Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lent 1-B

Call to Worship

Here, at the outer limits of Lent,
we are called to walk:
to the paper-thin edges which cut us to the soul;
to the workplaces which weary us;
to the people who confuse us;
to the faith which threatens us.
Here, at the corner of Steadfast Love and Faithfulness,
we are called to wait:
when our clenched stomachs awaken us;
in the moments of unbearable sorrow;
with the angels who would carry us.
Here, where time is fulfilled,
where God's Kingdom is as near to us as our neighbor,
we begin Lent:
with the Beloved, whose tears wash away our fears,
with the God who will not let go of our hands.

Prayer of the Day

You love us, O God.
Like a mother who upholds her son through
the temper tantrums,
the ball-broken windows,
the smart-alecky remarks:
you love us, O God.
Like a father who walks his daughter through
the terrible twos,
the giggling fours,
the confusion and chaos of adolescence:
you love us, O God!

You give to us, Holy Brother.
In the tears crevassing our cheeks,
in the depths of our sighing;
in moments of exquisite joy
and the lingering days of loneliness:
you give to us - your self.
In the chorales of morning birds,
in the silent prayers of our hearts;
in a night sky splattered with stars,
in a cross stained with blood and tears:
you give to us - your self.

You dance with us, Gentle Spirit.
In baptismal waters soaking our knees,
when desert dust chokes our hymns:
you dance with us, Gentle Spirit.
In jail cells and courtrooms,
on the journey to death,
and striding forth from the tomb:
you dance with us, Gentle Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in any season, but especially in this Holy Season,
you love us, you give yourself to us, you dance with us;
and so we lift the prayer Jesus has taught to us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

God looks at the most broken soul and sees an angel aching to take flight. God sees our worst faults and washes them away in the waters of life. God hears our prayers of confession, and whispers sweet grace in our hearts. Let us pray together as we say,

Unison Prayer of Confession

Forgive
the silly sins of childhood,
the exuberant sins of adolescence,
the faded sins of aging;

forgive
the sins we shout in the streets,
the sins we whisper to ourselves;

forgive
the sins we didn't give a second thought to,
the sins we plot in the middle of the night;

forgive
the flood of sins which threaten us,
the wilderness of sin which we offer to others,
the sin which seeks to imprison us:
forgive.
Forgive us, Good and Gentle God,
forgive us and have mercy on us,
so we might walk the path of faithfulnesswith Jesus,
to Jerusalem and beyond,
so we might know your steadfast love in our lives.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

What can sustain us in the days to come,
what will nourish us on our Lenten journey?
Look, here is all the food we need: God's Love,
God's Word, God's Hope.
Through the wilderness and into the kingdom
of life, we are given daily bread for every day
of the journey. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the Lord of Lent be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who calls us 'Beloved.
'Beloved of God, give thanks and praise
to the One who loves you forever.
We sing our hymns of joy to the One
who leads us into the kingdom.

Hearts full of joy are lifted to you,
Crafter of Covenants.
When there was no time as we knew it,
you created Day and Night,
so we could wait for you all day long,
enjoying your grace and goodness.
But instead of learning your ways,
we listened to the seductive whispers
of the Evil One,
and wandered into the wilderness
of rebellion and sin.
Remembering the promises made
so long ago to our ancestors,
you sent the prophets to teach us
and to show us your paths to hope,
but we ignored their witness and their words.
Yet, you would not see us left
in death's desert,
and so sent the One
who could lead us back to you.

Therefore, we lift our voices
with the faithful of every time and place,
and the choirs of the kingdom,
who forever sing of your goodness and love:

Sanctus

Holy are you, God of Faithfulness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
your Steadfast Love.
In those days,
he could have remained by your side,
but came to be by ours;
in those days,
he could have feasted on your glory,
but came to eat and drink with sinners;
in those days,
he could have remained whole and pure,
but died broken on a sin-stained cross,
that we might have all the days of eternity with you.

As we begin that journey to Jerusalem
which will test our faith
and offer us opportunities to serve,
we remember the life, the death,
the resurrection of the One we follow.

Memorial Acclamation

On this day, and in this place,
God of Mystery,
pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and upon the bread we break
and the cup we share.
Through these gifts,
make us one with the Risen Christ,
and send us forth to serve the world.
Set free by the goodness of your love,
let us proclaim liberty to the prisoners;
filled with the Bread of Life,
let us feed the hungry of our communities;
our thirst cooled be the Cup of Grace,
let us reach out to those
who stumble through the desert of life;
walk with us through the wilderness of the world,
so we can gather our sister and brothers
in your love, your hope, your joy,
and journey together into your kingdom.

Then, seated around the Table you set before us,
with the Beloved of every time and of every place,
we will merge our songs of praise
with those who have shown your steadfast love and faithfulness
to all generations,
singing our praise to you,
God of Abraham and Noah, of Rebecca and Mary;
Jesus of the poor and oppressed;
Spirit of the lost and the least:
God in Community, Holy in One.
Amen and Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

Call to Worship

We gather to worship our God,
who has done great things.
We rejoice in the One who lays a path
for us through the deserts of our lives.
We gather to worship our God,
who does great things.
We delight in the One who pours rivers
of grace into the emptiness of our world.
We gather to worship our God,
who will do great things.
We exult in the One who paves the streets
of the kingdom with peace and joy.

Prayer of the Day

When we clutch our old habits,
you offer us a future filled with hope;
when we make a mess of our lives,
you wipe up our mistakes
with your grace;
when we wander parched
in the wilderness of our souls,
you offer us the cup of living water.
Faithful God:
we have never seen anything
like your love!

You lay open our hidden hearts
so your grace
might heal us;
you wipe away our tears
of anger and frustration,
so we might see the wonders
of your gentleness and hope;
you take up your cross
so we might go home
with you to the kingdom.
Faithful Witness:
we have never heard anything
like your words!

Your breath fills our lungs,
giving us life and energy
to serve those around us;
you point to the poor,
so we will see them
as our sisters and brothers;
you wrap us
in the comfort of your kindness.
Faithful Spirit:
we have never known anything
like your peace!

God in Community, Holy in One,
we believe that in You all promises are kept,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

God promises to do new things in our lives: to wipe away our mistakes and to forget our sins. So, join me as we confess our failings, trusting that behind these promises is God's"Yes!"

Unison Prayer of Confession

We come to you paralyzed, Sustaining God. We are so overwhelmed by our pain, we are unable to feel your healing touch. We are so frustrated by the ways other folks treat us, we cannot hear your call to discipleship. We are so crippled by our anger, we find it almost impossible to be kind to others.

Be gracious to us, Healer of all brokenness.
In your "Yes,"
we hear the truth which exposes our lies;
we see the One who chooses to forgive and heal us;
we find the way to your heart prepared for us
by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

Forget about what has happened in the past!
God is in the business of newness: new
people, new creation, new hope, new life.
This is the good news: God doesn't keep
a record of our sins - God forgives us!
Thanks be to God! Broken, we are made
whole; lost, we are found; closefisted, we
open our hands to receive grace. Amen and Amen!

Blessing

From moment to moment:
Blessed be God our Creator.
From now until eternity:
Blessed be Christ, Servant of the poor.
From everlasting to everlasting:
Blessed the Spirit of Healing.
All: Amen and Amen!

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

Call to Worship

We cry for help, and you hear us,
turning our tears into streams of joy.
O God our Maker,
we will praise you forever.
We look for healing, and find you,
the One who chooses to make us whole.
O Healer of the Broken,
we will sing of your hope forever.
We gasp for air as we race through our days,
and you wait to revive us.
O Breath of Life,
we will tell of your faithfulness forever.

Prayer of the Day

At bedtime,
as our tears flow soundlessly
upon our pillows,
you pick us up
and rock us gently
in your grace,
so we can sleep
until your morning song
wakens us
and we laugh with joy.
Faithful God,
we adore you.

When we cry out
in the middle of the night,
our fears pushing us
into the Pit of loneliness,
you come to touch us
with your peace,
making us one
with you.
Servant of the suffering,
we follow you.

We trip in our efforts
to be perfect,
so you pull us to our feet
to teach us
new dance steps;
when our souls
are shattered by the world,
you dunk us in Living Water,
and dry us off with hope.
Gilead's Balm,
we welcome you.

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

Call to Reconciliation

What is God like? Like a mother who cannot stay mad for long at her children, like the father who lets go of his anger to help the child who made a foolish mistake: this is God. Let us join together to confess our sins, for God longs to make us whole and to dry our tears.

Unison Prayer of Confession

Too often, we wander aimlessly through our days,
not noticing how clearly you have marked
the way to the kingdom;

too often, we choose to belittle people
rather than encouraging them;

too often, we push others aside
when we could choose to lift them
to their feet;

too often, we cause others to weep,
rather than choosing to plant joy
in their hearts.

Forgive us and be gracious to us, Merciful God.
Open our hearts to your healing grace,
open our spirits to your Word of life,
open our eyes to the world around us:
so we may bring healing and hope,
even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
touched us with these gifts.

Silent prayer may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

This is what God does:
turns despair into dancing,
grief into grace,
brokenness into blessing.
Cleansed and made whole, we offer
our thanks to God.
As Jesus chose to make the leper whole,
so God chooses to forgive us. We can
take off sin's sadness and dress ourselves
in the bright clothes of joy.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman