Sunday, June 19, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for June 26, 2016 (Pentecost 6/Trinity 5/Proper 8/Ordinary 13)

Texts: 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

Call to Worship
On days when we think God has nothing to do
with work or family or the world:
The Book tells us of One who was a carpenter;
who wandered the streets;
who upset his family.
On days when we think the purpose of life
is to make more money and fewer friends:
The Book speaks of a life of giving away of ourselves
and finding a community as we do so.
On days aching with loneliness and empty of love and laughter:
The Book draws us into the embrace of God's open heart.

Prayer of the Day
Inspiring God,
Giver of words:
     you speak
          and chaos is transformed
          into the starry skies of night;
     you whisper
          and the wind leaps
          to caress our cheeks on a summer's evening;
     you smile
          and all creation rejoices in delight.
Jesus Christ,
Uncomfortable Word:
you stand with society's castoffs
     outside the halls of respectability;
you break bread with sinners
     and give them the seats of honor at your Table;
you walk the darkened hallways of death,
     comforting those who are taking their last steps;
and you call to us, saying,
      "Follow me."
Holy Spirit,
Word sifter:
by your touch
     our anger can dissolve
          into gentleness;
by your presence
     our enemies
          can become lifelong friends;
by your joy,
     our envious spirits
          can become generous hearts.
God in Community, Holy in One,
set us free to be your servants,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Christ has set us free from everything that might detain, oppress, derail us. But we should not confuse this with the right to do whatever we wish. No, we are called to serve others, to share God's hope and joy with everyone we meet. Let us confess how we have misused this wonderful gift of grace, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Redeeming God, how easily we say we would follow you, but how often we live as if we don't have a clue as to what that means. We choose to gossip about our friends, rather than surrounding them with love. Our competitive nature wills us to win at all costs, when we could be engaged in costly service. We expect others to do for us and rarely ask what we might do for them.
     Forgive us, High and Holy One. Set us free to serve in love and compassion; help us to feast on the fruit the Spirit offers to us; put us on the path of faithful discipleship, as we walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Friends, call to mind what God has done for you; think about how God's love comes in fresh and surprising ways; reflect on the fruit of the Spirit poured out upon you.
We will remember all the wonder, all the joy, all the mercy which is ours. From the rich abundance of the Spirit's fruit, we will serve others. Thanks be to God! Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Free to indulge ourselves in every luxury,
   we would share our abundance with those in need;
free to gratify every desire that comes along,
   we would serve those who have so little;
free to hoard all that we have and are,
   we would give ourselves away to everyone we meet,
   risking our good names and reputations with our families and friends, 
   to welcome those who are lonely and afraid.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the wonder-working God be with you!
And also with you!
Children of God, lift up your hearts.
We offer them to the One who gifts us
with abundant fruit of the Spirit.
God's children, let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
We sing songs of joy, love, and peace;
we praise God for the gifts of patience, kindness, generosity;
we lift our thanks for faithfulness, gentleness,
and self-control in our lives.
Your voice thundered, Holy One of Creation,
and silenced the fractious voices of chaos.
As the sun, moon, and stars
light our days and nights,
     so your love illumines our souls.
When our fears
threaten to flood our lives,
     you make a path for us
          to your heart.
All this you do,
out of your love for us,
but we forgot all your wonders,
     and stretched out our hands
          to pluck the rotten fruit of the world.
You sent the prophets to help us
to remember your great acts,
     but we dismissed their words
          as having no value for us.
Then, to keep your promise
never, never to forsake us,
you sent Jesus Christ to
put our feet back on
the Holy Way.
Therefore, trusting that you will hear us,
we join our voices with the chorus of heaven,
and with our sisters and brothers around us,
sing our glad songs to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God the Creator!
The mountains sing your praises, the valleys echo your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
We welcome the One who comes in your name, who calls us to life.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, God of all generations,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior.
When he could have remained safe
by your side in glory,
he took the risk to follow your call
When he could have remained safe
by your side in glory,
     he took the risk to follow your call
     to become one of us.
When he could have ignored
our cries for help,
     he opened his ears and his heart,
     to bring us words of healing and hope.
When he could have pointed
to his miracles and wonders,
     he spoke of your grace,
     and called us to service.
When he could have ignored sin
and death to return to you,
     he picked them up
     and carried them to Calvary,
          turning and renouncing them forever,
as he strode out of the empty tomb
into the new life waiting for each of us.
So, as we remember what God has done for us
in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus,
we speak of that faith which is a mystery:
Lord Jesus, you call us:
     open our eyes that we may see you,
     open our souls that we may long for your presence,
     open our hearts that we may follow you.
Pour out your Spirit
upon the gifts of the Table
and upon your children
who have come to feast.
As we tasted the Bread of life,
     may we be filled with that generosity
          which makes us servants.
As we drink from the Cup of grace,
     may we be nourished by
          the fruit of the Spirit found there.
Then, we will go forth
to follow where you lead us:
     to bring justice and mercy
          into communities crumbling by hate;
     to bring hope into those neighborhoods
          where despair sells its wares on the street corners;
     to bring peace to a broken world
          governed by violence and war.
And when all time has come to an end,
as we gather with our sisters and brothers
from every moment and every place,
we will sing our glad songs to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Let us go to wander the streets with God:
for God has everything to do with work, family, our lives, our world.
Let us go to give ourselves away as Jesus did:
for Jesus calls us to upset those around us,
as we accumulate less stuff and make more friends.
Let us go to find the lonely, the empty, the searchers:
for the Spirit would embrace each and every person,
drawing them into the open heart of divine love.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, June 13, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for June 19, 2016 (Pentecost 5/Trinity 4/Proper 7/Ordinary 12 - C)

Texts: 1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a; Psalms 42 and 43; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39
Call to Worship
When we long for the special effects we think life should offer:
it is enough, for us, that God comes in a soft, summer shower.
When we our hearts are cracked by the drought of doubt:
it is enough, for us, that God opens up the fountains of faith for us.
When our senses are deadened by the sales pitches of our culture:
it is enough, for us, that God wraps us in the silence of grace.

Prayer of the Day
When we feel compelled
to push everything to its limits,
especially you,
it is enough, Holy One,

     that your grace
     can slow us down.

When we stand naked and exposed
to the buffeting winds
of our doubts and questions.
it is enough, Healing Servant,
     that you clothe us in your peace,
     and put our minds at ease.

When we are entangled
in that legion of worries and fears
which consume our lives,
it is enough, Spirit of Silence,
     that you untie the knots
     and set us free.

It is enough,
God in Community, Holy in One,
that you are with us
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We long to be set free from those 'powers' which control our lives; to let go of our fears of 'them;' to stop trying to build fences between us and those who are not like us. That is why our longing brings us to the living waters offered by our God, who allows us to fill our parched souls with a refreshing drink of forgiveness.  Let us confess our sins, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Like children, we fear that if we tell you what we have done, God of Justice, you might not love us anymore.  We can kill the dreams of those around us with a word, spoken or withheld. We can make the lives of our friends miserable, instead of sharing a miracle. We are filled with that legion of temptations which only leave us empty and wanting more.
     Forgive us, Gracious Father. Remind us that we are no longer sinners, but your children.  Baptized, we are clothed in the graciousness and faithfulness of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who came that we might be set free of all that imprisons us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God forgives us, so we might be new people. God equips us, so we might serve others. God sends us forth, so we might be a witness to everyone we meet.
No one is the same: enemies are now our friends; those we could not trust now become our confidants; those we could not hear now speak to us of God's hope and joy. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You have given us more than enough, Loving God, and so we take from the abundance which is ours, so that others might be blessed: with grace which cools fevered souls, with love which melts frozen hearts, and with hope which can feed and house and renew so many.  In Jesus’ name, we give and we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God who makes us one in Christ be with you!
And also with you!
God speaks to us in the still, small whispers of grace.
May our hearts resound with the thunder of God’s hope.
Heirs of wonder and peace, rejoice in the One who sends you out to serve.
Our voices echo the glad songs of those
who are our sisters and brothers in faith.

You split the emptiness of chaos,
Living God, breaking it into pieces
used to shape the foundation of creation.
Your spirit moved upon the waters,
     carving flowing streams where deer could drink,
     your words crafting those calm pools
          where your longing children could be baptized
          in your love, your joy, your grace.
But sin called to sin, catching our imagination,
the waves of death carrying us away from you.
Our help, our hope, our essence,
you continued to call to us,
     but we responded to your words
     with the sheer silence of stubbornness.
So, rather than sending great storms,
earthquakes, fires, or floods,
Jesus came, to invite us to return
and discover how much you do for us.

As we stand before the Table of grace,
as we greet our sisters and brothers in Christ,
we lift our voices in songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy, God of sheer wonder and joy.
All creation praises you, our help, our Maker!
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to justify us by his faithfulness.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, God of delight and beauty,
and your Son, our Brother Jesus Christ, is blessed.
When we felt forgotten and on our own,
     he came to stand beside us,
          so we are never alone.
When the bullies of our lives
taunted us and made us miserable,
     he came to wrap us in the mantle of compassion.
When our souls were down in the dumps,
     he lifted us up, so we might
          behold your face in glory forever.
Imprisoned in the tomb,
his guards, sin and death,
had no power over him
     as he arose from the dead
     striding forth into resurrection's dawn.

As we come to the feast he shares with friends,
as we celebrate the joy which is ours through him,
we would speak of that mystery called faith:

Christ died, emptying himself for all people;
Christ was raised, so we might empty ourselves for all around us;
Christ will come again, to lead us home to you,

     where we will be filled with life forever.

You are our help and hope,
God of silence and sacrament,
so we pray that as you pour out
your Spirit upon the gifts of the Table,
that your gathered people might hear hope
     in the breaking of the bread into pieces,
that we might listen for your grace
     in the sheer silence of the cup.
And when we are transformed
in the strength of the bread and the cup,
may we go to serve your people as well as all creation,

      working for justice, peace,
     joy, and life until there is no longer
          the haves and the haven't-anything,
          the insiders and the thrown-away,
          the know-it-alls and the drop-outs,
          the legalists and the libertarians,
but only your children, equal in your sight,
clothed with the compassion and life of Jesus Christ.

And when we are gathered with the legion of the faithful,
the saints and sinners from every age, and from every place,
around the festive Table which awaits us in eternity,
we will join our voices in forever singing your grace,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

God gives us enough grace,
so we may go to stand with all rejected by the world.
Jesus gives us enough hope,
so we may fill those emptied by despair.
The Spirit gives us enough peace,
so we may set free all imprisoned by fears and hate.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for June 12, 2016 (Pentecost 4/Trinity 3/Proper 6/Ordinary 11 - C)

Texts: 1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a; Psalm 5:1-8; Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36 – 8:3

Call to Worship
In the morning, God hears our voices as we lift our prayers and songs.
In the morning, God whispers to us
in the gentle breezes stirring the world.
In the morning, we look for God alive and active around us.
In the morning, we find God playing hopscotch
with the kids on the corner.
In the morning we come together to worship our God.
In the morning, God gathers us up to lead us
down the streets of justice and faithfulness.

Prayer of the Day
In the morning,
Listening God,
     you break open your heart
          to pour your love upon us;
     you bathe our tired and sore souls
          with your healing tears;
     you dry our weeping
          with the caress of your gentle Spirit.

In the afternoon,
Hospitable Jesus,
even knowing we are sinners,
     you invite us to lunch,
         so we can be nourished
          with your hope and peace.
No matter how deep in debt
we are to sin,
     you pay off the entire amount.
In the evening,
Spirit of our sighs,
     you kiss us and call us
          your Beloved,
     as you tuck us into bed
          to keep watch over us
          while we sleep.
In every moment,
God in Community, Holy in One,
you are present with us,
even as we lift the prayer Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Too often, we believe our identity is shaped by our job, our status, our good deeds. God would give us a new identity, grounded in Jesus Christ. Let us confess our reluctance to lose who we believe we are, so God can shape us into who we can be, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We must admit, God our Parent, how much we are like children. We become resentful over the fact that you do not do what we think you should do. We pout when a friend decides to spend more time with someone else. We can turn sullen when our loved ones refuse to let us have our way.
     You could bring disaster upon us, Loving God, but you choose to give us what we don't deserve - the grace and mercy of your heart. Pour out your tenderness upon us, so Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, might live in us, and we might offer our lives in service to others.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God not only listens to the cries on our lips, but also pays attention to the groaning of our hearts. God restores us to wholeness, and invites us to a new way of living.
We are welcomed, we are loved, we are given new life, we are filled with peace. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
In the mornings, may our gifts feed hungry children before they go off to school;
in the afternoons, may our gifts bring companionship to those who have none;
in the evenings, may our gifts bring peace to those who struggle to find hope.
In every moment, may every gift we offer be used to serve those who are our sisters and brothers.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of grace be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who feeds you at this Table.
We bring them to God, who anoints us with grace and life.
Sing to the One who hears you in every moment.
We offer our songs, and our sighs to God,
who promises to listen.
In the morning you rose,
Graceful and grace-shaping God,
wandering through time and space
sprinkling viriditas* throughout creation,
so that we might live in your wonder:
     stars rustling in the night,
          settling down to watch over us;
     leaves breathing in and out
          with gentle sighs to lullaby us to sleep.
You planted Eden's vineyard near your heart
so we might be close to you forever,
     but we turned our faces away,
     listening to those two scoundrels,
          sin and death, who cursed you,
          urging us not to eat of your joy.
Each morning, you heard the sighs
of those who longed for you,
so you sent the prophets,
but we continued to sell ourselves to evil.
So, in grace and hope, you sent Jesus,
to love us and give himself for us.
As we come to your house, invited by you;
as we take are places at the Table you have set,
we sing in awe and wonder to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who does not delight in wickedness.
All creation calls to you in every moment.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who forgives our sin.
Hosanna in the highest!
You are holy, God who spreads a feast for us,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior, our host.
When we lay on our beds,
turning our faces to the shadows around us,
     he came to throw open the shutters,
          that we might see your grace pouring in upon us.
When we were bone weary
from wandering the streets of hopelessness and fear,
     he bathed our feet with your tears.
When we had torn down
all the bridges back to you,
     he rebuilt them, using the stones of the empty tomb,
          so we might follow him home.
As we gather at this Table of grace,
as we celebrate that we are crucified with Christ,
we speak of the mystery we know as faith:
Christ died, that those two scoundrels,
     death and sin, might be defeated;
Christ was raised, so he might live in us;
Christ will come, to anoint us with the abundant oil of resurrection.
Through the abundance of your Holy Spirit,
which you pour out upon us
and the gifts of the bread and cup,
we come to the feast you have prepared.
Enter our lives, that as we eat
of the Bread which makes us whole,
we might feel your kiss of grace,
     taking it out into all the world,
     never to stop in sharing it
     with everyone we meet until
          the whole creation is at peace.
Enter our hearts, that as we drink
deeply of the cup, we might be
filled with living waters of hope,
     taking them to anoint all who
          live in despair and loss.
And when that last morning comes,
when we go to your house, taking our places
at your Table, next to our sisters and brothers
from every time and from every place,
we will sing our glad songs to you,
God in Community, Holy in One, forever. Amen.
Now, let us go to give ear to God’s words.
In the mornings, we will learn the songs of hope
so we may sing them to the lonely.
Now, let us go to give heed to the sighs of Jesus’ heart.
In the afternoons, we will play with children after school,
we will listen to the heartaches of teenagers.
Now, let us go to hear the cries of the Spirit.
In the evenings, we will advocate for peace in the world;
we will see the opportunities to serve others.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

* - Hildegard of Bingen uses this word to imagine the greening power of God

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lliturgy w/communion for June 5, 2016 (Pentecost 3/Trinity 2/Proper 5/Ordinary 10 - C)

Texts: 1 Kings 17:8-6 (17-24); Psalm 146; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17

Call to Worship
You we praise, O God! You we praise!
We will sing our songs of joy this day and in all the days to come!
School is coming to a close, vacations are planned,

life changes from day to day.
Yet, your promises are kept every day;

you hold your faithfulness in your heart.
You shower us with your hope; you offer us help in every moment.
You we praise, O God! You we praise!

Prayer of the Day
You we praise, Fountain of Hope:
you turn our hearts
toward the outsiders
in our midst,
     so we can see you
     in them;
you take off
the sunglasses of sin
we have worn for too long,
     so we may see your kingdom
     of peace and joy.

You we praise, Friend of the poor:
when we trip
over our foolish feet
in our headstrong rush
to catch the world's whims,
     you pick us up,
     bandage our scraped knees,
     and put us back on
     the path to faithfulness.

You we praise, Spirit of blessing:
you hold the hands
of the widows and orphans
     as they wander the busy streets
     of greed and consumption,
         leading them to your
         compassion and grace.

You we praise,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we lift our prayer as Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We think life is all about us - our desires, our needs, our achievements. And, so in our pride, we ignore the gospel proclaimed to us by God's love and hope for us. Let us confess our faulty lives, as we open ourselves to God's healing grace, praying together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We do not want you to know how our lives do not proclaim your good news, God of all hearts. But you have heard the words we have spoken which injure those we love. You see how insistent we can be in clinging to the ways we have always lived, rather than walking your new paths. We have trouble believing that when our souls are empty and our hearts have only a small portion of love, that you can do miracles in and through us.
     So, what we need to know is that you do indeed forgive us, and still love us, God of comfort. Let your grace shower us and end the drought of fear and doubt in our lives, so we can believe the good news which comes to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Do not be sad. God feeds us with grace and hope, God watches over us, and raises us to new life.
You we praise, Holy God, for this good news of joy and peace for our lives. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You we praise, Loving God, for the gifts with which you have blesses us, and the opportunities to share from our hearts and lives so others might be fed, clothed, housed, loved, lifted up, and healed.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The God of prophets and widows be with you!

And also with you!
Offer your hearts to God, who prepares this Table for you.
We will trust the One who fills us with grace and hope.
Praise the Creator for all the goodness which is ours.
We will sing glad songs to God with every breath we take!
You we praise, Engendering God!
You formed the seas, their waters
     teeming with abundant creatures;
you cradled the earth, planting
     a myriad of life into its deep soil.
You shaped us in your gracious image,
imparting the Spirit's breath in us,
     but we put our trust in mortal death,
     zealous for its temptations and longings.
You sent prophets into the world,
who challenged us not to fear,
but to place our trust in you,
     yet we returned time and again to sin.
Keeping faith forever with us,
you sent Jesus into our midst,
to touch us and give us life.

So, with those whose eyes have been opened,
and with those who have been set free,
we lift our songs of glad joy to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of all generations!
Heaven and earth, the sea, and all in them glorify you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who looks with grace upon us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You we praise in your holiness, Glorious God,
and bless your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When we had nothing but
a handful of sin,
     he came to fill us with grace;
when there was only a little
hope left in our lives,
     he came to pour salvation
          up to the brim in us;
when we despaired in the drought of sin,
     he approached the gates of death,
     bringing its power to ruin,
his empty tomb the reminder
of the abundance of resurrection.

As we come to this Table of plenty,
as we celebrate the life he gave for us,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, so we would not weep;
Christ was raised, so we would not fear;
Christ will come, so we will glorify God.

You we praise, Baker of life, Vintner of grace.
Your Spirit moves upon
the gifts of this Table
and on those for whom
the feast has been prepared.
We eat,
believing that the Bread will not fail,
     but strengthen us to go forth
     to work for justice,
          even as we feed the hungry.
We drink,
trusting that the Cup will not be emptied,
     as we pour ourselves out in service
          to those crushed by oppression,
          to those held captive by fear.

And when we gather where all time has ended,
seated with your children from every time and place
around that wedding feast of joy,
we will join our voices in praising you forever,
singing to God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Now go to sing God’s praises.
In the backyards on a summer’s evening,
in the quiet hope of a gentle touch, we will praise God!
Now go to sing of the grace of Jesus.
To little kids playing hopscotch on the sidewalks,
to families whose lives are changed by loss,
we will sing songs of hope!  
Now go to sing of the Spirit’s presence.
Where the promises of God are kept in every moment,
where faithfulness shares life with all,
we will sing glad songs of love! 

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Liturgy with communion for May 29, 2016 (Pentecost 2/Trinity 1/Proper 4/Ordinary 9 - C)

Texts: 1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39; Psalm 96; Galatians 1:1-12; Luke 7:1-10

Call to Worship
With loud engines at the race track,
and with soft-spoken wisdom:
sing to God new songs of wonder!
With planets spinning in the galaxies,
and with jack hammers tearing up our streets:
sing to God new songs of joy!
With fireworks in summer’s night skies,
and with winter’s ice crunching under our boots:
sing to God new songs of grace!
With crowds at exciting sports venues,
and with children whispering dreams to their pets:
sing to God new songs of hope!
Prayer of the Day
we would take our
   fears, doubts, broken dreams
         and set them to death’s
                mournful dirge,
you take them, rearranging the notes
          and rewriting the lyrics for
     drums, electric guitar, tambourines
                 and keyboard,
   singing a new song
                     of joy
               to us.
Composer of Creation,
we give you the glory!
the world considers us
     putting us out on the
          BOGO clearance table
               on the sidewalk,
   you come under the awning,
telling the proprietor
     to put us on your
          (which you will
              pay in full
              before the next billing cycle
Liberator of our lives,
we give you the glory!
day after day,
           we cannot seem
     to break the cycles of
you come, proclaiming
          the good news,
     speaking the Word
           which heals
Spirit of Peace,
we give you the glory!
God in Community, Holy in One,
to you be the glory forever and ever,
as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer) 

Call to Reconciliation
We go limping along, convinced we can make it on our own, that we are too busy for God.  But when we look at our mistakes, the words we wish we could take back, the hurts we long to heal, we know we must confess, so God can forgive us and wrap us in steadfast love.  Join me, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We want you to know, Holy God, that we do try.  Between the politicians and the pundits, it is easy to become confused as to how we should live.  We spend so much time trying to win the approval of certain people, that we forget our call to serve those around us.  We are so busy telling others ‘go there’ or ‘do this,’ we cannot hear your whispers of love.
     We do not presume to come to you expecting easy grace, for we are aware of what it cost you to forgive us, Tender God.  But speak the word, and we will know your mercy; speak the word, and we will be made whole; speak the Word, Jesus Christ, and we will find that faith to trust you in every moment.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God comes, not to punish, not to condemn, but to judge – with that righteousness which brings redemption, with that truth which sets us free.
Let it be known this day.  The Lord indeed is God, who brings forgiveness and hope to all people.  Glory to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We come with gratitude, as well as our gifts, Loving God.  As we offer them to you, we pray all might know of your presence in their lives, and that these offerings may bring them your hope, your grace, and your peace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May creation’s Lord be with you!
And also with you!
Here at this Table, dear ones, draw closer to God.
We come, to offer our hearts to God.
Join the chorus of the universes in praising God.
Our voices unite with all of God’s people in songs of joy.
All creation is grounded in you,
Sovereign God, who spoke the Word
and let it be known that you were coming
     so seas might roar your majesty,
     so fields might exult your glory,
     so trees might sing your joy.
You formed us in your divine image,
letting it be known that we were yours,
the people of your heart and hopes.
But sin and death called our names,
     and we chose to follow those petty gods,
     limping along, letting our dance partners
     lead us as seduction’s sirens sang their songs.
You sent the prophets to intercede,
hoping that we would listen,
     but we made no answer, gave no response.
So you decided to come closer still,
sending Jesus to bring us your healing.
With those who gave you glory in every time and place,
with those from all over this wide earth,
we sing that new song which has echoed down the generations:
Holy, holy, holy are you, Sovereign of the universe.
All creation joins in singing your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes in your name.
Hosanna in the highest!
You indeed are God, Holy One,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed Child.
When we limped along through the world,
     he came to strengthen us to walk in your way.
When our petty gods became too busy for us,
     he came to listen to our faltering prayers.
When we would cling to sin in every moment,
     he went to the cross
          so sin would have no voice to call us,
          so death would be left empty-handed.
As we rejoice in his coming to us,
as we remember we would have no hope without him,
we declare that mystery we know as faith:
Christ died, breaking the power of sin;
Christ was raised, breaking the cycle of death;
Christ comes, bringing the power of the gospel for all.
We sing glad songs to you,
God of honor and majesty,
for here at the Table,
you pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of your creation
set apart for sacred use.
The grain of exultant fields
is shaped into the Bread of life,
     which strengthens us to go forth
     to intercede for those who
     are not highly valued by our world,
     yet who need healing and hope.
The fruit of creation’s vines
becomes the sweet nectar of grace,
which fills our emptiness until it overflows
into justice for the oppressed,
       release for all held captive,
       recovery for the addicted,
       good news for the broken-hearted.
And when all our times have come to an end,
     when the new seas roar with wonder,
     when newly planted meadows exult with laughter,
     when the trees of life sing for joy,
we will lift our voices with our sisters and brothers,
singing the new songs of eternal life with you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now to sing new songs of wonder:
in the neighborhoods where we live,
in the places we work, we will share God's love.
Go now to sing new songs of joy:
with grandparents volunteering at schools,
with children learning to read, we will be Christ's compassion. 
Go now to sing new songs of grace:
with those who have lost their way,
with the bruised and bullied, we will be the Spirit's peace.
Go now to sing new songs of hope:
we will teach all people God's love songs!

(c) 2106 Thom M. Shuman