Monday, August 31, 2009

Ordinary Time 23/Proper 18 - B

Texts: Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9,22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-17; Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship
What good is it if we say we love all people, but give special treatment to a few?
God calls us to love others as deeply as we love ourselves, with no strings attached.
What good is it if we say we want God to show mercy towards us, but are quick to judge others?
God calls us to forgive our sisters and brothers, to let mercy triumph over judgment.
What good is it if we say we trust God in every moment, but live guided by our fears?
We will speak and act as those who trust God to come and live in our fearful hearts.

Prayer of the Day
God surrounded by glory:
you notice the people we walk past,
and journey with them,
wherever they are going.
You speak out for the voiceless,
and open our ears to their cries.

Jesus, Healer of the hopeless,
Converser with the outsider:
in you,
faith and works skip hand in hand
down the streets of the kingdom.
In you,
the have-a-lots and the have-nothings
find themselves sitting side by side
at your Table,
passing grace to one another.
In you,
those with good names,
and those with no names,
are called by one name:

Compassion's Spirit:
sow justice in our hearts,
so the poor might find in us a friend;
sow peace in our spirits,
so the angry might find in us
a sea of gentleness;
sow generosity in our hands,
so the hungry mgiht find in us
their daily bread.

God in Community, Holy in One,
surround us in these moments
and in all the ones to come,
with your grace and love,
as we pray together the disciples' prayer,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We find it a lot easier to play favorites, rather than treating everyone equally. We find it simpler to classify others as 'them,' instead of discovering what makes them beloved in God's eyes. We cling to fear, when we could grasp hold of God's enduring love. Let us confess together all we have done, and not done, which brings hurt to others, and harm to ourselves. Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
How glibly we say we trust you, Holy One, and how quickly our fears silence our words.  We find you at the side of the poor, while we cozy up to the rich and famous. You stand behind the counter serving the hungry at the soup kitchen, while we are stocking our freezers and pantries till they overflow. We look down at those whose hands are dirty, but your hand of mercy pulls them into your embracing love.

Forgive us, O Lord, and do good to us
when we have trouble doing good for others.  Surround us with your love; surround us with your grace; surround us with your peace; surround us with the Spirit of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
Be strong, do not fear! God comes, to fill your parched souls with living water, to open your eyes to the grace which is yours.
God comes, for no other reason than to save us. This is indeed good news.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
My beloved sisters and brothers, may the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
My beloved brothers and sisters, lift up your hearts.
Our hearts are offered to our God.
My beloved sisters and brothers, let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Thanksgiving is in our hearts, and praise is on our lips.

Our hearts do handsprings,
and our joy echoes off the mountains,
Creator of all:
rich and poor, man and woman,
child and grandparent, gnat and galaxy.
Created in your image,
we ridicule others who look different from us;
our lungs filled with the Spirit's breath,
we laugh at those who are not as good
as we imagine we are.
But even when we turn our backs on you,
your love is steadfast and your grace is abundant.

And so, with all your people,
those on earth and those around your throne,
those beside us in this moment
and those with you throughout eternity,
we join in everlasting song:

Holy, holy, holy, God who surrounds creation with your grace!
Heaven and earth sing to the One who made them all.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who shares bread with the poor.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, and blessed is Jesus,
your Son, our Brother, our Savior.
Jesus has done everything well:
eating and drinking with sinners,
he taught us that there is a place
at the Table for each and every one of us;
responding to the cries of the poor,
he shows us we are all equal in God's heart;
clearing the eyes of the blind
and opening the ears of the deaf,
inviting children to sit on his lap
and conversing with the outsiders of his day,
he models the radical inclusiveness
of your kingdom.

As we remember all you did in and through him -
his words, his touch, his laughter, his silence,
his pain, his loneliness, his death, his resurrection -
we offer ourselves in trust and hope,
in service and sacrifice,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, to sow life;
Christ has risen, to sow grace;
Christ will return, to sow justice for all.

May the Spirit of the Risen Lord
be poured out on us in this place,
and on the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we take the broken loaf, we feast,
not on the crumbs which fall from the Table,
but on the grace which makes us whole;
on the hope which makes us one;
on the love which calls us to serve:
to welcome the immigrants to our neighborhood,
to teach the little child to read,
to affirm the awkward adolescent,
to share our bread and all we have
with those in need,
until that day when Christ returns
and all shall feast at his banquet in heaven.

Through your Son, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,
all honor and glory are yours,
Great God, our hope, our trust, our redemption,
now and forever. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 17 - B

Texts: Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27; Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Call to Worship
Listen! God, our beloved Creator, whispers to us:
echoes of grace sound in our hearts, hope resonates in our souls.
Listen! Christ, our Beloved friend, calls to us:
faithfulness is the life he shares, generous service is the path we will follow.
Listen, the Holy Spirit, our beloved Peace, transforms us:
the voice of our Beloved sound through all creation, welcoming all into the household of God.

Prayer of the Day
Poet of Creation:
you write on our hearts
with indelible grace;
you place beauty within us
that only you can see;
you sketch the blueprints
of the kingdom, marking
where goodness and life intersect.

Love's Poetry become flesh:
you turn our faces towards the world
so, that as we look through the lattice
made out of our fears and doubts,
we can see you welcoming the outcast,
reaching out to lift the oppressed to their feet,
gently tending justice and righteousness,
till they blossom and bear fruit in all the world.

Poetess of peace and grace:
you take us by the hand
and leap high into the air,
twirling us round and round
until,dizzy with grace,
we collapse into your arms,
giggling with love and joy,
as you anoint us with the oil of hope,
that we might welcome others to your dance.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our tongues are ready to sing your praises,
even as we pray as you have taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
How often do we give lip-service to God, holding back our hearts, our souls, our lives? How often do we play at religion, when we are called to be faithful followers of Jesus? Let us confess our faults and our failings, opening ourselves to the One who says, 'Arise, come with me into the kingdom of hope and love.' Please join me as we pray saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We admit, God of Light, that we are much faster at talking, and too slow at listening. We are quick to engage in power-pleasing hyperbole, but hesitant to hear your simple words of hope, of justice, of renewal. We do not notice how our casual speech can cause great harm and pain to those around us.

Forgive us, God of majesty and mercy, and let your grace refresh us like a summer afternoon's rainshower. Pour your hope into our empty souls, till it overflows to all we have damaged. Call us to new life through the words and witness of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, in whose name we lift our prayers to you.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Did you hear the voice of the Beloved speaking to you - whispering words of hope, of grace, of forgiveness into your heart and into your soul? This is the good news which is for us!
Our hearts overflow with the kindness and generosity God has planted deep within us. Our glad songs of joy are lifted to the One who forgives us. Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

Beloved, may God be with you!
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts, Beloved of God.
We lift them to the One who loves us beyond all expectations.
God's Beloved, let us offer our thanks and praise to the Lord our God.
Our voices unite in joy and thanks to the One who brings us hope and healing.

Our hearts overflow with praise and thanksgiving,
God, our God!
Your Beloved's voice spoke to chaos,
calling forth the flowers of grace
which bloom in our hearts.
Because you love righteousness,
you would anoint us with the oil of joy
and clothe us in the robes
of mercy and goodness.
But we break your heart by embracing
the very wickedness you hate,
staining our lives with sin and death.
Still, you love us and seek us out,
for in Christ your grace has defeated sin
and the Risen Lord has opened the way
to life in your kingdom

So, we lift our voices in joy and hope,
singing with the choirs of angels in heaven,
and with all the faithful of every place and time,
telling of your glory forever:

Sung: Lord, I want to be more holy in-a my heart,
in-a my heart,
Lord, I want to be more holy in-a my heart.
In-a my heart, in-a my heart,
Lord, I want to be more holy in-a my heart.

Look, he comes!
Your Beloved Child, Jesus Christ, our Lord,
our Savior, our Companion,
the joy of your Heart.
Gazing into our souls,
he sees our emptiness
and fills us with your grace;
listening to our pain,
he is quick to speak healing and hope to us;
the perfect gift of life,
he declares that sin is past,
death is over and gone,
and resurrection blossoms
in our hearts forever.

As you have called him Beloved at his baptism,
and as you raised him from death to give us life,
so we give ourselves to live for him
in grateful praise and service:

Sung: Lord, I want to be like Jesus in-a my heart,
in-a my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in-a my heart.
In-a my heart, in-a my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in-a my heart.

Generous God, pour out your Holy Spirit
upon those who gather around your Table,
and upon the gifts of the Bread and Cup.
As they are the body of your Servant
and the Spirit of your compassion,
may we become the healing and hope
the world longs for in our time.
As you touch our lips with your life,
may we be quick to speak of justice;
as you pour grace into our hearts,
may we be the doers of your Word,
those whose hands are stained
by generous acts of kindness:
feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked,
lifting the fallen to their feet,
comforting all who are broken.

Then, when your Spirit unites us at your Table in heaven,
as we clasp hands with all your beloved,
we will sing your glory for all eternity:
God in Community, Holy in One.

Sung: Lord, I want to serve your people, with-a my life,
with-a my life,
Lord, I want to serve your people, with-a my life.
With-a my life, with-a my life,
Lord, I want to serve your people, with-a my life.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Peace-full liturgy for August 23, 2009 (OT 22/Proper 16 - B)

A colleague asked me to write a liturgy focusing on peace for this Sunday, as he is preaching on that slant from Ephesians. Here is what I wrote (with allusions from the other scriptures for the day), in case others might find it helpful.

Call to Worship
Blessed are all who live in peace:
who find their true strength in humility,
who discover the deep rooted gift of serenity.
Blessed are all who travel along the peace highway:
who move easily along the paths of friendship and good will.
Blessed are all who find a home in peace:
who find a day in God's contentedness to be better
than a thousand in disarray.

Prayer of the Day
There is no God like you,
Crafter of Peace:
when worries cause our children
to toss and turn in the night,
we can cradle them in your peace;
when anger is a pebble in our shoes,
rubbing our souls raw,
we can soak them
in your tranquil pools of life.

There is no friend as you,
Gatekeeper of Peace:
when we trip over our frustrations
trying to keep up with you,
you reach out handfuls of calm;
when we bend and sway
in the winds of chaos,
you steady us with
your placid strength.

There is no serenity like you,
Spirit of Placidity:
when the disharmony of our lives
threatens to send us packing,
we find a home in your untroubled heart;
when the madness of the world
burns down all the bridges
of reconciliation we have built,
we see your peace rising from the ashes.

God in Community, Holy in One,
there is no Peace like yours,
and we long for it as we lift our prayer, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
To whom can we go for hope and healing? There is only One who hears our prayers, who cradles us in peace, who speaks words of grace to us. Let us come to our God who waits, longing to listen to our hearts. Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
How lovely is your dwelling place of peace, Holy God;
forgive us when we choose to live in discord.
How wonderful are the paths of tranquility;
forgive us when we put on shoes laced with anger.
How gracious are your words of amity;
forgive us when harsh, hurting, shameful speech spews from our lips.

Have mercy on us, Gentle Grace, and enable us to become peacekeepers for your creation. Embrace us with that mystery of the gospel in which pain is transformed into praise, where restlessness becomes placidness, and agitation is replace by sweet accord with one another as gifts from the One who came that we might have peace in every moment of our lives, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
God does not withhold forgiveness from us, but fills us with hope, with joy, with peace.
We are at peace. God has heard our prayers, has forgiven our sins, has reconciled us to God, and to one another. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Into the midst of the howling winds of chaos
you breathed your gentle Spirit,
Crafting God,
and peace raced through creation,
carving deep rivers of hope,
planting seeds of gentleness in lush meadows,
feeding every creature with life.
Listening to the discord laced discourses of sin,
we became offended by your peace,
and joined the warring madness of the world.
You sent women and men to us,
who sang your songs of contentedness to us,
but we stopped our ears and turned away.
So, on that starry night in Bethlehem,
you sent the Prince of Peace,
to bring us back to your gentle heart.

With those who have lived their days in peace,
with those who have longed for your serenity,
we join our voices singing your joy:

Holy, holy, holy, God of peace and grace!
Heaven and highest heaven is filled with your tranquility.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Child of Peace who comes in your name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Halcyon God,
and full of peace is your Child, Jesus, our comfort.
Walking streets flowing with disarray,
he pointed out the pathways of peace;
experiencing the madness of anger,
he responded with gentle words of calmness;
confronting the madness of fear at Calvary,
he accompanied death into the tomb,
rising in peace on the third day,
discovering, as we will one day,
that you do not withhold your peace
to those who walk in faith.

As we remember his gentleness and grace,
as we give thanks for his death and resurrection,
we proclaim that mystery of the gospel called peace:

Christ died, that peace might walk this earth;
Christ is risen, that peace might fill our hearts;
Christ will come again, with peace in his arms.

Pour out your Spirit of placidness
upon those who gather in this place,
to feast on the bread come down from heaven.
Here, at this Table, with our sisters and brothers,
we find that peace is not a difficult teaching,
but the way to complete trust in you.
As we taste of that bread broken for us,
may we bring the healing wholeness of reconciliation
to all whose lives are in disarray.
As we drink from the deep wells of peace,
may we go from place to place of discord,
lifting others to their feet
and placing them on the highway of peace.

And when all madness, anger, and tumult
have come to an end,
and we are gathered around the Table
in that peace which has no end,
we will lift our voices in praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
our peace, now and forever more. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 16, 2009

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 16 - B

Texts: 1st Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43; Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

Call to Worship
Jesus said: 'I am the Bread of Life . . . whoever eats this Bread will always live.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to swallow.
Jesus said: 'Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to hear.
Jesus said to all he met: 'Follow me.'
We have accepted Jesus, and seek to be faithful, no matter how tough it is to follow him.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Home of all who seek you:
may you find in our hearts paths to walk,
wandering with us through dark valleys,
dipping us in pools of living water,
lifting our faces to the grace
falling softly upon us.

Loving Lord,
Speaker of tough words:
we would wish for an easy life
as we follow you to our Home.
Help us to see that when we mop floors,
we find our meaning;
when we hammer nails,
we discover our hope;
when we embrace the sick,
we touch our healing.

Spirit of Strength,
Bearer of our prayers,
we would ask for:
the strength
to say 'yes'
when 'no' is on our lips;
the wisdom
to welcome all
into our hearts;
the longing
to be with you

God in Community, Holy in one,
hear us as we pray together,
as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
If it was easy to follow Jesus, we would not need to ask for forgiveness. But it is tough - tough to say 'yes,' tough to be graceful, tough to be loving. Yet whatever we do, God loves us enough to forgive us and to feed us with the Bread of Life. Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
God, our sun and shield: we may long to be in your house, but our deeds show how tough it is for us to live there. Called to follow, we search for paths to take us back to our old ways; given the words of eternal life, we weakly proclaim the gospel to others; offered the path of salvation to walk upon, we stumble down the rocky roads of our world.

Forgive us, Guardian of our lives. Strengthen us with your Spirit, so we may follow Jesus Christ, the One we have come to believe and know is our Lord and Savior.

Silent prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
Today, receive the Bread of Life; today, hear the words of eternal hope; today, trust in the One who hears your prayers, and showers grace and forgiveness upon you.
Today, we are set free to serve God's people, and to sing God's praises. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

Early morning rains created pools
filled with the sweet waters of life
on that day of wonder and goodness
we call creation, God of our joy.
You shaped a garden
where we might always find you,
you offered hope to all who trusted you.
But we found your words too hard,
and the promises of sin too easy,
your road to peace was too long,
and death's path was so short.
Through the ambassadors of your word
you spoke, that we might know your name
and return to your heart.
But we were offended by their speech,
and went from sin to sin.
So, you sent Jesus to us,
the bread come down from heaven
to lead us back to you.

So, with those who have always known your name,
and those who have heard it for the first time,
we join our voices in praise and song:

Holy, holy, holy, our God and our Creator.
Heaven and highest heaven cannot contain you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes with words of eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of steadfast love,
and blessed is Jesus, the Holy One of God.
Trusting your heart,
he poured out his love for us
in every miracle, in every conversation.
Trusting your words,
he told us of lost children welcomed
with open arms,
of outsiders who live out your grace.
Trusting you, Keeper of the covenant,
he would not live in the tents of evil,
but lived in your hope and peace.
Trusting your grace,
he journeyed to the cross
to defeat the power of death,
to be raised to new life,
so you might look upon the faces
of your beloved children.

As we gather to remember his life and death,
as we celebrate the wonder of the resurrection,
we make known the mystery of the gospel:

Christ died, so we might have peace;
Christ is risen, so we might live forever;
Christ will come again, so we may live in God's house for all eternity.

How lovely is your Table of grace, God of mercy,
the simple gifts of the bread and cup
transformed by your love,
your Spirit of joy and hope filling
your people who come to your feast.
The bread of heaven feeds us with life,
so we might go from person to person,
bringing relief where their is pain,
bring hope where there is despair.
The cup of grace is filled
with deep pools of your hope,
so we might go to all the places
of worry, anger, and discord,
to share your peae for all people.

And when that day with you
which will never end finally begins,
when we are gathered with our sisters
and brothers from every time and place,
we will sing for joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 15 - B

Texts: 1st Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

Call to Worship
For cool mornings and rumbling afternoon storms,
for amazing days and even more ordinary evenings,
for deep friendships and shallow wading pools:
we give thanks to God!
For the laughing God who tickles us with joy,
for the broken-hearted Love who joins in our struggles:
we give thanks to God at all times!
For the Bread of heaven who feeds us hope,
for the Spirit of grace who teaches us to dance:
we give thanks to God at all times and for everything!

Prayer of the Day
We long to worship
in high-vaulted cathedrals,
our songs and prayers
echoing the deep sighs
of the saints cradled in the stone.
Yet you, unpredictable Creator,
you compose a canticle
with the gentle drops of rain
on a tin-roofed shelter.

We long to worship
beside the high and famous,
rubbing shoulders with those
clothed in power, wealth, renown.
But you, quirky Redeemer,
you we find sitting at the gutter,
huddling in the shadowed doorway,
curled up on a sidewalk grate
with your long-lost kin.

We long to worship
with drums pounding
and the amps turned up
so high our hearts tremble.
And you, fanciful Spirit,
you would draw us into
that still, silent, sacred
space called peace.

We long to worship you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We would follow Jesus, but sometimes it seems that we do not know how to go out in faith, or come in out of the shadows of life. The One who has sent the Bread of life to us is the God who is just and true, longing to grace us with mercy. Please join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We try to be so careful, Faithful God, yet we make so many mistakes. We think we are so wise, yet do not understand the simple wonder of a child. We spend so little time in your presence, and ask why we do not know your dreams for us. We long to be good, upright people, but find our hearts tripping over the temptations of the world.

Have mercy, Covenant Keeper, and be gracious to us. As you continue to teach us of your hopes, your dreams, your love for us, may we practice what we learn, as we follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in faith.

Silence may be observed

Assurance of Pardon
Out of our lives laced with foolish mistakes and unwise choices, God is able to weave a tapestry of grace, forgiveness, and healing.
God has sent redemption for all, God has fed us with the healing bread of life. At all times, and for every grace, we give thanks to God in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
All praise is due to you, Amazing God,
for your great works we call creation.
Grace flowed out of your heart,
its gentleness woven into
the light, the earth, the air;
peace rested upon all that was shaped
out of your unpredictable imagination,
all that lived and breathed touched by
the wisdom of your Spirit.
You formed humanity in your image,
that we might bear witness to you,
but we could not discern between
good and evil, choosing to follow
death and sin out of your presence.
You asked your servants, the prophets,
to teach us your ways and will,
but we did not have understanding minds.
So, in grace and mercy, you sent Jesus,
the living bread come down from heaven
that we might have eternal life with you.

So, with the wise and the unwise,
the foolish and the faithful of every time,
we join our voices to sing our thanks:


Holy are you, Awesome God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Living Bread.
When he could have remained
in the high places of glory with you,
he became fully human,
walking the paths of pain,
drinking the brackish waters of rejection,
eating the stale bread of our broken promises.
When he could have been careful,
he threw his fears to the wind,
taking up his cross to embrace death,
rising from the grave to lead us to eternal life.

As we gather to eat at your Table of remembrance,
as we give thanks for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ,
we point to that mystery of grace called faith:

Memorial Acclamation

It is not in the high places
but here at this Table graced
with the common loaf and the graced cup
that we find your promises kept,
and your Spirit poured out upon us.
You offer us the Bread of heaven,
broken that we might be made whole,
to us, so that filled with grace,
we might go to find all those
whose hopes have been foreclosed.
You touch the Cup of life,
poured out for our renewal,
to our lips, to our hands, to our hearts,
so that we might be transformed
into servants to all the world.

And when all your works have come to fruition,
when all your children are gathered around you,
we will lift our voices, singing praises to you,
through all time, and for all good things you have done,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper14 - B

Texts: 2nd Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Psalm 130; Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51

Call to Worship
In these moments, in this family of faith,
the God of gentleness gathers us together:
hoping that our self-righteous anger
might become passionate justice for others
In this place, in that Body shaped by his grace,
Christ, the Bread of life, calls us to service:
hoping our comfort level of complacency
might be transformed into compassion
for the needy all around us.
In our hearts, our mouths, our actions,
the Spirit of holiness gifts us with truth:
hoping our faltering, fumbling words
might be transfigured into good news.

Prayer of the Day

There is forgiveness with you,
God of compassion.
When we want to continue
to stumble down paths
potholed with aggression,
you hand us
the paving stones of reconciliation.

There is grace with you,
Bread of life.
When we want to list you
at a certain address in our directory,
when we want to put
dogmatic words in your mouth,
when we want you to parrot
our fears and prejudices,
you will have none of it.

There is peace with you,
Discerning Spirit.
When we want to keep playing
with our old, broken toys like
slander, malice, anger, and lies,
you place them on the highest shelf
where we cannot reach them,
handing us that new game called
'Imitating God'.

Peace, grace, forgiveness are your gifts,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and we praise you for them,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
How often we find ourselves hanging between heaven and earth! We long to be imitators of Christ, but end up as copying the seductions and temptations of the world which rub up against us. In confession, we take those first steps towards healing, so let us bring our broken promises, our foolish mistakes, our hurtful words to the One who offers us grace and forgiveness.

Unison Prayer of Confession
How deeply we must grieve you, Tender Heart. You would soften our hearts, but we continue to soak them in the brine of our bitter tears. You would have us speak hope and peace to those around us, but we enjoy talking trash to them. You long to reside in our lives, but we keep making up the guest room for anger, slander, malice.

Deal gently with us, Overflowing Mercy, and forgive us of all our wrong-doing. Let us wait for your grace which strengthens us to be your people; let us watch for the new life which is our inheritance; let us hope in the Word of joy and peace, the Word we know as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence may be kept

Assurance of Pardon
Watch what God does when we come in repentance and prayer. God loves us, God forgives us, God fills us with new life.
We watch and find the One who offers us hope; we wait, and find the Bread which feeds us in every moment; we are in awe at this good news: we are forgiven! Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

Such slight words -
light, water, earth, sky -
when written on a list,
but in your voice,
echoing in the Spirit,
creation bursts the logjam of chaos,
rushing forth to fill the void
with life, hope peace, grace,
all the gifts you shaped for us.
Our denial of you broke your heart,
as we made room for sin and death,
but you did not forget us,
sending the prophets to remind us
that there is forgiveness with you.
When we continued watch
more for temptation than for you,
you sent Jesus into our midst,
to speak the truth of your love for us.

So, as we gather with our friends and neighbors,
as we are members of the one Body
in every time and place,
we lift our voices singing of your love:

Holy, holy, holy, God of steadfast love.
All creation waits for you.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who is the living bread.
Hosanna in the highest

Steadfast love is who you are, God of Compassion,
and this love is made flesh in Jesus, your Child.
Though we struggle to follow,
he is the Guide to your heart;
though we rarely seek him,
he is the Bread which can feed
our deep-down-in-the-belly longings;
though we resist drinking from the fountain,
he is the living water which can quench our thirsts;
though we are convinced we can do it ourselves,
he is the one who gives himself up to sin and death,
defeating forever their power over us.

As we remember this fragrant offering for our sakes,
as we come to the Table of joy and peace,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:

In Christ's death, we hope;
in Christ's resurrection, we have life;
for Christ's return, we wait.

Here at this Table of bread and cup,
graced by your Spirit of hope and peace,
we discover the extravagant love you have for us.
As we feast on the Bread of life,
may is lavish grace fill our hearts,
so we may go out to serve others,
never minding the cost.
As we drink from the cup,
may we transformed by its peace,
that we might go out to embrace
all who have been forgotten by the world.

And when we no longer have to watch
but awaken in that eternal morning,
when we no longer have to wait,
but find ourselves seated around the Lamb's Table,
we will join our voices with all your beloved children,
singing to you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman