Sunday, February 26, 2012

Second Sunday in Lent - B

Texts:  Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38

Call to Worship
L:    Pilgrims, we are invited to journey through this season of Lent
P:    towards the One who calls us each by a new name.
L:    Disciples, we walk with Jesus wherever he leads us,
P:    pulling our fears, our doubts, our longings behind us.
L:    Believers, we seek to trust the God who always surprises us,
P:    whose promises take on flesh and blood in the good news called Jesus.

Prayer of the Day
Though people may turn
their backs on us,
you do not hide
your face from us.
Though others may try
to take away our hope,
you assure us of
that future waiting for us.
You speak your name,
Inscrutable Creator,
and it is enough.

When we try to dictate
our fears to you,
you invite us to follow you
into self-denial and service.
As we struggle to shape
our lifestyle to yours,
you carry us with you
wherever we go.
You speak your good news,
Teacher of open hearts,
and it is enough.

Though we have done
nothing to earn them,
you pour out the gifts
of grace and mercy upon us.
When we stumble
over our lack of trust,
you set us back on our feet,
to follow you into the kingdom.
You speak your peace,
Breath of Holiness,
and it is enough.

God in Community, Holy in One,
it is enough that you hear us
even as we pray as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Looking deep within ourselves, we see that barrenness
that dwells in our souls. Reluctant to trust God, we find
our faith wavering when we have to make difficult
choices.  We look for quick fixes and easy solutions,
rather than for God's answers in our lives.  Let us
be honest with ourselves, and with God, as we pray
together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
  God of our ancestors in the faith, we are a people
who have known the hurt of broken promises, and have
spoken words we could not keep.  We are quick to
condemn those who make wrong choices, but want
only gentle criticism directed our way.  We let our
lives be guided so much by our past, rather than
opening our eyes, our hearts, our hopes to your
amazing future.
   Forgive our distrust of the vows you have made
to us, God of Sarah.  Forgive our disbelief that you
can bring hope to those places where we see only
despair, God of Abraham.  Forgive our hesitancy
in denying all that keeps us from committing ourselves
completely to you, God of Peter and the psalmists.
Forgive us, so we may take up the life you offer
to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:    Listen carefully, dear friends.  God does not
        reject us, God redeems us.  God does not back
        out of the relationship created so long ago,
        God restores it to its original purpose.  God
        does not hold back, but pours abundant
        forgiveness into our lives.
P:    Forgiven, we can follow; filled with hope,
        we can empty ourselves for others; restored
        to new life, we can live in relationship with
        God, with our neighbors and enemies, with
        ourselves.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:    May the Lord of the journey be with you.
P:    And also with you.
L:    Pilgrims of God, lift up your hearts.
P:    We offer them to the One who denied himself
            to carry us into life forever.
L:     Sing songs of thanksgiving to the God who
           is faithful in keeping promises.
P:    We offer glad anthems of joy to the One
            who calls us by name.

Out of that barrenness called chaos
you called into life all that is good and true,
Beneficent God:
your face shining in the starlight,
your voice echoing in the crashing waves,
your heart, your hopes, your love
poured into those created in your image.
Showering them with peace and mercy,
you began to teach them all they needed
in order to live in hope, and in joy, with you.
But setting their minds on all the desires
which temptation revealed to them,
they began to rebuke you,
denying your dreams for them,
as we thought only of ourselves.
You continued to speak of your promises,
sending the prophets into all the barren places
where we lived and worked and dreamed,
but we were ashamed of the words they spoke,
and would not listen to the love which formed them.
So, you asked the One called Blameless
to leave your side and walk before you,
coming to share your faith in us.

Therefore, we join our voices with those
from every time and in every place,
and with the choirs of heaven,
who forever sing your praises:

P:    Holy, holy, holy, God who calls life into being.
       All the ends of the earth and far corners of the universe
            sing your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.

        Blessed is the One who comes to take up his cross.
        Hosanna in the highest.

You are holy, God of Abraham and Sarah,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is blessed forever.
When he could have stumbled over our distrust,
he called us to follow him into your promises;
when our rejection could have weakened his faith,
he grew strong in his commitment to deny himself;
when he could have remained silent,
he declared your salvation to all,
even to those not yet alive;
when he could have hidden his face in fear,
he turned towards Jerusalem,
going to his death and into the grave,
that you might give life to all
who had died to sin.

As we come to the Table he has prepared,
we declare that in his crucifixion and resurrection
we find that mystery we call faith:

P:    Christ died to bring forth life;
        Christ has risen to declare 'God has done it';
        Christ will come again in glory.

Here, at this Table,
where the gifts of the bread and the cup
are offered to your children gathered around,
pour out your Spirit of healing and hope.
Feed us with the food of heaven
which can make us whole once more,
so we can go to serve all
whom we have treated with contempt.
Nourish us with the cup of life
which can change us into your faithful people,
so we can go to bring healing
to those disabled by our prejudices.

And when we are brought home to you,
when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
from all the ends of the earth,
we will sing your glory and grace forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

(c) 2009  Thom M. Shuman