Saturday, November 26, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent - Year B

Texts:  Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2nd Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

Call to Worship
L:    You come to us, alive and present
        in that Word clothed in human flesh,
P;    so we might hear those songs about
        forgiveness, echoing with joy.
L:    You come to us, Shepherd of God's people,
        feeding us with your peace,
P:    so we might go out and offer
        the bread of hope to all the lost.
L:    You come to us, Spirit of comfort,
        welcoming us into the kingdom,
P:    where righteousness is our best friend,
        where justice lives right next door.

Prayer of the Day
While others are making lists
of things we have enough of,
you come:
    to offer us salvation,
    that one gift we cannot purchase.
As the world prepares
to entice us with more and more,
you come:
    to fill our hearts with all the hopes
    you have dreamed about us forever.
When skepticism and fear
callous our hearts,
you come:
    to bathe us in the soothing
    lotion of compassion.
When stress scoops out potholes
for every step we take,
you come:
    filling the emptiness with serenity
    as tough as your grace.
As the clock turns
faster and faster each day,
you come:
    to swaddle us in a shawl
    woven with patience.
When others push past us
to get to the front of worry's line,
you come,
    so we can clasp them
    so close to our hopes
    they can hear your heartbeat.

So come to us, come to us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We can no longer play dumb.  We not only know
the lives we are called to lead, we are well aware
of how we fail - through our words as well as our
silence, by our deeds and our unwillingness to act.
Let us confess to the God who comes to us,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   You call us home to live with you, Comfort of the
lost, but we are too busy right now to listen.  We flock
to the stores run by temptation and seduction, seeking
the best prices.  We rush to judge everyone around us,
but ask you to be more patient with our repeated errors.
We feast at the table piled high with broken promises
and drink from the cup of fading dreams.
   Yet you continue to cry out to us, Broken Heart,
speaking to us of your love.  Forgiveness is the gift
for every moment, not just one day; hope is our constant
companion as we journey with Jesus Christ, our Lord
and Savior, who is your Messenger of mercy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:    At the beginning, at the end, and in every time between,
        the good news speaks to us of God's tender mercy and
       love for us.
P:    God comes!  Not to punish, but to gift us with peace,
        not to judge, but to save us.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:    May God be with you.
P:    May God be with you as well.
L:    People of God, open your hearts.
P:    We open our hearts to the God who approaches.
L:    People of God, give thanks to the One
        who brings you out of the exile of sin.
P:    We sing praises to the One who offers comfort
        and hope to each and every one of us.

Into the silence of chaos,
your voice cried, Comfort of the Ages,
your Word flinging open
the doors of goodness and beauty,
the Spirit speeding over the waters
to bring peace to all creation.
Refusing to wait for all
which you had promised to us,
we made straight for death,
running down the dusty road of sin.
Prophets cried out to us
while we were in this wilderness,
but our tantrums drowned out
their invitations to return to you.
Since peace was your hope for us,
and salvation is your steadfast gift,
you sent your Child, Jesus,
to become the Way for us.

So, with those who have waited
in every time and place,
and with those who try to lead
lives of godliness and goodness,
we lift our voices filled with longing
for your comforting presence:

P:    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of creation.
        The exiled of the world await your coming.
        Hosanna in the highest.

        Blessed is the Comfort who comes in your name.
        Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is your grace, God of exiles,
and blessed is your Word
who comes again to us in this time.
Herald of good news,
he whispers to us of all your promises
fulfilled in his life and death.
Prince of Peace,
he takes our brokenness
and shapes us into servants.
Messenger of salvation,
he carries the cross to Calvary,
where he ends death's power,
gathering us up from the tomb,
holding us so close to his life
that we can feel your heart beat.

As we prepare to come to the Table,
we remember the One whose birth
is the beginning of that mystery
we call the good news:

P:    The Word came, creating life;
        the Word comes, speaking comfort;
        the Word will come again, to call us home.

Send your Spirit to rest upon
these gifts of the field and the vine.
Take the common loaf,
and by your mercy,
transform it into the life we need.
Remind us that when we hunger for more,
you feed us with humility
that we might see the emptiness of our world,
and offer ourselves to fill it with your gifts.
As you hand the cup of salvation to us,
may it quench our desire for more and more,
that we might give all we have,
and all we are called to be,
as a healing for a broken creation.

And when your love gathers us up
and leads us to your banquet in the kingdom,
where we are seated with our sisters and brothers,
we will sing our songs of thanksgiving to you:
    Creator of goodness,
    Friend of the lost,
    Spirit of joy,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Blessing
L:    As you were present with us
        through your Word, O God:
P:    may we be present to others
        send us to serve this week.
L:    As you fed us with your peace,
        Bread of life:
P:    may we grace others with that peace,
        this day and all the days to come.
L:    As you welcomed us to your table,
        Spirit of Hope:
P:    May we welcome all those you send us
        that they may find a home with us.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Sunday of Advent - B

Texts:  Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1st Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37

Call to Worship
L:    In every season of life,
P:    God is always with us, even when we believe otherwise.
L:    In this season of waiting,
P:    Jesus reminds us that Bethlehem is the beginning of our discipleship, not the end of the journey.
L:    In this season of Advent anticipation and hope,
P:    the Spirit opens our ears to the songs of the angels.

Prayer of the Day
In this time
when hearts tremble
with fears about tomorrow:
come to us.
In those moments
when our hearts are parched
from wondering through
the wilderness of worry:
come to us.
Come to us,
God-who-is-present-even-now,
to fill us with your hope.

In these days
when the powers of the world
can distract us from faith:
come to us.
In this season
when our rush to Bethlehem
keeps us from seeing you
in every one we push past:
come to us.
Come to us,
God-who-is-our-Gift,
to fill us with your grace.

In those opportunities,
when we struggle to tell others
what you really mean,
come to us.
In the nights
when our souls grow cold with doubt,
come to us.
Come to us,
God-who-kindles-the-fires-faith,
to fill us with your Advent.

God in Community, Holy in One,
God-ever-always-with-us,
hear us as we pray for your coming, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
In this season of hope, joy and peace - how often
do people receive these gifts from us?  As we
begin our journey through Advent, let us put down
those failures and foolish behaviors which keep us
from getting very far.  Join me as we pray, saying,

Responsive Prayer of Confession
L:    Holy God of Advent,
        you come near to us,
       yet we continue to seal our hearts
        with indifference to a suffering world.
P:    Tear open our hearts,
        and make us more compassionate.
L:     You approach us with bundles of mercy
        to kindle our hope, but we continue to build
        our lives with the bricks of bitterness.
P:    Tear open our anger, so we might become
        more forgiving.
L:    You draw near, longing to embrace us,
        but we fold our arms, closing ourselves off
        from those all around us.
P:    Tear open our souls, so we might become
        children of Advent.
L:    God, shaper-of-our-lives:
P:    have mercy;
L:    Jesus, Word-which-does-not-pass-away:
P:    fill us with your grace;
L:    Holy Spirit, Giver-of-the-Light-of-peace:
P:    Shine through our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:    Even now, God approaches us, mercy
        transcending anger, hope overcoming
        despair, life triumphing over death.  This
        is good news, my friends; this is news of
        great joy for each of us.
P:    Enriched in every grace, blessed with joy
        and hope, transformed by love, we will
        live as people of Advent.  Thanks be to
        God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:    May the God of Advent be with you.
P:    And also with you.
L:    People of Advent, lift up your hopes.
P:    We lift them to the One who comes
        to share our lives with us.
L:    People of hope, offer your thanksgiving to God.
P:    Joy, praise, adoration are in our hearts
        and on our lips.

At the Advent of creation,
chaos trembled at your approach,
Imaginative God,
as the moon shone the way
to your grace-filled garden
of joy and delightful grace.
Offered a feast from your plenty,
we nibbled at death's despair;
invited to drink from the fountain of life,
we filled our cups at sin's bitter well.
Faithful in every season,
you continued to send those
who offered us your tender words
of healing and hope.
But we made them the scorn
of our rebellious hearts,
laughing among ourselves at them.
So, in a moment we did not expect,
in a birth we did not recognize,
you sent Jesus, coming suddenly to us,
to gather us into your kingdom.

So, with the blameless, and the bewildered,
with those dozing off in their faith,
and those who dare not fall asleep lest they miss you,
we join our voices together,
singing our joyous wonder forever and ever:

P:    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Advent.
       Heaven and earth await the coming of your Child.
       Hosanna in the highest.

      Blessed is the One who comes to share our lives.
        Hosanna in the highest.

You approach in holiness, God of every season;
your Child, Jesus Christ, coming to bless us with joy.
Setting aside his power and majesty,
he came with tenderness and peace,
so we might know your justice.
Casting off the garments of glory,
he put on the clothes
stained by our sins,
to leave them at the foot of the cross.
seeing the hope on your face,
he turned his towards death,
tearing open the grave
and striding forth into the resurrection
promised to all.

As we prepare to celebrate his birth,
as we anticipate his return,
we tell the world of that Advent mystery we call faith:

P:    Jesus was born that we might have hope.
        Jesus died and was raised that we might have life.
        Jesus will come again to welcome us home.

Pour out the Spirit of Advent
upon the gifts of the bread and cup,
simple goodness transformed by your grace.
as the Bread is torn
to be shared by those gathered here,
tear open our shuttered hearts
so we might become more compassionate.
As the Cup of Hope touches our lips,
may we not only proclaim your love,
but speak of peace, of reconciliation,
of healing in all the broken places and people,
until those words become the lives
we have been called to as your people.

And when that hour that no one knows, comes -
and we have been gathered from the four corners
of your good and gracious creation,
we will be seated together in your grace,
praising you to the ends of eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One.
And all of God's children said,
P:    Amen.

Blessing
L:    Be on guard!
P:    We do not know when Christ will show up!
L:    Be alert!
P:    Our hearts will be open to everyone we meet.
L:    Be on guard!  Be alert!
P:    We will welcome each person as if they are the Christ.

(c) 2008  Thom M. Shuman