of those who are given voice, those who are put back on their feet, those who show us the way, and those who offer us grace and hope, as well.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Creator of the Holy Way be with you.
And also with you.
Do not be afraid, people of God, but lift your hearts to the holy One.
Our hearts will be filled with God’s hope and grace.
Children of God, offer songs of goodness to the One who keeps faith forever.
We offer glad praises to the One who comes with justice.
You carved a holy way
through chaos, Unveiling God,
rejoicing with Word and Spirit as creation
   trickled down mountains to form rivers,
   birds built nests in shrubs and trees,
   bees and butterflies pollinated meadows.
These great, and good, things were
for those formed in your image
so we might be with you in wonder,
   but we were blinded by sin’s
   sparkling seductions and could not
   envision the life you offered to us.
Patiently, you sent prophets to us,
who urged us over and again to return,
   but we continued to look favorably
   upon the gifts offered by sin and death.
So you emptied your strong heart,
becoming weak in the baby
born in Bethlehem for us.
With those you have put back on their feet,
with those you knock off our presumptions,
we sing our carols to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who does great things.
All creation shall rejoice, offering you praise.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who keeps your promises.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holiness is the path you walk, Gracious God,
and your Child, Jesus, is the One
who comes with justice for all your people.
When we are worry, world, and work weary,
   he comes to strengthen our hearts,
                   to stand us back on our feet.
When disappointment silences us,
   he comes to teach us
         how to proclaim the good news.
When we cannot see our way out of our foolishness,
   he comes to point us toward salvation’s dawn.
When we were held captive by sin,
   he came, giving himself in love,
   so joy might dance in our hearts,
   and we could gather bouquets
   of resurrection gladness as
         death ran away.
As we draw closer to the joy of his birth,
as we remember his death and resurrection at this feast,
we bear witness to the holy way of faith which is a mystery:
Christ died, trusting that your weakness destroys death;
Christ was raised, telling us of the resurrection he had seen and heard;
Christ will come again, to lead us home by the holy way of God.
Gather your people in these moments,
and lead us along the holy way to the Table
where the Spirit anoints the bread and the cup
and blesses all who have come for this feast.
As we are strengthened by the bread,
may we show the way toward healing
   to the imprisoned,
       the sightless,
       the sufferers of chronic pain,
       those who struggle to hear.
As we drink from grace’s cup,
may we notice what you are doing in our midst
   so grief and loneliness
   will disappear, never to be seen again.
And when all time has drawn to a close,
when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
at Advent’s Table in eternity with you,
we will rejoice in your forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
Let us journey into the world with our God,
to rebuild shattered hearts with hope.
Let us spend each day with Jesus,
mending brokenness with love.
Let us share our hearts with the Spirit,
so we may be with those who are waiting for peace.
(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for December 4, 2016 (Advent 2 - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

Call to Worship
In this season of bumper to bumper stress,
with life more crowded than the stores,
God welcomes us to a feast of faithfulness,
where we may sit in peace and gentleness.
In these times of rancorous rants and snide remarks,
with people too busy to offer words of compassion,
Jesus whispers of hope for broken hearts,
sings carols of justice for all the outsiders.
In these days of more and more time spent with devices,
and fewer moments with those who could touch us with joy,
the Spirit embraces us with peace that comforts,
loves us with a passion beyond 140 characters.   

Prayer of the Day
May these be the days
when conservatives will share
   a garden with liberals;
when people of all faiths and none
   will offer safety to each other.

May these be the days
when bullies and the tormented
   will serve side by side at the shelter;
when little ones will show grownups
   the paths we have forgotten to follow.
May these be the days
when justice will put on the tool belt
   filled with faithfulness, peace, and healing;
when the most vulnerable around us
   will shower us with a harvest of hope.
May these be the days,
God in Community, Holy in One,
when we will discover how near is your kingdom,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
All too often, we believe God’s vision of justice and peace is only for us, not those around us.  We are sure others need to be cleansed and forgiven, but not us.  Let us seek to live as if, indeed, the kingdom is coming near, as we offer our prayers to the One who calls us to Advent living, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   Goodness Incarnate, we must confess that we have not lived as your children.  We muddy the clear waters of baptism with the detritus of walking over those we claim we love.  We sit in our lonely lives feasting on bitterness, when we could be feasting with those we are told not to trust.  We wait for all our desires to be taken care of by you, while you hope we would fill the lives of others with your grace and hope. 
   Forgive us, God of this holy season, and help us to be as willing to draw near to others, so we might heal their brokenness, touch their loneliness, embrace their grief, and love them as you did when you came to us so long ago, as well as in these moments, in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Here is the good news:
speak with the whispers of hope until it silences despair;
sing the carols of compassion until all join in the chorus;
shower others with wonder and delight and join in God’s dance of grace.
Thanks be to God.  We are forgiven!  So, let us welcome others with open arms, just as we have been embraced in God’s love and laughter.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May your Spirit of generosity rest upon us, Caring God, so that our giving does not end here, but only begins to flow forth in a baptism of hope, of grace, of healing, and of peace to all around us, as well as those we may never meet.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Advent God give you hope.
May God grant you peace.
Let us lift our hearts to God who offers righteousness to all.
We open our hearts to the One who loves justice.
Children of God, rejoice in the One who call us to live in harmony with everyone.
Amen and Amen!  We give our thanks to God!
In those days when chaos reigned,
creation appeared, Coming God,
as you spoke the Word
   which caused snow to cap mountains;
as you breathed the Spirit
   which give life to sheep and shepherds;
as your steadfast loved shaped
   all that is good and beautiful and good.
All this was intended for those clothed
in your image of grace and hope,
   but we insisted on putting on sin’s coat,
   cinching death’s belt around our ways.
Through the prophets of every age,
we heard your words of encouragement,
   but chose to keep looking for life
   in the seductions offered to us by sin.
So, in that moment we least expected,
Jesus came, to baptize us with
the Holy Spirit’s peace and hope.
With those who have trouble playing nice,
with those who seek to bear fruit,
together with one voice, we glorify you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who gives hope to all.
All creation gathers your harvest of peace.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who stands side-by-side
   with the most vulnerable.
Hosanna in the highest!
In your holiness, God who approaches,
we find righteousness and justice;
in your Child, Jesus, we discover
our salvation and hope.
When the world dumps buckets
of muddy meanness over us,
   he baptizes us in the
   Spirit’s cleansing waters.
When those around us throw
stones of bitterness and fear,
   he takes them to build
   homes of hope.
When people would try to divide us,
   he builds a park where enemies
      push each other in swings,
      and sit side-by-side on the grass
      for the Lamb’s picnic.
As we inch closer to Bethlehem,
as we wait for the kingdom to draw near,
we sing of that mystery which comes as faith:
This is the One who died, blessing those who feared him;
this is the One who was raised, the Spirit of resurrection resting on him;
this is the One who will come, to give justice to everyone.
Now in these days, as we gather
around the table gifted with
the bread and the cup,
may your Spirit of wisdom rest on us,
   so we may recognize the vulnerable
   and welcome their gifts in our lives;
may your Spirit of might rest upon us,
   so we may stand up
   to injustices around us;
may your Spirit of unity rest upon us,
   so we may resist all people,
   all words, which seek to divide us;
may your Spirit of compassion rest upon us,
   so we may remember, and serve,
   the hungry, the homeless, the lonely,
   in this holiest of seasons.
And when your harvest of peace
comes at the end of all time,
and we are gathered with our sisters
and brothers around your feast,
we will sing and glorify you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
As God has welcomed us in these moments,
let us go to embrace each person we meet.
As Jesus has been our servant of hope and grace,
let us go to serve the most vulnerable around us.
As the Spirit of hope has filled us,
let us go to empty ourselves of joy and peace for all.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for November 27, 2016 (First Sunday of Advent - A)

Texts: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44

Call to Worship
We may not know when,
but you are coming to us,
grace overflowing from your heart, O God.
We may not know who,
but your hope will be shared
by the least likely people, Friend of the poor.
We may not know how,
but your peace will transform
our angry words into warm welcomes,
our bitterness into cups of love, Spirit of Joy.

Prayer of the Day
In the days to come,
may we work to establish justice
   in all the places of oppression;
may we learn to set aside our differences,
   like little children on a playground
   meeting those who have just moved in;
may we awaken from our apathy,
   to discover the wonder offered to us
   by those we do not recognize as family.
Then we will find ourselves standing
within the gates of your grace, Approaching God.
In the days to come,
may we be alert to the opportunities
   we will have to welcome the stranger;
may we keep our eyes open
   for the chances to offer hope to the despairing;
may we expect to find you
   in every person we meet,
   in every place we go.
Then we will find ourselves standing
within the gates of your love, Babe of Bethlehem.
In the days to come,
may we discover that fear has fled
   as your hope draws ever near;
may we lay aside the shadows of our doubts,
   and put on the shawl of grace;
may we go take all the weapons
crafted from our fears, our anger, our regrets,
   and transform them into generous gifts
   of hope and life for all around us.
Then we will find ourselves standing
within the gates of your peace, Spirit of gentleness.
In the days to come, may we find ourselves
standing within the gates of your heart,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray the prayer of your Child,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We may not know the time, but our every moment is held in God’s hands.  We may not do and say what we should or could, but God offers us words of forgiveness.  Join me as we pray together, saying,
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Sometimes it is hard for us to take you seriously, God of our lives.  With terrorism stalking us, how can we think of turning bombers into shelters for the homeless?  With bullies using the airwaves to threaten those around us, how could we not respond with anger and vindictive slights?  With our hopes turned to ashes, how can we become beacons of light for those in the shadows?
   Forgive us, God of holy seasons, and have mercy.  In the days to come, may we discover the grace which has always been ours, so we can share it with others.  May we taste the sweet goodness of your love, and feed those around us.  May we be filled with the peace of your Spirit, so we may expect you to come in those we least expect, in places which surprise us, in moments we overlook, just as you did in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Reach out and touch the kingdom, for it is right next to you.  Breathe in, and feel the Spirit of peace and hope.  Trust and believe this good news: God is nearer than you might ever imagine.
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  We can set aside our differences and embrace everyone, we can seek peace for all in our lives, our neighborhoods, our world.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication
Our gifts seem so insignificant considering the need, so paltry when we look at the brokenness around us.  But in the days to come, you promise to take them so that others might be fed, clothed, housed, and embraced in your grace and hope.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Approaching God be with you.
And also with you.
In the days to come, People of God,
offer your hearts to the One who comes near.
We will lay aside all that keeps us from
opening ourselves to God.
Now is the time to sing praises to the One who loves us.
We offer our thanksgiving to God,
as we find ourselves standing within the gates of Advent.

You spoke of the days to come, Architect of life,
   when anthills would erupt from dirt,
   when cattle would gather under shade trees,
   when cats would nurture little children,
   when chaos would be transformed into creation,
and we stood within your garden of goodness.
All this beauty, all the wonder, was offered
so, we might walk in your light,
   but we preferred the shadows of sin,
   opening our hearts so that thief, death,
   could come and steal us away from you.
You sent the prophets to us,
urging us to lay aside our foolishness,
   but we continued to put on
   the armor of apathy and anger
   so, we could rebel against you.
Finally, when no one expected,
you came, not in power but poverty,
a crying baby born to nobodies.
With those who worry about your return,
with those who have forgotten to tell time,
we sing of your praises:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the welcoming heart.
All creation sings of your great love.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes when we least expect.
Hosanna in the highest!
In the days to come, God of life,
may we be reminded of your holiness,
and the blessing of your Child, Jesus.
When we fear what lies over the horizon,
   he comes, arms filled with grace.
When worries fall like leaves on our lives,
   he stands on the front porch,
   arm in arm with hope.
When the rumblings of angry rhetoric
waken us in the night,
   he lullabies us with songs of your love.
When sin would lock us away
in the shadows of death,   
   he comes like a thief in the night,
   to steal our hearts back for you.
As we begin our journey to Bethlehem,
as we seek to be alert and awake,
we would proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ died, seeking the good for all;
Christ was raised, putting on resurrection’s love;
Christ will come, precisely when we least expect him.
Now, pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on those gathered in these moments.
Feed us with the bread which is broken,
so, in the days to come, we may
   bring healing to the shattered,
   embrace the lonely,
   invite strangers to our family feasts.
Pour the grace of the cup into us,
so, in the days to come, we may
   wrap others in warm coats,
   lay aside our differences,
   walk with others in the light of justice.
And when you come when we least expect,
to bring all history to an end,
gather us around the Table of joy,
where we will join our sisters and brothers
of every place and time in forever praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen
We may not know when, but we will go,
to bring God’s grace to our broken world.
We may not know who, yet we will go,
to receive Jesus’ hope from those
we are uncomfortable being around.  
We may not know how, so we will go,
to share the Spirit’s peace
in the most unusual places.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving Day liturgy

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
Our tables groan with too much food, so may our gifts feed the hungry;
we welcome family into our homes, so may we embrace the lonely;
we sleep in warm beds at night, so may we shelter the homeless;
we are blessed with more than we need, so may our gifts fill the emptiness of our sisters and brothers in need.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  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 bread and the cup.
Empty, we will be filled
with the plenty of your grace,
the broken bread strengthening us
so we might bring healing to a world
shattered by violence and despair.
Longing for hope, we shall be satisfied
with the cup of blessing and hope,
our lives overflowing
with your love and compassion,
pouring ourselves out for the
poor and marginalized of our time.

And when all our worrying hours have ended,
when we are clothed in your mercy forever,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers,
our mouths filled with laughter,
our hearts echoing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The Creator of heaven and earth sends us out,
may we go to being help to all around us.
The Bringer of grace sends us out,
may we go to offer hope and healing to the broken.
The Spirit of peace sends us out,
may we go to bring reconciliation in all the broken places.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman