Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent 1 - B

Call to Worship
We come, so God might open our eyes,
that we may discover the wonders surrounding us;
that we may embrace the joy deep within us.
We gather, so Christ might widen our hearts,
that we may hear the sounds of brokenness around us;
that we may sing the melodies of hope.
We are here, so the Spirit might teach us the ways of humility,
that we may walk that street named Enduring Love;
that we may wait at the corner called Faithfulness.

Prayer of the Day
How you love us, God of rainbow promises!
Like a mother who teachs her son
the steps for his first dance,
like the father who goes out
with his daughter after work
so she can learn how to drive,
you love us that much and more.

How you offer yourself to us, Brother of the beloved!
you gather us up in your arms,
simply to hear our deepest hopes;
you reach out your scarred hands
to gently wipe our fears away;
you stain a cross with your blood,
so we might washed clean in the tears
pouring down God's face.

How you share yourself with us, journey's Spirit!
You bathe our wearied souls
in the cooling waters of baptism;
you wipe the dust of the wilderness
out of our eyes so we can see the kingdom;
you teach us those ancient ways
which offer new life for each of us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
be with us in this Lenten season,
even as we pray, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
God takes broken promises and turns them into vows of faithfulness. God takes our biggest failings and shapes lives of service. God listens to our prayers of confession and changes them into songs of mercy. Let us come to the One who pours forgiveness into our lives, praying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We admit we are hesitant to walk to Jerusalem and beyond with you, God of Glory. In a world where we worry about tomorrow before enjoying today, we race by your moments of silence, of learning. In that flood of worries, which can overwhelm us, we may miss that assurance that you have not cut us off from your grace. In the deserts of our desires, we may ignore that feast of hope, of joy, of life you offer to us.

Forgive us and have mercy on us, Gentle Guardian of our souls. In humility, may we offer our lives to others. In love, may we share your grace with everyone we meet. In hope, may we wait for you all our days, as you come to us in the life and joy of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In this place we find God's word, God's way, God's love, God's forgiveness. What more do we need to sustain us as we continue as pilgrims along the Way?
In every wilderness, on every road;
in every moment, in every life;
in every journey, in every heart,
we receive the daily bread we need - God's hope, God's mercy, God's joy. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Lent be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open 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 overflow with you, Covenant Keeper,
as we lift our hearts to you.
When there was no time as we know it,
you crafted day and night,
so we could wait for you in every moment,
tasting the savory goodness of grace.
You imagined those moments
of gathering us to your side
to teach us all the wonder of your ways,
but we turned our ears towards
the whispered invitations of the Evil One,
running off to play in the wilderness
with rebellion and death our guides.
You recalled the promises you had made
to Noah, to Sarah, to Joseph, and to Hannah,
and so sent the prophets to remind us
of the good gift of your covenant
and to point out the ways to your heart.
When we continued to ignore their words,
you sent Jesus to be with us,
to set us free from the imprisonment
we had created for ourselves.

So, we lift our voices with those who waited patiently,
and with those who trust your covenantal promises,
joining the choirs of heaven and earth,
who forever sing of your hope and love:

Holy, holy, holy, Everlasting God of grace.
Every living creature in heaven and earth sing your praises.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who sits as your right hand of mercy.
Hosanna in the highest.

Faithful and holy are you, Creator of all,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Steadfast Love and Hope.
When he could have stayed at your side
during the days of our rebellion and pride,
he came to be our friend and guide.
When he could have feasted on your power,
in those days of glory with you,
he came to prepare a Table for us
where our hardened hearts might be softened,
and our broken lives might be made whole.
When he could have the angels waiting on him,
he came to serve us your forgiveness and grace,
enduring death on the cross
so we could have life forever.

As we begin once more our Lenten journey,
as we seek to follow faithfully, remembering
the life, the death, the resurrection of Jesus,
we tell the story of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died to set us free from sin;
Christ rose to break the power of death;
Christ will come again, to bring the kingdom as close to us as God's heart.

Pour out your Spirit of imagination
upon this bread, and this cup,
gifts of your good and wonderful creation.
As we are embraced at the Table
by the One who has prepared it for us,
may we open our hearts to welcome
our sisters and brothers.
As we have been set free by your love,
may we proclaim freedom to the prisoners
confined by fear and oppression;
as we are filled with the Bread of life,
may we never cease feeding
the hungry of our world;
as we are nurtured by compassion's cup,
may we go out into the wilderness around us,
to take the lost, the last, the least, the little
by the hand to walk together
into that kingdom prepared for all your children.

And we we are gathered around the Table
with your beloved children of every time and place,
our songs will join together as our tears of joy mingle,
singing your praises forever and ever to you:
God of David and Rebecca, of Mary and Noah;
Jesus of the outcast and lonely;
Spirit of those who seek peace and reconciliation:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen and Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

Call to Worship
At night, when our cries for help echo off our walls, you hear us;
you turn our tears into rivers of joy, Listener of our hearts.
Each day, as our fears push us closer to the edge of loneliness;
you tug us back into the safety of your grace, Servant of the suffering.
Every time we stumble over our efforts to be perfect;
you pull us to our feet to learn new dance steps of hope, Peace of our souls.

Prayer of the Day
When you could choose
to cover us with judgment,
you stretch out your hand
to pull us out of all the holes
we have dug for ourselves.
When you could simply
turn up your nose
when we run to you
covered in sin's slime,
you fill the tub with
the Spirit's soapy water,
gently washing us clean.
When you could see fit
to clothe us in grief's tattered rags,
you take our sackcloths
down to the thrift store,
coming back with arms loaded
with grace-wrapped boxes
filled with hope and comfort.

God in Community, Holy in One,
you choose to love us beyond our wildest dreams,
as listen to our hearts as we pray saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Would a mother not comfort her son who has made a foolish mistake? Does a father not let go of his anger at his daughter to embrace her in forgiveness? This is how God is towards us, longing to dry our tears, to make us whole. So let us come, confessing to the One who loves us so much. Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We must admit that on most days, we are so busy racing around that we do not notice the streetsigns for the kingdom. Rather than lifting the fallen to their feet and brushing them off, we belittle them as we walk on past. When we could offer a cup of hope and joy to the broken-hearted, we turn away so we do not have to see the tears sliding down their faces.

Forgive us, God our Maker, and touch us with your grace. Mend our hearts, so we might be more loving. Fill the emptiness of our souls with the Word of life. Turn our faces towards the need of the world, so we might offer our lives to bring healing and hope, even as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, touchs us with these gifts.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
What is God like? God is the One who turns despair into dancing, who transforms grief into grace, who binds brokenness with cords of compassion, who makes us whole once again.
As Jesus chose to make the leper whole, so God chooses to forgive us. We can cast off sin's sadness, putting on the garments of joy. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May our God be with you.
And also with you.
Come to the one who offers us grace, opening your hearts to God.
We come to the One who proves beyond any doubt how much we are loved.
Faithful people of God, sing praises to the One who loves and heals us.
Our souls will not remain silent, as we lift our songs to the God of compassion.

You could choose to create
in any manner you desired,
God of truth and beauty,
so you brought light
to enlighten the shadows,
living waters to course the fields,
birds to sing your hopes to us.
All that you created
you called good and wonderful,
including those created in your image.
Believing that your call to stay with you
by the tumbling brooks of joy
to be too difficult a task,
we chose the easier way,
drowing ourselves in the
twin rivers of sin and death.
Prophets came, extolling your love,
seeking to attract us back to you.
We picked quarrels with them,
so we would not have to listen
to the truths which they spoke.
So, you sent Jesus to us,
choosing to send your heart
that our hardened ones might be broken
and made new with your love.

We join our voices with the lepers and the lovers
of every age, of every place, who stretch out their hearts,
singing of your glory and grace forever:

Holy, holy, holy, God of healing and hope.
All creation will not remain silent in singing your praises.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who chooses to come in your name.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy are you, Compassionate Heart,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Lord of Creation, Healer of all.
When we tried our best
to pick quarrels with you,
he stretched out his hand,
touch his finger to our lips
whispering, 'Peace. Be healed.'
When he could remain
leaning against the wall,
he taps death on the shoulder,
cutting in, to twirl us
around and around
the kingdom's dance floor.

So recalling he he chose to heal your children,
remembering his willingness to give himself for us,
we will not stay silent but proclaim that mystery called faith:

Christ died, to give life back to us.
Christ arose, to bring us out of the grace.
Christ will come again, stretching out his hand
to lead us into the kingdom.

As you stretch out your hand
to offer us the gifts of this Table,
pour out your Spirit of peace and life
upon the Bread and the Cup.
We open our hands
to receive the life offered to us
in the Bread of heaven,
so we can them use them
to serve your children
in the world around us.
We offer our brokenness to you,
that it might be immersed
in your rich, life-giving grace
poured out of your heart,
so we might go forth
to welcome others into
the dance of hope and joy
you intend for all your children.

And when our race is finished,
when we gather with all our sisters and brothers
from every moment and every place,
we will come to the Table of the Lamb
with hearts overflowing with joy,
and our voices united, forever praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

Call to Worship
When we look at the night sky, speckled with stars,
we discover the never-ending imagination of our God.
When we pick those not chosen on life's playgrounds,
we join Christ in the ministry of healing and hope.
When we set aside the time for prayer, as well as wonder,
we meet the Spirit who is at our side in every moment.

Prayer of the Day
From the very first tale
told around family tables
to that last word written
in the book of time,
you tell us the story
of your love and joy.
From the foundation
laid in Eden's valleys
to the ever-open gates
of the new Jerusalem,
you build a home for
every single one of your children.
How good it is to sing your glory,
Heart of Creation!

Into the abandoned areas
of our lives, you come -
shushing the little imps
who whisper in our ears
of our failings and foolishness.
When we seem unable
to listen to your hopes for us,
you sit down at the edge of our hearts,
once again retelling the story
of your love and grace.
How good it is to sing your name,
Healer of broken lives.

When our dreams dry up
and turn to dust,
you gather them up
and shape them into
a future which surprises us.
When we would pull shut
the curtains of our compassion,
you yank them open,
so we can see those
we are called to serve.
How good it is to sing your peace,
Spirit of paitence.

How good it is to sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
It is in the deserted moments of our lives, when we realize how we have failed to love, to act, to be God's children, that Jesus comes, not only praying for us, but holding us, mending us, sending us forth as new people. Let us come to our God, speaking of those things we would rather forget, so we may once again hear the words of healing and hope.

Unison Prayer of Confession
In that effort to cross the finish line of achievment, Always Listening God, we know we have rushed by those we could have stopped to help. In our attempts to climb the ladder of success, we know we have pushed past those who were too weary to continue and were looking for encouragement. In our channel-surfing for the next big thing, the new guru, the bestseller which would change our lives, we pass over that quiet place where we could listen to your heart, and find our true home.

Forgive us, God who hears our hearts. In setting aside false pride, may we reach down to lift up the fallen. In letting go of that security which only deludes us, may we place our lives into your hopeful future. In turning from the stress which controls our lives, may we find the One who leads us into the kingdom of hope and joy, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
No matter how many times it is said, it bears repeating: God loves us, God forgives us, God heals us, God restores us to new life.
This is Good News! God listens to our words, fills us with grace, and sends us forth to proclaim the gospel to others. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of grace be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open them to the One who calls us to follow.
Sing praises to the God who delights in you.
We lift our songs to the One who strengthens us with the gifts of the Table of life.

At the beginning of all that is,
you poured the foundation of goodness,
Innovative Wisdom.
You did not tire in creating creatures
of every imaginable size and shape,
nor did you waver in your dreams
of peace and grace wandering the earth.
You longed for us to sit in the circle
with joy and wonder as our companions,
as we listened to your hopes for us.
But we thought we could run forever
with sin and death at our side,
never needing to rest.
You were determined to bring us back,
giving us the law as a guide,
but we broke every rule over and over.
You sent the prophets,
and we ignored their words.
So, you sent the One
we did not expect,
or think we needed,
Jesus Christ, our Savior.

So with prophets and parents,
with choirs of children and angels,
and with your children from every time,
we sing your praises forever and ever:

Holy, holy, holy, Creator of heaven and earth!
Young people embrace your promised grace,
older people yearn for your peace and hope.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who comes to heal us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Namer of stars and your children,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Child, our Savior.
That Word speaking goodness into life,
he whispers of your love for us
through every moment of our lives.
The One who shaped galaxies,
and flung them into the universe,
tenderly lifts up those cast out by the world,
placing them in your heart.
The Drifter of deserted places
enters into death's abandonment,
and the cold emptiness of the tomb,
to come forth with new life and hope,
running with us to enter the kingdom.

We come to this Table in remembrance of his life,
singing of his healing and hope for all,
even as we tell of that mystery we call faith:

We proclaim Christ's death with our hearts;
we declare Christ's resurrection with our hopes;
we await Christ's return with our lives of service.

Here in these moments and in this place,
where we have gathered in your presence,
pour out your Spirit upon us
and the gifts you have prepared for us.
Bone-tired, we come to the Table,
that we might be strengthened
with that Bread filled with life.
So weary, we stumble through each day,
we drink from the Cup overflowing
with hope and grace.
Fed and nourished,
we would go forth into all those places
where the outcasts have been abandoned,
and where the hopeless feed on despair,
that we might bring them
not only words of good news,
but the very gifts which can
bring healing to their lives.

And when you gather your children
around the Table set for us in glory,
when we join hands and dance for joy,
we will forever sing your praises:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman