Sunday, February 05, 2012

6th Sunday after Epiphany/OT 6 - B

Texts:  2nd Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; 1st Corinthians 9:24-27; Mark 1:40-45

Call to Worship
L:    At night, when our cries for help echo off our walls,
        you hear us;
P:    you turn our tears into rivers of joy,
        Listener of our hearts.
L:    Each day, as our fears push us closer
        to the edge of loneliness;
P:    you tug us back into the safety of your grace,
        Servant of the suffering.
L:    Every time we stumble over our efforts to be perfect;
P:    you pull us to our feet to learn new dance steps of hope,
        Peace of our souls.

Prayer of the Day
When you could choose
to cover us with judgment,
you stretch out your hand
to pull us out of all the holes
we have dug for ourselves.
When you could simply
turn up your nose
when we run to you
covered in sin's slime,
you fill the tub with
the Spirit's soapy water,
gently washing us clean.
When you could see fit
to clothe us in grief's tattered rags,
you take our sack cloths
down to the thrift store,
coming back with arms loaded
with grace-wrapped boxes
filled with hope and comfort.

God in Community, Holy in One,
you choose to love us beyond our wildest dreams,
as listen to our hearts as we pray saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Would a mother not comfort her son who has made a
foolish mistake?  Does a father not let go of his anger
at his daughter to embrace her in forgiveness?  This
is how God is towards us, longing to dry our tears,
to make us whole.  So let us come, confessing to the
One who loves us so much.  Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   We must admit that on most days, we are so busy
racing around that we do not notice the street signs for
the kingdom.  Rather than lifting the fallen to their feet
and brushing them off, we belittle them as we walk on
past.  When we could offer a cup of hope and joy to
the broken-hearted, we turn away so we do not have
to see the tears sliding down their faces.
     Forgive us, God our Maker, and touch us with
your grace.  Mend our hearts, so we might be more
loving.  Fill the emptiness of our souls with the Word
of life.  Turn our faces towards the need of the world,
so we might offer our lives to bring healing and hope,
even as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, touches us
with these gifts.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:    What is God like?  God is the One who turns despair
        into dancing, who transforms grief into grace, who
        binds brokenness with cords of compassion, who
        makes us whole once again.
P:    As Jesus chose to make the leper whole, so God
       chooses to forgive us.  We can cast off sin's
        sadness, putting on the garments of joy.  Thanks
        be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:    May our God be with you.
P:    And also with you.
L:    Come to the one who offers us grace,
        opening your hearts to God.
P:    We come to the One who proves beyond any doubt
        how much we are loved.
L:    Faithful people of God, sing praises
        to the One who loves and heals us.
P:    Our souls will not remain silent,
        as we lift our songs to the God of compassion.

You could choose to create
 in any manner you desired,
God of truth and beauty,
so you brought light
to enlighten the shadows,
living waters to course the fields,
birds to sing your hopes to us.
All that you created
you called good and wonderful,
including those created in your image.
Believing that your call to stay with you
by the tumbling brooks of joy
to be too difficult a task,
we chose the easier way,
drowning ourselves in the
twin rivers of sin and death.
Prophets came, extolling your love,
seeking to attract us back to you.
We picked quarrels with them,
so we would not have to listen
to the truths which they spoke.
So, you sent Jesus to us,
choosing to send your heart
that our hardened ones might be broken
and made new with your love.

We join our voices with the lepers and the lovers
of every age, of every place, who stretch out their hearts,
singing of your glory and grace forever:

P:    Holy, holy, holy, God of healing and hope.
       All creation will not remain silent in singing your praises.
       Hosanna in the highest.

       Blessed is the One who chooses to come in your name.
       Hosanna in the highest.

Holy are you, Compassionate Heart,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Lord of Creation, Healer of all.
When we tried our best
to pick quarrels with you,
he stretched out his hand,
touch his finger to our lips
whispering, 'Peace.  Be healed.'
When he could remain
leaning against the wall,
he taps death on the shoulder,
cutting in, to twirl us
around and around
the kingdom's dance floor.

So recalling he he chose to heal your children,
remembering his willingness to give himself for us,
we will not stay silent but proclaim that mystery called faith:

P:    Christ died, to give life back to us.
        Christ arose, to bring us out of the grace.
        Christ will come again, stretching out his hand
            to lead us into the kingdom.

As you stretch out your hand
to offer us the gifts of this Table,
pour out your Spirit of peace and life
upon the Bread and the Cup.
We open our hands
to receive the life offered to us
in the Bread of heaven,
so we can them use them
to serve your children
in the world around us.
We offer our brokenness to you,
that it might be immersed
in your rich, life-giving grace
poured out of your heart,
so we might go forth
to welcome others into
the dance of hope and joy
you intend for all your children.

And when our race is finished,
when we gather with all our sisters and brothers
from every moment and every place,
we will come to the Table of the Lamb
with hearts overflowing with joy,
and our voices united, forever praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman