Wednesday, January 21, 2009

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

Call to Worship
Pecking away at our computers, sitting in a knot of traffic:
we wait for you, God of all words, to speak to us.
Pacing the halls of a hospital, sitting outside the principal's office:
we wait for you, God of comfort, to fill us with hope.
In the silence of each night, beginning each day's new journey:
we wait for you, Steadfast Love, for you are our safe place.

Prayer of the Day
Keeper of every moment in eternity:
we come, not only to hear
those words which can transform us,
but to be filled with your grace and hope.
We have come, not out of habit,
but to respond to your call,
willing to be called away
from the familiar ways of our lives.

Walker of our journeys,
in the midst of our harried lives,
you call us to lay aside all that entangles us,
to follow you into service to others.
You invite us to step into
the waters of life and hope,
reaching out to draw others
to our side so, that together,
we might enter your kingdom
of laughter and joy.

When uncertainty fills every block
in our daily planners,
you come, Grace's Companion,
to offer that hope which anchors
us in God's heart;
to place our feet firmly
on that rock called peace;
to bring us safely to that haven
filled with God's steadfast love.

God in Community, Holy in One,
Rock of every age,
we offer the prayer Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Our lives tend to follow the same pattern: get up, go to work or school or the gym, come home, go to sleep. We can fall into the same routine when it comes to our foolishness and failures, doing the same thing over and over and over. But God calls to us, to leave such lives behind, as we follow Jesus into forgiveness and new life. Let us pray together saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
God of procrastinating prophets, we can spend so much time waiting for the perfect moment, that we might miss the chance to help another. We may worry so much about saying the right thing, that we say nothing to encourage a person who needs such words. We may be so wrapped up in dealing with the stresses of life, that we have no time to deal with your hopes and dreams for us.

Forgive us, God of second chances. By your grace, we can hear your words of compassion and forgiveness; by your mercy, we can place our feet back on the path of discipleship; by your love, we are welcomed as your children by our Brother and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
If it can happen in Ninevah, repentance and forgiveness can happen in us; if God can call a stubborn person like Jonah, God can call us to lives of faithful discipleship.
We will lay aside all our fears and doubts, all our worries and resistance, so we can follow Jesus, trusting always in the One who forgives us, in this moment, and all the moments to come. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
You walked across chaos,
God our Salvation,
calling all creation into life.
You poured out your heart,
in the meadows rippling with grass,
in the rivers splashing with life.
Shaping us in your image of love,
you filled us with joy and peace,
gifting us with that Garden
which was our refuge.
But hearing the seductive tunes
which temptation sang to us,
we got up, and set out
to follow them into sin.
You sent prophets like Jonah
to call us back to faithful living,
but we only laughed at foolish words.
Finally, when time was growing short,
you sent Jesus to us,
proclaiming the good news
of your kingdom drawing near.

So, with those who repent in every place,
and with those who follow in every time,
we join our voices in praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy! God of steadfast love!
All creation sings your praises.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who calls us to new journeys.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God our Hope,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Caller of disciples.
He left the refuge of glory
to confront the sin of our lives.
He wandered through our world,
casting out his hopes and dreams,
to draw all into your kingdom.
When time was of the essence,
he went to the cross at Calvary,
to deal with sin and death once and for all,
so they could have no more dealings with us,
bringing us into that kingdom
filled with life eternal.

As we remember his call to follow,
as we sing of his hope and peace,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:

Christ has died, that we might live;
Christ is risen, that we might hope;
Christ will come again, calling us into the kingdom.

At this time appointed for your Feast,
we pray you would pour out
your Breath of Hope
upon the gifts of the Table.
Tasting the Bread of Life,
may we get up and go
to serve the hungry and thirsty among us.
As we are filled with Grace's joy,
may we set out onthat journey
which will take us to your side,
where we will join our broken lives with yours,
so that we might find healing and hope.

And when all time has been fulfilled,
and we have gathered around your Table,
we will join our voices with our sisters and brothers,
forever singing of your steadfast love,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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 wonder! God works through each of us.

Prayer of the Day
It doesn't matter
how far we go
to run from you,
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
complete acceptance
of who we are.

It doesn't matter
how often
we ignore your words,
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

Monday, January 05, 2009

Baptism of the Lord Year B

Call to Worship
On that first day, when time began:
you gave birth to creation;
light danced through the darkness;
the waters of hope flowed free and clear.
On that first day at the Jordan, when redmption began:
you spoke of life for all your children,
as your Child stepped into the waters of forgiveness,
dancing in hope with his cousin, John.
On this first day of the week, when we begin anew:
you call us to faithfulness,
as we open our hearts to you,
your voice claiming us as your own.

Prayer of the Day
Beloved's Parent:
grace is the gift
which flows to us
from your heart;
joy is the seed planted
deep within our souls,
that it might blossom
into lives of service to all.
And we cry: "Glory!"

Servant of sinners:
you emerge from baptism's water,
to embrace us in your hopes;
you take our fears from us
and toss them aside
as you lead us into your kingdom;
you shine the Light
which brings us out
of despair's shadows.
And we cry: "Glory!"

Wind upon the water:
you move among us
sweeping aside our petty pride,
and offering us the gifts
of humility and servanthood.
You whisper of your yearning
for peace and reconciliation,
until it silences our angry voices
and unclenches our fisted hearts.
And we cry: "Glory!"

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our voices as your Beloved teaches,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
You and I are now the ones who step forth out of the safe waters of baptism, to bring hope, to share a word of grace, to carry healing into the brokenness of the lives around us. Let us confess how we still struggle to follow in faith wherever Jesus leads us. Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Timeless God,
you cast Light into sin's dark places
and call us your Beloved.
Forgive us:
when we still linger in the shadows;
when we treat others in hurtful ways;
when we speak ill of your friends.

As he knelt in the waters of Jordan,
you proclaimed Jesus as your Child,
pointing to him as the way to you.
Forgive us:
when we put ourselves ahead of him;
when we think he is no longer needed;
when we fail to see him in the broken of our world.

Baptized and blessed in your living waters,
you would have us be your servants in our time.
Forgive us:
when we fail to welcome the stranger;
when we refuse to forgive as we should;
when we believe we are too good to kneel down
and tie the shoes of the lost, the least, the last, the little.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
Touched by the waters of life, fed at the feast of grace and hope, embraced in the warmth of God's love and hopes - this is good news for all of us!
Blessed by baptism's tears, called to servanthood by the Beloved, filled with the peace of the Spirit, we are indeed God's people - redeemed, restored, refreshed to serve. Thanks be to God! Amen.

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.'

Into the shadows of silence,
you hummed the first chords of creation,
Heart of Tenderness,
your Word crafting the sun to welcome each day,
the moon and stars to guide the night.
The Spirit gathered up the dust of chaos
and shaped it into vast universes,
flinging them into space and time.
Floating on the warm waters of Eden,
cradled in your love and joy,
we could have lived with you forever.
But we made mudpies from death's dirt,
shaping our own foolish dreams,
chasing after sin, and always being caught.
Prophets came, sent from your heart
to call us back to you,
but we could not hear them
over the shouts of our desires.
So, when we had no hope,
you sent your Child, Jesus,
the One who was willing to take on
anything, and everything, which kept us from you.

So, with those who ran to the river's side,
and those who immersed themselves in grace,
with our beloved sisters and brothers
in every time and place, we sing of your love:

Holy, holy, holy! Creator of Light and life.
Heaven and earth sing forever of your love and joy.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who comes to be baptized
by water and the Holy Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessedness is your nature, Holy Imagination,
and your Bright Morning Star is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When our hearts were hardened towards you,
he came to soften them with your grace.
Knowing we had lost our way,
he came to walk at our side,
unfolding the map of the kingdom
and pointing out the way home.
Standing with us in baptism's waters,
he journeyed alone to the cross,
taking our place in sin's grasp,
and leading us into your heart,
leaving death empty and alone.

On this day we remember our baptism,
we would proclaim the life which was his,
and the hope which is ours in that mystery we call faith:

Bathed in your tears, Christ died for us;
washed in the resurrection waters, Christ rose for us;
bringing the waters of life to us, Christ will come again.

As your Spirit changed chaos into creation,
may these simple gifts
of the bread and the cup
be transformed into
your life and peace for us.
We come to this table,
your baptized and beloved children,
hungry for your hope in our lives,
yearning for your peace to fill us.
And when we have been fed by you,
we would go forth into the world
to bring the homeless off lonely streets,
to feed the hungry with more than cliches,
to welcome the stranger as our sister,
to embrace the outcast as our brother.

And when time has ended its journey,
and we are gathered as your family
around the Table of grace,
we join our hands and hearts together,
singing to you through all eternity
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman