Friday, March 30, 2007

Easter - C

Call to Worship
This is the day the Lord has made!
We will rejoice in it.
This is the day God has made;
and what a day!
When God wipes away our tears
so we can see the empty tomb.
What a day!
Easter day!
When God opens our hearts' tombs
as Jesus calls us by name.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God our Salvation:
you roll away the power of sin,
bringing forth the One
who makes everything alive.
Out of the garden
of violence and hate
which evil has planted,
you bring forth
a spring harvest
of love and forgiveness.

Jesus Christ, Creation's Gardener:
you went into the grave
to drive out the power of the world;
you shut the doors
of pain and death
and open the gates of glory
to those who trust in you
and follow as your faithful servants.

Holy Spirit, Anointer of new life:
you speak
and open our eyes to faith;
you touch our lips
with glad songs of victory;
you roll away our fears
so we can tell everyone
we have seen the Risen Lord.

God in Community, Holy in One,
on this great day of Easter,
we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Logically, rationally, we have no need to confess. Our petty sins pale in comparison to the great evils of our time. But this is the day God tossed logic out the window and raised Jesus from the dead. So we must throw out our claims of innocence, and confess how we have not lived as God's Easter people.

Unison Prayer of Confession
On this first day of the week, Emptier of tombs, we must admit that we have not lived faithfully the last few days. It is not that we have done great evil; we simply
have failed to do good for others. It is not so much that we have caused hurt, but we have not brought healing. It is not that we have trouble believing in the event of Easter, we have difficulty speaking about this day to our friends and neighbors.

Call us by name, Redeemer of all creation, so we might hear your words of mercy. You have not give us over to despair, but handed us hope. You have not ignored our emptiness, but filled us with the Bread of Heaven. You do not give us over to death, but raise us to new life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, in whose name we pray.

Silence is kept.

Assurance of Pardon
What a day! Easter Day!
God's dawn of new hope, new mercy, new life.
On this first day and every day, we can walk as
God's people, forgiven and made whole.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord is risen!
We have seen the Lord!
Lift up your hearts, people of God.
We lift them to the Risen Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
We offer our thanks and praise
to the One who gives us new life.

How good it is on this day of joy
to lift our glad songs of praise to you,
Redeemer of the lost.
You planted your steadfast love
in the gardens of creation,
but we ate the bitter fruit
of idolatry and sin.
Prophets came in your name,
bringing your gracious word,
but we could not hear them call our name.
When we were about to perish,
when we could have died,
you sent the One
who could bear that threat away.
Therefore, on this day and every day,
with those in heaven and those on earth,
we lift our glad cries to you:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
all creation is blessed with new life on this day.
Hosanna in the highest!


Blessed is the One who comes bringing your resurrection power.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Easter,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
sent by you to bring us salvation.
Your right hand,
he releases us from sin's grip;
walking through
the darkness of death,
he leads us into
the kingdom's light;
confounding the practicioners of evil,
he did good for others;
humbling himself to experience
our pain and suffering,
he is raised to rule over all.

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

Christ has died,
but death does not have the final word;
Christ is risen,
and Easter begins for us
when Christ calls us by name.
Christ will come again
and lead us into God's glory
.

Pour out your Holy Spirit
upon the Bread and the Cup,
Resurrecting God,
and upon us who seek to be your children.
When we are done
eating and drinking
with the Risen Lord,
send us forth
to feed the hungry.
Served at the Table by the One
who freed us from death,
we would go out to be servants
of the poor and oppressed in our world.
Called to proclaim the good news of Easter,
we would do so with our hands and hearts,
not just our lips.

Through Christ,
glory and honor,
praise and thanksgiving are yours,
God of new life,
with the Holy Spirit,
in your holy people,
on this first day of the week
and in all the days to come.
Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Good Friday

(There is an alternative Good Friday service, based on the idea of Mark's Passion for an Easter Vigil, in the April 2006 archive - 4/10/2006)

Call to Worship
Here, in the midst of these people,
we come to worship you.
We come with the groans of our lives,
and the whispers of hope in our hearts.
Here, in the midst of these people,
we come to remember you.
We come, trusting you have not forgotten us;
and that here, promises will be fulfilled.
Here, in the midst of these people,
we come to have our hearts touched.
We come, knowing you hear our souls;
we come, to praise you for your steadfast love.

Prayer of the Day
On this day, God of all tears,
you call us in the midst
of our busy lives
to look at the suffering and death
of the One who came to carry
the pain of the world into your heart.
Give us eyes to see your love
this day.

On this day
you would gather everyone
to your side,
Grace of Calvary,
but we leave you
to carry the cross alone.
You came simply as love incarnate,
but hate and bitterness
were the gifts we offered to you.
You poured out your love
so our emptiness might be filled.
Give us ears to her your pain
this day.

On this day,
you would pray for us,
for we cannot find the words
on our own,
Shattered Spirit.
Hear the cries of those in need.
Listen to the lament of the lonely.
Cradle the whispered hopes of children.
Set free the dreams of prisoners and captives.
Give us hearts to pray with you
this day.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers to you in the name of the One
who suffered and died for us
this day
and who teaches us to pray, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Confident of the hope received by the death of Christ, we bring our hearts - broken, stained with sin, filled with failings - to the One who sprinkles them with grace, cleansing them with the waters of life.

Unison Prayer of Confession
Like little children who can wander off in a crowded store, we have lost our way, God of the grim day. We betray you when we do not befriend the poor; we deny you when we are afraid to speak up for the voiceless; we turn our backs on you when we do not do good for others; we crucify you when we harm our family and friends.

At the foot of the cross, we stand with all who have forgotten you and forsaken the way which you offer to us. Forgive us, Lamb of God, and fill us with the mercy, the hope, the grace you poured out for us, as you gave your life for the sins of the world.

Extended silence is kept.

Assurance of Pardon
Christ has lifted our suffering onto his shoulders, carrying all our hurts and rejections into God's heart. There, God casts them away into the sea of forgetfulness, so we may be restored to hope and live as new people.
Fed with grace, carried in God's arms, we know that we are forgiven. Thanks be to God. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Maundy Thursday

Call to Worship
In remembrance, we gather:
to be with the One who teaches us
the meaning of faithfulness.
In remembrance, we worship:
lifting our voices to the One
who calls us to love one another.
In remembrance, we feast:
breaking the Bread which makes us whole,
drinking the Cup which fills us with grace.

Evening Prayer
It was the beginning of hope
on that night long ago,
Liberating God,
as you prepared to lead
your people to freedom.
As they readied themselves,
you fed them
with your unblemished grace,
so all sin, pain, and bitterness
could be set down and left behind
when it was time
to follow you.

It was the beginning of salvation
on that night long ago,
Servant Lord,
as you prepared your disciples
for all the things which were to happen.
You humbled yourself
by washing their feet,
so they could follow you
in service and love
to a world which would reject you
and hang you on a cross.

We tell these stories once again
on this night of remembrance,
Servant's Spirit.
Here is the Bread
which gives us life;
here is the Cup
which slakes our thirst for justice;
here is the towel
with which we wipe the tears
of the broken-hearted;
here is the basin
which cleanses the stains
of the world.

Prepare us for our journey of discipleship,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as our Servant, Jesus Christ,
teaches us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
How is it people will recognize us as followers of Jesus? Simply by how we treat one another. Let us confess how we have not loved as Christ loves us.

Unison Prayer of Confession
To often, Holy One, we forget to love you a little bit, much less with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul. To easily, we forget to love our neighbors, building higher and higher walls between us. Too quickly, we forget your call to servanthood, hearing instead the accolades and applause of the world.

Forgive us, God of freedom and hope. Bring us to the Table of grace, where we will be healed; fill us with your steadfast love; lift us to our feet so we might follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into that ministry of servanthood and sacrifice which is our calling.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is what we have heard: Christ came to teach,
to serve, to lead us into the kingdom of God.
We will serve, so others might be set free;
we will teach, so others will know the Word of hope;
we will love, so others will know us as Christ's people;
we will do as our Servant has done.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, March 23, 2007

Palm/Passion Sunday - C

Call to Worship
On this day of palms and celebration,
Jesus continues his journey with God.
We will go with him, for a while,
until he turns towards Calvary
.
From the top of Olive Mountain,
Jesus prepares to travel through
the valley of heartache and loss.
We will follow Jesus, for a while,
cradling hope in our hearts.
In the streets of Jerusalem,
Jesus hears the cries of those
who adore him.
We will shout Jesus' name, for a while,
until we cry out, "Crucify him!"

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Architect of our grace:
from your house
we praise you.
Your love is never taken from us;
your goodness is the constant in our lives.
We worship you.

Jesus Christ,
Sorrow of our salvation:
you dared to listen to God
instead of the cheers
of the crowd
and the jeers
of your enemies.
We walk with you.

Holy Spirit,
Glory of God:
you give us light
so we might see
the One who comes;
you open our ears,
so we might hear
the whispers of hope;
you sustain the weary,
so we might journey
through this week.
We welcome you.

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

Call to Reconciliation
Petty squabbles don't belong in such a story of high drama and sacrifice, but they are there,
just as in our lvies, along with the other ways we fail to be the disciples of Christ. Please join
me as we pray.

Unison Prayer of Confesssion

Sustainer of the weary, we know how we sang for joy when Christ came into our lives, and how we have not followed him when he leads us on this journey. We have hidden our faces from the pain and suffering of our world. We have turned a deaf ear to the cries of the poor, the hungry, the oppressed. We trust in the slick promotions of the world, and not in your words that can transform our lives.

Forgive us, Steadfast God, and shine your face upon us. Help us to have the same mind as Christ, so we would know your promises; help us to have the same heart as Christ, so we might serve your children; help us to have the same Spirit as Christ, so we might go wherever you lead us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God does not turn away when we fail to be faithful. God does not reject us when we do not trust fully. God continues to love us, to forgive us, to restore us.
It is God who helps us; it is God who saves us. It is all we need or ever will need. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord is coming to be with you.
and also with you.
People of God, lay down your coats
and lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One
who comes in God's name.
Let us praise God for the
mighty works we have witnessed.
It is right that we praise our God.

It is our highest joy to praise you,
God of enduring love.
All that is good and beautiful,
all this is just and true,
is your doing.
Morning by morning,
you whispered your dreams
and hopes into our hearts.
But we chose to listen
to different voices,
turning our backs on you
in rebellion and sin.
You sent the prophets
to waken our ears
to your songs of grace,
but we rejected them
as adversaries to our desires.
But you would not turn your face from us,
and sent the One who is named Salvation.

Therefore, we join ourvoices in thanksgiving,
with those in this place, and in every place,
with those in every moment, and in this moment,
singing with all creation to your glory:

Sanctus

Holy are you, God of goodness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who comes in your name.
When he could have remained with you,
he poured himself into
the emptiness of our souls;
casting aside his unity with you,
he gathered up our brokenness
to make us whole;
proclaimed by the choirs of heaven,
he humbled himself as a servant,
so we might be raised to glory;
faithful to the point of death,
even shameful death,
you exalted him to new life
so we might stand with him
in eternity with you.

Remembering the One who came for us,
remembering the words he taught,
remembering his passion and his resurrection,
we proclaim the One who is the Bread of Life:

Memorial Acclamation

Holy Spirit,
as we come to this Table,
bless the gifts of the bread and the cup
that they might be the sustenance of grace.
Strengthen us with the Bread of life,
so we would not turn our backs
on those who hunger;
nourish us with the Cup of hope,
so we might sustain the weary;
so fill us with the good news,
that we dare not remain silent,
but must shout out God's desire
of justice and peace for all people.

Through Jesus Christ,
all glory and honor are yours, God our Father,
with the Holy Spirit, in your holy church,
this day and forevermore. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lent 5-C

Call to Worship
Whatever God did in the past,
the future is that much better!
(even in Jerusalem)
We will not stop looking
for the newness God has for us!
Whatever we have achieved to this point,
we have not completed our journey.
(even into the unknown)
We will quicken our pace
to follow Jesus wherever he leads.
Whatever obstacles we put in the path,
God will make a way to our hearts.
(even in the desert of death)
We will move onward,
through our doubts and fears.

Prayer of the Day

Holy God,
Water Tamer:
you humble our pride,
so we might open
our hearts
to your healing;
you restrain our fears,
so we might reach
for your joy.

Jesus Christ,
Living Water:
you gather up our tears
and wash away
the dust of our despair;
you sit at our feet
and anoint us
with your costly love;
you wipe away our sin
and make us new.

Holy Spirit,
Impudent Joy:
you grace us
with gifts so abundant
they become a river
bursting its banks
in our lives.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers and our joy
as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Even now, God makes a way for us to be made whole. God wants to bring us out of despair and to fill our hearts with laughter. Please join me as we pray to the One who forgets our past to offer us a new future,

Unison Prayer of Confession
God, whose name is Grace: we confess that all too often we asume we have it made and there is no need to advance in our faith. Because the poor are always with us, we believe we can ignore them. We want Jesus to be with us, but not if it means a lot of struggle and pain.


Forgive us, God of Mercy, and repair our broken lives. You have rearranged the price tags on everything we value, so we might set down all that holds us back, to push ahead in following Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God comes to us to give living water to
thirsty people; God comes to us to anoint
us with the grace that wipes away our sin;
God comes to fill us with joy.
Our tears are turned into rivers of grace;
our weeping becomes glad cries of praise.
Thanks be to God. Amen.


(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lent 4-C

Call to Worship
Do you feel it?
's kingdom is beneath our feet.
We live in the new creation
shaped by God out of our brokenness
.
Do you know it?
God's reconciling love in Christ
has shattered our ways of viewing people.
No longer do we label our sisters and brothers,
we welcome them with open arms.
Do you believe it?
God has made everything, including us, new,
and sends us forth
to share this good news with everyone!


Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Word Shaper:
you are not our accountant,
but our lover;
you are not angry at us,
but you forgive us;
you are not our enemy,
but the One who runs towards us
with wide open arms,
throwing steaks on the grill
to celebrate our newness!

Jesus Christ,
Shaper of our story:
you travel to that distant country
called our sin
to bring us home once again;
you share your inheritance with us
so we might be blessed;
you know the famine of our spirits
and fill it with your hope.

Holy Spirit,
Life Shaper:
surrounded by your grace,
we offer glad cries of salvation;
encircled by your constant love,
we shout for joy;
enclosed in your comforting arms,
nothing can overwhelm us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
from no on we will remember our life in you,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We know our faults -- the way we have treated others, our alenation from God, our unwillingness to be faithful people. We will not hide our sin or remain silent, but confess them to the One who surrounds us with steadfast love. Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We admit, Waiting God, how we have sinned against you. We treat others as strangers, not as our brothers and sisters. Like the elder son, we become green-eyed with jealousy, when you throw your arms around those who are different
from us. We are quick to see the faults of others, but do not recognize our own brokenness. We are not


You interrupt our confession, Tender God, to run and embrace us. There are no limitations on your love, there is nothing you will not give to us. You fill us with your compassion, and treat us as you do your own Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: God rolls away everything that stands in our way - our past, our sin, our pain, our hesitation,
and reshapes us into new people living in the new creation. What wonderful grace. We
are forgiven!
P: Broken, we are made whole;
lost, we are brought home;
empty, we are filled with songs of gladness.
We rejoice and give thanks to God who has
graced us with mercy. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lent 3-C

Call to Worship
When our pockets are empty,
God allows us to purchase what we need,
charging it to grace's account.
God thinks differently than we do.
When our souls are parched,
God hands us a glass of living water.
God's ways are different from ours.
When we grow weary of searching,
God takes our hand and leads us home.
God's love is different from ours.

Prayer of the Day
God of Grace:
we would max out every credit card
and empty our bank accounts
if we thought we could buy
that peace, that hope,
that mercy, that joy
which always seem to elude us.
Yet you wrap them up
and hand them to us,
with no price tag attached.
We hold our empty lives
out to the world,
begging to be filled to the brim
with all that will only disappoint us.
Yet you would grace us with living waters,
which never run dry.
We lie awake at night
from the insomnia of our stress,
whispering of our fears.
Yet you would lullaby us
with your love which never ends.

We would lift our hearts to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
trusting that you will listen to us,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Gifted beyond measure, we grumble that we don't have enough. Seeking to get our own way, we do not see the ways God wants to forgive us and restore us to new life. In this season of reflection and repentance, let us turn to the One who waits for us with hope.

Unison Prayer of Confession
We continue to be tempted, Faithful God. We are blessed with gifts to use for others, but we want to keep them for ourselves. We easily notice the mistakes of those around us, but do not want to look in the mirror at our lives. We turn our desires into idols, so we do not have to recognize how they can damage us.


Forgive us, Steadfast God. Fill the poverty of our spirits with the richness of your grace; feed our selfish hunger with the bread of compassion for the world; pour the living waters of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into our hearts until they overflow with love.

Silence is kept.

Assurance of Pardon
God is faithful. God's love is an eternal bargain
which will not be broken, God's grace is the gift
which will not be taken back.
Such abundant mercy, such extravagant grace!
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.


(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman