Tuesday, January 31, 2006

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

Call to Worship

We have gathered to worship God,
whose creative imagination never fails:
(sung) O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise,
The glories ever echoing
the triumphs of God's grace!

We have gathered to praise our God,
whose steadfast love never weakens:
(sung) My gracious Savior and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of your name.
We have gathered to offer our best to God,
who walks with us through eternity:
(sung) Glory to God, and love and praise
be ever, ever given
By all the saints in every age,
the church in earth and heaven.


Prayer of the Day

You lift up those
we step over
in our race to success;
you soak our aching feet
in the waters of life;
you massage hearts
bruised by others.
We praise you,
Rebuilder of crumbling souls.

You pick those not chosen
on the playgrounds of life;
you cover open sores
with your grace;
you wander our streets,
inviting those who huddle in doorways
to feast at your Table.
We follow you,
Bread of Heaven.

You gather those
who are cast aside
by a throwaway society,
and call them by name;
you melt hearts hardened by cynicism
with the warmth of your hope;
you energize us
so we can sprint into the kingdom.
We welcome you,
Delightful Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we come to you as your people,
praying as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation


Rushed by the busyness of life, weary from the stress of everyday, we have these moments to catch our breath, to think of how we have treated others recently, to remember how we have not been God's faithful people. Let us come to God, knowing that the One who listens to our words, is the One who has given us the Word of grace and mercy.

Unison Prayer of Confession

Everlasting God, we know how easy it is to forget your presence and power in our lives. Focused on our daily planners, we do not pay attention to the night sky and the stars that glitter. Surrounded by the sounds of anger, violence, and hate, we have trouble listening to your whispers of hope and grace. Thinking that Scripture is filled only with stories, we cannot understand your truth which can change lives.

Forgive us. There is no one who can hold a candle to you when it comes to mercy and hope. Lift us to our feet so we may walk with you; fill us with your strength so we may serve your people; touch us with your healing so we may proclaim to everyone the Good News that has come in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

Haven't you been listening? The Good News is this: God never tires out, God is always with us, God heals us with mercy, God strengthens us for service.
The One who numbers the stars knows each of us by name. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May God be with you.
May God be also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open our hearts to God and to each other.
Let us give thanks to the Living God.
With joy and praise,
we offer our thanks to the One who offers abundant life.

Songs of praise are indeed fitting for you,
Gracious Creator.
You never grew weary
of dotting the night with stars,
or carpeting the hills
with the lushness of your harvest.
From the beginning of time,
you told us of your hopes for us,
but we were too busy dreaming
of power and success.
When we followed the rulers
of sin and death,
you did not faint in shock
but continued to search for us.
You gave us the law,
but we ignored your rules;
you sent the prophets,
but we would not pay attention to them.
Then, having created all things,
you became the one thing we needed:
our Savior.

So, with prophets and parents,
with choirs of angels and children,
and with the faithful of every time and place,
we forever sing to your glory:

(sung) I danced in the morning
when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon
and the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven
and I danced on earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said He.

Holy are you, Star Namer,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son.
The Word who spoke creation in existence,
came proclaiming hope to all people;
the One who flung the galaxies into space,
gathers up those who have
been cast out by the world;
the Wanderer of desert places
comes to take us by the hand
and run with us into the kingdom.

As we come to this Table
to celebrate the life,
death and resurrection
of our Lord and Savior,
we offer our very lives to you
as a holy and living sacrifice.

(sung) They cut me down
and I leap up high;
I am the life that will never, never die;
I'll live in you if you'll live in me:
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said He.

Here is the Bread
which can strengthen the powerless;
here is the Cup
which can energize the weak:
pour out your Spirit upon these gifts
and upon those who gather
at your Table.
We come bone-weary:
make us bone of your bone
and flesh of your flesh.
We are so tired
we can barely take another step:
empower us to walk
with the lonely and homeless.
We are so fatigued by our despair,
feed us with your hope and joy,
so we may proclaim your kingdom
to everyone we meet.
And when the day comes
to gather with all your children
around the Feast of the Lamb,
we will join hands
and dance around the Table,
singing your praise forever and ever:
God our Creator,
Christ our Servant,
Spirit of Newness,
God in Community, Holy in One.
Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B

Call to Worship

Thinking we know all the answers,
yet wondering if we haven't missed something:
we enter this sanctuary of Truth.
In the company of sinners,
in cahoots with saints:
we gather as God's people.
Standing by folks of deep, abiding faith;
seated with those who stumble through the Kingdom:
we lift our praise to God.

Prayer of the Day

We hunger for power,
and you feed us
the bread of humility;
we long for freedom,
and you invite us to drink
the cup of self-denial.
Faithful and Just God:
our songs of gratitude
will echo down
the hallways of creation.
You speak
and all our props
are knocked out
from under our pride.
Then, you astound us
by reaching out your hand
to lift us to our feet
so we may follow you.
Holy Gift of God:
our songs of praise
will echo down
the hallway of our hearts.
Without your wisdom,
we would be speechless;
without your peace,
we would be heartless;
without your presence,
we would be graceless.
Bearer of Truth:
our songs of joy
will echo down
the hallways of eternity.
God in Community, Holy in One,
may our songs echo in your heart
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

It's very simple: all God asks is that we recognize our sin and acknowledge it. And why? When we offer our prayers of confession, God takes them from us and fills our hearts with such an abundance of mercy, we cannot hold it all. Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession

God our God: we fill our souls with the empty sounds of our culture, and wonder why we are so empty when we need words of hope, of grace, of comfort. We are careful to follow the prescriptions our doctors give us, yet pay little heed to your hopes for us. We puff out our chests over what good people we are, yet do not notice how our pride trips those who seek to follow Jesus.

Forgive us, Holy One, and be gracious to us:
astound us with your words,
so we may learn your ways;
nourish us with your mercy,
so we may be filled with life;
enter our empty souls,
till they overflow with praise for your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

Of all the astounding works of God,
this may be the most wonderful:
God is gracious and merciful - to us!
What is this?
Good news!
We give thanks to our God with all our hearts. Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

Call to Worship

Pecking away at our computers;
idling in a knot of traffic:
we wait for you, O God,
to speak to us.
Pacing the corridors of a hospital;
sitting outside the office of the principal:
we wait for you, O God,
to fill us with hope and grace.
In the silence of a winter's night;
beginning the journey into each unknown day:
we wait for you, O God,
for you are our sanctuary.


Prayer of the Day

Keeper of eternity's hours:
we have come to hear
your words for us,
trusting they will be filled
with grace and hope.
We have come in response
to your call to new life,
even when it means setting aside
the familiar and comfortable.

You call us,
Wanderer of seashores and sidewalks:
inviting us to sail out of our smug harbors
into the uncharted waters of faith;
to wander off our predictable paths
to follow you into the kingdom;
to leave the comfort of our homes
and accompany you
to all those neighborhoods
we normally avoid.

As we wait,
in our simple, sometimes crazy,
constantly uncertain lives,
speak to us, Spirit of Grace:
of that hope which is our anchor;
of that peace which is our rock;
of that grace which is our refuge.

God in Community, Holy in One,
Rock of Ages and Heart of Compassion:
hear us as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

By grace, God calls to each of us: to leave our nets behind, to go to unfamiliar places, to speak uncomfortable words. Each of us knows how we have resisted the Voice which speaks to us. Let us confess to God our struggles to believe we have been called.

Unison Prayer of Confession

Jonah's God: we confess that
in waiting for the right time,
we may miss those moments of peace with you;

in waiting for the right words,
we overlook the chance to speak to those
who hunger for hope;

in waiting to catch a glimpse of you,
we do not see the faces of your children
who look to us for healing.

Forgive us, Jesus' Refuge:
open our ears,
so we may hear your voice of compassion;

open our hearts,
so we may reach out in service;

open our souls,
so we may embrace all of your children;

open our eyes,
so we may find our way back to the path
you have set before us, guided by our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

In Ninevah and Nashville, by the shores of Galilee
as well as the Pacific, in the hearts of stubborn
people and graceless disciples - God's Kingdom
is in our midst.
Called and gifted, we are disciples of Jesus.
So, we will trust God at all times. We will
listen to God's Word. We will give thanks
to God. Amen.

(c) 206 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, January 09, 2006

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

Call to Worship

Young or old, slow or fast;
tall or small, know-it-alls or eager learners:
Wonder of wonders!
God has called each of us here.
Wrinkled, white-haired, stooped with age;
bright-eyed, smooth skinned,
leapers of two steps at a time:
Wonder of wonders!
Each of us is made in God's image.
Parents volunteering at school, kids playing tag,
workers stocking shelves, retirees planning a trip:
Wonder of wonders!
God works through each of us.

Prayer of the Day

It doesn't matter
how far we go
to run from you,
God-who-calls-us:
you reach out
and touch us
with healing in your hands,
and turn us around
so we can follow you home.

It doesn't matter
how suspicious
we are of you,
God-who-invites-us-to follow:
you remove our fears
with your compassion,
you take away our doubts
with complete acceptance
of who we are.

It doesn't matter
how often
we ignore your words,
God-who-speaks-to-us:
you whisper to us
until our ears
tingle with anticipation
and we listen
with eager hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
continue to call us by name,
even as we pray in the name
of the One who has taught us to say,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation


We break our word - God knows;
we hurt another - God knows;
we ignore the needy - God knows.
God also knows the sins we try to hide, even
from ourselves. Let us confess to the One
who has called us and will make us whole.

Unison Prayer of Confession
How foolish we are to think we can hide our failings from you, Seeing God. We treat our bodies as trash cans for junk food, not as sanctuaries for your Spirit. We get drunk on the seductions of our society, while daintily sipping at your living water. We doze under the tree of temptation, hoping you won't see us and expect us to get up and follow Jesus.

Forgive us, our heart's only Hope.
Your grace mends our brokenness,
making us whole;
your compassion removes our sin,
making us new;
your voice speaks tenderly to us,
silencing our pride,
your Love is made human
in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
redeeming our lives.

Silent prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

In front of us, behind us, to our right,
to our left: look! God is there!
In our past, beside us today, waiting
in the future: look! God is there!
in the shadows, in the light:
look! God is there!
From the top of the mountains,
to the bottom of the seas;
in the morning, in the evening,
in every moment: God is with us!
Thanks be to God. Amen.


(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Baptism of the Lord - B

Call to Worship

On those first days
when there was no time:
you called creation out of chaos;
darkness yielded to light;
rivers carved roads through the earth.

On that great day
by the Jordan:
John called sinners to repentance;
Jesus yielded to your love;
a voice carved through sin's silence.

On this day,
in this place:
you call us to faithfulness,
as we seek to yield to your grace,
and your living water carves
hope in our hearts.

Prayer of the Day

Beloved's Parent:
you whisper,
and your grace
echoes in our souls,
breaking down our fears,
shaking us out
of our lethargy.
And we cry: "Glory!"

Servant of sinners:
you come revealing
God's will for us,
and our torn hopes
are mended.
You reach down
and tie our shoelaces,
so we will not trip
as we skip home together.
And we cry: "Glory!"

Spirit of Creation:
our petty arguments
are swept aside
by your gentleness;
our bitterness
is transformed
into compassion
by your peace.
And we cry: "Glory!"

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our voices
as our Beloved has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation


To a chaotic world, we are servants of God's
goodness, trying to bring light into the shadows,
hope to those in despair, healing to the broken.
Yet we know how our efforts have not been
enough, and so we bring our confessions so God
can forgive us and strengthen us to try again.
Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession

God of all time,
on the first day of creation,
you called day and night into existence.
Forgive us:
for being drawn to sin's shadows;
for hoarding your light and grace;
for thinking creation is our toy,
not our home.

On the first day of his baptism,
you named Jesus as your Son.
Forgive us:
for following other messiahs;
for not seeing him in those we love;
for not serving those we don't like.

At our baptism,
you call us your Beloved.
Forgive us:
when we think we are your favorite;
when we do not embrace the stranger;
when we do not love as we should.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

By the anointing of the waters,
by the power of the Spirit,
by the grace of God: we are
baptized, made whole, forgiven.
God loves us, God names us,
God claims us, God sends us
forth to share this good news
with everyone we meet.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the Creator of heaven and earth be with you.
And also with you!
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One
who gave his Heart to heal us.

Let us give thanks to the One
who made everything and called it 'good'.
How right it is to give our thanks and praise
to the One who calls us 'Beloved.'

When there was only silence,
you sang your love song,
Tender Heart,
your Word creating the sun
to warm the day,
your moon to cradle the night.
You breathed,
and your Spirit
swept away the cobwebs of chaos,
showing us the glory of creation.
You taught us to swim
in Eden's ponds,
but we wanted to splash
in sin's mud puddles;
you invited us to live
in the Garden of grace,
but we ran away to join death's dance.
But you would not let us go,
continuing to wait by
the River of life,
sending us the prophets
who carried the map
to show us the way back.
Finally, when your Heart
was about to shatter,
you asked Jesus to come,
to proclaim the good news to sinners,
to release us from sin's prison,
to lead us out of death's despair.

So, we praise you that in our baptism,
we are joined with Christ forever,
and with our mothers and fathers in heaven,
and our sisters and brothers here on earth,
sing of your glory:

(sung) Morning has broken
Like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing,
Fresh from the Word!

You are holy, Creator of the night,
and blessed is Jesus, Bright Morning Star.
Like a snowflake,
the Spirit rested gently upon him,
anointing him as the Christ,
come to melt our frozen hearts.
Baptized in Jordan's waters,
he stood with sinners;
walking the dusty roads
of the wilderness of the world,
he restored sight to the blind,
and called outcasts his sisters and brothers;
picking up his cross
and dying at Calvary,
he sent sin back to the garbage dump
where it belongs,
and left death behind in the empty tomb.

As we remember our baptism in his name,
we proclaim the life which he lived
and the mystery of that faith
which is our inheritance:

(sung) Jesus loves me,
This I know,
for the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Breath of Creation,
move over these simple gifts
of the bread and the cup,
and transform them into
the grace and Spirit of Jesus, our Brother.
As we come to this Table,
touch us with your peace,
that we might feast on
gentleness and hope.
Then, Voice of the prophets,
sear our hearts with your compassion
that we might go forth
to bring good news to the poor,
to show your love to the stranger,
to welcome those the world has ignored.

And when all time and space is swept away,
and we dwell forever in your Heart,
we will gather around the Table,
clasping hands with one another,
lifting our love as we sing with one voice:

(sung) Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name,
in earth and sky and and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman