Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Easter 4 - B

Call to Worship
In the presence of God, we gather:
people burdened and looking for comfort;
folks whose spirits need a makeover.

Like little children, we surround God:
hoping for that touch which will refresh us;
longing to be embraced in arms of love.
We look, and find a feast has been prepared for us:
bread which will give us life anew;
the cup which overflows with grace and hope

Prayer of the Day
On the lonely paths through life,
you are smoothing the way for us.
In the barren soil where we till our souls,
you are nurturing us with love.
Wherever we are, we find you,
Crafter of Creation.

When we go to fill the emptiness
of a hungry world,
you are handing us the bags of food.
When we see children struggling
to get past the potholes of poverty,
you are waiting with the gifts
we can use to smoothe their way.
Wherever we are, we find you,
Shepherd of God's little ones.

At the corner where anger
intersects with judgment,
you are handing out bottles
filled from peace's spring.
At every opportunity we have
to share goodness and mercy,
we find our pockets stuffed
with simple acts of kindness.
Wherever we are, we find you,
Shepherd's Spirit.

Wherever we are, we find you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We wander from hope to hope, thinking the next person, the next book, the next new thing will lead us in the ways in which we long to live. Yet, if we open our eyes and pay attention, we will see the Good Shepherd, the One who will bring us into the kingdom of God's mercy and hope, even as we confess all the foolish mistakes we have done, and all the wrong turns we have made. Join me, as we pray saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
You long to fill us with your comfort and peace, Still Waters of Grace, but we continue to take on more anxiety, more worry, more fear. You would comfort us in the gentleness of your hope, but we welcome the embrace of a world spinning more and more out of control. You would feed us with more than we need, but we continue to hunger for the sweet sensations offered to us by temptation.

You keep your promises and offer us forgiveness and mercy all the days of our life. May we keep our eyes focused on the path you have shaped for us; may we listen to the call of the Good Shepherd who leads us into your joy, that kingdom prepared for us by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: wherever we are, God is with us; whoever we are, God forgives us, and offers us new life.
Surely goodness and mercy are the companions we have been longing for, faithful friends as we continue our journey as God's people. Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May God be with you.
And also with you.
Beloved of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who leads us where we need to be.
Little children, give thanks to the Lord our God.
Our praise is continually offered to our Heart,
our Shepherd, our God.

Holy God,
Planter of green pastures where we might be fed;
Pooler of waters which nourish us forever;
Shaper of paths which lead us into your presence:
all that you made is beautiful and good
and given to those created in your image.
Sadly, our wisdom leads us to choose hunger
over the feast you prepare for us;
we thirst in the deserts
when we could drink deeply
from your grace;
we stumble off those paths
leading to your holy presence.
Yet you continue to seek us out,
to bring us home to your kingdom,
preparing a feast for those who will not respond
to your gracious invitation.

Therefore, we lift our voices to you day and night,
with those gathered around your throne
and with those who struggle to be faithful today,
singing your praise and our thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of goodness and mercy.
green pastures and summer nights are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who lays down his life for your children.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy are you, Shepherd of all people,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
one with you in every respect.
For your name's sake,
he left the green pastures
to climb the garbage heap of Golgotha;
he waded out of the living waters
to be drenched with the abuse of the world;
he wandered the streets of the kingdom
covered with the dust of sin and death
to lead us into the kingdom of joy.

As we seek to follow the Good Shepherd
into all the places he would lead us,
we celebrate that mystery we call faith:

The Good Shepherd walked through the darkest valley;
the Good Shepherd prepares a Table for us;
the Good Shepherd abides in us.

Pour out your Holy Spirit
upon these gifts of the bread and the cup
you have prepared for your Table.
As the bread which is broken
makes us whole,
and the cup overflows with your grace,
so pour us out for others:
so we may offer shelter
to those who have no home;
so we may comfort those
whose hearts are broken by the world;
so we may share food
with all who ache from hunger;
so we may guide the thirsty
to the pools of life we have found.

And when our journey is ended,
when we are at home in the soft, green pastures,
resting by the still waters, we will find that Feast
of grace, mercy, and hope you prepare for us,
and we will join with our companions
from every time and place, singing joy to you:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter 3 - B

Call to Worship
We are witnesses,
to the love God has poured into us.
We are witnesses of God's love,
sharing it with each person we meet.
We are witnesses to everyone we encounter,
little children like us, sisters and brothers in God's family.

Prayer of the Day
When it seems that no one will listen,
we find you at our side,
leaning over to catch every
faltering, stumbling, fearful word
spilling forth from our hearts.
When it seems that the world
rushes past us, leaving us behind,
we find you waiting just ahead of us,
ready to light the way
into the future you have prepared.
When we worry about yesterday
and all the tomorrows to come,
you gather us up in your arms,
gently rocking us in your hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
continue to touch us with your peace,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We know how easy it is to trick ourselves into believing that every thought is pure, every act is just, every choice is correct. But if we want to be God's children, to grow in hope, to walk in the Light, we must admit our mistakes, so we may open ourselves to the healing mercy of God's love. Join me, please, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Emptier of tombs, we find ourselves running down the street after lies, rather than walking with you. We find it easy to love other people, as long as they don't annoy or bother us. We hunger for love and search for affirmation, yet find it difficult to let others love us for who we are.

Forgive us, Compassionate Heart. You listen to the whispers of our hearts, and than sing of the promises of hope. You grace us with peace, so our hearts can rest in you. You continue to transform us into Easter people, brothers and sisters of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Not everything has been revealed to us, but this we do know: as God's children, we are blessed, we are loved, we are forgiven.
Our lives have been transformed by the abundant mercy given to us in Christ JJesus our Lord. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

You opened your hands,
pouring creation's glory
into the emptiness of chaos,
God of beginnings.
The sun, moon, and stars became
the mirrors of the light of your face,
shining down upon all that was crafted.
Shaping us in your divine image,
you stood beside us,
pointing out all the good you offer to us.
But we found comfort in sin's shadows,
fear and doubt claiming us as friends,
and we turned our backs on you.
Through our ancestors in the faith,
Sarah and Samuel, Hannah and Hosea,
you demonstrated your faithfulness,
your longing to welcome us
into your embracing arms of love.
But we did not recognize them,
and clung to the vain words
spoken to us by temptation.
So, you sent your child to us,
to show us what love truly is,
that we might have this hope
offered to us in Jesus.

So, with little children who delight in your joy,
and with older folks who trust in your promises,
with our sisters and brothers throughout all time,
we join our voices in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy, God of grace and beauty.
All creation joins in singing your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who comes so we may be like him.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed are you, Holy and Righteous God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Author of Life.
In the Word become flesh,
you call us to repent and turn to you.
In the Light of the world,
our eyes are opened
so we can see you standing with us.
In scarred hands and feet,
we see the power of sin and death
destroyed by your grace and hope,
so we can reach out and embrace
that life which is ours forever with you.

As we gather around the Table to remember,
as we give thanks for the life which was given for us,
we speak of what we do not always understand - the mystery of faith.

Christ walked to Calvary to die for us.
Christ strode from the tomb to raise us to life.
Christ will come and stand among us, to lead us home.

In this moment, and in this place,
pour out your Spirit upon us,
and on the gifts of the bread and cup
which have been prepared for us.
As we take the bread
from your scarred hands,
may we reach out
to mend the broken of our world.
As we drink from the cup,
open our hearts and eyes,
so we may see those
the world overlooks,
so we may stand with them
in every moment and place.

And when our journey has ended,
when at last all is revealed to us,
we will take our places around
the wedding banquet in heaven,
joining our sisters and brothers
in singing our thanks and joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
now and forevermore. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Easter - 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 clothes;
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! Hallelujah!

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, holy, holy, Lord God of the empty grave.
Glad songs of resurrection joy are offered to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes bearing your steadfast love.
Hosanna in the highest!

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:

On the first day, Christ shaped all that is good and beautiful;
on the first day of the week, Christ swallowed up death forever;
on the last day, Christ will call us to the Table of the Lamb

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) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 06, 2009

Maundy Thursday - B

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
Too 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.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
When the hour had come,
Creator of the heavens and earth,
you lifted up the cup of creation
pouring it into the emptiness of chaos.
Rivers played tag through the valleys,
stars spangled the blue-black night,
joy danced in the fields of grace.
Given that fountain
flowing with living water,
we drank from betrayal's bitter cup;
offered the feast of faith,
we sat down at
sin's groaning table.
You asked the prophets
to remind us of promises made,
but we continued to embrace
the pangs of hopelessness.
Then, because we are your own,
you sent Jesus
to glorify you
by saving us from ourselves.

Therefore, with those
whose feet are covered with sin,
and those whose hearts are gripped by fear,
we join the choirs of every time and place,
forever singing your praises:


Holy are you, God of Redemption,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Servant.
When the hour had come,
he got up from grace's side,
took off his glory,
tied humanity around his heart
to cleanse us of our sins.
In the midst of his friends,
in the congregation of his enemies,
he kept the promise made to you,
to love us to the very end.
Our friend,
he welcomed all;
our teacher,
he modeled the life
of obedience and faith;
our Lord,
he endured the snares of death,
that we might have life with you.

Every time we eat the bread,
our brokenness is made whole;
every time we drink from the cup,
we receive unceasing grace;
every time we come to the Table,
we remember that mystery called faith:

Memorial Acclamation

Now that the hour is come,
sent your Spirit upon the gifts
of the bread and the cup.
As you cradle the bread
in your gentleness,
break it, give it to us,
feed us with your compassion,
that we might be made whole,
and, in our healing,
become servants to a shattered world.
As you take the cup,
mingle its juices
with your tears of hope,
so we might carry this gift
to those who have lost everything.

And when there are
no more hours to come,
when there is only eternal
peace and life with you,
we will gather in
that upper room called your heart,
serving our families and friends with grace,
receiving forgiveness from our enemies,
singing your joy forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman