Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Day of Pentecost - B

The Day of Pentecost is here:
the day when the flames of faith dance in our hearts.
The Day of Pentecost is here:
the day when our babbling speech becomes the Good News for the world.
The Day of Pentecost is here:
the day when compassion is seared into our souls.
The Day of Pentecost is here:
let the people of God rejoice. Alleluia!

Prayer of the Day
Spirit of the Living God, dance with us on this day.
Come, Whirlwind of Wonder!
Sing to the groaning of creation.
Come, still small voice of Hope!
Enflame us with your passion for justice.
Come, Liberator of the Least!
Purify us of our grasping greediness.
Come, Advocate of selfless living!
Silence our gossiping tongues.
Come, Harmony of God's Heart!
Wind of God, blow through us;
Fire of God, burn within us;
Tongue of God, speak to us
on this day of renewal and birth,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Feel the Spirit of God moving in your soul. Listen to the Spirit speaking to you of hope and wholeness. Trust the promises God has made that new life is our inheritance. Join me as we open ourselves to God's healing Spirit, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Spirit of God:
you come, aflame with new life,
but our apathy threatens to douse your passion;
you come, on fire with love,
yet we limit our affections to a select few;
you come, surging with new dreams and new hopes,
but we still cling to the old ways of living;
you come, glowing with the vision of the kingdom,
yet we close our eyes to your future.

Forgive us, Spirit of Truth, forgive us.
Come to us, anew, this day:
to shatter our hardened hearts with your tenderness;
to set our souls on fire with your love;
to send us into a world which aches
for the new joy, the new hope, the new life
offered in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
With a gentle breeze God enflames our spirits; with a strong wind, God reminds us of our need to forgive and be forgiven. Like a cleansing storm, God takes away our past, revealing the fresh, new life which is ours.
Awakened, refreshed, renewed, made whole: now we can dance with the wind, singing our praises to the One who gives life to all. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Pentecost be with you.
And also with you.
People of Pentecost, open your hearts to the Spirit moving in our midst.
We open them to the Breath of God which fills us with hope and grace.
Daughters and sons of the Most Holy, offer your joy to our God.
We sing the song of Pentecost in the language of every heart -
praise and thanksgiving to our God!

In the shadows of chaos
you breathed, Creator God,
your Spirit moving over the waters of life.
You opened your hands,
filling all creation with goodness and beauty.
You gathered up earth's dust,
shaping us in your image,
filling our lungs with Spirit's life.
But drunk on the new wine
of human arrogance and desire,
we listened to the competing voices
of evil, sin, and death,
believing they spoke the truth.
With sighs too deep for words,
you continued to call us home,
speaking through teachers and prophets.
When we hid our faces from you,
you looked upon us in compassion,
and sent Jesus Christ
to restore us to life with you.

And so, with your people here on earth,
and with the company of heaven,
in every language, and in every heart,
we glorify your name, singing:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of spirit and truth.
All creation is made new by your grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes, in hope, to save us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of beginnings and endings,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
At his baptism,
the Spirit named him your Beloved;
in the wilderness,
the Spirit strengthened him
to withstand the seductions of the Evil One;
Spirit-anointed for ministry,
Jesus sang good news to the poor,
set free those imprisoned by despair,
gave sight to the blind
and fed the hungry,
blessed little children,
and ate with sinners.
When his service of tender mercies
was finished,
he went to the Cross,
suffering and dying for all humanity,
and was raised to new life,
as a promise to all your children.

As we come to this Table,
we remember his promise to always be with us.
Baptized by the Holy Spirit,
and purified in the fire of obedience,
we sing of that faith which is ours:

The Spirit testifies that Christ died for us.
The Spirit bears witness that Christ was raised.
The Spirit proclaims that Christ will come again.

As Christ promised,
you have poured out your Holy Spirit
upon your people
and upon the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we offer our thanks to you
for the gift of the Spirit
in our lives and in the world,
may the flames of Pentecost
kindle compassion in our hearts;
may the tongues of fire
ignite our calls for justice for all people;
may the good news
spoken in every tongue and every place,
unite us in service to others
and in faith in you.

Then, when the groaning of creation
is turned to hymns of praise,
and all people gather around your Table
on that great and glorious Day,
we will sing our joy to you
through all eternity:
God in Community, Holy in One.

God's glory has filled our hearts!
We will go to empty ourselves for others.
Christ has given himself for us!
We will go to give ourselves to everyone in need.
The Spirit gifts us with new life!
We go to be a blessing to everyone we meet.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Easter 7 - B

Call to Worship
From the comfort of our homes, with the discomfort of discipleship:
we gather in this place created by God for community.
In our gardens battling weeds, with our neighbors serving needs:
we are enveloped in that gift offered by Christ called grace.
Through the witness of the little known, through the words of a children's song:
we learn the truth passed on to us by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer of the Day
In the silence,
which can call us
to pay attention;
in those holy moments
which open our eyes
to your Word;
in the ability to grasp
your grace and never let go:
in all these ways, you give testimony
to your faithfulness to us,
Creative God.

In the gentleness
of a father's touch
which can calm our fears;
in the passion
of a mother's belief
which endures through all our years;
in words, spoken and silent,
which can guide our feet
every stop of the way:
through all these gifts, you vouch for
the gracious goodness of Abba,
our Brother and Friend.

In common sense
of the teacher
who dared us to dream;
in the innate wisdom
of the co-worker
who never got past 6th grade;
in those seeds placed
deep within our hearts,
which bear fruit in odd moments:
with all these wonders, you affirm
the One who completes our joy.

We are one with you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
so we lift our prayer to you, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

Christ has promised to be with us, yet we live as if we have been left all alone, on our own. Let us confess our rootlessness, as we pray,

Unison Prayer of Confession
You call to us, God of mercy, but we are too busy listening to the whispers of those who would draw us away from you. Rather than follow Jesus as you hope, we are filling in the potholes on sin's streets for a more comfortable journey. You promise to keep watch over us, but we hope you will close your eyes to how we treat others.

Forgive us, Author of life. Forgive our wavering commitment and plant our feet firmly on the paths to the kingdom. Forgive our low expectations of discipleship and give us opportunities to serve your people. Forgive our faltering faith and fill us with the delight and joy we find as your children, sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In forgiveness, God plants us deep in the rich soil of mercy and grace, our lives watered by hope, our joy made complete in Jesus Christ.
The fruit we bear - hope, love, peace - is not our doing, but comes from the seeds God has placed within us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
In that deep, rich gift we call creation,
you planted seeds, Imaginative God.
Some blossomed into spring flowers,
while others filled the world
with your grace and hope.
Some grew sturdy and tall,
strong roots drinking deeply
from your streams of joy,
while others feed the creatures
of your imagination with life.
All these gifts were yours, yet in love,
you shared them with us.
When we listened to
the hollow words of sin,
you sent the prophets
to make us sit up and take note;
when we chose death as our guide
through the ways of the world,
you sent Jesus to put our feet back
on the right paths to your heart.

So we join our voices
with all from every time and place,
singing the great song of thanksgiving
echoed in heaven and earth:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of glory and grace.
All creation sings of the One who gives eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to make your name known.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of all life,
and blessed is Jesus, our Brother, our Friend.
When he could have chosen
to stay by your side in glory,
he came to be our companion
in this journey we call life.
When he could have pointed to himself,
he spoke those words
which made you known to us.
When he could have taken a safe seat,
he carried his cross to Calvary,
where sin, death, and evil
cast lots for him.
When you could have kept silent,
you spoke that Word
which raised him to new life.

As we set aside our wisdom to learn your heart,
as we empty ourselves so you can fill us with hope,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, so sin would have no power over us;
Christ was risen, so death would lose its sting;
Christ will come again, to guide us to God.

We open our hands
so we may receive
the gift of the Bread,
touched by your Spirit of life,
so we might be strengthened
to go forth into the world,
to bring healing to the broken,
to offer hope to the desperate.
We open our souls
so we might be nourished
by the Cup, filled to overflowing
by your Spirit of compassion,
so we may serve as your heart
in all those places where the lonely live,
so we might become a community
welcoming the lost, the last, the little, the least.

And when all time has come to an end,
when, by your wisdom, we are gathered
with our sisters and brothers around your Table,
we will sing our songs of joy forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Easter 6 - B

Call to Worship
We gather to worship the One who crafted creation out of chaos,
our cries of joy join the anthems of the universe.
We gather to lift our praise to the God who gives us voice,
we bring the songs which have echoed in our hearts all week long.
We gather as the children of God, our joy unbroken in God's love.
young and old, tone deaf and perfect-pitched,
lift the new, new songs of faith.

Prayer of the Day
You raise your hand
and gently begin
the concerto of creation:
birds carry the melody
while stars keep the beat;
mountains dance in merriment
and little children clap
their hands with joy.
Love's Composer,
our new songs are lifted to you.

The old, old song
is made new in our hearts:
Christ is Risen!
Sing Alleluia!
You invite us to sing to a world
deafened by despair
and haunted by the tunes of fear.
Lord of the Dance,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Believing we cannot
carry a tune,
we hesitate to join in
the chorus of praise
sung by all creation.
So, you softly and gently
hum the melody in our hearts
until they burst with you,
raising a rousing chorus
of Amazing Grace.
Music-making Spirit,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Every song, old and new, is offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we lift the prayer Jesus teaches,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Beautiful music, every note perfect, joining together in graceful harmony - this is what we imagine our lives to be. Yet our love is flat, our anger often sharp. Let us confess how we struggle to keep the measured beat of God's life-giving melody in our lives, even as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Joy-giving God, we know who we are: people who hear the harmony of your grace and love in our souls, but who sing off-key so often. We want to learn new songs, but those haunting tunes of our past mistakes run through our heads. We long to make a joyful noise to you, but the hurts inflicted on us, and the pain we have caused others, silence our voices.

Sing to us, Conductor of Grace: sing of your forgiveness, your hope, your love for us. Strike a chord of humility in our hearts so our eyes could see all you have done for us; and in seeing, we might believe how much you love us; and in believing, we would echo that new song of hope and life composed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
Listen to the melody of the good news: Christ is risen, bringing joy into the world. The One who was dead now lives, and wraps us in the delight of life forever with our God.
Now, our dirges have turned to joy;
our requiem has been rearranged as a hymn of hope;
our laments are lost in a cantata of praise.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Maestro of the Universe:
the song began low and quiet,
barely disturbing chaos,
but then it slowly grew in tempo
as you beat out the rhythm of creation,
light, sharp and clear,
like the blast of a trumpet;
the hills and valleys bursting forth
like the beat of the tympani;
water running clear and free
like arpeggios on a piano.
You composed all this, and more,
for those created in your image,
and filled with the music of your heart.
We thought your tunes burdensome,
and turned our ears to the dischords
of sin, temptation, and death.
You wrote new tunes,
to the same words of hope and promise,
sending the prophets to play them
in the streets where we wandered,
but we continued to dance
to the music only we could hear.
So you sent Jesus to us,
loving us enough to send us
the very One who could bring us home.

So, with those who have sung the song
of grace and hope in every time and place,
and with all who are just learning the words,
we lift our voices in praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of beauty and joy.
All the ends of the earth sing praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to sing a new song.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is the melody of who you are, Gentle God,
and blessed is the Song of your heart, Jesus Christ.
As he loved you, so he loved us:
keeping your word close in his heart,
he came singing of your gracious love;
abiding in your promises of hope,
he came bringing the harmony
of peace for our fragmented lives;
coming to judge the world with righteousness,
he laid down his life for his friends,
trusting and believing that the funeral dirges
they sang on that sad Friday,
would be rearranged as Easter cantatas
on that first morning of the new creation.

As we remember his life, death and resurrection,
as we seek to follow his command to love,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

The Singer was not silenced by death;
the Singer was raised to new life;
the Singer will come to lead us home to God.

Pour out your joyful Spirit
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children gathered at your feast.
We would open our hearts
to receive the bread of life,
not with silenced gratitude,
but with glad songs of joy.
We would empty ourselves
to be filled with the cup's compassion,
not with speechless thanks
but with shouts of praise.
And as we learn the new song
of sacrifice on behalf of others,
we would go to serve the brokenhearted;
as we are given the instruments of praise,
we would turn them into the means
to transform the lives of the hungry,
the homeless, the forgotten, the outcast.

And when our music has ended,
and there is only the plainsong of life forever
in the tender embrace of your peace,
we will gather at the Table once again,
hands and hearts, brothers and sisters,
joining in the never-ending praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Easter 5 - B

Call to Worship
We come to this place where God pours out love on us,
we join our voices in praise, as our fears are left behind.
We gather with these people, those who seek to follow Jesus,
so we might walk the paths of service hand in hand.
We open our hearts to the gifts of the Spirit,
so that grace and peace might be the fruit we bear.

Prayer of the Day
Like a mother
sending her children
off to school each day,
you watch us walk down
the streets of the kingdom,
keeping an eye on us
while giving us freedom,
trusting and believing
we will bear fruit;
like a mother
gently rocking her babe,
you let us snuggle into your lap,
as you softly lullaby us
with songs of grace and hope;
like a mother
warmly welcoming her neighbor
over for coffee and a chat,
you invite us into your heart,
so we may whisper to you
of our deepest longings.
God in Community, One in Abiding Love,
hear us as we pray as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
There come those moments when we stand exposed, our failings, our hurtful words, our harmful ways open for all to see. But God takes these moments, and these sins, redeeming them through compassionare love, making us new people, children of the Living God. Let us come, in these moments, with our prayers to the One who waits to forgive us and make us whole. Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We carry our fears around with us like so much pocket lint, Compassionate Heart, when you would take them and toss them aside, spent and useless. You invite us to sit and chat with someone who wants to know more about you, but we are busy running errands. You give us a simple command - to love, and we complicate it with rules, worries, and doubts.

Forgive us, Vine Grower. You have planted those seeds of mercy, of hope, of grace deep within us, so we might bear rich and nourishing fruit for others. May we not get in the way of your Gardener, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, who will use the Holy Spirit to bring forth an abundant crop.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God abides in you! God is breathing, living, forgiving, restoring you in this moment, and in the days to come. This is the good news for us!
As God is in us, so we can live, work, care for others, so that love, hope and joy might touch all people. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
When light pierced the shadows of chaos,
when waters sluiced through valleys,
when tadpoles transformed into frogs,
it was in those moments that your creative love
was revealed for all time, Abiding God.
Even though you loved us first,
we desired the temptations of the world more,
getting up and wandering along
the dusty way of death.
Prophets came to be our guides,
seeking to help us understand
your great love for us,
but our fears cast their words
far away from our hearts.
Then, as an everlasting sign of love,
you sent Jesus to be among us,
the True Vine who would bear
the fruits of redemption and grace.

So, with those who have gone down to the dust,
and with all the generations yet to come,
we join our voices, singing your praises:

Holy, holy, holy, God of grace and peace.
All the ends of the earth sing of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to guide our way.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of every moment,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
the Vine of life and hope.
When he told stories of branches
that would bend from the weight of grace;
when his perfect nature showed us
we could cast off sin's fears;
when he went down into death's dust,
that we might be reshaped in your image,
it was in those moments
that your sacrificial love
was revealed for all time.

So, as we come to the Table,
as we remember his life, death,
and sing of his resurrection
we proclaim to all the generations to come
that mystery we call faith:

Christ walked the wilderness road to death;
Christ cast aside the grave, raised to life;
Christ will come again to guide us to glory.

When we gather at the Table,
where your Spirit has been poured out
upon the generous gifts of bread and cup;
when we are strengthened by the bread,
and then go forth to work so
the poor can eat and be satisfied;
when grace overflows from the cup
and like a roaring river, carries justice
into all the places of inequity and oppression;
when your hope casts out all our fears,
so we can stand beside our sisters and brothers:
it is in these moments
that your sanctifying love
is revealed for all time.

And when all moments have stopped,
all the ends of creation will remember your grace;
when families of every time and place
gather around the Feast of the Lamb;
our hearts will love forever,
abiding in your love,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman