Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Easter 3-B

Call to Worship

When fear and doubts
stroll through our doors:
God stands beside us,
whispering of peace.
When we toss and turn late at night:
God sits by our beds,
singing lullabies of love.
When we stumble through
the shadows of sin:
God illuminates the paths
of goodness and joy.

Prayer of the Day

When we are blinded by anger,
you pour out your love
for all to see;
when we wonder
what tomorrow will bring,
you call us to trust in you;
when sadness fills our lives,
you plant gladness in our hearts.
God of Easter:
touch us with your grace.

You show us your hands,
so we may reach out
to mend the broken;
you show us your feet,
so we may walk with
those the world passes by;
you show us your face,
so we may know what
our sisters and brothers look like.
Risen Christ:
touch us with your compassion.

You open our eyes,
so we may see God's love;
you open our minds,
so we may welcome God's Word;
you open our lips,
so we may be God's witnesses.
Spirit of Hope:
touch us with your peace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
open us to your presence,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

If our actions mirrored our words, if our
hands were mentored by our hearts, if we
walked the talk - we would be God's children.
But too often, it is our silence, our doubts,
our fears which tell others who we truly are.
Let us confess to God how we have not
been as faithful as we hope, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession

God of empty tombs: Peter speaks with power and
clarity of his faith, while we remain silent. The psalmist
talks about trusting you, while our doubts overwhelm
us. Jesus is ready to come and grace us with peace,
but our fears keep our hearts shuttered and locked.

God of full hearts: your love can change us from
scared people to children of grace. You can weed
doubts from our hearts and plant seeds of joy in
their place. You can silence the panic of our souls
with the peace Jesus offers to each of us. Transform
us into Easter people, through the power of Jesus
Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior.

Silent prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

What marvelous love, what wondrous grace,
what abundant mercy God offers: to us!
We really are God's people - that's who we are!
We are God's children - those whose lives
have been changed by the One who loves us
and forgives us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter 2-B

Call to Worship

The Word of life spoke:
so we could hear
the angels' 'Alleluias!'
The Word of life reached out:
so we could touch the hope
which heals us.
The Word of life walked out
of death's dread tomb:
so we could follow him
into life forever.

Prayer of the Day

Emptier of Tombs:
you raised Jesus
from the grave
so all fears might be banished;
so the locked doors of our hearts
could be flung open;
so our quivering lips
could declare what
we have seen and heard.

Bright Glory of God:
as you stood in the middle
of your friends
on that first Easter night,
come among us now,
in this time and place,
showing us that death and sin
no longer stand in the way
of our life with you.

Breath of Peace:
strengthen us
so we may stand
with all who fear life;
take our hands in yours,
so we may serve all
who are broken with grief;
inspire us to share
the grace which has been breathed
into our very souls.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

How often have we heard the good news of forgiveness and restoration? Yet, we are still reluctant to believe. God offers us new life, yet we are afraid to let go of the old. Let us confess our doubts and fears to the One who waits to make us whole.

Unison Prayer of Confession

We use a lot of words, Gracious God, but do little to turn them into deeds. Instead of being of one heart and soul, we choose sides and form groups of folks just like us. Blessed with great grace, we have trouble sharing it with those who need it the most.

Forgive us, God of love. Forgive us, as we step out of our shadows into your light. Restore us, as we reveal our brokenness. Hear us, as we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and our God.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

This is the good news we have declare: God leads
us out of the shadows to walk in the light of Christ.
This is the word we have heard: our faithful God
forgives our sins and raises us to new life. Thanks
be to God. Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Easter - Year B

Call to Worship

This is the day:
when tears are wiped away;
shattered hearts are mended;
fears are replaced with joy.
This is the day the Lord:
rolls away the stone of fear;
throw's off death's cothes;
goes ahead of us into God's future.
This is the day the Lord has made:
death has no fear for us;
sin has lost it's power over us;
God opens the tombs of our hearts
to fill us with life.
This is the day - Easter Day!
Christ is Risen!

Prayer of the Day

Very early on that first day
you caught chaos unawares,
Astounding God:
planting grace in a garden,
setting love loose on creation,
flinging joy into the air.

Very early on that first day
Jesus, Sun of Justice:
you staggered sin,
throwing its weight off the world;
you confounded death,
leaving it alone in the grave;
you opened the gates of the kingdom,
so all could follow you into life.

Very early on this first day of the week,
while we were washing sleep from our eyes
and trying to make sense of our lives,
you sang glad songs to us,
Scarred Spirit:
rolling away fears from our hearts
so we can see the Risen Lord.

God in Community, Holy in One,
very early on this first day of the week,
as we do on every day of our lives,
we lift our prayers as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

Very early in the morning, God created all that is
good and beautiful. Very early in the morning,
a mother placed her newborn in a manger. Very
early in the morning, the good news was shared
with frightened friends, that Jesus was risen and
alive in our midst. Let us confess the fears and
the amazement we bring this morning . . .

Unison Prayer of Confession

On this morning of hallelujahs, we must confess how
human we are, Emptier of tombs. We haven't done
any great evil, but we have failed to do good when
we had the chance. We have not intentionally hurt
any one, nor have we offered healing to the broken.
We easily accept the witness of the angel in the tomb,
but find it difficult to share this good news with our
friends and neighbors.

Bring us new life, Dazzling God. Where we are tired
and stressed, give us the energy to serve your creation;
transform our hardened hearts into fountains of grace;
forgive us of all the damage we have done, and fill us
with the joy of your Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ,
who gives us new life, we pray.

Silent Prayers may be offered.

Assurance of Pardon:

God, our Creator, gives us new life;
Christ, our Redeemer, prepares a Table for us;
Holy Spirit, our Joy, calls us to service.
This is the good news: the tomb is empty, sin
is powerless, death is defeated forever.
On this very first day, and every day, we walk
as God's people, forgiven and made whole.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The God of every morning be with you.
And also with you.
People of Easter morning, lift up your hearts!
We lift them to the One
who has raised Jesus from the grave.

People of Easter's joy, give thanks
to the One who raises us to new life.
We sing our hallelujahs
to the God of everlasting love.

On this day of joy and hope,
Redeemer of the lost,
we sing our praise to you.
Very early in the morning,
your Word shattered the silence of chaos,
and grace flowed forth like a river.
You reached down
and gathered up the dust of creation,
forming us into your image,
and breathing life into us.
Yet the day came
when we chose to turn from you
believing our wisdom was superior
to your will for us.
You sent us the prophets,
to speak of your gracious hope,
but we refused to listen.
When you could have let us remain
in the clutches of sin and death,
you sent Jesus to be one of us,
so we could come home to you.

Therefore, we join our voices this morning
with those who stood at the empty tomb,
as well as those of every time and place,
singing our Easter joy to you:


Holy are you, God of every day,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
Bright Morning Star.
Creator of all that is good,
he entered the shadows of hell
to lead us into hope's light;
Beloved of your Heart,
he embraced our sin
so we could be forgiven;
Glory beyond imagination,
he welcomed death
so we could enter life eternal.

Even as we believe
what we may not understand,
we trust that mystery we call faith:

Memorial Acclamation

It is here at this Table,
Resurrecting God,
that we are fed by your love.
As you pour out your Spirit
upon the Bread and the Cup,
fill us with the spirit of Jesus,
so we may go forth to be your people.
Feed us with the Bread of Heaven,
so we can fill the hunger of the world.
Touch our lips with salvation's cup,
so we can proclaim the good news
of this day to everyone we meet.

And when the morning comes
when we are united with all the saints
gathered around heaven's Table,
we will lift our voices to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
forever and ever. Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Service for Good Friday

(Note: Some believe the Passion Story in Mark’s Gospel was written to serve as an Easter Vigil, telling the story as early Christians ‘re-lived’ the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life as they prepared to celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection. Today’s service ‘reduces’ those 24 hours into one, as we remember the final hours of our Lord’s life.)

The people gather in silence
Call to Worship
Into the shadows of chaos
the Light of the world steps;from the silence of death
the Word of God breaks free;for the emptiness of our souls,
the Bread of the world is broken.

First Three Hours (6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Thursday)
Eating with Friends - Mark 14:17-25


it was at table
that the story began:
a people longing
for freedom;
a meal to prepare them
for the journey
into the wilderness;

it was at a table
that the story was re-told:
a teacher and students
wondering what
the coming hours
would bring;
a meal to prepare them
for the journey
into death;

it is at the Lord’s Table
that the story is remembered:
by people struggling
to be faithful;
a meal to prepare us
for the journey
into resurrection.

Second Three Hours (9:00 p.m. - midnight Thursday)
Running Away - Mark 14:26-50


we convince ourselves
that we would not
act as Jesus’ friends do in this story,
but lest we forget:
we are the ones
who slip quietly away
when asked to stand
beside the poor and oppressed;

lest we forget:
we are the deniers
of Jesus
when we turn our backs
on those whom
our world does not recognize;

lest we forget:
we are the greedy
who cling to our possessions
we never use
when they could bless others;

lest we forget:
we are the comfortable
who can sleep
through the cries
of hungry children;

lest we forget:
let us remember
who we are
and who we can become.

Third Three Hours (midnight - 3:00 a.m. Friday)
The Troublemaker - Mark 14:53-65

Unison Prayer

rock star,
pro athlete:
of all the people
you could have been,
you chose to become
a servant -
for us.

of all the privileges
you might have grasped,
you chose to take hold
of a cross -
for us.

Los Angeles;
of all the roads
you might have taken,
you chose the one
running through Jerusalem -
for us.

Of all the people
you might have died for -
you did.

Fourth Three Hours (3:00 - 6:00 a.m. Friday)
"I do not know him" - Mark 14:66-72


Fifth Three Hours (6:00 - 9:00 a.m. Friday)
Trial - Mark 15:1-24


no one asked him . . .

not the chief priest
or his bought judges
fear would
have deafened them;

not the governor,
political options

not the mob:
pockets full of nightmares,
stomachs full of poverty,
voices brimming with bile
no goodness or mercy
flowing over
their cupped hands;

no one asked him
(but don’t you think)
Jesus himself
would have said
(maybe he whispered
it to himself . . .)

give them Barabbas!

Sixth Three Hours (9:00 a.m. - noon Friday)
Crucified! - Mark 15:15-32


Ridiculed by his enemies,
outcast of his kin,
deserted by his friends,
the Morning Star of Creation
covered with the grit
of the sins of the world.

Nailed to the cross,
the Carpenter of Calvary
repairs our brokenness
so we might be
restored to God’s kingdom.

Seventh Three Hours (12 noon - 3:00 p.m.)
Mark 15:33

Silence is observed for 4 minutes

Eighth Three Hours (3:00 - 6:00 p.m.)
From the Cross to the Tomb - Mark 15:34-47


feet that danced
through the streets
of Jerusalem
welcoming the Messiah
now softly pad
the back alleys
in search of shadows;

hearts that leapt
with joy at the sight
of David’s true son
are thrown out
with Golgotha’s

hands that wrapped
a new born son
in bright bands of cloth
now shroud
his broken body
and lay him
in death’s manger.

where glad hosannas
rang out
there is
the silent,

The Service is Concluded.
Please depart in silence.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Palm Sunday - B

Call to Worship

We are here to prepare ourselves
for this holiest of weeks:
a week of journey, of betrayal;
a week of pain, of hope hidden in hearts.
We come to follow Jesus through this week,
for he is the Word who sustains us.
We wave our palm branches in joy;
we run with the children to welcome him
into our hearts.
He comes, not in power and majesty,
but simply, humbly, giving himself for us.
Hosanna! Hosanna!
Blessed is the One who brings us
the kingdom of God.

Prayer of the Day

Creator God:
you give us days
filled with parades, bands, and balloons;
you walk with us
through days
when we are overwhelmed
with pain, with doubt, with heartache.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room foryou
in our hearts.

Rider of Humility:
trusting God,
you offer your life
so we may no longer fear death;
loving God,
you challenge the powers
of the world;
following God,
you reveal faithfulness to us.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

Wisdom's Tongue:
you come to us
with arms full of joy,
spreading it in our path;
you take us by the hand,
to walk with us through this week.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we open our hearts to you,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

Where do we hide our palm branches when the
parade is over? When do our hosannas become
cries for punishment? How do we, like those
before us, turn our backs on the One who comes
to us in the name of the Lord? As we begin Holy
Week, let us admit what is true about us,
as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession

Steadfast Lover: when things go well for us, we can easily sing a chorus of hosannas; but the words turn to ashes in mouths full of anger and bitterness. We hide behind our palm branches, hoping you will not see the doubts we have about what you call us to do. We eagerly feast on your blessings, but are reluctant to even offer crumbs to those around us.

Forgive us, Approaching God. Now, more than ever, forgive us. May we be as eager to lay down our fears and doubts, our sins and pride, as we are to lay down our coats for you. May we praise you for your victory over death, as well as for the promise of resurrection to new life, the promise given to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Silent prayers may be offered.

Assurance of Pardon

At his birth, Jesus comes bringing us hope.
Entering Jerusalem, he brings us assurance.
Walking to Calvary, he leads us to new life.
All this was for us - so we could bend our knees
before God in humility and praise. God's steadfast
love endures forever.
Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is the One who brings
us the kingdom of God! Amen.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman