Tuesday, July 28, 2009

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 13 - B

Texts: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a; Psal 51:1-12; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35

Call to Worship
Called to lead a life that is worthy, we gather as God's people.
Whatever roads we walk, whatever waters
we have passed through, we share one baptism.

Called to model lives of service, we share in the building up of Christ's Body.
Our backgrounds are different, our habits vary,
but we share a common faith in Christ.

Called to be people of peace and gentleness,
we offer these gifts to all of God's creation.
Though each of us is unique and precious to God,
our hearts beat as one with hope.
Lead a life worthy of the One who has called you
by one faith, one hope, one baptism.
We gather as God's family at the Table prepared for us,
to be fed by the Bread of life.

Prayer of the Day
Grace us,
God in Community,
with love which is never exhausted,
with mercy ever flowing through our lives.
Scrub us
with your gritty grace
and plunge us deep into living waters.
Break the good news to us
that Joy and Gladness
want to be our best friends.
Craft us
new hearts from the fragments
of your Calvary-broken own.
Grasp us
close in your healing embrace,
spoon-feeding us
with the Spirit's sweet peace.
Buoy us
in the sustainable wonder
of your dreams for us,
Holy in One. Amen.

Call to Reconciliation
God longs for us to be faithful children, God begs us to live as role models for a world desperate for hope. But, we know how often we raise up trouble by our words, our actions, our failures. Let us speak truthfully in love about our lives, as we come to the One whose love is as constant as the air we breathe.

Unison Prayer of Confession
We know the mistakes we have made, Just God, the harsh words we have spoken, the hurt we have inflicted on those around us. Like children who run from one distraction to another, we chase after the easy temptations of the world. Chewing on bread made out of the ashes of our brokenness, we act as if we were allergic to your Word. We continue to do all those things which break your hurt, not wanting to look in the mirror and see our true selves.

Forgive us, Cradler of Compassion. Grace us with the new life gifted in the Bread. Heal us with the joy and gladness of the Cup. Craft us new hearts, which beat with one another, and as one with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
Seeing our brokenness, God puts us back together; knowing our hunger for hope, God feeds us with Christ; hearing our prayers, God chooses to forgive us. Hear the Good News: we are forgiven.
One hope, one faith, one baptism, one Body - these are the gifts God gives to us, in this moment and in all the moments to come. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of grace be with you.
And also with you.
People of one faith, one baptism, lift your hearts to God.
We offer our hearts to the One who has reshaped them by grace.
People of one hope, one Spirit, lift your songs of praise to God.
We lift them to God who has called us to one Body in one Spirit.

Chaos waited for you to speak,
Grace-giver, Healer of all brokenness,
and all beauty was created for our eyes;
all wonder was composed for our awe;
all majesty was shaped for our praise;
all mystery was crafted for our silence.
Giving us everything we needed,
we despised the words of hope you spoke.
Certain that life was all about our appetites,
we gorged on the moldy bread of death;
although our only hope came from you,
we rebelled like little children;
called to be one in you,
we held close all that keeps us apart.
We have fallen,
and in grace you lift us up;
we are broken,
and you restore us to new life;
we turn our backs on you,
and you come to us in Jesus.

So, we praise you in this time and place,
our voices merging with our sisters and brothers,
one Body in faith, hope, and baptism,
forever singing of your steadfast love:

Holy, holy, holy! God of new hearts and hope.
Creation resounds with your glory and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Bread of life who comes in your name.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy are you, God of grace and tenderness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Hope, our Joy.
Though we look for him for all the wrong reasons,
he offers the bread of life to us;
though we offer the cross to him,
he graces us with life;
though we thirst for more and more,
he hands us the cup of sacrifice;
though we gossip and slander one another,
he speaks the truth in love to us;
though we would divide each other
by class, race, gender, or condition,
he calls us to oneness in you.

Recalling your never-ending love in Christ,
knowing we cannot comprehend your grace,
we take this bread and this cup,
giving you the praise and thanksgiving,
even as we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ came that we might have the bread of life;
Christ died that we might drink from the cup of grace;
Christ is risen that we might be part of the one Body.
Christ will come again to give us eternal life.

Holy God of wonder,
we come to your Table as many,
make us one body by your one Spirit.
Feed us with the bread of life,
so we might feed those who know true hunger;
as your justice shines in the shadows of our hearts,
may we light the way for the lost and despised;
as you speak in truth of your love for us,
may we be the voice for the unloved and forgotten;
as you reshape our brokenness into wholeness,
may we bind up the wounds of our world.

And when we are gathered together in glory,
one faith, one hope, one joy, one Body,
around the one Table of peace and grace,
we will join our voices in singing through all eternity,
to you, God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as you have taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 12 - B

Texts: 2nd Samuel 11:1-15; Psalm 14; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21

Call to Worship
We come to God this day, the One who names each of us as a beloved child.
Here in these moments together, we would recognize God dwelling in us.
We come to Christ this day, the One whose love is the bedrock of our lives.
Here in this place of glory and grace, we would understand the One who calls us to faith.
We come to the Spirit this day, the One who would calm our fears with peace and hope.
Here with those who are our sisters and brothers,
we would seize the opportunities to serve.

Prayer of the Day
In the mist languishing
over a lake,
in the shadows crawling
across the lawn;
in the boistrous teenagers
cannon-balling into the pool,
in the sweet breath of a baby
cooling our cheeks;
in the elegiac stories of grandparents
around the dinner table,
in the giggling of children
sharing a secret;
in our rising to new life
each morning,
in the comforting arms
of sleep;
in the healing taste
of Christ's brokenness,
in the Cup's tart tang
of grace;
in all these, and so many more,
we are blessed with the richness
of your glory in our lives,
and offer our thanks to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as you teach us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
God knows the lengths we go to in pursuing our foolish desires. God knows the unwise choices we make each day. Yet, God knows the power of Christ working in us, so that we might discover the richness of God's mercy, as we pray confessing together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Rootless and groundless, Namer of all people, we wander through life. Our wild thoughts and foolish deeds drag us further and further from you. We catch a glimpse of temptation from the rooftops of our souls, and will not let anything keep us from grasping it. Our words can scrape raw the life of someone dear to us. Our lives can become so hollow even we cannot recognize ourselves.

Forgive us, Shelter from the storm. You love us more than we can ever know. You lavish grace upon us, your joy longs to be our constant companion, your hope is the gift which sustains us through our days. With all the saints, we give you glory for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
Do not be afraid! In Christ, God comes near to us, bringing hope, joy and forgiveness into our lives.
God gathers up the fragments of our lives and shapes us into new people. For this reason, we lift our thanks to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
It happened in that first moment of time,
Source and Strength of creation,
that you spoke, and the riches of your glory
exploded into life throughout the universe.
You shaped humanity in your image,
naming every person in heaven and on earth.
It happened one afternoon,
when our gaze wandered from your beauty,
and saw that seduction
who drew us away from your side,
into the arms of sin and death.
Shaking your head at our foolishness,
you sent the prophets to speak to us,
hoping that their words would confound
all the plans we had made for ourselves.
When we continued to go astray,
you sent Jesus, hoping we might understand
your love which knows no boundaries.

So, with all the saints who discovered your grace,
and with all the sinners transformed by your glory,
we lift our voices in glad song to you:

Holy, holy, holy! God of every family in heaven and earth.
All creation bows its knees to you.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who came to dwell in our hearts.
Hosanna in the highest.

It happened early in the morning, Light of the faithful,
that your Child, Jesus, took on human form
so we might know the power at work in him.
He wandered the streets of our towns,
feeding those who hungered for hope,
filling that emptiness caused by despair,
giving us more than we ever expected,
blessing us more than we dared imagine.
When we stood terrified
by the power of sin and death,
he came near to us, gently whispering,
'it is I; do not be afraid'
so that we might reach the kingdom
toward which he was leading us.

As we try to comprehend his love which embraces all,
as we reflect on his death and resurrection which saves all,
we would proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, that we might know God's love.
Christ rose from the grave, that we might know God grace.
Christ will come again, that we might know God's glory.

It happened on that last night
when Jesus gathered with his friends,
and it happens in these moments,
as your Spirit is poured out
upon the simple gifts made sacred
for your family gathered around the Table.
As you take the bread broken for wholeness
and offer it to each one of us,
may we be strengthened by your love,
gathering up the fragments
to go and feed a world hungry for grace.
As you touch the cup to our lips,
our parched fears washed away
by your hope poured out for us,
may we have the power
to recognize the suffering around us,
and the courage to serve them in your name,
in this present time you have given us.

And in that time to come,
when all your children are gathered together
around the Lamb's Supper prepared for us,
we will bow our knees to you,
our voices united in singing your glory,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 11 - B

Texts: 2 Samuel &:1-14a; Psalm 89:20-37; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Call to Worship
Whether we are strangers or old friends,
God is joining us together in this place.
God's steadfast love is our foundation;
God's faithfulness is with us forever.
Whether we are 'natives' or immigrants,
God is building us together spiritually.
God's steadfast love is our foundation;
God's faithfulness is with us forever.
Whatever walls we try to build between us,
in Christ, God tears them down to build
a household for all of God's people.
God's steadfast love is our foundation;
God's faithfulness is with us forever.

Prayer of the Day
When our lives seem
to trickle along,
you take all our meandering streams,
merging them into that graceful river
flowing to your sea of tranquility.
When we worry so much that
warts pop out on our brains,
you cradle us in the hollow
of your peaceful hand.
Gather us in, God of aliens and strangers.

When we scurry and hurry,
no time to eat, no time to rest,
our lives spinning out of the kingdom,
you have pity on us,
and nudge us back on
the path of righteousness.
When we want to prattle on,
pointing out all our achievements,
you invite us to join you,
silently re-treating ourselves to humility.
Gather us in, Christ of the near and far off.

When we stand at the rough edge of life,
you stroll over to take us by the hand
to lead us into the inner circle,
dancing with the other saints and sinners.
When we show up for the party,
but don't have the right haircut,
you run up, throw your arms
tight around us, introducing us
to everyone as family.
Gather us in, Welcoming Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
gather us into your heart,
even as we pray as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Do we really want God to dwell within us, or are we only willing to 'rent out' space for a brief visit? Our actions, our words, our silence, our fears all show the presence, or absence, of God in our lives. Let us empty ourselves of all which burdens us, and welcome the One who lives with us forever. Please join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Steadfast God, we confess that we are so busy putting up walls between ourselves and others, we cannot see the home you are building for all of us. We spend so much time noting the differences between us and others, while you are embracing everyone as your child. We run to welcome those who look, talk, and act like us, and you throw open your doors to the stranger, the alien, in our midst.

Forgive us, Faithful Heart. By your grace, help us to see the household you are building for all people: there are no plastic protectors on the furniture; there are no rooms that are off-limits; and even the smallest child is welcome to sit at the big people's Table and be fed by your grace. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our peace, our hope, our Lord, our Savior.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
Do you remember? At one time, you were without Christ; you were the stranger, the outsider, the alien. But now, in Christ, you have been brought home, living in God's household of hope and peace.
God's covenant with us is everlasting; God's steadfast love is forever; God's forgiveness makes us new and whole. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

You built a house for us,
Architect of Steadfast Love,
and called it creation,
filling it with all we needed
to live and serve as your children.
Yet, we took the temptations
and seductions sin offered us,
using them to build that
shaky foundation on death.
When we could no longer read
the covenant you made with us,
you sent the prophets
to spell out each word for us.
When our hostility and anger increased,
you sent your Child, Jesus,
to proclaim peace to us.

So with all who are near,
and with those who seem so far away,
we lift our voices in joy to you:

Holy, holy, holy! God of faithfulness and love.
All creation sings praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is our peace.
Hosanna in the highest!

You placed your hand over your holiness, Gentle God,
your pledge of faithful and steadfast love
made flesh in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.
Wherever he went,
he tore down those thick-headed
walls we build around us.
Whoever he met,
he welcomed as a sister and brother.
Whenever people gathered around them,
he took the anger they felt towards others,
healing them with his grace.
Forever, he destroyed the power of death,
making us blood relatives of his.

As we remember how you were with him
in life, in death, in resurrection hope,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ came, to break down all barriers;
Christ died, to bring peace to all;
Christ rose, to offer new life to all;
Christ will return, to take all home.

You do not renege on your promises,
but continue to pour out your Spirit
on those who have gathered in this place
to share the gifts of the Table.
Saints and sinners pass
the broken bread to one another
and, healing the echoes of your whispers,
join in serving those whom
the world considers as strangers.
Native born and immigrants
drink deeply of your grace
and, walking side by side,
rush to minister to the sick,
to the dying, to the hurt, to the lost.

And when we gather at last
in that place appointed for us,
no longer strangers, but kinfolk
by your steadfast love,
we will be woven together
in that tapestry called the kingdom,
warming your heart with our glad songs,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 10 - B

Texts: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29

Call to Worship
Before the earth was formed,
we were chosen by God to be God's people.
God gathers us together that we might
sing of joy and hope, as God's beloved.
Before the stars glittered in the night sky,
we were chosen through Christ to be God's family.
Christ gathers us together that we might
carol the good news of redemption.
Before the rivers flowed to the seas,
we were chosen by the Spirit to serve creation.
The Spirit gathers us together that we might
dance in the fields of peace with our sisters and brothers.

Prayer of the Day
Every moment, we have the chance
to breathe in your goodness and grace;
every hour, we have opportunities
to share your love and hope;
every day, we have occasions
to rest in the comfort of your heart.
In you, we discover the fullness of time,
Delight of the Ages.

In every challenge we face,
we can find the strength to persevere;
in every person we meet,
we can find the blessing you have sent;
in every need we encounter,
we can find the help you would have us offer.
In you, we discover the fullness of life,
Companion of our days.

In every conflict of our lives,
there is your healing we can offer;
in every brokenness we experience,
there is that reconciliation we can receive;
in every difficulty which makes us stumble,
there is that dance of hope you would teach us.
In you, we discover the fullness of faith,
Promised Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in you we discover the fullness we long for,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We toss and turn at night, unable to sleep because of the tunes running through our heads. But, if we listen carefully, we will discover that it is God singing to us, of that hope, that joy, that mercy offered to us, if we will but open our lives to the forgiveness and healing which is God's desire for us. Let us confess our out-of-tune lives, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We would sing praises to you, Composer of our lives, but we remember the harsh words we used toward a friend this week. We would learn your healing hymns of grace, but the broken chords of our anger and pain echo deep within us. We would dance in the circle of your love, but we recall how quickly we turned and ran when offered opportunities to serve your people.

Forgive us, Gifter of every blessing. Open our hearts and fill us with your mercy. Open our ears that we may hear the songs of grace you would teach us to share with the world. Open our eyes that we may see the hope we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our inheritance of love and joy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Before the earth was shaped, God created the music of grace which sets our hearts, our souls, our feet to dancing with joy in the hope God has given to us.
It is God who has created us, it is God who has redeemed us, it is God who sends us forth to live as brothers and sisters of Christ. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Gathering up all that is good and beautiful,
God of all wonder and glory,
you shaped the universe and all that is in it:
soft summer breezes dancing
across verdant plains,
snow-capped mountains reflecting
the sunrise each new morning.
It was your good pleasure
to create us in your image,
it was your glorious grace
that filled us with your life.
Yet, seeing the dazzling seductions
offered by sin and death,
we rushed back to you, imploring
you to give us our every desire.
Deeply grieved by our rebellion,
you sent the company of prophets
to lead us back to your heart,
but we continued to dance
with the wrong partners.
In the fullness of your wisdom,
you sent Jesus, to seek our faces,
and to turn us back to you.

So now, with those who praise you
with song and silence, with tambourines and organs,
we proclaim the riches of your grace:

Holy, holy, holy, God who has blessed us with Christ!
All creation is yours,
for the riches of your grace are poured upon it.
Holy, holy, holy! Just and merciful are you,
God in Community, Holy in One!

Holy indeed are you, God of every blessing,
and blameless is Jesus Christ, your Beloved.
He sets free all imprisoned
by their fears, as well as their past.
He proclaims good news to the poor,
and challenges the rich to generous lives.
He gave himself into death's hands
and was laid into a cold tomb.
He leaped from the grave,
teaching us resurrection's dance.

We offer our songs of joy to you, knowing
that whenever we eat the bread and share the cup,
we live out that mystery we call faith:

Holy, he humbled himself with our death;
blameless, he was raised to new life;
gracious, he will return in the fullness of time.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, we pray,
as you gather us all in this place.
As we take and taste
the Bread of Heaven,
may its brokenness become our healing,
that we may become hope
to a world shattered by fear.
As we share the Cup,
may its grace become our fullness,
that we might empty ourselves
to become blessings to those who long
for peace and reconciliation in their lives.

And when all time has been fulfilled
and you gather up all your children to yourself,
with clean hands and pure hearts
we will gather around your Table in glory,
singing our praises to you through all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman