Monday, November 15, 2010

The Reign of Christ - C

Texts:  Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 46; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43

Call to Worship
Blessed be the Lord God who looks with kindness on us.
We are the inheritors of the promises made long ago to our ancestors.
Blessed be the Lord God who gathers us here in this place.
From across the street, from halfway around the world, God brings us home to the heart of grace.
Blessed be the Lord God who has remembered us.
Scoffers and singers, watchers and wigglers, we are those redeemed by God.

Prayer of the Day
Gathering God:
when we have only
a few pennies of hope
in our pockets,
you multiply us
into a blessing.
When the world whispers
seductively to us,
you tell us
of your joy for us.
When everyone has forgotten
even who we are,
you shout out our name
with delight: "My Beloved!"

Dawn from on high:
when we would divide people
by class, by race, by age,
you cast your lot
with the outcasts of society.
When we get lost
from the muddled directions
the world gives us,
you lead us down
that path called Peace.

Spirit of wisdom:
when we grow impatient
with all the trivial matters of life,
you surround us with serenity.
When the world puts us on
the route to sin,
you transfer us
to the streets of the kingdom.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we trust you will remember us,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

We know that we have not lived as God hopes.  But however fragmented we become, God longs to hold us together in grace and peace.  Let us come with our prayers of confession and need to the One who prepares the way for our words.

Unison Prayer of Confession
In these moments, Remembering God,
we bring to you all the ways we have not
lived as your people:
   we stand by watching
       while those in need struggle to survive;
    we cast our lots with those
        who worship power and success;
    we offer insults rather than words of grace
        to those who care for us;
    we scoff at your words
        which call us to a different lifestyle.

Forgive us, God of Mercy, for not knowing what we do to you, to others, to ourselves.  Speak to us through Jesus Christ, our King and our Savior, who bears words filled with your tender mercy and gracious hope.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news:  God remembers!  Not our sins, not our foolish lives, not our rebellion.  God remembers us -  and redeems us!
God prepares the way for us - the way to grace, to hope, to new life.  Joyfully, we offer our thanks to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the peace of God be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One whose has favored us with grace.
God's beloved children, sing of your hopes and dreams.
We bless the One who remembers us and redeems us to new life.

Joyfully, we lift our songs
of praise to you, O God.
From the fragments of chaos,
you created all things.
Those that are visible to us
in the leaves drifting to the ground,
in the children playing hopscotch,
in the moon shimmering at night -
and those that we cannot see,
but gift our lives beyond measure:
grace, which heals our longing;
hope, which fills our emptiness;
love, which embraces our loneliness.
All were shaped and blessed for us,
but we chose to cast our lots
with sin and death,
believing their powers to be greater
that your hopes and dreams for us.
The prophets came to speak
about the One from on high
who yearned for us to come home,
but we grew impatient with their words
and mocked their faithfulness.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to gather your scattered children together
and to bring us back to your heart.

Therefore, we join our voices
with rulers and reprobates,
with the fruitful and the foolish
of every time and place,
who forever sing of your joy:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God our shelter.
All creation makes glad your heart.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is exalted among the nations.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God who remembers us,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
Dawn from on high and creative Word.
Creation's true Light,
he rescues us from the darkness of death;
speaker of promises
to our grandparents in the faith,
on the cross
he kept the vows made to them;
the first-born of all creation,
he was born again
from the grave,
so we could all be with you
in eternity's kingdom.

As we reflect on his life, his ministry, his love,
we remember all that he has done for us,
that mysterious story we call faith:

Christ died, having done nothing wrong;
Christ arose, having done God's will;
Christ will return, having reconciled us to God.

As we come to this Table of peace,
pour out your Spirit of life upon us,
and upon the gifts
of the Bread of life
and the Cup of salvation.
You nourish with grace,
so we may go wherever
the broken and lost live,
that we might feed them.
You fill us with hope,
that we would have no more fear,
but would boldly reach out
and gather up all
whom the world has cast aside.

And when time has come to an end,
and all creation has been reconciled to you,
we will gather around the feast in heaven,
singing our joy and praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 08, 2010

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 28 - C

Texts:  Isaiah 65: 17-25; Isaiah 12:2-6; 2nd Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19

Call to Worship
This day!  This day we will give thanks to God, who cradles us in the waters of baptism.
This day!  This day we will trust in the One who has saved us, who strengthens us.
This day!  This day we dance to the fountain of life, drinking deeply of salvation's goodness.
This day!  This day we praise our God for every blessing; telling everyone of God's amazing grace in our lives and in our world.
This day!  This day we sing God's praises; testifying to all creation of our God.
This day!  This day our songs are filled with joy, for God is with us, this day and in all the days to come!

Prayer of the Day

Creating God:
you grasp chaos
and shake it into
new heavens brimming with light,
new earth teeming with life.
You delight in your children so much
that before we finish our sentences,
you have heard our hearts;
before we whisper our dreams,
you fill our needs.

Word of God,
you shape our lips
and loosen our tongues
that we might witness
to your kingdom
where enemies take naps together;
where meat-eaters become vegetarians.

Spirit of Wisdom:
open us,
that we might trust
without fear;
fill us,
that we might discern
our call to faithfulness;
teach us,
that we would make known
our thanks to the farthest
shores of the universe.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us , this day and every day
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father...

Call to Reconciliation
God does not take our sins and stick them up on a shelf, in order to remember them - God forgets them!  God does not hold them against us, but forgives us!  Join me as we pray to the One who delights in us, as we say,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   We confess that our lives weaken us, Strengthening God.  We do not exercise our faith as we should, and so fatigue easily.  We see houses as investment property, not as homes built on love, hope, and dreams.  We whimper our petty complaints about our friends and families, rather than shouting our hosannas to heaven for the gift of their lives.
  You are our hope, Tender God, so forgive us.  Create in us new hearts, and fill us with new energy to serve our sisters and brothers, bringing them to the deep wells of salvation, where they can fill their parched souls, even as we have been led to them by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
Rather than remaining white hot, God's anger melts into streams of living water, washing us clean of our sins and refreshing our spirits with hope and joy.
This day!  This day we give thanks to the God who is our strength and our salvation.  Praise God! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
When nothingness seemed to stretch
into forever, you spoke, Mindful God,
and the days of creation sprang forth,
throwing down all chaos,
shaping all that is marvelous and new
from its shattered pieces.
In our foolishness, we were led astray
by temptation and sin's sweet words,
but the end did not follow immediately,
for you sent the prophets to sing your praises.
But though they spoke to us, we would not listen.
So you sent your Beloved Child,
rejoicing in him, so you could delight in your people.

So with busybodies and those who are never a burden,
with our sisters and brothers from every time and place,
we sing our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy Holy, God who saves us.
All creation is glad and rejoices in your forever.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who makes your deeds known among the peoples.
Hosanna in the highest!

Surely you are the One who saves us, Holy God,
sending Jesus to become one of us, for us.
He did not remain idly by your side,
but came so that we might
no longer be children of calamity.
Betrayed by those who knew him,
he was placed upon the cross,
but his opponents, sin and death,
could not withstand the power of his love,
or contradict his sacrifice on our behalf,
for by the endurance of his faith,
we gained our souls once again.

As we remember his death offered for us,
as we celebrate his life shared with us,
we speak of that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, trusting in God completely,
Christ arose, drawing resurrection from the springs of salvation;
Christ will return, to create us as a joy

Pour out your Spirit of grace and hope
upon the Table and its simple gifts of life,
and upon your people gathered in this place.
On this day, as we are fed by the Bread of life,
we will give thanks to you,
even as we go to build houses for those who have none,
to fed all who do not have enough to nourish them.
On this day, as we drink from the Cup
drawn from the springs of salvation,
we will remember your great deeds,
by opening our ears to the sound of weeping
in among our friends, and those we do not know,
offering relief to those who cry with distress.

And when all days have come to an end,
and we discover that the Holy One is in our midst,
we will cry aloud, singing out our joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
forever and ever.  Amen.

(c) 2010  Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving for Stewardship Season

May the God of generosity be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, open your hearts to the One who has blessed you beyond imagination.
We open our very being to the God who always surprises us with blessings.
Children on the abundant God, join your voices in glad songs of praise.
Hearts and voices resound with the glory of God.

When you could have been stingy
in those first days, Imaginative God,
your poured all that was in your heart
into the silence and emptiness of chaos.
Rivers rushed to the seas,
mountains streatched toward the skies,
animals danced in clovered fields,
life sprang forth in every corner of the universe.
You crafted all this goodness and beauty
for your children created in your image
that they might enjoy your gifts forever.
But the empty promises of temptation
sounded better than the choruses of the birds,
the glitter of sin and death blinded us
to the abiding wonder of your gracious heart.
Prophets came to remind us
that you are indeed a God of blessing,
that you opened yourself to us in love,
hoping that we would come home.
But when we continued to waste
our inheritance in the far country of despair,
you sent Jesus to come to us,
bearing the ring of redemption
to slip onto our fingers,
the robe of forgiveness
to wrap around our broken lives.

So, with those who have received
your blessings in every age and place,
with those who seek to be stewards here and now,
we join our voices in praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of extravagant love.
All creation is filled to overflowing with your gifts.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes bearing your blessings to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are generous to a fault, Gracious God,
with your greatest gift being Jesus Christ our Lord.
When you could have selfishly kept him by your side,
you sent him into our midst, so we might know
that your love has no limits.
When you could have hardened your heart towards us,
you let yours be broken by the sacrifice
of your only Child upon the Cross.
When you could have demanded
that we give back everything we had received from you,
you sent your most precious self,
that we might be reconciled to you once and for all.

As we remember the Gift we will celebrate once again,
as we celebrate the wonder of redemption which is ours,
we would cling to that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, the blessing which destroyed sin;
Christ arose, the gift which conquered death;
Christ will come again, the treasure of your kingdom held in his arms to give to us.

We never have to wonder
about your love for us, Beneficent God,
for your Spirit is that gift that is poured out
upon the Bread and the Cup
every time we gather at your Table.
We taste the goodness and the life
in the Bread which is broken for us,
that we might offer all that we have
to mend the shattered lives of those around us.
We drink from the Cup of compassion,
and as it flows through the very depths of our souls,
we dare not withhold tight to our gifts,
but as your good and faithful stewards,
offer them back to you so that
  the hungry might be filled,
  the homeless might find shelter,
  the captive would be set free,
  the sick might be made well,
and all creation rejoice in your blessings.

And when all our days of life have come to an end,
when we are gathered with your people in your heart,
we will join our voices in singing our thanksgiving to you,
for all your good gifts, and for your inviting us
to be good stewards with you in the work of the kingdom,
our hands, our hearts, our lives, our gifts offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
(c) 2010  Thom M. Shuman